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This is one of our main pages here on Fishmadman – We are dedicated riffling hitch anglers and we do our best to keep up with the latest details on our sport – We know your going to like this page and recommend the other pages – on the subject – seen on the right side menu. Feel free to write us with any questions on the subject – or contact us through the chat forum on

Atlantic salmon on riffling hitch tube fly
Some of the greatest takes during the salmon season is most likely the unexpected (or expected) snapping of jaws on your hitch fly…it is a sensation hard to beat. Here a 95 cm (37.4 inch.) July fish…fresh from the sea. Hitch fly: Green Hitchman


Riffling Hitch fly

Riffling Hitch is a technique that is entwined in the world of dry fly fishing and for that matter also wake-fly fishing.

We would like to separate it from both fishing forms and give it status as a unique sport.

Riffling Hitch is a form of fly-fishing centred around the fly movement on the surface and often very little commotion is needed to get full attention from the fish it originally was designed to catch: the Atlantic Salmon.

For the angler pursuing Atlantic salmon, the Riffling Hitch technique would probably best be described as a quite sport with lightly dressed flies that make a diminutive wake in the surface.  Overdo the wake or commotion feature and it may actually scare the fish more than it will tempt them.

Riffling hitch fishingThe riffling hitch fly works great on many rivers in the Nothern Hemisphere. It is not always predictable at what time the hitch fly is most efficient, but as soon as insects are visible by the river bank – then there will be a good chance that the hitch technique could be up and running – Here a small clear tube fly – The V-FLY silver tippet...seen from the Salmons point of view

Riffling Hitch: Not dry fly nor wake-fly

Salmon on riffling hitch
 Riffling Hitch: the choice of fly for June July and well into August…if your fishing Nothern Norway …here a 92 centimetres (36 inches) Atlantic Salmon caught on Fishmadman…super hitch fly …the Green Hitchman… See fly in shop
The Hitchman Riffling hitch fly
Big or small hooks….?  We fish this fly with a miniature Owner or Partridge treble hooks # 14 – 16…but you can also use a single hook if you prefer. Riffling hitch flies tied on tube are quite versatile that way. Hooking abilities are great on small hooks that make very little damage to fish like this big Atlantic salmon…With such hooks we aim to hook the salmon in its thick skin in its mouth rather than penetrating the mouth tissue or pallet with a big single hook…something anglers rarely think about …. Fly the great Green Hitchman… See fly in the shop 
NB. Scarres on the fish probably comes from a net or a close encounter with an otter or seal
Read more about how to prepare for big fish on light tackle here
Gold Hitchman riffling hitch fly

The Hitchman Fly ….probably one of the best riffling hitch flies you can use… Combination of see-through features…high impression shimmering material combined with hairs from squirrel tail makes this tiny fly perfect for the job

What does the Riffling Hitch fly represent ?

An adult salmon grabbing a drifting insect in the surface or a small nymph-like wet fly below the surface is a part of the salmon life that easily could be explained with the experience it has had as parr in the river – Experiences that is part of a mutual genetic memory that Atlantic salmon has built on for 100 million years.

But what about the Riffling Hitch fly – what does this odd fly represent?

Salmon eat in fresh waterWe know that the parr of the Atlantic salmon is one of the most if not the most surface orientated hunters of the Salmonidae family. Various terrestrial’s like beetles, spiders, and crane flies along with water insects like Stoneflies, Mayflies and Caddisfly may be on the menu card.

Left: Partly dissolve land and water insects – taken from the stomach of an Atlantic salmon in Northern Norway – Some salmon do eat during their stay in the river! …and for some reason, particularly those inhabiting the rivers in the far North of Norway – Something biologist Mr. M Johanesen from University of Tromsø, Norway has made a study on Read more

Caddisfly is a historic snack

The Caddisfly is an insect of importance to the juvenile salmon and trout – it will periodically frequent the river systems and trail forth and back on the water surface laying eggs – doing so they will make a fine V-wake behind them. The caddisfly also leaves tracks on the surface when they try to leave the water to become fully developed insects. Even though we can’t be conclusive about what the riffling hitch flies represent – we know that caddisfly patterns like our Monster Tube Caddis and small Riffling Hitch flies are very efficient When caddisfly insects are abundant at the river – in times of caddisfly hatches adult salmon will also be more eager to rise to other floating fly patterns – one could say that the abundance of insects spurs a greater awareness in adult salmon entering the river.

