The Double Hitch

As I’ve given tying demos around the US this spring, I’ve had numerous requests from the audience to show them the Double Hitch knot that I use to tie off the thread at the head. It’s a very easy knot to learn (it had to be for an 11 yyear old who knew nothing of the whip finish and so just “made up” a knot that worked).

The Double Hitch finishing knot

I don’t use a whip finish. The truth of the matter is, I learned to tie flies by myself from the Family Circle’s Guide to Trout Flies and How to Tie Them, and there was no mention of a whip finish. The instructions simply said to place a couple of half hitches on the head and then lacquer it. Half hitches didn’t hold very well, so I came up with a knot I call the double hitch, and began using two of them to finish the fly. They work just great. I’ve since learned the whip finish, but really don’t use it because the double hitch has decided advantages for

First, I can tie it much faster than a whip finish. Second, I can direct its placement so that no material gets trapped under the thread as the knot is drawn tight. Third, I can use it on any size fly and with any size thread. Fourth, I can place it anywhere along the length of the shank, as needed.

To tie the knot, begin by taking the thread around a finger of your materials hand, and then one and one half times around the head of the fly. The thread should end up hanging down under the head. (Figure 1). If there are hackle barbs or other materials close to the head that could get mistakenly wrapped under by these turns, make them with the very end of the bobbin (Figure 2). Take the loop around the eye of the fly, keeping the bottom thread of the loop under the eye and the top thread of the loop over the eye (Figure 3). As you do so, rotate your finger in the loop so that you can pinch the loop between your thumb and forefinger. Your hand will now be on the far side of the hook (Figure 4). Pull on the bobbin to draw the knot tight. As it tightens, allow the loop of the knot to slide through your pinch so that the loop gradually gets smaller. By this method you can guide the loop of the knot to exactly the right spot on the head and avoid trapping any materials in the knot.

I’ve learned to tie this knot using my index finger, middle finger, or ring finger of my materials hand. This allows me to hold materials out of the way with the other fingers, if necessary (Figure 5).


Figure 1. Take the thread around the tip of a finger of the materials hand and then 1 1/2 turns around the hook.


Figure 2. If need be, just the very end of the bobbin can be used to make the wraps, preventing any unwanted tie downs.


Figure 3. The loop is taken around the eye so that the top thread stays above the eye and the bottom thread stays below the eye.

Figure 4. Rotate your finger in the loop so that you can get your hand on the far side of the hook and then catch the loop between your thumb and forefinger. Pull the bobbin to draw the knot tight.

Figure 5. Learn to tie the knot with your middle finger so that the thumb and forefinger can hold materials out of the way as the knot is tightened.


  1. Greg Coffey says:

    Learned the Double Hitch, a very log time ago. The very best way to finish a fly, bar none! I found it to be the ONLY way to finish a sparkleminnow. The only way I ever finish a fly. Thanks Gary!!

  2. Gary Borger says:

    The Double Hitch is the product of the imagination of an 11-year old boy totally frustrated by the unravelling of his flies when using the single hitch to finish the head–as was the instruction in the Family Circle Guide to Trout Flies from which I taught myself to tie. I happy that it serves you as well as it has me for the past 57 years.