Our Man In Canada
January 5th, 2003

Tradition & Innovation
Hamill's Killer: A Canadian Variation
By Sheldon Seale

The Hamill's Killer is a New Zealand pattern used very successfully (or so I'm told) on some of the large lakes there. The late Maurice Howe, a long time member of the Izaak Walton Fly Fishing Club in Toronto, aware of this pattern's excellent reputation, tried tying it from memory sometime in the 1970s or 1980s. As it turned out, his memory wasn't quite as accurate as he thought, and he got the wing wrong. However, serendipity being what it is, a Canadian pattern was born that has proved to be just as effective as it's down under predecessor.

The original Hamill's Killer was tied with wings on the sides of the hook (one feather per side, see photo above), which gave the pattern a nice silhouette. Howe tied the wing flat on top, "killer" style, which, in the 1950s and 1960s, was a fairly standard term used to describe patterns with one or two flank feathers tied flat over the body as the wing. These include the Canadian Killer and other related patterns.


    Hook: 3X or 4X long nymph/streamer type hook, sizes 10-2.

    Thread: Black 6/0.

    Tail: Black bear, sparse, under golden pheasant tippet (half the length of the bear).

    Body: Yellow chenille, medium, may be weighted.

    Wing: 2 dark-green dyed mallard flank feathers, tied flat, [shown yellow here.]

    Throat: Grizzly hen hackle fibers or similar (optional).

Tying Step

1. Weight your hook, if you wish, and at the bend, tie in a sparse quantity of black bear (or black squirrel tail) hair the length of the hook shank for the tail. Add some golden pheasant tippet - the same length. Expose the thread core of some medium yellow chenille, and tie it in at the base of the tail.

2. Wrap the yellow chenille forward in touching turns to form the body. Leave enough room at the front for the head and wing. Secure the chenille with thread, and trim the excess chenille. If you wish to add a throat, now's the time to tie it in. If you don't add a throat, build up a little thread to smooth the transition between the head of the fly and the body. If you don't do this, you will have trouble keeping the wing down over the back of the fly.

3. Select two dark-green [shown yellow here] dyed mallard flank feathers; one should curve left and one right with their concave sides down. After stripping away the fluffy stuff at the base of the feathers, the feathers should cover the body and the golden pheasant tippet with laid over the fly. Lay one feather on top of the other, concave sides down, and hold them over the body so the bare stems start at the head. Take two loose turns of thread over the bare stems to hold them in place. Draw the feathers forward by the stems until the orange of the golden pheasant tippet on the tail is exposed. You just need a 1/8 of an inch (2 mm) to show. You will have to guide the feathers with your left hand as you position the wing correctly. You want the wing to sort of cup the body. Now, take three tight wraps of thread to secure the wing. Do not trim the feather stems.

4. Make three more turns of thread forward in touching turns. Now, grasp the feather stems, and fold them right back over the feather. If this is done correctly, you will now be able to secure the feathers with three or four tight wraps of thread.

5. Trim the feathers stems now. Form a nice, neat head, whip finish, cut the thread, and lacquer the head.

There are any number of colour combinations of body and wing that you can use for this pattern. Try a yellow body with a yellow wing or an orange body with a reddish-brown wing. I have a friend whose favourite colours are black body with a garish bright-pink wing - a rather bizarre combinations, but it seems to work.

Current Issue

In the yellow-green or orange/brown combinations the Canadian Hamill's Killer is a pretty good crawfish imi8tation. I find the yellow/green seems to work in still water, while the orange/brown works best in rivers. This might have something to do with the colour of the crayfish in these waters. I believe that the little point of orange in the tail imitates the tips of the claws as a crawfish flees backward from a fish. As for the other colours, who can say? The all-yellow might suggest a perch or similar small baitfish. The black/pink may just attract their attention.

I do know that a Canadian Hamill's Killer catches just about everything in the water - just the ticket for browns, rainbows, steelhead, bass, and even walleye. ~ SS

Credit: Excerpt from the January/March 2004 issue of The Canadian Fly Fisher. We appreciate use permission.

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