Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

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PhilA
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Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#1

Post by PhilA »

I have long been intrigued by Frank Sawyer's Killer Bug and the mystique of Chadwick's 477 yarn. I've gone through phases in recent years of buying various yarns in an attempt to find a good substitute, but then giving up after not succeeding. I bought or was given (thanks Tom!) many different yarns, including most of those discussed on the Internet as being Chadwick's substitutes. The colors, though, were always disappointing when compared to online photos of authentic Chadwick's. But online photos of 477 vary quite a lot in color, and I was never sure exactly what the correct color was.

Then, about a year ago, I stumbled across a card of original Chadwick's 477 and bought it for the princely sum of $5. Sometimes an angler just gets lucky! A lengthier account of this windfall is described at: http://flymphforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6123.

With a card of the real deal in hand, I've patiently visited yarn shops and online merchants during the past year searching for a good color match. As described below, I recently found a very good one. While not identical in color and texture, it is closer to Chadwick's 477 than anything I've seen so far.

But first, a comment about color and the Killer Bug. I am an amateur student of fly tying history, and my search for a Chadwick's substitute is about recreating history, not about crafting a more effective Killer Bug. Of all the features that contribute to a fly's success, color is well down on my personal list of things that are important. I suspect that most, if not all, of the previously discussed Chadwick's substitute yarns work well. As with most flies, I believe a Killer Bug's success is mostly determined by how it is presented, not by how closely it matches Frank Sawyer's canonical color. The search for a Chadwick's substitute was in the interest of history and in providing other anglers with a yarn whose color replicates as closely as possible Frank Sawyer's original. Then, when we fail to replicate Sawyer's nymphing success, at least we can't blame the color of the fly.

In photos below, I've worked hard to make the color balance in my photography and on my computer monitor as close as possible to the real item. Your monitor may vary. The most useful photos are those in which both the Chadwick's and substitute yarns are in the same photo. That eliminates potential differences of camera settings, lighting, exposure, etc.

Perhaps the most convincing demonstration of the substitute yarn's color match to Chadwick's 477 is this photo:
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Five of these Killer Bugs are tied with original Chadwick's 477 and five with the substitute yarn ("Berroco UAF1214", see below for details). Kind of difficult to tell them apart, isn't it? The five flies on the left (marked with a bit of red thread at the eye) are tied with Chadwick's 477, and the five on the right are tied with Berroco UAF1214.

I learned the hard way to mark Killer Bugs tied with each yarn. While investigating various yarns as possible 477 substitutes, I laid on my tying desk several Killer Bugs tied with Chadwick's and several tied with Berroco UAF1214. I inadvertently brushed them together, causing the flies to be mingled. I could no longer tell them apart! They all looked more-or-less the same. Those precious Killer Bugs tied with Chadwick's 477 were instantly lost to ambiguity!

Realistically, no two Chadwick's-tied (or UAF1214-tied) Killer Bugs are identical, because the exact blend of colored fibers along a several-inch piece of yarn varies from piece to piece. Individual fly-to-fly variation among Chadwick's-tied flies and among UAF1214-tied flies is as great as any differences between the two groups. Upon realizing that, I knew the search for a substitute yarn was over.

Here is another example of the color match. Three Killer Bugs tied with Chadwick's on the left and three with UAF1214 on the right:
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And another example. Three of each, but I've lost track of which are Chadwick's and which are UAF1214. (These are the flies that were inadvertently mingled.):
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Close-up views of Killer Bugs, both wet and dry:
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A comparison of the Chadwick's yarn (bottom) and UAF1214 (top) as each appears on a card:
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When viewed in daylight (important for seeing the true color), Chadwick's 477 is a slightly grayish, slightly pinkish medium tan, which Sawyer described as "a fawn background that has a definite pink tinge". Berroco UAF1214 is similar, but the tan is somewhat darker, and its reddish color is more of a brick red than a pinkish red. Both yarns are finely textured, with UAF1214 being slightly larger in diameter and more tightly twisted. Chadwick's is 85% wool / 15% nylon, while UAF1214 is a 70% wool / 30% nylon. Both are twisted 3-ply (Chadwick's) or 4-ply (UAF1214) yarns. I use a single ply of UAF1214 to tie size #14 Killer Bugs. Chadwick's yarn has a softer fuzzier surface, and I therefore pull UAF1214 lengthwise a few times between my thumbnail and index finger in order to pull some of the fiber ends away the yarn's surface. I also unwind the twists of a single ply of UAF1214 before wrapping it as Sawyer described over an underbody of red wire.

