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It sounds like you're using Hydrogen flow programming APIs. I'd suggest using the Helium/Lithium MD-SAL-based RESTCONF APIs. A quick tutorial is here: https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/OpenDaylightOpenFlowPlugin:EndtoEnd_Flows

If you use, that you'll program flows using URLs like this: http://<controller ip="">:8181/restconf/config/opendaylight-inventory:nodes/node/openflow:1/table/0/flow/1

Note the "config" after restconf in the URL, that's telling the controller the rules you'd like to have installed in the hardware. The actual flows installed in hardware (as determined by reading statistics from the device) are added in stead to the "operational" data store which you access using URLs like: http://<controller ip="">:8181/restconf/operational/opendaylight-inventory:nodes/node/openflow:1/table/0/

If your flow doesn't get installed, unfortunately the best thing is to look in the logs for exceptions. If you find an error/exception you can try putting a different flow into the API fixing the issue and OpenDaylight should try to install the new flow (hopefully successfully).