Caddis locked in a piece of amberIt would be naïve to accredit the success of particular flies or fishing methods like riffling hitch to insect life as we see it today – Hunting skills and levels of curiosity with various species of fish could very well have been formed 10´s of millions of years ago when rivers and insect life might have looked different from now.

Photo: A small caddisfly locked in time and space in this piece of amber from the Eocene epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago – The caddisfly insect is found fossilized in rock dating even further back  – to The Triassic about 250 to 200 million years ago – It could be neat to believe that the success with the Riffling Hitch techniques was linked with the life and behaviour of the caddisfly.

caddis pupa

caddis insect

Adult caddisfly fluttering across the river surface – And a caddisfly pupa that just has left the casing trying to get to safety on dry land. Dangerous moments in the life of the Caddis – and maybe it is this particular behaviour of the caddisfly insect that makes the riffling hitch technique so efficient – the insect trying to leave the water

Waking insects through millions of years

Do salmon eat in the river ?

Shimmering material on hitch flies attract fresh running salmon

There is no doubt that shimmering and twinkling material has a great effect on Atlantic salmon this effect is also very prominent with riffling hitch flies, something we have seen with various flies we have used over the years. It is like the combination of clear tubing and iridescent material makes fresh running salmon hit the fly. It could be that the small hitch flies resemble small fleeing baitfish f.o sandeels or small juvenile herrings like these two found in the stomach of a freshly caught salmon. See our separate page on what salmon eat in the sea

Read more about our thoughts and ideas on iridescent and shimmering material in flies here

The Hitchman Riffling Hitch Tube Fly

Tiny fleeing baitfish - is that what the hitch fly resembles?

Here the very effective Hitchman fly available in the Fishmadman shop – A clear tube fly with small iridescent features. A perfect combination for fresh running salmon

The Hitchman Fly

Fresh from the sea …87 cm (34 1/4 inch) This Atlantic Salmon…did not hesitate one second when it took the tiny Hitchman riffling hitch fly (This series of iridescent tube hitch flies will be avaliable in the Fishmadman shop from 2020)

During dusk the fish had moved out of the main stream into 20 inches of slow water and fly had to be worked (fished with added speed) to gain the needed hitch effect.

Hitching in fishing history

Riffling Hitch as a fishing technique arose during almost a century of fly fishing traditions. Allegedly the method was developed as a coincidence by Newfoundland anglers who in the beginning of 20th century would have recycled damaged gut-eye flies discarded by English visitors …

Flies were recycled by tying them directly to the leaders using a series of hitches… Evidently, that would have made the flies trail in the surface – creating that all-important V-shaped wake

The Beuly Snowfly - Victorian salmon fly with eye made of twisted gutVictorian salmon fly The Beauly Snow fly – with an eye of twisted gut. Allegedly the Riffling Hitch method was developed as a coincidence when anglers from Portland Creek in Newfoundland started re-using discarded gut-eye flies

Flies were recycled by tying them directly to the leaders using a series of hitches… Evidently, that would have made the flies trail in the surface

The 1940's

During the 1940’s Lee Wulff saw local salmon anglers at the Portland Creek in Newfoundland using the Riffling Hitch technique or riveling hitch as it also is called by the Portland Creekers.  Through his life as an outdoor journalist, he popularized the Riffling Hitch sport. Still today it is a favored sport on many Canadian salmon rivers and accounts for thousands of fish being caught every year.

Portland Creek - the cradle of the riffling hitch technique

hitch fly the Portland methoid

Fly tied to the tippet the traditional Portland way – Here done on one of our special Riffling Hitch Blue Charm flies – Fly is attached with a normal grinner knot…then a double hitch is tied to the head of the fly…When tying flies for riffling hitch fishing remember to make enough room in front of the head of the fly to be able to make the double hitch.

