The Double Half Hitch

by Jonathan on October 2, 2008

Those of you who have watched my flytying lessons will know that I favour the double half hitch for finishing off my flies rather than the whip finish. Do not be deterred from learning the whip finish either manually or by one of the various tools available.

I learnt my fly tying over sixty years ago when the whip finish or double half hitch was rarely used. In the early days when eyed hooks became popular many of the commercial flies were finished off with a single half hitch with well waxed thread…..no varnish! This practice was resurrected when it was decided to train young women in Africa and Asia to tie the flies. At that time I was tying for several local tackle shops and was told that I had to abandon my practice of finishing every fly with two double half hitches and varnishing the heads. This was by one of the men who had gone abroad to set up these factories and instruct the local tyers. Not only did I have to tie an inferior fly my price was halved, but not the cost of the materials or hooks. Needless to say I gave up tying for the retail market. But I digress.

The double half hitch is relatively easy if you follow the instruction clip. If you have trouble pulling the thread through the first loop, with your finger, try using a bodkin or the end of a short knitting needle, even a pencil. Always tighten the thread slowly and direct it to where you want it to lie .Cut the thread do not break it off.

Remember practice makes perfect. Just keep tying the knot on a bare hook until it is second nature to you. 

 

Happy Fishing

Dave Cammiss and the Team

 

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick March 14, 2010 at 9:10 pm

As a basic (bewildered) novice, this site is excellent. It doesnt have to be a mystery.
Your lessons actually work!
Thanks Dave

John February 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Just came across your videos on youtube and was thoroughly pleased to find them! My grandparents came from Barrow-n-Furness, so when I found a fly tyer from near there home I had to watch, and was hooked! Thank you for putting a quality how to video online for all to benefit from! I watched through session 5 and will be returning to watch the rest! I am just starting out in fly tying! Thank you!

andy February 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm

HI Dave,
i just found your excellent site and video tutorials – i’ll be trying the dbl half hitch tonight…
R.e. feathers and their names – i find it all very confusing! Your explaination on capes was very useful…can you shed some light on the other names, e.g saddles? Also, what should i use to create the wing on a wet fly e.g. a butcher? Could you create a vid showing how to tie a butcher (or similar)? That would be very useful a greatly appreciated.
Many thanks, Andy

Oleg February 18, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Hi Dave,thanks a lot for your lesson.I learned something new and quiet usefull.I really have a problem with my whip finishing tool.
I have one question-do you know how to use half hitch tool . I purchased a tool kit which includes this tool and nobody knows how to use it.

Best regards from Canada.

Dennis Kidd December 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Hi Dave, I enjoy your lessons. I am a fair tier, and like learning techniques that are new to me. Not sure if there are any really new techniques.

We fish in Kansas so warm water flies are an important part of our tying here.

Dennis

Bob Weaver September 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm

I ask A while back how you tied your double half hitch I want to thank you for showing it slowmotion. I want to use it instad of a tool so thyanks again . bob

Dawn July 29, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Hi dave I was wondering why on other vidioes the flies are a little bit different than the ones you tie on your video. I was just wandering if the effectevness was different

best regards,

Dawn

DaveC June 26, 2009 at 11:43 am

Hi Phil
Sorry that you are having trouble with the double half hitch. Some of the vids show it better than others. If you go to the Techniques section I do describe the method in more detail. Give yourself enough thread to finish off . Wrap two loops over your finger and pull the back one through the front one, repeat and pull thread slowly and firmly to secure knot. Repeat and varnish …job done.
Hope this helps
Happy Fishing
DaveC.and the Team

Phil J June 25, 2009 at 9:47 am

Hi Dave, I have watched the video now some 7 or 8 times, but cant seem to work out how the thread is pulled through, once you have made the 2 finger loops. Are you sliding the 2nd loop through the 1st and then off the finger ? as its a little difficult to see due to fingers in the way of the camera. I have been wanting to learn this for ages. I do have a whipping tool and know how to use is, but when it comes to delicate finishing knots the whipping tool can be to clumbersome. Hope you can help, Cheers, Phil J.

DaveC June 19, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Hi Grant
Thanks for your comments. It is good to know that our efforts are appreciated. Hope your Grandson really gets into the fishing and make a good fishing Buddy for you.
Happy Fishing
DavrC.and the Team

Grant M Gast June 15, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Dear Dave and Family,

Thank you all so very much for all your good work. Has meant a great deal to my Grandson and I. Tight lines and best of health.

