William Powell Country

Fishing the Hitch


Article written by 30 August 2012

It was during time served on the Naver during low water that I discovered fishing the hitch. I say I discovered it, but what I mean is that I was shown it by Tommie the ghillie, if I remember right.

The principle is that the fly is tied in such a way that it is carried breadth ways across the current either by the flow if it is strong enough, or by hand lining. This pulls the fly over the surface of the water creating a highly visible and fish enticing v shaped wake behind it.

This is enabled either by using a plastic tube fly with the line passed through a hole in the side, or by tying a hitch knot, which secures a traditional fly just behind the eye.

This type of fishing has a number of benefits:

You can see at all times whether the fly is fishing right, or whether it is moving unnaturally. This is invaluable to beginners to the sport, teaching them what their fly would look and move like underwater in certain casts. Playing with the angle of the cast showing the difference in speed of presentation is a great lesson.

You can see most follows, and where salmon drop short or come and have a splash near it, which starts to create a picture of how the fish are behaving and gives the opportunity to change fly size or angle of the cast. Considering how often this must happen without the angler noticing when fishing sub surface, the method feels quite empowering.

It is simply phenomenally exciting. Watching a hitch through squinted eyes on a darkening midsummer evening, making its irresistible wake as the midges hum around your face, then suddenly experiencing the noisy eruption of the surface at the fly is a sensory overload.

And what comes next is a type of torture. You must not strike, or that fish will spit the hook. Restrain your inner trout angler, and simply trap the line to the rod with the forefinger. He will turn back hard, and if he meant business he will hook himself properly, and the fight will be on. He will probably be fresh too so enjoy the spectacle of cartwheels across the river.

It is not unusual for fish to drop short. If he does, relax for five minutes, resting the water. Walk half a dozen casts upstream and follow your last approach exactly. If he comes short again, repeat, but this time try changing something; angle of the cast, speed of retrieve, hover the fly in the stream. Keep trying. As the bomber fishers from over the pond would note, you have a taking fish so work on him. I have had fish come and look half a dozen times or more before catching them.

I can honestly say some of my most memorable salmon fishing experiences have been on shrunk highland rivers, with my T&T 5 weight in hand, fishing into the darkness for summer grilse.


William Church

Born and raised in the Essex countryside, will has been fishing since the age of 7. He has a particular love of fly fishing in rivers, however is not averse to using just about any method for any fish in any water where there’s.. Read more.

Have you got a story or article you’d like to write for us?

Write a piece for William Powell Country, and get in contact with us.