The yarn is "Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine", color #1214 ("Steel Cut Oats"), dye lot #2J9711. [Note: this is not the same as Berroco "Ultra Alpaca", "Ultra Alpaca Chunky" or "Ultra Alpaca Light" yarns.] I have no idea how many different dye lots of Berroco UAF1214 are kicking about, but I've handled three. They are similar, but not identical. Dye lot #2J9711 is slightly more reddish than the other two (dye lots #001 and #1101). The yarn is made in Peru and available from quite a few online yarn merchants. One 400m skein will tie an infinite supply of Killer Bugs for you and all your friends.


The Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine #1214 yarn label:
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A faux Killer Bug in action about 10 days ago.
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The fly worked well in the spring creeks of Wisconsin's Driftless area, where scuds and cranefly larvae are quite abundant.


For those of you who might be Chadwick's chasers, the photos below compare Chadwick's 477 to several of the more often discussed substitute yarns. In each photo, Chadwick's is on the bottom.

Chadwick's and Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift #290 (Oyster), which is the yarn of a "Utah Killer Bug". Oyster is very pink!
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Chadwick's and Lion Brand Wool-Ease #403 (Mushroom). Wool-Ease is 86% acrylic, 4% rayon, and only 10% wool. Its base color is a pretty good imitation of Chadwick's 477, but only after the large, dark, coarse fibers are removed one-by-one with forceps. Being mostly synthetic, it doesn't seem to change color when wet quite like yarns of high wool content.
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Chadwick's and Paton's Classic Wool - Worsted #229 (Natural Mix). Paton's is quite tan and grayish tan in color, with patches of darker gray. It contains little if any of the pinkish tinge.
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Chadwick's and two substitute yarns dyed by Tom Waits, whom I get to see occasionally (but not nearly often enough) in Wisconsin.
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My search for a Chadwick's 477 replica is mercifully over. Instead, I'm now on a jag to find authentic ingredients of Tup's Indispensable dubbing. Most of the materials are pretty straight forward, but not so with the creamy yellow wool harvested from the testicles of a white ram. That's a tough one! As with Chadwick's 477, however, the challenge appeals to my historical interests. I almost scored some of the wool recently, but the sheep farmer (father of a friend) reported, "The ram didn’t cooperate". I doubt that I would either. Anybody got some?

Cheers,
Phil Anderson
Email: Third-nospace-Meadow aat outlook dawt com (replace or delete as needed)

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#2

Post by henrysdad »

Nice! ThanIs for sharing your research.
Tom

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#3

Post by bearbutt »

Terrific report, Phil--very much appreciated.

bb

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#4

Post by thegubster »

This is one of the most informative posts I've seen you make Phil, and you've made some good ones! This one takes the cake though.

Both Greg and Tom have sent me some examples to tie up and try and I have, both in our Wis. streams and one time out west on the Madison last Sept. I didn't give them enough time though, maybe this spring.

This is so like you, detailed, thought out and fully explained, even for the likes of bone-headed boys like me! I still remember your nymphing lessons when I thought I "knew"...

Thanks. Guessing your circling and nearing a final pass 'bout now. Got those landing wheels down yet? Hope you have a wonderful season. You simply won't believe what it's like...

Jeremy.

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#5

Post by joaniebo »

Phil

Very good info and nice pics. Looks like you've done you're homework (pun intended for an University prof!).

From this old Bohemian's eyes, it looks like you used a copper colored wire. When I tied some Killer Bugs using various yarns, I noticed a difference when I used a red colored copper wire or red thread over a copper colored wire.

