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If I Had Only One Dry Fly

I was recently sipping coffee and talking with another dry fly-fishing enthusiast when we both came up with the same thought — if you could have only one dry fly pattern for the whole season, what would it be? This same question has come up several times over the years with other fly-fishing friends, and

I was recently sipping coffee and talking with another dry fly-fishing enthusiast when we both came up with the same thought — if you could have only one dry fly pattern for the whole season, what would it be? This same question has come up several times over the years with other fly-fishing friends, and more often than not, the answer comes up — the Adams. Of course, this question isn’t unique to the fly-fishing world since the same question often comes up when discussing artificial lures and bass fishing.

There are a multitude of artificial flies and lures out there, and the possibilities seem to grow every year, so narrowing choices down to one is a daunting task, but when it comes to presenting a dry fly, the Adams often comes out as the number one choice. I remember when I first got into fly-fishing, it soon became apparent that having the right fly could be the difference between catching or not even getting a hit. Different flies hatch and emerge at different times of the year, and being able to match that hatch goes a long way towards success.

In the early trout season, mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies get the bid, and as the season progresses, you can add an assortment of terrestrials to that list.

As you begin to become familiar with the different hatches, you begin to add those patterns to your collection, which can be a bit daunting, not to mention costly at times. Of course, the well-prepared fly fisherman wants to have everything in his arsenal to ensure success, and that could include the Little Blue Dun, Dark Blue Quill, Quill Gordon, Little Black Caddis, Hendrickson, Pale Evening Dun, Green Caddis, March Brown, Light Cahill, and an assortment of drakes and an assortment of terrestrials. That’s not all by any means, there’s a lot more, and I’m only talking dry fly patterns here; add nymphs, wet flies, and streamer patterns, and you have a lot more to add to your collection.

Certainly, when it comes right down to it, the closer you can match the hatch, the better your chances are of garnering that coveted strike, but having the “right” fly every time may not always be possible, especially if you are new to the fly fishing fraternity.

A couple of things get in the way of the person new to fly fishing. One is knowing and understanding the differences in the hatches. Second is the cost of acquiring all the different patterns and sizes. Today you will pay two dollars and up, per fly, and two dozen flies will fit into two tiny one-inch squares in your fly box — you are halfway to a hundred bucks right there! (By the way, don’t let your wife read this if you are just getting into fly-fishing.)

So, what’s the answer? Well, you can get into tying your own fly patterns but getting set up in that can be a bit costly until you acquire enough of the necessary supplies and tying materials, but if you are serious, it’s a great way to go.

Secondly, you can limit your choices of patterns to ones that will produce most often in various situations, and that brings me back to my opening paragraph. If you were to take all my dry fly patterns away and only left me one pattern, I would pick the Adams. No, it’s not going to produce every time, but it will suffice often enough to make you a believer.

Just two weeks ago, I witnessed a caddis fly hatch and trout were taking, but I was out of that particular pattern, so I put on a size twelve Adams, and the trout were more than willing to grab it. Over the years, I have done that same thing on numerous occasions and had success. Why? I believe the Adams looks “buggy” and similar enough to many other patterns to make it work.

The bottom line, if you are just getting started in this business, make sure you at least have some Adams patterns on hand; trust me, those of us who have been in the business for a while already have a good supply.

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