Bob, I have tied the same killer bugs designed by Mr. Sawyer. I even have a good friend in the UK that sent me some of Chadwicks 477 yarn, plus a few of his "bugs". He had a good friend who knew Frank Sawyer personally and learned to tie the Bugs the way Mr. Sawyer did.joaniebo wrote: ↑Fri May 29, 2020 9:31 amAlthough there's no grayling in my part of the world, I'm a big fan of any Frank Sawyer dressing, or variations thereof, including Sawyer's "Killer Big." that he developed for Grayling fishing.
Phil Anderson has done a fantastic job of researching materials used in tying a modern version of the Killer Bug (on The Classic Rod Forum), a worthwhile read for those interested.
Several years ago, when I was invited to tie some flies in a Grand Rapids, MI show, I tied quite a few Killer Bugs using the "Shetland Spindrift Oyster Wool" yarn with a red copper wire underbody, then dipped then in water to show the color change.
Needless to say, several show attendees went back home with a Killer Bug sample and a desire to start tying Killer Bugs which I use in some of my trout fishing activities.
I have heard to tie it with copper wire, but my friend says to use a reddish brown wire if possible. Fuse wire is what Mr. Sawyer used. The closest I can find is wine colored wire.
This is the email from my friend in the UK, so you can read it yourself. I'm glad I can share this.
There have been a lot of anomalies and assumptions about the wire used by Frank Sawyer-and others-for his flies, but assumptions are not necessarily facts, yet seem to become so over time.. Take for example, the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, the great detective created by Arthur Conan-Doyle and whose drug-fuelled & enhanced brain figured things out at computer speed, baffling his contemporaries. The oft-quoted saying:- "..Elementary, my dear Watson" has always been attributed to him, but the cold, hard fact is that he never at any time said it! If you don't believe me, read all of his books!!
But to return to relevant matters. Frank Sawyer invented the well-known Pheasant tail Nymph, which accounts for innumerable fish every year; why? because it looks like the real thing and gets down to where they are!
This fly, along with his other famous pattern, the Grey Goose nymph, are both tied with copper wire of a red/brown shade. These are facts because they have been written down by him. However.......The 'killer bug' nymph was tied up by Sawyer for one purpose only, that is, to kill. He wanted to rid the river of the grayling which were ousting the trout and needed something to get down to where they were. He knew that grayling like pink flies and used Chadwicks 477 wool because it was near enough the shade that he was looking for.
Now please note this.. In no book or place is it written by Sawyer that he used copper wire and the surviving bugs known to have been tied by him are tied with fuse wire . I had a few treasured, actual examples which were given to be by someone who was extremely close and whose word I would never doubt. He has never shouted it from the rooftops or made a big thing about it in the Angling Press, but I would never doubt his word, no more than I would doubt the Late Major Oliver Kite, in whose book "Nymph Fishing in Practice" he gives both Sawyers dressings-and how he tied them, (a book which you really should buy) but nowhere is it written that red wire was used for the 'killer bug'. This has been one of the great-and wrong-assumptions. Because it is beyond doubt that Sawyer used red copper wire for his other flies, it has been assumed that he surely must have used it for the 'bug'...but there is no evidence to back this up..
Fuse wire is denser and sinks faster than copper-which is what Sawyer wanted-to get 'past' the trout- and both I, and the brilliant fly tyer who gave me the original bugs and does have hard evidence, know that it was fuse wire that was originally used...
However, since Sawyer's early death and without proof, fishing writers and authors have stated that red wire was used for the 'killer bug' and everyone since has followed this...
Now, to the actual wire. The red wire used was the same as I use...from a broken, small electric motor!!
The wire wrapped around the stator had to be insulated from itself and was coated in shellac, which turned it a nice, reddish colour. I use the same thing for P/T nymphs and ideally it should be 0.008" to 0.009" diameter. The fuse wire should also be about this size..I think about 5-10 amp will do. The trick is to wind a little 'ball' of it at the head first then wind to the bend of the hook, trap in the pheasant tail and proceed from there. No thread is used at all.
Of course, history and writers have embellished this by saying that it is the read wire showing through which makes the bug turn pink....this is utter bull... and bunkum! Don't believe a word of it! Frank Sawyer was a straight-thinking man who figured out that he could remove unwanted grayling with a cheap-to-make bug and all these fancy theories would make him laugh if he could read them today!