There’s a game we fly anglers who pursue trout like to play: “If you could fish only one fly, what would it be?” A fun but futile debate because, of course, the choice of fly is entirely subjective, informed by the water you usually fish, perhaps the fly you enjoy tying, the aesthetics of a particular fly, our maybe what you’ve had success fishing and now have confidence in. It’s like arguing who is the best rock band in history (the Rolling Stones, of course) or time’s most beautiful woman (Candace Bergen).
No surprise here, but my choice would be the parachute Adams. Probably no other fly is so versatile. I can fish it dry as a mayfly; I can trim the tail and fish it dry as a caddis; or I can sink it in a plunge pool or riffle, fishing it “drowned.” A close second, however, would be the “white fly,” Albus musca tenkarambassadori. On my homewater, Spring Creek, almost every day of the year I can count on a hatch of small mayflies, sometimes sparse, sometimes of blizzard proportions. Only the size of the fly changes, synchronized with the seasons. I tie this fly in a parachute style in sizes 16 through 26, in spring employing sizes 18 or 20, progressing to perhaps a #16 in summer, and in fall beginning again with smaller sizes until, in the dead of winter, I’m using a #24 or #26.
Although parachute dries can be a little daunting at first to the novice flytier, this is really not a difficult tie. The only materials you’ll need are a hook, white Antron yarn for the wingpost, white thread, and the lightest cream rooster hackle that you can find. I used to dub the bodies of the larger sizes (say #16 or 18) with cream dubbing, using only thread for the bodies of the smaller flies. Lately I’ve been just using thread for the bodies of the larger flies also, and the trout do not seem to care. Generally for sizes 16 and 18 I’ll use size 6 Unithread, size 8 thread for the 20s and 22, and size 12 for the 24s and 26s.
The last time I was sitting at the vise, tying the white fly, it occurred to me to tie a couple in the sakasa kebari style, using just white thread and hackle feather. My plan is to apply floatant to the hackle, creating sort of a Klinkhamer, then, at the end of the drift, pulling the fly under and twitching it. I’m going fishing soon, and I’ll keep you posted…