Riffling Hitch + "Waking" Drys [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Riffling Hitch + "Waking" Drys

07-18-2006, 01:26 PM
While in fishing the rivers on the north coast of the Kola, I was among many keen fisherman from England, Scotland and France who religiously used the riffling hitch on the Kharlovfka, E.Litza, Pana and Varzuga. As the water levels dropped, and the fish got tough, the guys using the riffling hitch out scored the others.

On my early years on the Matane and Matapedia, you rarely heard anyone even mention the riffling hitch. My question to the board is; does the riffling hitch work well with Gaspe Salmon and is it used a lot.

Also, in Russia, dry fly fishing was done either with dead drifting the fly and with sweeping the dry.... Guys would sweep a big bomber down a pool and get some great takes.....while on the Matane, as soon as the dry starts to "wake" it is lifted and recast, while in Russia, that "wake" would be fished until at dead drift. Has anyone had experience and success with "waking" drys on the Gaspe Rivers?


Salar 33
07-18-2006, 02:12 PM
Dear Howie,

When I was fishing the Matapedia in late June a very interesting thing happened. It was mid day and I was waiting for the evening sessions at Glenn Emma. I decided to get some lunch at a canteen in Causapscal. After lunch I went to the park at the forks to watch some other sports.

One of the anglers was fishing a brown bomber of medium size. He was fishing in the typical Matapedia way to hit the water, dead drift for a few feet and pick up. No action to this method. In the middle of a drift he decided to move down river. The fellow looked to his left and took a step making the fly inadvertently pull for a very short distance. A salmon hit the fly on the move and was gone before the angler could turn back and react.

He looked back at me and could only ask "how big do you think it was"?

To answer your question, I think it works both ways.


07-18-2006, 03:52 PM

In my experience on the Gaspe very few people fish hitched flies. The people who do are folks who have picked it up from others or who have dones some fishing in Labrador and Newfoundland where hitching flies is pretty commonplace.

Personally I hitch flies everyday that I fish but I find them to be a bit more productive as the water levels drop.

Best 3 flies for hitching in my opinion are blue charm, green machine, and nighthawk. I am sure others have different patterns that work just as well.

Bill Greiner

07-18-2006, 05:13 PM
Few things I've done can rival the excitement (and amazement!) derived from an explosive take on a riffle hitched fly. I've had steelhead hit the fly so hard that I would swear the white-spray explosion in fast water rivaled the zeal of a baby tarpon of equivalent size (sans the impact of a silver king's jaw structure).

More often than not I would cast to the rapids to set the swing up and before the fly got onto the flat water the fish would torpedo it through the tail of the rapids!

I've had the best luck first thing in the AM or in the evening as light dims. I believe the wake seals the deal when there is a hint of want in the fish, a trigger mechanism.

Nice aspect of riffle hitching is that it's a perfect match to the Spey cast; just hitch it perpendicular to the current to face the bank you're on.

07-19-2006, 08:32 AM
I tend to believe that Salmon behave quite similar regardless of where you 're fishing them. Even in areas where drys are rarely used, because you've heard that "fish here don't like drys", my guess would be that they do take drys, but rarely does anyone use them. I would tend to believe that stands true with hitching flies as well. Perhaps the Gaspe fisherman don't use hitched flies, thus no talk of the need to do it. But if it makes sense in Russia or in Iceland, and perhaps in Norway, why not on the Gaspe?

Salmon are basically all the same, and all of them basically do what all of them do. They don't eat, they come to spawn, yet they wind up in the river where as pars, they ate anything that came their way. They strike because get annoyed while they rest, or they are protecting their territory (defense), or perhaps they are day dreaming about their childhood......and take that juicy bug coming their way. What ever it is, they all do it.

The guy on the forks missed his take because he discounted the fact that his fly was skating accross the surface......and bam. In Russia, that drift would have been watched carefully during it's dead drift and then right into the sweep. Perhaps this guy learned something. I remember one day on the Midfiordera in Iceland, where I worked a difficult fish. He came to the wet at first. After t located him, I fished a dry......something that was not too common for that river. I could not get him up again until I went well below him, cast slightly above him, and stripped fast so the fly came streaking right to where he was. He came took it hard on that first try. I guess he was just pissed off........or in complete defense of his turf.

This question is to Juro ; What knots do you use to riffle your flies? And does it really matter which angle the hitch comes off at since you can either have an underhand hitch coming out in one direction, while the same knot forms an overhand hitch to the other direction. Please explain, because I would love to master the hitch......


Earle Fletcher
07-19-2006, 09:01 AM
I landed my first Atlantic Salmon in 1964 on a riffling hitch on Portland Creek, Newfoundland. This fishing technique has been good to me ever since. I have caught salmon on the Matane, Dartmouth, St.-Jean, Matapedia and George rivers in Quebec, 3 different rivers in Maine plus other rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador. This past June, however, I never raised a salmon on the St.-Jean and York rivers. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, just like any other salmon fishing method. Since you always see the salmon take your fly, it is almost as exciting as dry fly fishing. My favorite hitching fly is a Green Butt tied on a #6 light wire Tiemco 7989 salmon hook.

