Michigan’s Leonard Halladay, Mayfield Pond and the Adams Dry Fly

Adams Dry Fly, photo by Mike Cline

This Saturday (June 2, 2012) the Kingsley Library hosts the 1st Annual Adams Fly Festival. They will have northern Michigan fly rod maker R.W. Summers on hand (click for an interview with him on Absolute Michigan today). There will also be fly tying lessons, a silent auction with some great items, music, food and an original Adams fly on display.

In The Adams: History Revisited in Hatches magazine, Tom Deschaine writes that the Adams fly is probably the most famous fly in all of history.

It’s carried in the fly boxes of fishermen in every country where trout are found. It would probably be an understatement to claim that the Adams fly, with all its variations, has collectively caught more trout then any other fly pattern in existence. It can be used in a variety of waters, and, with its brownish-grayish coloration it imitates generally acceptable food items found almost anywhere in trout fishing environments. Most fishermen would agree that if they were allowed to use only one dry fly pattern — it would be the Adams (or some variation there of).

The story of the Adams begins just 12 miles south of Traverse City, Michigan, off County Road 611 in the small township of Mayfield. It was here, in 1922, at the Mayfield Pond where Leonard Halladay created the famous Adams fly.

Leonard Halladay (1872-1952) was originally from New York but his family, lured by the lumber industry, migrated to Mayfield when Leonard was just a young boy. As a growing young man he would see the last of the grayling and brook trout whose demise was brought about by over fishing, and habitat destruction from the logging industry. It was around this time when Michigan began introducing the German brown trout to its rivers.

…The historically accepted story goes on to say that on a summer’s day in 1922 at the impoundment of Swainston Creek known as the Mayfield Pond, Mr. Halladay said: “The first Adams I made I handed to Mr. Adams who was fishing in a small pond in front of my house, to try on the Boardman that evening. When he came back next morning, he wanted to know what I called it. He said it was a ‘knock-out’ and I said we would call it the Adams, since he had made the first good catch on it.”

Mike Cline took the photo and tied the fly. Click through to see it bigger.

You can visit Mayfield Pond in the Boardman Valley Nature Preserve, and you can see how to tie the Adams fly in this video.

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