Killer Bugs by Paul Vertrees

Killer Kebari

I came home from this year’s Fly Fishing Show with a few flies from Paul Vertrees and thought they were good ties so wanted to share a few pictures.

For those of you who don’t know Paul, he is the tenkara guide for Rigs Fly Shop in Ridgeway (the first to offer guided tenkara trips in Colorado). Paul is an expert tenkara angler and even though I’ve only fished with him once, I consider him a good friend. The one trip we had together was probably my favorite of last season. Read more about it here.

Paul ties a few different variations of the famous Killer Bug. The first is according to the original Frank Sawyer pattern. Instead of using thread, the yarn is wound from the front of the hook to the back and secured with a few turns of copper wire near the bend. The yarn is Shetland’s Spindrift Oyster colored with a sand Prismacolor marker to mimic the original yarn which was discontinued and now nearly impossible to get.

Original Killer Bug

Paul also ties a darker version using Shetland’s Moorit-Shaela yarn:

Dark Killer Bug

Both of these yarns are very buggy and are available from Tenkara Bum.

Another variation Paul ties is the Killer Kebari, invented by Chris Stewart (the Tenkara Bum himself). This is basically a Killer Bug with a few wraps of hen pheasant hackle at the front. To keep the body thin, he uses only a single strand of the yarn.

Killer Kebari

Paul doesn’t use any weight on these flies. He just ties them on heavy scud hooks to help them sink.

My version of the Killer Bug is very different but I like Paul’s because they’re so buggy looking. Be sure to check out his blog, Tenkara Tracks.

Author: Jason Klass

Jason is an avid fly angler and backpacker. As a former fly fishing guide originally from Western New York, he moved to Colorado and became an early adopter of tenkara which perfectly suited the small, high altitude streams and lakes there. He has not fished a Western-style fly rod for trout since.

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  1. I wanted to meet you at the FFS. I saw you going in but lost rack of you while buying my ticket.

    I tied some killer bugs last summer and had good fishing with them. Got the info from your blog. FYI there is a yarn shop in Boulder, Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins the carries a wide range of Shetland Wool.

  2. Hi Eddie, sorry we missed each other and thanks for the tip on the yarn shop. I’ll have to check them out next time I’m in Boulder.

  3. Great looking flies! I like the thinner body on the Killer Kebari. The version I’ve been tying is a little thicker through the middle with a medium copper wire rib to hold the body together after a lot of fish. They produced really well for me in the fast water of riffles this fall. I think the extra hackle makes them a bit more visible at high speed vs a standard Killer Bug.

  4. Heath, I like the thinner body on the Keller kebari too but I think they represent two different things. The original killer bug probably looks more like a scud or shrimp or something while the killer kebari looks more like a swimming nymph or Caddis pupa. Either way, the both work!

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