By: Hilmar Hansson
Last season I fished the Hafralónsá river with a friend of mine from Sweden. He is a magnificent caster and knows everything about tackle and is well read on the subject of salmon fishing. This young friend of mine has fished for a long time but since his fishing has for the most part been in Norway and Sweden he has not caught as many salmon as if he had been fishing in the Icelandic salmon rivers. On our way to the river in the east country he told me that his dream was to catch a salmon on the hitched fly. I told him in a fatherly tone that to fulfil that dream of his would be the least I could do for him.
When we reached the Hafralónsá we assembled our rods and went fishing immediately. A short time passed until we hooked our first salmon and beached it. It was an astounding nine pound hen fish with sealice on it.
My friend smiled like the sun whilst I photographed him with the salmon and then he released it. To release salmon was also new to him. Where he had fished until now the custom was to kill the salmon and take the catch home. When all this was finished I asked him: -What happened to the dream to catch a salmon on the hitch? His first Icelandic salmon was hooked on a tube which he had tied and designed himself, which was of course brilliant.
I tied on a small Sunray Shadow plastic tube with a hole on the side where the leader goes through to make it riffle hitch. He cast this fly into the pool where we had just released our hen fish. The Sun Ray skated beautifully on the surface, and if I was not mistaken there was some movement at the end of the line. „Cast again, exactly the same way,“ I shouted into his ear. And surprise, surprise, a fish came and nailed his fly. He had gotten his first take on the riffle hitch. But this salmon did not get hooked properly and got away. This is how it happens sometimes.
We went to the next pool and he tried casting the hitched fly and again a fish rose from the deep to take the fly but this one did not get caught either. Now I saw what had happened. When the salmon rose my friend got so excited that he pulled the fly away from it. I tried calming him down, telling him to hold his hand dead steady while the fish took the fly. When it came the second time I was ready, grabbed his hand and forced it down and the salmon got hooked. There he netted an 11 pound salmon on the hitch for the first time. We released this salmon like the first one. There was one happy fisherman who arrived at the lodge that evening.
At breakfast the morning after he told me that he had not slept one minute after his experience with the hitch the previous day. He was so alarmed that he just wanted to get back to the river to fish more. For the rest of the tour he just tied on hitched Sun Rays or smaller hitch tubes. When we finished three days later we had hooked 17 salmon and landed 11 and 10 were on the hitch.
On our way back to Reykjavík he was silent as a grave. He just sat there thinking and did not utter a word from the Hafralónsá to the Ásbyrgi natural reserve. Then he said to me: „Hilli. If they don‘t want the hitch they can just swim their way…“
This young friend of mine obviously saw the light hitching at the Hafralónsá river which he has already booked again, at the same time next summer.