Donald Nicolson from Scotland replied to a post on our
Bulletin Board regarding old hook sizes and mentioned
H. Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley) Pennell had other
things to his credit beyond the old Pennell Scale of
hook sizing. A little searching discovered the famous
wet trout fly Donald mentioned. Here it is:
Quoting from Fly Patterns and Their Origins by
Harold Hinsdill Smedly; "H. Cholmondeley Pennel, 1837-1913,
English poet-sportsman and author of The Angler Naturalist
1864; Modern Practical Angler, 1873;
The Sporting Fish of Great Britain, Modern
Improvements in Fishing Tackle, and Salmon & Trout
, 1885, of which he was also an editor, was the
originator of that type of hackle fly known as the "Pennell
Hackle." He also originated the turned down eyed and tapered
hook which carry his name.
His choice and recommendation of that particular type of hackle
fly was in three colors: brown, yellow and green. The body,
instead of being bushy or soft, was hard, silk wrapped and
thin. The hackle, tied very sparsely, was a little longer
Although he probably did not realize it when he recommended
these patterns of thin bodies and lightly dressed hackles, he
started something, for many tiers now recommend and say "dress
sparsely," but he was the first to realize that a lightly dressed
fly was oftentimes better than one too heavily dressed.
This Pennell hackle type of fly was a forerunner of the Baigent
According to John Gray, Grays of Kilsyth, Lanarkshire, Scotland,
the Black Pennell was "Devised in the nineteenth century by H.
Cholmondeley Pennell, the Black Pennell is particularly popular
in the remoter waters of the Highlands. Commonly fished as a
bob fly, it is especially good during the early season when
black midges are hatching."
Black Pennell recipe
- Hook: size 10.
- Thread: Black.
- Tail: Golden Pheasant tippets.
- Body: Black thread.
- Rib: Silver.
- Hackle: Black cock.
~ Jim Birkholm
Credit: Photo from John Gray's Grays of Kilsyth
website. We thank
John for use permission.