Lee Wulff Hitch Specials

Lee Wulff Hitch Specials
Lee Wulff Hitch Specials
Lee Wulff Hitch Specials

This box-set of 4 single hook flies is a true example of Lee´s ingenuity and a deep interest in riffling hitch fishing. This box-set was initially one of two available, sets of experimental flies that Lee Wulff designed with a moulded body of nylon – a form of body design he also incorporated in his famed Surface Stonefly patterns.

Hitch flies the European way

Riffling Hitch Flies on tubeAlso, the UK and Scandinavian anglers enjoy the fruit of the Canadian coincidence, but where anglers in Canada will work the Riffling Hitch the traditional Portland way with hitched knots and flies tied on single or double hooks – Scandinavian and UK anglers will use a small tube fly with a hole in the body. The hole or holes will either be on the side or as on our V-FLY:  in the center of the belly.

Read more about Riffling Hitch know How and the Portland Hitch Knot

Right: A batch of  Fishmadman V-FLY a super Riffling Hitch fly  Buy salmon & steelhead flies

Riffling Hitch V-FLY seen from below
Here: Small Riffling Hitch V-FLY ™ seen from the salmon’s point of view
Hitch fly on tube - micro tube fly
Here: riffling hitch fly: how it makes a V on the surface

1976 the earliest mentioning of riffling hitch flies tied on a tube

It is probably in an issue of the UK fishing magazine Trout & Salmon from May 1976 that the angling society learns about the very first riffling hitch fly tied on a tube.

Trout and salmon May 1976 riffling hitch

It is probably in an issue of the UK fishing magazine Trout & Salmon from May 1976 that the angling society learns about the very first riffling hitch fly tied on a tube. The author Mr. Geoffrey Hopton mention how to add a hole to the side of the tube to make the tube go to the surface.

The Trout & Salmon story from 1976 does sadley enough not show any photos of the very earlie tube-hitch fly but the text decribe it in detail how it is made and a small b & w illustration showes the principal of the design. Please take the time to read this fine article on surface fishing for salmon…Find article here

Special thanks go out too long time riffling hitch angler Mr. Martin Stansfeld for helping us find this historic piece of data. Martin is also the proude owner of the Kinnaber beat on the North Esk River in Angus Scotland. A great beat for fishing the riffling hitch fly

Trout & Salmon may 1976 riffling hitch

The Trout & Salmon story from 1976 does sadley enough not show any photos of the very earlie tube-hitch fly but the text decribe it in detail how it is made and a small b & w illustration showes the principal of the design.

1980´s Derek Knowles Yellow Dolly Fly - One of the first riffling hitch tube flies

Mr. Derek Knowles was one of the first anglers who deliberately used plastic tubing to tie hitch flies on – Derek Knowles both used his tiny tube flies – waking across the river… but also fished his flies at deaddrift

Yellow Dolly Derek KnowlesIn a chapter in Hugh Falkus book: Salmon Fishing from 1984 and later in the book; Salmon on a Dry Fly from 1987 by Mr Knowles, European anglers learn a new approach to salmon fishing, with tiny floating flies fish across the surface.

Right: The Yellow Dolly fly from the 1980´s – From the hands Mr Knowles. one of the grandfathers of the riffling hitch tube flies European anglers use today.

1988 Mr. Crawford Little writes about the riffling hitch tube fly with a hole in the side

Crawford Little Success with salmon hitch tube fly English salmon guide and author Mr. Crawford Little who in his book: Success with Salmon from 1988, was one of the first anglers to published an example of the special tube that would pull to the surface – A tube that would have the leader inserted through the side or belly of the tube as opposed to the conventional way where the tube was inserted through the front of the tube.

Crawford Little used the analogy between the technique of ottering a rowing boat in a river and the way one could build a tube fly that would pull to the surface

Ottering - riffling hitch

In the the book Success with salmon Mr Crawford expains about the hitch tube flies Mr Crawford Little used the analogy between the technique of ottering a rowing boat in a river and the way one could build a tube fly that would pull to the surface. Ottering is best described as the way one can force an object to cut away from you by pulling from the side of the object. Here it is trolling anglers using a so-called: Sideplaner or planer board to pull plugs and bait away from the boat.

