The hardest fly to tie?

The author’s Adams. Or… a distant cousin to the Adams.

I love to tie flies. But, like a guy who also loves to sing in the shower, I’m better off keeping my skills to myself.

Of late, while working away at the computer, my office has turned into a remote fly-tying station. I’ll tie a few flies during lunch, or when I’m busy on a conference call. I’ll crank a few out after work or when I’m checking e-mail on the weekends. It’s a productive use of my down time, and it beats the hell out of folding laundry.

When fall approached a few weeks back, I was on a soft-hackle kick. The Firehole, perhaps my favorite Western river, was about to get good for the last few days of the season, and I needed some swingers. I also learned that soft-hackles, in smaller, backcountry streams in the late summer were pretty good for migrating bull trout here in Idaho.

Now that fall has … fallen, I’ve switched over to dry flies at the vise. When we talk about fall dry-fly fishing here in the West, we are to be understood that we’re talking about Blue-winged Olives. Small ones. In a size 20 or smaller.

Yeah. I don’t tie those.

My hands are too big and my eyesight is becoming a bit sketchy. I leave those suckers to the professionals, and I’ll gladly drop a buck-seventy-five each on a dozen on my way to the South Fork. I tie bigger stuff. Size 14 is my sweet spot. I can tie a 16, but if I don’t have to, I don’t want to. And I can tie a 12, but those big bugs are just for show until at least July, and only for backcountry trout with nothing more appropriate to eat.

And, of late, I’m tying a classic—the venerable old Adams. Not a Parachute Adams. Just an Adams, with the hackle-tip wings and the dubbing and all those damn moving parts that just drive me batty. I used to always struggle when I tied an Adams. Now, thanks to Tim Flagler at Tightline Productions, I just struggle sometimes.

And, like any fly tier, I like to get cute at the vise. The Adams is traditionally tied with gray dubbing. But, a couple years back, I found that an Adams tied with olive dubbing made for a very productive imitation of a green drake while fishing a small river in western Alberta. And tied in darker dubbing (brown or black), it’s a great March Brown imitation.

The only drawback? I still have to tie it, which is somewhat touch and go.

We all have our favorite flies, and many of us put in the time to tie them. What’s your favorite pattern that you’re loathe to tie?

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.