My own variation of Frank Sawyer's original and a solid performing guide fly, with an interesting difference.
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"Jim, Your minnow tail tie of the Sawyer Killer Bug was a clear winner. I caught 8 brookies and rainbows in an hour from the same hole on that pattern with zero experience. My fellow angler caught none while trying 3 different patterns. This is clear trout crack rock and you can expect another order soon." - Landis in N. Carolina (See Landis' Photo at left)
The story of Frank's fly are many. He is supposed to have said that... "The successful attraction of this pattern is due to the fact that the particular 'darning wool' used, completely changes colour when wet. This version is not a perfect imitation of Chadwick's 477, but isn't far off, and has the correct inner glow (see photo).
I have humbly attempted to upgrade the pattern by using a Red Copper Wire under-body with a special Alpaca Wool Body. My version looses it's opaque quality in the water, becomes translucent with the red subtly showing through for a glowing color and very lifelike effect. For me the one that works, is the best substitute for original Chadwick's.
Picks up air bubbles in the wool yarn fibers to imitate gasses which form as common aquatic insects head to the surface to hatch. This last bit of info should tell you one method of fishing it. A standard wet fly swing can be very effective.
Like using several flies at once, I leave a short minnow tag-tail that can be fished as a tiny Bait-Fish streamer or hatching Mayfly or Caddis trailing a nymphal shuck. Features a narrow Mayfly shaped body, also good for imitating a small Stonefly. Thin or cut the tail short for a Drifting Larvae. Now that's versatility.
#12, 2XL hooks. This fly is longer, larger & heavier and with a cigar shape, and more tan-pink coloration than the very pink Utah Killer Bug. An inexpensive and outstanding performer, simple and very popular seller (and popular "One Fly" for nymphing). On-stream, begin by wiping it in the algae to pick up some stream scent & hide yours.
Imitates various nymphs, grubs, small minnows & who knows what? Well, I expect the trout think they are tiny stream crayfish, recently hatched. Try these for a season in rocks, cobbles or gravel bed streams & you won't want to be without them. Can be ordered in other colors: Utah, olive, green, cream, gray, black, brown, etc. Shetland wool yarn by request, but the original with Alpaca is awesome. A best performer. Sold as three flies. Traditionally tied.
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This is the Yarn that I use:
(It's darker in the photo than in daylight)
More Sawyer Killer Bug Information:
Sawyer’s Killer Bug
Here's another little gem of a pattern that may be one of the most simple flies ever tied!
The killer bug tied with the original Chadwick’s 477 reinforcing and mending wool. This classic Grayling pattern from nymph expert and legendary river keeper Frank Sawyer still doesn’t disappoint, but if you follow Sawyer’s tying instruction, the killer or (grayling) bug as it was originally named, could and should only be tied with one brand and shade of wool, Chadwick’s No 477.
Although this wool is not produced anymore there are a whole load of substitutes to be found and the original wool cards occasionally come up for auction. Like several of Sawyers patterns, in the original he did not use tying thread, only red coloured copper wire.
Shared here from "The Feather Bender"