Here the popular Munroe Killer on a tiny Riffling Hitch tube. This fly is made with holes in both sides. This version can be used from left and right bank of the river  – using either left or right side hole on the fly.

making a riffling hitch fly

Hole in the side or in the belly of the riffling hitch tube fly?

We have a highly technical page explaining some of the aquadynamic aspects of building the ultimate hitch tube flies …Take me to this nerdy page.

Riffle hitch and waking fly - tricks and inspiration

Salmon flies are not equally good to use as Riffling Hitch flies  ! There will be fly patterns that work better than other

Siberian Pygmy SquirrelUse thin hair! We have through the years noticed how Riffling Hitch flies tied with squirrels hair has a particular alluring ability… The best hair is to be found on tails from small or young squirrels, we, therefore, recommend you hand-pick the squirrel tails for your fly tying – or buy them from us.

If you tie your Riffling Hitch patterns on a single or double hook you should leave enough room in front of the hook so you will be able to fit in the hitch knots.

Riffling Hitch FishmadmanRiffling Hitch in high & brown river

Fishing a tiny fly on the surface during periods of a rising river going muddy – might not be the first thing that springs to mind… never the less… Riffling Hitch can be an extremely efficient technique under such circumstances. Fish will be traveling close to the bank and surface… keep the fly on a short line – work yourself downstream with short casts and a rod held high. Be ready for a pounding heart when Mr. salmon comes hammering out of the surface. In case you hook up on such a short-line – strike immediately

The Riffling hitch fly will fish well in many of the same places you normally would want to fish with a sub-fly – But a small hitched fly will also fish slow water, which could be otherwise very difficult to fish.  Broken water like this small run is in my book the best kind of hitch water – the take can almost invisible to that of cascades of water as the salmon hit the fly.

Shallow rivers is normally prime rivers for the riffling hitch technique – but the depth of water is not a bar for the riffling hitch technique and big fish will readily rise from the depth to intercept a micro riffling hitch fly

Silver tippet Holo V-FLYLongwing version of the Riffling Hitch V-FLY ™ with a shiny body…May look like nothing on a turbulent river – but will absolutely be seen by salmon that will pluck it out of the surface in much the same way as a salmon hitting a fast fished plug. Generally, riffling hitch flies are small lightly dressed flies equal to # 10 – 12 wet flies – and bigger hitch flies move into the form of fly fishing where we would use bigger sunrays fished across on 90 degrees..retrieving them fast …Read more about this here

See our long wing version in the shop. Buy salmon & steelhead flies

Fly TyingRiffling hitch is one of the diseplines in salmon fishing where the questions about flies and fishing – thorughly expose the fact that we know so little about the importance of details in salmon flies.

See our page on riffling hitch fly tying

Rifflinghitch Fly Shop

1oo`s of hitch flies…

To the shop


Orri VigfussonThe late Riffling Hitch angler, Author and Chairman of NASF (National Atlantic Salmon Fund) Mr. Orri Vigfússon also tied his Riffling Hitch flies on small pieces of tube here a tiny black and blue version from Orri´s fly box

If you consider going to Island remember to bring small riffling hitch tubes – dressed sparsely like this one – seen to the right


To see two of the magnificent rivers Orri fished go to Angling Club Strengur

Riffling hitch in iceland

Haugur hitch fly


If you consider going to Island remember to bring small riffling hitch tubes – dressed sparsely like this one – seen to the right

– See this favoured riffling hitch tube fly in our shop

Riffling Hitch Flies on tube

See the large selection of Riffling Hitch flies we have in our online-shop

What anglers wrote us

Fraser Heston

Fraser Heston Sea trout fly argentina

These sea-run brown trout are most often caught with a small nymph, a scud pattern in size 14 or even 16 (try landing a 20 pounder on a size 16 nymph hook!). But they will also come to swung flies… Read more “Fraser Heston”

Mr Fraser Heston

Mr. Paul Rogers, NFLD Canada

Paul Rogers salmon on Bomber dry fly

Hi Fishmadman, Photo of a 44 inch Atlantic hooked on a Black Bomber tube fly in August 2017 on the Lower Humber River, Newfoundland.
After chasing the fish over 500 yards down river from where it was hooked, she… Read more “Mr. Paul Rogers, NFLD Canada”