Kindest Regards,

Grant

kent April 8, 2009 at 10:43 am

Ohh…. But I’d love to hear more about especialy the one you lost he he he. and perhaps how you make those buzzers come to life. :)
Keeping things simple is what I’d call “straight up my alley”.

David Cammiss April 3, 2009 at 9:24 am

Hi kent
Thanks bfor your comment.
Please do not get too carried away with the exact imitation thing. No matter how clever some of us think we are we cannot compete with our Creator. Also bear in mind most of those ‘bugs’ were flying about when the dinosaurs were around. I have always maintained that the simplest flies are the best ie buzzers tie with nothing more than thread and wire. This week I had 4 rainbows on buzzers tied just with black and red wire, and I wont bore you with the one I lost because the net was not big enough. My advice is to keep it simple and fish your retieve slowly. Fish only feed because they are hungry and the opportunity is there.
Happy Fishing
DaveC.and the Team

kent March 31, 2009 at 7:21 am

I’ve decided to file this rather long question under “basic tecniques” though it does not quite fit the issues that appear in the post. The question is a bit complex, so I hope I don’t lose you along the way with my danish-english (Denglish)
People ask you for instructions to tie various patterns, and I “overheard” someone saying that he managed to tie some, that looked like they might catch something. My first trout ever was caught on a bare hook (gold that is) And ive seen a rather odd looking “fly” tied with some red and blue rubber from balloons, that allso caught fish. Another guy, a tourist on the Gudenaa in Jutland caught fish on a hook tied in with a ducks feather he just found floating on the surface, and now for the question:
would you agree that the movement of the fly througt the water is as much of the essence as the appearance of the fly? I mean the fish can tell the difference between the fly and other living things, no doubt about that. Still they will give us the benefit of doubt if we “pour some life into our flies”. And that’s what my request is all about. I don’t expect you to come up with hours of fly-fishing instructions, but perhaps a bit of video with the various flies in a fishtank might give us a hint on how to make those little bastards look nice and tasty.
Best regards
Kent

David Ingram March 16, 2009 at 11:40 pm

I am very new to fly tying. I just started a few weeks ago and have just today purchased my first vice. I live in Alabama so mostly we fish for bass and panfish with the fly. I know that dry flies work well with these fish but will the baby doll do the same? You will probablly find it rather funny that my firstflies were tied with a pair of vice grio pliers secured to my kitchen table. I guess you do what you have to but I think they are going to work. Any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your videos, they and you are a great inspiration to my desire to learn the art of fly tying.

topflyman December 1, 2008 at 9:55 am

Hi Gary
Thanks for your comments. Flytying can become addictive…..after 60yrs. at it I am still trying new techniques and materials. I would always advise getting as good a vice as you can afford once you have decided that this is what you want to do. I used a Thompson vice for years but even on that model the jaws gave up on me. I now use a Griffin Patriot Cam. It is rotary but this is not essential and I must confess that I often slip back in to taking the fly out of the jaws and putting it downside up to do bearded hackles. Wishing you every success with your flytying. I am always free to give any help I can.
Happy Fishing
DaveC.and the Team

David November 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Hi Dave,

I have been out fishing this morning and had great successul with a lime green baby doll, 7 fish, 6 rainbows and a lovely 3 1/4lb Brown. I was planning a pike fishing trip but changed my mind at the last minute!

I am in small syndicate in Cheshire and we rent a small lake and stock it twice a year. Its really great fun, I ususally fish in the spring and summer and didnt expect much today, I was amazed to see the water freezing on my rod rings and astill catch 7 ( all lovingly returned!)

I have been fly fishing for two years but not got around to tying my own flies, having seen your demo on the baby doll I am inspried to give its a go.

I found your video demos really fascinating, very clear and easy to follow and your enthusiasm shines through.

thanks for taking the time to pull this togther

best regards

David

gary simmonds November 30, 2008 at 3:57 am

hi Dave , really enjoy your lesson im a real beginner, but I cant get enough tying in . can you tell me if I should invest in a rotory vise and if so what make do you suggest , tnx Gary

topflyman October 7, 2008 at 8:15 am

Hi Troy
Thanks for your comment. Glad to be of help. Lucky you with the weather. We are ‘enjoying’ cold wet and windy days at present.
Regards
DaveC.and the Team

Troy Schooley October 7, 2008 at 5:46 am

Hi Dave, thanks for showing us the double half hitch. I’m one of those who said I was having difficulty learning it. The new video is great. Thanks again from sunny Calif., it was 91 here today. 10/6/08

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