When I wet the various Killer Bugs, I noticed a difference in the "wet color" and wonder whether (or not) the red color underbody makes a difference in the wet appearance of the Killer Bugs?

Cheers

Bob

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#6

Post by ablecane »

Well presented.
Appreciate your efforts!

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#7

Post by jhuskey »

That is a great post with very useful information for those interested in tying The Killer Bug! Thanks very much!

BTW, Pastor Pat may have some Tups wool , but don't think any kind of cooperation had anything to do with anything from a process/processing standpoint"............. :eek

Maybe he'll chime in with his expertise.

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PhilA
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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#8

Post by PhilA »

joaniebo wrote: From this old Bohemian's eyes, it looks like you used a copper colored wire. When I tied some Killer Bugs using various yarns, I noticed a difference when I used a red colored copper wire or red thread over a copper colored wire.

Cheers
Bob
Bob,
The wire is quite red on both the fly and in the photos on my monitor. (The wire is X-Sm red Wapsi Ultra Wire). Maybe a monitor difference? I wrapped a fairly thin covering of yarn over the red wire underbody, and the red definitely shows through on the wet Killer Bugs. I see that more so on the second wet fly (UAF1214) than the first (Chadwick's).

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#9

Post by maruoff »

that is an excellent post, thank you, very well done!!!

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#10

Post by Kenneth »

Phil, what can I say that the others haven't? I'm not much of a nymph user, but I still appreciated the search for perfection.

Thanks so much for doing this and for sharing it with us.

Kenneth

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#11

Post by bvandeuson »

Phil, one more step in your research...how do they compare when wet? Is the Chadwick's also Alpaca, or a different wool? Different wools and hairs can have very different wet characteristics. The original Killer Bug was known for it's translucent quality when wet.

BB

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#12

Post by joaniebo »

Quite awhile back, I posted this old 20 year old article that was sent to me approx. 10 years ago from a European rod forum friend.
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To make it easier, here's what the article stated:

"THE PINKY grey colour which is so attractive to grayling, and was championed by Frank Sawyer and his Killer Bug, is an extremely difficult colour to reproduce, especially now that supplies of the Chadwick's 477 yarn, originally used by Sawyer and discontinued long ago, have dwindled away, swallowed up and secreted in the dusty cabinets of the angling memorabilia collector.

Luckily, the astute Mrs. Sawyer, who continued to tie her husband's flies after his death, invested in a substitute: a thin, three-ply wool possessing the same deadly hue- She bought it in bulk, which was a master stroke because times change quickly and the woollen industry once again recognised that the nondescript ashy pink was not a popular colour in the fashion world, and discontinued this tine as well.

Recently, Ellis Slater bought up all the remaining substitute that Mrs. Sawyer had left, and is now retailing it at 50p per pack (about 7 ½ yards (6 m) ). - A sirnple product, and a very simple fly, but a fly that requires exact coloration. Dare you go grayling fishing without any?"

From what I understand, Frank Sawyer died in 1980, so it would appear that the Killer Bugs that Mrs. Sawyer tied from (at least) 1980 onwards were tied on the substitute yarn that Mrs. Sawyer had purchased .... and that substitute was also discontinued.

So, it would appear that both of the yarns tied / used by the Sawyers have been discontinued and that many of the actual Killer Bugs tied by the Sawyers (at least after 1980) did not use the Chadwicks 477 yarn.

That being said, anyone who has been able to obtain any of the original Chadwicks 477 yarn is very lucky. Lastly, Ellis Slater died a few years ago, so even the Sawyer-sourced substitute may be difficult to find.

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#13

Post by gmflyfish »

THanks for all your photography and hard work. It was great to see the comparisons. I have been unraveling the Patons to get a thinner body. I still use the stock copper wire like Frank, who got them from unwinding motors.

Your stream research does set the tone and it does work. The killer bug is still a great nymph to fish along with a Pheasant Tail.