Mr. Paul Rogers, NFLD Canada

+ 30 lb. salmon caught on High VIZ. Green Tube Bomber

jan Harry Årsen fishmadman 2012

Norwegian fly fisherman Mr Jan Harry Åsen  caught this wonderful + 14 kilo (+ 30 lb.) Atlantic salmon on one of our Big Tube Bombers. Jan Harry wrote us: “Fish jumped right out of the water to grab the big… Read more “+ 30 lb. salmon caught on High VIZ. Green Tube Bomber”

Jan Harry

Mr. Håvard Vistnes from Kongsfjord elv

Dry fly fishing for salmon in Kongsfjord elv

Salmon season 2013 at the Kongsfjord River
Just in time for the start of season 2013, I received my selection of tube dry-flies from you – They were tied perfect and float great – I have had the greatest… Read more “Mr. Håvard Vistnes from Kongsfjord elv”

Mr. Håvard Vistnes from Kongsfjord elv

Mr. Bill Bryden, NFLD Canada

Mr. Bill Bryden, NFLD Canada

Hi Jesper & Per
Here is a photo of a 40 inch by 21 inch Atlantic salmon we landed on one of your Monster caddis tube flies the last week. You can see the fly hanging from the fish’s mouth (barely).… Read more “Mr. Bill Bryden, NFLD Canada”

Mr. Bill Bryden, NFLD Canada

Mr. Joakim Haugen, Northern Norway

Caught on Monster Tube Caddis

The first fly I tried was the smaller of the Monster Tube Caddis. After just a few casts with this fly a huge fish came for the fly but missed. I did two more casts before it re-appeared – This… Read more “Mr. Joakim Haugen, Northern Norway”

Mr. Joakim Haugen, Northern Norway

Bill (Beatle) Abshagen

Bill (Beatle) Abshagen sea trout on sunray shadow flies

Here is a picture of a Sea Run caught on one of the Sun-Rays you sent me for my trip to Despedida Lodge in Tierra del Fuego Argentina a few weeks ago.—Fish were actually eating small Skuds (14 & 16’s),… Read more “Bill (Beatle) Abshagen”

Bill (Beatle) Abshagen

Mr. Terry Byrne, NFLD, Canada

Salmon caught on dry fly - Terry Byrne use Fishmadman Tube Bomber

I can tell you this fly and other tube dry flies will definitely be in my arsenal from this point on! Several times I hooked and landed large Atlantic salmon on their creations when my traditional flies and Bombers had no effect… Read more “Mr. Terry Byrne, NFLD, Canada”

Mr. Terry Byrne, NFLD, Canada

43 inches Atlantic salmon on Monster Tube Caddis

Big salmon on dry fly caddisfly

Hi! Per and Jesper! Many thanks for the set of Monster Tube Caddis received from you last spring. The salmon of several rivers in Gaspésie was quite impressed with The Monster! In early July 2015, Jane — my wife —… Read more “43 inches Atlantic salmon on Monster Tube Caddis”

 Ian Martin

Mr. Chad Black – Steelhead guide and head manager

Nicholas Dean Lodge

We’ve done so well on your flies over the years and they skate so well that we don’t need to fish anything else when it comes to wake flies!

Mr.Chad Black

Mr. Keith Chaulk, Newfoundland

Caddisfly for salmon

The quality of workmanship and materials used in creating a musical instrument will have a limiting effect on a musician performing potential.  I feel the same about the equipment and flies I use when trying to make a receptive audience… Read more “Mr. Keith Chaulk, Newfoundland”

Mr. Keith Chaulk, Newfoundland

Angler Mr. Thomas Lykke with super dry fly salmon

Thomas Lykke Salmon on dry fly monster tube caddis

Summer of 2010 Angler Mr Thomas Lykke with a beautiful bright summer fish caught on a Tube Bomber ™

Mr. Thomas Lykke

Six 20 lb salmon on the dry fly

Big salmon caught on dry fly the monster tube caddis

Our late pro fly tier Mr Kim Nyborg was in Newfoundland for the second time and got everything right in the summer of 2015 – with six salmon in the 20 lb´s range, with this giant estimated at + 30… Read more “Six 20 lb salmon on the dry fly”

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