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Flies To Tie And Try: The Pen y Garreg

Richard Garbett brings you a black wet fly with a hint of red and pearl which the wild brownies of the Elan Valley have taken a liking too…the Pent y Garreg.

Flies To Tie And Try: The Pen y Garreg

In the last few years my fishing has had a little bit of a shake up, since I discovered I could be on my own with the company of only Red Kites, Grebes and the occasional Osprey; the wild waters and reservoirs of Wales have pretty much taken up all of my attention. Some particular favourites have to be Cregennan Lakes near Arthog and the Elan Valley system near Rhayader, easily accessible and set in such stunning scenery.

Small, dark wet flies are a very good choice at places like this. The fish are rarely fussy, and providing you can locate them, you should get some entertaining sport. The usual black patterns such as Bibio, Zulu, Kate McLaren, Black Pennell, Blae and Black and Coch y Bonddu will always sort some fish out, but flies that had a little red or pearl in the dressing always seemed to outscore others.

So in a nutshell, I tied up this little dark fly that included these attributes and those brownies loved it. I named it after Elan’s Pen y Garreg Reservoir after it caught me a rugby score of fish, along with its faithful friend the Bibio. This pairing caught me more fish than any other last year.

Pretty much always fished on a floating or midge tip line, with varied retrieves, it never failed to score, so it’s definitely worthy of you tying up a few for your own box. I also tie some cock hackles versions that assist in keeping them slightly higher in the water when using slower retrieves and also some with a muddler head to strip through a wave.  Keep supporting your local fisheries, but I urge you to get out into and discover some of the more remote waters at least a couple of times this year… you will not regret it.

How To Fish…

I fish this the same as any wet fly pattern, every day can be different so it’s a case of playing around with speeds and styles of retrieves until you start connecting with fish. Most of my fish however, seemed to come to an erratic figure-of-eight or long, slow pulls. I rarely fish with any line on these shallow, clear waters other than floating or midge tip. Very occasionally I will use a slow intermediate line to keep in control of everything in windy conditions.

Where To Fish…

This pattern will work anywhere from small stocked stillwaters up to the expansive wild waters. It’s totally proven it’s worth to me on the wild Llyns of Wales, where the always hungry little brownies cannot wait to devour virtually any insect form that grabs it’s attention.

When To Fish…

Well, if last year is anything to go by… as soon as the mountain lakes open! Around the 20th March to near the end of October. I had some amazing catches at the beginning of the season at the likes of Cregennan Lakes near Dolgellau and the Elan Valley near Rhayader.

Tying The Fly

HOOK: Short shank 8-14
BODY: Hare’s mask fur, squirrel or seal’s fur mixed with gold or silver Lite-brite
WING: Roe deer hair
LEGS: Knotted cock pheasant tail barbs (optional)
HEAD: As body
BODY: Black squirrel dubbing with a little UV pearl Lite Brite
HACKLE: Black cock or hen
COLLAR: Long black hen
CHEEKS: Jungle cock eyes

1 Fix your chosen wet fly hook in the vice and start your thread.

2 Tie in a length of mirage tinsel at rear of hook and wrap a small tag over some superglue.


3 Tie in a sparse red tippet tail and your chosen ribbing material.


4 Make a dubbing noodle and create a slender body.


5 Tie in a hen or cock hackle feather and make a couple of turns at front, then palmer in open turns to rear.


6 Trap the hackle with the rib. Then with Velcro or a needle, tease out a little dubbing.


7 Secure a larger hen hackle by the tip and make a longer collar hackle.

8 Add some jungle cock cheeks, varnish the head and your fly is now complete.

Tying Tips…

• Ensure you protect the tinsel tag by wrapping over glue or varnishing over the top. Trout teeth will soon destroy tinsel.
• If you are using Micro Glint as a ribbing on larger flies, double it up and twist it to form a fine rope, this will make it more visible.
• Try flies with both cock or hen hackles; cock hackles will slow the flies decent slightly.
• If you don’t have Jungle cock for the cheeks, use orange, sunburst or red goose biots.

Richard Garbett

Richard is an experienced fly tier who specialises in imitative patterns for trout and grayling. Richard began fishing when he was seven years old. This led to many years of coarse fishing on his local rivers and stillwaters and very soon progressed on to fly fishing for trout.

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