Initializing optical flow field by either sparse descriptor matching or dense patch matches has been proved to be particularly useful for capturing large displacements. In this paper, we present a pyramidal gradient matching approach that can provide dense matches for highly accurate and efficient optical flow estimation. A novel contribution of our method is that image gradient is used to describe image patches and proved to be able to produce robust matching. Therefore, our method is more efficient than methods that adopt special features (like SIFT) or patch distance metric. Moreover, we find that image gradient is scalable for optical flow estimation, which means we can use different levels of gradient feature (for example, full gradients or only direction information of gradients) to obtain different complexity without dramatic changes in accuracy. Another contribution is that we uncover the secrets of limited PatchMatch through a thorough analysis and design a pyramidal matching framework based these secrets. Our pyramidal matching framework is aimed at robust gradient matching and effective to grow inliers and reject outliers. In this framework, we present some special enhancements for outlier filtering in gradient matching. By initializing EpicFlow with our matches, experimental results show that our method is efficient and robust (ranking 1st on both clean pass and final pass of MPI Sintel dataset among published methods).