The Black Pennell is the most popular of Mr H. Cholmondeley Pennell’s series of flies and perhaps the only one still in regular use. It is a simple, hackled pattern but one which has a deserved reputation as a top fly for all types of game-fish, not least sea-trout and salmon.
The key to tying this fly is to keep the overall effect on the slim side, especially when being used for salmon. This doesn’t mean that the Pennell should look anorexic — simply that it shouldn’t appear bulky. Like any other fly, though, it may be tied in various sizes and densities to cope with varying conditions. The larger, denser versions work best in rough weather.
To increase the fly’s movement in the water, the hackle is tied with a longfibred hackle — one where the tips reach at least to the end of the body. A soft-fibred cock hackle is the type normally used, though some tyers prefer to use hen hackle instead, considering it to impart even more mobility.
In the original version of this pattern a few turns of silver tinsel are added at the hook bend to form a tag. While this does add a little extra sparkle at the tail, it is often omitted nowadays.
Hook Size 8-14 wet-fly Thread Black
Tag Fine oval silver tinsel (optional)
Tail Golden-pheasant tippet Rib Fine,
oval, silver tinsel Body Black floss
Hackle Black cock hackle
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the tying thread on down to the bend. Select a well-coloured goldenpheasant tippet feather
2. Remove five or six fibres of tippet feather and catch them in at the bend. Using a soft or “winging” loop for this procedure will ensure that the fibres sit on top of the hook.
3. Take two inches of fine oval silver tinsel and catch this in with turns of thread at the same point as the tail. Allow the waste end of the tinsel to lie along the shank.
4. Using close turns of tying thread, cover the waste ends of both the tippet feather and the tinsel. This produces a firm base for the body materials.
5. Position the tying thread just behind the eye of the hook and catch in three inches of black floss.
6. Wind the floss in close turns down the shank until it reaches the tail. From this point, wind it back over itself to form a double layer. Untwisting the strands as they are wound helps it to lie flat.
7. Secure the loose end of the floss just behind the eye and remove the excess with scissors. Take hold of the silver tinsel and wind it over the floss in five evenly spaced turns.
8. Secure the loose end of the tinsel and remove the excess. Then catch in a long-fibred, dyed-black cock hackle at the eye. Using hackle pliers, wind on two or three turns.
9. Fix the hackle tip in place with turns of thread and remove the excess. Stroke the fibres back and position them with the thread. Build a small head and cast off with a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
In various sizes, this pattern works well for salmon and all species of trout and, as such, may be used on any natural lake where they are found. It is also a top-class fly for running water.
W H E N
The Black Pennell will catch fish throughout the season, from spring onwards.
H O W
Being slim and quick-sinking, the Black Pennell is normally fished as the point fly as part of a team in conjunction with a floating or intermediate line. Curiously, though, for such a sparse dressing, it is considered by some as a first-rate top dropper.
T Y I N G T I P
The floss body needs to be wound quite thinly and this is best achieved by countertwisting it every few turns. The result is that the individual strands in the floss separate, allowing them to lie flat on the hook.