A pennel rig is not a main rig body designed to support separate hook lengths. It refers to a system of tying two hooks close together at the end of a normal hook trace. This allows you to present one hook at the base of bait and another towards the middle or top of the bait.
This secondary hook serves a double purpose. Firstly, having two hooks helps to hold a big bait like worms, crab, fish or a sandeel more securely enabling a long cast to be made without compromising presentation when the bait finally touches down on the seabed.
More importantly, having two hooks in the one bait can often catch us a fish that a single hook would possibly have missed. There is no guarantee that a fish will try to eat the bait from the lowest end where a single hook will normally be. Often, fish try to take a bait across the middle or even at the top end of the bait. You see a good pull on the rod tip and strike, but miss the fish. In reality, the fish was probably never near the hook in the first place
There are several ways to construct a pennel rig, the most popular uses a crimp and bead to trap the upper hook on a single strand of mono. Others incorporate plastic insulation tube with the hook shank and line passed through the inside of the tube to support the top hook, or a quickie is to trap the top hook using a short length of phone wire coiled around the line for the top hook to jam up against.
I prefer an alternative method of construction which gives good presentation and better strength, and which has been popular here in Wales for the past decade with many large fish, especially cod, to its credit. Here’s how to tie it!
Take a length of mono line about 10-inches longer than the hook length you need. Bend the end of the line backwards on itself to form a 5in loop and secure using a simple double overhand granny knot. You now have a hook length with a 5in loop at the end.
Slide a size 8mm plastic bead on to the loop which goes up against the top knot. Now slide on a Mustad Viking 79510 hook which has a turned in eye. Finish this step by measuring down about 1in, form a double granny knot and close it. This should leave you with a bottom loop of about 3ins.
To finish, push the free loop end through the eye of a Mustad Viking 79515 (standard straight eye) hook, pull the loop through a little way, pass the open loop over the hook point and pull it back up the hook shank to fully tighten it. That’s it!
The Viking 79510 pattern with the turned in eye allows the top hook to fully swing away from the line and enables you to correctly position the top hook more towards the middle of the bait. Other pennel systems see the top hook positioned to high in the bait and can again cause you to miss fish.
Having a double line to support both hooks is ideal for rough ground fish like cod, bass and smoothhound, and will land other fish like conger, huss and other likely species where a single 25lb or 30lb line might not.
I use either 25lb or 30lb line for my cod pennel rigs, but might go up to 40lb and even 50lb if I expect fish over double figures from rough ground and heavy seas.
To accommodate bigger baits, you simply tie the loop longer to suit the length of bait you require. For multiple worm baits up to 10-inches long, which I use for uptide cod fishing, tie in a 10in loop. Several peeler crabs making a big bass bait 8ins long requires an 8in loop.
If you can’t find the Mustad Viking 79510 pattern, heat a hook shank just below the eye with a cigarette lighter and while hot gently bend it over a little towards the hook point. You won’t severely effect the strength of the shanks wire by doing this.
This pennel rig can be constructed with any size of hooks. I typically use size 1/0 to 2/0 for small codling up to 3lbs, and go up to 3/0 to 4/0 for bigger cod and bass. When after big cod from boats, replace both hooks with a 6/0 size.