Gregg

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#14

Post by flyfishingpastor »

Thanks for sharing your research with us! I finally located a couple of cards of the original Chadwick's 477 but they didn't contain much yarn. I think I'll pick up some of the UAF1214. I've never really used the Killer Bug much and I'd hate to find a new fave fly and not have a backup material ready. :)

Pat

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#15

Post by SpringCreek »

Thank you for a very informative and well put together post. I imagine there will be a run on the UAP1214 today!

Jim
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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

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Post by oldschoolcane »

What an enjoyable post, thanks for taking the time to do this.

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

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Post by PhilA »

Thanks for the kind words gents.

I forgot to say yesterday that I'll gladly send samples of the Berroco UAF1214 if you would like to try it. Send a messge via the board messaging system or to my email address (in the post above) with your mailing address. I'll send a sample of the yarn.

Frank Sawyer published his Killer Bug recipe in 1958, and even then he described Chadwick's 477 as "not very easy to obtain". Did that ever prove to be an understatement! By the mid-1960s (1965, I think), the manufacturer discontinued #477. As described above by joaniebo, even Sawyer and his family had to find a substitute yarn later in life. Fearing the same fate with my Chadwick's substitute, I now own about a mile of the dye lot discussed above. I've plenty to spare!

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

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Post by PhilA »

thegubster wrote:Guessing your circling and nearing a final pass 'bout now. Got those landing wheels down yet? Hope you have a wonderful season. You simply won't believe what it's like...
Jeremy.
Jeremy, the flaps are extended, but the wheels aren't down yet. Another year, maybe two.

bvandeuson wrote:Phil, one more step in your research...how do they compare when wet? Is the Chadwick's also Alpaca, or a different wool? Different wools and hairs can have very different wet characteristics. The original Killer Bug was known for it's translucent quality when wet.
BB
BB, in the middle of my post above are photos of both wet and dry versions of Chadwick's-tied and UAF1214-tied Killer Bugs. When wet, both might be described as "rare meat red". The red wire underbody seems to contribute quite a lot to that final color. Both yarns (by themselves) become much darker when wet, but they are not as red as in the final Killer Bugs. If true, then the thickness of yarn tied over the wire underbody is important. I tied the Killer Bugs above with two thin layers of yarn (yarn ply untwisted and laying flat).

I have no idea what kind of wool Chadwick's yarn is made from. It is a very fine (small fibered) yarn, but I've never seen an accounting of the wool content.

I fish a lot of nymphs and hope to give Killer Bugs plenty of stream time this year. I should be able to compare them to some of my favorite nymphs by fishing the two as a tandem pair.

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#19

Post by joaniebo »

Phil

In my previous post, I neglected to say thanks for all the research you did and for the info you provided us - so, THANKS guy, appreciate it!

Bob

PS - What I also neglected to directly mention in my previous post that although finding a card of Chadwicks' 477 yarn might be the Holy Grail for fly tying the Sawyer Killer Bug nymphs, it would be interesting to learn exactly when Chadwicks stopped making the 477 yarn?

In this article:
http://troutunderground.com/2006/11/the ... cant-have/

it's stated that: "In 1958 Chadwick’s 477 was, to quote Sawer, “not very easy to obtain”. Naturally Chadwick’s immediately ceased production of the stuff, knowing that flyfishermen as a breed are particularly susceptible to the allure of arcane materials."

If this article is correct, then it would seem that most Killer Bugs tied from the late 1950s onwards may have been tied with something other than the Chadwicks 477 yarn. What was that "other yarn" used by the Sawyer family for the Killer Bugs they tied and sold? Was it the yarn purchased / sold via Ellis Slater or was there more than one yarn used by the Sawyer family?

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Re: Chadwick's 477 -- a better substitute

#20

Post by narcodog »

I posted this earlier and evidently I didn't hit the correct button. I bought some of the substitute yarn that Sawyer's wife used in later years a long with Sawyer tyed KB and SPT from here. http://www.flyhookfiller.se. The site is in Swedish but you can work your way through it fairly well.

To me at this time in my life history of flies and materials is as much of importance than almost fishing. When someone puts this much effort into a post it makes my heart sing.

There are a couple of sites that I did frequent more but they have since gotten away from the history of the originators and material.

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