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The Compressed Penstock Brown – as designed by Mick Hall


The tying of this fly is a bit tricky but after a bit of practice you will get the hang of it. The reason that I have selected the Penstock Brown is that it is a great general pattern that works equally as well on all waters where any mottled brown Mayfly appears or where any of the featured species occur.


Hook: Mustad 277E gold or nickel straight eye or Mustad C49s

Size: 10

Thread:  Dark brown, as fine as you can find, 10/0 or finer if possible

Tail:  Dark Pardo Coq de Leon fibres

Ribbing:  Stripped peacock herl

Body:  Dark brown dubbing, as fine as possible

Wings:  Enrico Puglisi Trigger Point wing fibres Dark March Brown and black as a fore-edge (see story of the Trigger Point fibres HERE)

Foam: 3mm Evasote soft foam by Tiewell, stained with marking pen to match

Hackle:  Whiting Farms Dark Champagne saddle hackle four turns maximum.


Note:  I sourced this Mustad 277E hook whilst I was in Norway in November last year; I’ve spoken with Mustad Australia and they are going to bring some of these hooks in.  For those interested, see your local retailer to get some in for you.


I also twitch the eye of the hook slightly upward on this reversed model to assist when striking with a sunken tippet.  At the same time I added a slight curve to the shank with a pair of small pliers to allow the butt section of the fly to sit under the water.

Stage 5

Atalophlebia superba            The Penstock Brown             Pic: Mick Hall

Stage 1
Compressed Emergers & Duns
Mick tells of a method of tying a 'compressed' parachute hackle
to represent insects caught in the surface film

'Fly Talk' Freshwater Fishing Magazine #109 July/August 2011
Emerging Lambda Dun
The Reversed Lambda “Compressed” Emerging Dun

Emerging dun patterns have become a fundamental component within the world of fly tying and fly fishing.  Ever since G E M Skues put nymphs and emergers on the fly fishers’ map around the start of last century, thousands of patterns and fringe developments have appeared in print.  In the last couple of decades we have seen the introduction of all sorts of fly patterns representing emergers, cripples and just about anything that gets stuck in the surface film.  I have no argument about this as the meniscus is such an important feeding zone, we should concentrate on what happens there.


It was back in 2006 after attending the British Fly Fair as a guest fly tyer, that I met Roy Christie and discovered his philosophy on reversed flies.  I was so impressed that we did a Fly Talk on Roy and his work.   See Fly Talk, Reversed Emergers, Freshwater Fishing magazine #92 Sep/Oct 2008, or you can check it out on this site, HERE.


Being a huge fan of reversed parachute hackled flies since that time, I have been actively developing a series of my own versions I call “compressed” parachute hackled emergers and duns.  After a lot of testing by various people, they have proved that it is very successful.  It should be noted that the patterns featured are an attempt to represent Australian Mayflies, dayflies etc.  They can easily be adapted to match any local pattern as it is the compressed process that is the key to how this works.


Atalophlebia australis
Compressed Emerging Highland Dun tied reversed - T.lacustris tied by Mick Hall

Tasmania’s Tasmanophlebia lacustris                            Pic: Mick Hall

There are two key reasons why this compressed style of fly works so well.


·        One is how the fly, when it is tied in this manner, sits in the water as an emerger and on the water when tied to represent the dun.  This is assisted with the help of a small strip of foam which in turn compresses the hackle, laying more fibres flatter on the surface, which helps enhance the fly’s outrigger capabilities and more importantly, its profile, by holding the wings upright.  Plus, to a small degree, the foam assists with floatation.

·        Secondly, the compressed profile of the wings; the foam actually spreads the fibres in turn making them look a little more natural.


The foam used must be soft so that when trimmed it folds back on itself, in turn compressing the hackle and wings.  The use of foam for posts is not new but normally it is not soft, the foam featured is available from Tiewell PO Box 550 Katoomba, NSW 2780 Australia. +61 2 4759 3004 www.tiewell.com  This company is normally wholesale only but for non-Australian customers you can buy direct.

This Lambda Dun (standard tie) lost its hackle during the battle

Tie in your tail at the eye then tie in your ribbing.  Tie in your wings with the butt facing back towards the eye and wrap a few turns of thread to support your wing. Make sure you tie in your wings directly above your barb.  Dub finely and rib your body four turns only and again, add a few more turns around your post for extra support.
Stage 2

It is from here on in that it gets a little tricky; first cut your foam strip around 3mm wide and 2.5cm long with sharp, straight bladed scissors.  Secure to the side of your post facing you.  You will need to go finer for smaller flies.

Stage 3

Take your foam around under the hook pulling firmly and secure to the other side of your post.  You will notice that this process alone has spread the fibres of your wing, giving you a skinny profile, just like the real thing.

Stage 4

Tie in your hackle to the post, as shown, with the underside of the hackle facing you and wrap at least four turns of hackle from the top of supported area and wind carefully back down your post, trying not to pick any fibres from your last wrap.  Tie off on your post; this is a little tricky as you can easily pick up a bunch of hackle fibres as you tie off, so do it slowly and carefully.  Then add a touch of head cement to finish off.

Finally trim the foam close to the hackle so that it folds back on itself; this in turn compresses the hackle.  It is best not to cut too closely as you need those foam tags to fold back and do their trick.  You can colour the foam with a marking pen to match if you so wish.


Note:  It should be noted that this pattern is just one of many; it is the compressed procedure that is the key.  This design can be adapted to suit any mayfly or emerging caddis pattern. The method can also be tied as a floating dun; the choice is yours.

     The Penstock Brown tied as a parachute hackled dun Pic: Mick Hall

Compressed Highland Dun Emerger
with trailing shuck
Compressed Highland Dun Emerger - Reversed

Highland Dun Tasmanophlebia lacustris    PicMick Hall


Compressed Snowflake Caddis   Pic: Mick Hall

The pattern used for the Compressed Snowflake is really straight forward yet, when comparing the pattern to the original, you have to use a bit of imagination.  However it is the way it sits in the water that creates its effectiveness.  The hook is a straight eye, light weight bronzed maggot hook that I again picked up whilst at the factory in Norway.  It has a number of features that I like; apart from being light weight, it has a straight eye and the other is that slight limerick touch to the bend of the hook.

Snowflake Caddis

The Compressed Snowflake Caddis - as developed by Mick Hall

Hook:  Mustad 90338NBR

Size: 12 or to suit

Body:  Grey dubbing

Post:  Enrico Puglisi’s Trigger Point wing material

Colour:  Dark Dun

Foam:  3mm soft Evasote foam by Tiewell, White or Grey, cut to size

Hackle:  Whiting Farms Grizzle Saddle hackle.


Note:  This pattern really sits low in the water and can represent an emerger, cripple or spent caddis, which makes it a very versatile fly pattern.