Howie, you should get yourself a copy of Art Lee's book about fishing the riffling hitch. You will get enough detail to take you 2 seasons of salmon fishing to digest.

07-19-2006, 09:18 AM

The hitch does work well on the Gaspe rivers that I have fished; but, few people (for whatever reasons) use it.

Many a day when nothing else has worked on the Gaspe the "hitch" saves the day. Jim Babb, editor of Grays was up this year and was struggling. By the end of the week 3 of his 4 fish came on a small green machine hitched.

Earle comments about Art Lee's book are right on. It is a very good book and I recommend it if you have not read it.


07-19-2006, 09:40 AM
Howie -

Compared to Art Lee's magnum opus I am just a tinkerer; but my answer would be that it depends on the fly.

Certainly a fly tied in the round (like a tube fly etc) with a loose hook makes no difference when hitched, but in some cases I like the fly to ride up at a specific angle to the current with the iron down and this can be best achieved by hitching perpendicular to the flow.

Let's say we took a spun deer fly and hitched it so the hitch tagged off with the point up off the right side of the head. In other words, if the deerhead had eyes the fly would be upside down with the hitch coming off the right eye inverted. When you apply tension against the surface film the hook could ride up (depending on the pattern).

You pointed out hitching from the bottom, but some flies have symmetric / opposing features like wings that you want to be parallel to the water instead of having one plowing in the water with the other one out. In this case the applied tension keeps the fly right to the river side you are on.

How to tell if this is the case - see if the fly rides up and skates well between you and the shore. If so then it doesn't matter. I fish it like that either bank, around corners, etc. If it skates right to the middle of the river and not to the shore, then it does matter and I adjust from bank to bank or change the fly. That's how I check it anyway.

I will admit that in fast water it matters little in fact the spun deer itself will probably do the trick. But the slower and slicker the surface the more these little details play a role IMHO.

Great thread.

07-19-2006, 01:51 PM
Earl, that's some very powerful information. Being your first "ticket" to success, I'm sure you put it to some use through the 30 or so years till now. As you say, even if it works sometimes, it's another trick to use that separates those who land fish, and those who don't.......sometimes.

You mention a #6 Tiemco light wire. Do you get smaller than that and perhaps go to a #10? Just curious, since as the season progresses and the water levels are going down.

And thanks for recomending Art Lee's book. I know of the book, yet didn't think about looking for it. I will buy it for sure the next time I visit my supply shop, as I like to give him all the business I can. If I learn anything "profound" I'll let you know.

Juro, Now I get it. Only an overhand hitch, with the tag coming out from the top of the head theoretically will make the fly ride right side up, hook down. So it must be changed from pool to pool depending on whether it is a right or left handed pool. Turn corners.....in a pinch.

I hear all about this "green machine", yet in the rivers I fished, it was never part of the arsinel. I pulled many Green Machines at 7 - 10 knots out at the 100 fathom curve for tuna and marlin. But I am not familiar with that pattern, although something tells me that it may be similar to what they called the "Buck Bug" on the Miramachi......I river that I fished three days and four grilse later decided it was not the river for me. Anyway, if you can send the pattern, I would appreciate it. Is this fly among your favorite hitched patterns?


07-19-2006, 02:24 PM
The Midfjadara- what a great river!!! I fished it for 4 days a few years ago when I was in Iceland for a couple of memorable weeks of salmon fishing. They had a way of using small plastic tubes size 14 where there was a hole in the side of the tube where the leader comes out. This way you are always pulling from the side and it hitches flawlessly.

Art Lee's book is a must have for any salmon fisherman. Of course he is a great writer and really goes through everything you need to know including making some slight modifications in the way you tie the heads of your flies ( Having enough room for the hitch).

Personally, I like to put 2 hitches on the fly, this way it really rides high, and the hitch doesn't come off.

Bottom line for me, if you have an interested salmon, never forget to try the hitch on him, it can have explosive results.

Tight Lines,

Jim Y

07-19-2006, 04:06 PM

The green machine that I use is fairly sparse (I can email you a photo if you like). I find hitching 8 and 10 single hook flies to be most effective as they "stay up" better than do double hooks or larger singles.

Like Jim, I also put 2 hitches on to ensure that the fly stays hitched.

If you can't find a copy of the book let me know; I think I have some signed copies at the lodge and could certainly send you one.


07-19-2006, 07:55 PM
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the offer. I did visit my friend at the local fly shop, and he did not have the book. Your offer to send me a copy is very generous. If I can repay you in anyway, I will. My email address is howardgaber@hotmail.com I also am very interested in tying patterns unfamiliar to me. Please send me the specs and photo, if possible. I need to learn as much about the hitch and any new patterns prior to my next trip in August. I want to get the knots down.....prior to my trip. For some reason, those hitch knots always confused me. Looking forward to hearing from you.


07-20-2006, 05:04 AM

i have got bought a very good dvd for hitchfishing. the name is 'cracking the code' from henrik mortensen.
he gives realy good tipps also for fishing the sunray shadow.

-black forest-