The Utah Killer Bug

The Utah Killer Bug is our favorite fly to use.  We catch more fish with this one pattern – hands down.  It’s easy to tie, uses fairly common materials, and works in a variety of waters.


What’s the recipe?

This is ERiK’s recipe:
– Scud/caddis larvae hook – sizes 18 to 8
– Pink 8/0 or 6/0 Uni thread
– Pink UTC Ultra Wire, Medium
– Shetland Spindrift yarn in Oyster
ERiK typically use bigger sizes in faster water, and smaller sizes in slower water and the winter. Sometimes he’ll add a collar of partridge and use the fly in faster waters.

This is Rob’s recipe:
– Red scud/caddis larvae hook – sizes 18, 14, 10
– Black 6/0 Uni Thread
– Red UTC Ultra Wire, Medium
– Shetland Spindrift yarn in Oyster
– Partridge hackle
Rob uses the UKB in the surface film as well as deep, so he ties both with and without wire. More recently he started adding a sparse partridge hackle all the time. On some flies he leaves it long, on some flies he cuts it back to nubbins.

There’s a lot of variety in thread color, wire, etc. out there. Fluorescent threads in white and pink are a favorite. It all works. But the key ingredient uniting them all is the Shetland Spindrift Oyster. That is what defines a Utah Killer Bug.

That’s it.  Simple and easy.

How do you tie it?

Here’s how ERiK does it:

What does it represent?

Who knows? A scud, snail, chironomid or some kind of larvae, a ball of protein goop? I have no idea, but it works in rivers with scuds, it works in rivers that don’t have scuds, it works in rivers that have random protein. It even works in lakes.

A tightly wrapped Utah Killer Buga wet utah killer bug - notice the change of colors



Here’s what it looks like dry.







And here it is wet.  Under water it really poofs up and creates a halo effect.  Trout love halos.



Does it really catch fish?

Here are a few pics for proof.



Last question is, where do I buy it???

Easiest way to get Shetland Spindrift Oyster is through Blazing Needles in SLC, UT. Visit them online at Blazing Needles. Or visit the SLC shop. Walk around sheepishly and wear some kind of fishing paraphernalia.  They will instantly recognize what your looking for and put it in your hands.

Blazing needles will ship anywhere in the country, and for cheap too.  They have a bunch of other colors in stock too.




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Here’s a video of ERiK landing a nice ‘Bow on an Off the Beaten Path river.  The fish took a Utah Killer Bug tied with a red hook.:


Happy fishing,

Tenkara Guides



5 thoughts on “The Utah Killer Bug

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  3. Common materials? Where do you get pink ultrawire? My supplier (Hareline) doesn’t carry it and a special order for it came back “unable to be filled.”

    • I just get it at my local fly shop. I’ve never tried to buy it on-line, but do a quick Google search for “UTC ultrawire” or “Pink UTC ultrawire” and you should be able to find something. Using pink is just my personal thing. Rob uses red now, but started out using just whatever he had. I just like pink. The important thing is to pick a wire that will look good underneath the yarn when the yarn is wet.


    • And Chris, you deserve a nod for introducing the Tenkara community to Frank Sawyer’s concept. Thanks.


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