MASTER THE TECHNIQUE
Riffle-hitching requires your full concentration. Start with bigger (2 cm) tubes, which are easier to keep on the surface. With practice, you can learn to fish them more slowly. Then try smaller flies and fish them slowly, which is harder to perfect. Cast at an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees. As long as the leader and fly turn over properly, you’ll be hitching almost immediately. Once the fly starts its swing, maintain line tension to control the fly as it crosses the stream. You should aim to maintain a constant, alluring V-wake throughout the swing. If the fly is being swung too slowly it may dip beneath the surface. If you move it too quickly by erratically moving the rod tip or line hand, the fly may cause splashes. To quicken the swing, move the rod tip towards the home bank. To slow it, move the rod tip outwards and upstream. With less line on the water the fly will be easier to control, so keep the rod tip higher than you would normally. Raise your hand and keep the rod fairly flat – up to just over head height. If you raise only the rod tip, the line will sag towards you and eventually lose momentum. This also causes problems when a fish takes because you’ve got no room in which to lever the rod. Speed and tension can be added by retrieving line with a smooth figure-of-eight action. If fishing with a longer line, you can use conventional mends but keep them smooth, small and close to the rod tip as you want the fly to maintain its path and not skip forward. With practice, you can learn to use all of these movements to get your fly to pause, turn or surf back and forth over lies. When you’re ready to re-cast, lift off gently. A quick lift will cause an audible “blip” as the fly leaves the water, which can spook fish – never do this mid-swing.
Smaller pools and runs are usually best fished with a single-hander, which gives more control over the fly.