Thursday, December 13, 2012

Featured Fly Tier: George Maciag and his "Killer" fly

About a year and a half ago, I decided to take a fly tying class at the local LL Bean with my stepfather. Our teacher was George Maciag. At that point, I was self taught, learning from Youtube and copying what I saw on different forums. My flies weren't great, but they worked. I thought I was pretty good....until I met George. George is an amazing fly tier and a hell of a fisherman. With his science background, it sometimes felt like I was in biology class. He would show you the correct way to tie in a feather, but then explain why it should be that way, whether to be anatomically correct, or to give the fly better action. I learned a huge amount of knowledge from his class. He's also one heck of a fisherman, and I've seen many pics of his steelhead from his trips to the Erie tribs and the Salmon River.

You can catch George at the upcoming Fly Fishing Show this January in Somerset NJ. Make sure you check out his woven stoneflies. They are a thing of beauty. Although it appears his most famous pattern is "George's Killer". I've heard this fly mentioned dozens of times on the stream and online, and it can be found right up front in the Heritage Fly Shop on the Little Lehigh, available for purchase. George was nice enough to provide a bio and step by step patterns on tying the killer.

He can be reached via his website,

George Maciag has been involved in fly fishing and fly tying since childhood.
He holds college degrees in biology and biology education. His many interests include
entomology, nature photography, and stream ecosystems. As a person who taught
high school and college biology for many years, he is skilled at communicating his
knowledge about the life cycles of fish and the organisms upon which they feed.
George keeps pace with the technological advances in fly tying while maintaining
his passion for classical patterns and materials used in the past. He is particularly
interested in the Catskill style of tying wet and dry flies. The timeless feather-winged
streamers that originated in the Rangeley Lake region of Maine are another area of
The Fly Fishing Show and the International Fly Tying Symposium, both in
Somerset NJ, are two major events in which George participates as a celebrity tyer. He
is also featured in the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing show at the Valley Forge Convention
George is currently serving as the fly fishing professional at the Saucon Valley
Country Club. In addition, he is a fly tying instructor and naturalist at the Graystones
Preserve in the Pocono Mountains. George also teaches fly tying and casting at the
L.L. Bean store in Center Valley PA. He has also instructed at numerous fly shops and
gives both private and group lessons. His classes are very popular since he has the
ability to combine science and humor to the sometimes complicated mechanics of fly
Among flies of his personal design are; George’s Killer, George’s Thing, and
George’s Woven John.
His teaching skills are a tremendous benefit to anyone wishing to learn the
intricacies of fly fishing.

George’s Killer
Note: This is not the original white headed pattern originated by Kutztown legend, Frank Keim. This version was modified by George Maciag in 2004.
Materials List:
Hook: 3 or 4 X long streamer hook. (Mustad 79580 works well)
Thread: Red (210 denier for tying on the tail. 70 denier to tie in the mallard flanks.
Bead-head: Any color, size of bead to match hook size.
Weight: Lead wire
Tail: Squirrel tail
Wing: Four Mallard breast feathers. Colors can vary.
Lateral line: Krystal flash
Eye: Painted
Hook size
Bead size
Lead (10 wraps)
Tying instructions:
  • Fit bead onto hook.
  • Take 10 turns of lead wire behind the bead. Add a dab of superglue then quickly tuck the lead wire into the bead. The lead not only weights the pattern but provides a foundation upon which to tie the mallard feathers.
  • Trim a clump of squirrel tail. Place the butts against the lead wire. Secure with a layer of red thread. Be sure the red thread completely covers the squirrel.
  • Trim the squirrel to form a short, squared off tail. The tail should not extend more than a few millimeters beyond the hook bend.
  • Lacquer the thread and lead and set aside to dry. (Prepare several of these and then proceed to the next step)
  • When the lacquer is dry, wet the four mallard feathers and tie them in using the following sequence; one on the underside, one on the top, one on the far side and finally one on the near side. It is important to stroke the feathers into a bullet shape.
  • Use a fingernail clipper to trim the butts of the mallard flanks.
  • One more important note is that the feathers should just barely cover the squirrel tail. The beauty of this fly is that there are few short strikes since there is not much of a tail.
  • Build up the gill/thorax area with the red thread.
  • Tie in strands of Krystal flash on each side. On sizes 12 & 10 use one folded piece of flash (resulting in two strands on each side) for larger sizes, use two pieces resulting in 4 strands on each side.
  • When applying the Krystal flash, do not use too much thread tension. This allows the flash to lie nicely along the sides of the fly.
  • Whip finish.
  • Lacquer the thread area. When dry, paint eyes on the red thread.
  • When the eyes are dry, apply a coat of hard as nails to cover the eyes and thread.
Variation: Egg-Munching Minnow
    • Use a hot orange or salmon colored bead. Also, use brown thread rather than red for tying in the flank feathers. Brown flank looks good. Use red thread to tie in the squirrel tail.


  1. Great post. Instructions are "spot on" and this is an easy tie. Very interesting fly that I will be using this spring. Thank you!!

    1. No problem. Thank George for supplying all the info.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!