Frank Sawyer’s Killer Bug is both simple and deadly. Comprising a body made of beige wool wound over a lead-wire underbody, and bound together with turns of copper wire, it is difficult to think of a fly that is much easier to tie.
In its original form the maggot-shaped body of the Killer Bug is purely impressionistic but makes a fair representation of a shrimp or a sedge pupa. Its success, however, comes from the fact that it sinks quickly, making it an effective pattern when trout — and especially grayling — are feeding close to the bottom of the riverbed.
This version employs both a gold bead at the head plus a short tag of fluorescent orange floss to give this otherwise subtly hued pattern a bit of a lift. The result is a superb grayling fly. The bead used for the head may be gold, silver or even copper and it is worth keeping a few of each in the box. Changing colour is important because, in clear water, grayling can be put off by the glint of a bright gold bead, especially after repeated drifts through the same shoal.
The body colour originally came from the now-famous Chadwick’s 477, a fine pinkish-beige darning wool that has since been discontinued. However, a number of materials suppliers stock a reasonable substitute.
Size 10-14 wet-fly
Fluorescent orange floss
Fine copper wire
Beige or grey wool
2-3 mm gold, silver or copper bead
1. Slip a 3 mm gold bead over the hook point before fixing the hook securely in the vice.
2. Push the gold bead right up to the eye. Take two inches of fine lead wire and wind it in close turns along the shank of the hook.
3. After winding on 10 to 15 turns of the wire, push it into the recess at the back of the bead. Fix the wire in place with turns of tying thread.
4. Carry the tying thread down to the bend then take a length of fluorescent orange floss and double it over three times to form eight strands. Catch it in at the bend to form the tail.
5. Secure the floss with thread turns using the waste ends to fill the gap between the lead underbody and the hook bend. Catch in two inches of fine copper wire.
6. Carry the tying thread back up the shank, stopping just behind the bead. Take three inches of fine, grey wool and catch it in with the thread.
7. Holding the end of the wool, begin to wind it down the shank in close turns.
8. Once the tail has been reached, wind the wool back up to its catching-in point. As the bead is reached, overlap the turns a little to form a taper.
9. Secure the loose end of the wool behind the bead and remove the excess. Wind the copper wire over the wool body in open, evenly spaced turns.
10. Secure the end of the wire before removing the excess. Cast off the tying thread with a whip finish and trim the tail to a short stub.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
Like the original version, the Bead Sawyer Bug is a superb pattern for chalkstream grayling. However, it is also an effective fly on all types of rivers and streams.
W H E N
Though it will take fish throughout the year, this pattern works well towards the end of the season when the grayling are feeding close to the riverbed.
H O W
Normally fished singly on a floating line, it is cast upstream of a lie and allowed to work a dead-drift with the current. In clear water, where grayling may be observed, it can be used to target individual fish by casting upstream far enough for the fly to sink to the same depth as the grayling. When the fly drifts close to the target, a gentle lift of the rod causes the fly to rise — a motion that will often trigger a take.
T Y I N G T I P
When weighting a fly with a combination of a metal bead and lead wire, ensure that the turns of wire are pushed well into the recess at the back of the bead.