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Tying Bass Flies: Weed Guards

When it comes to fishing around weeds and other obstructions, weed guards are sometimes used to keep the fly from fouling on various objects. There are basically three styles of weed guards.

  1. Heavy monofilament coming off the curve of the hook shank and tied off just behind the eye of the fly.
  2. Light wire loop that “hooks” on to the bard of the nook, extending back from behind the eye of the hook.
  3. Hard monofilament pegs or loops that extend from the body of the fly, just behind the eye.

Which style is best?

Traditional Back to Front Weedguard: Also known as: Fish Guards. The traditional weed guard is tied onto the  rear curve of the hook and brought forward and tied in just behind the eye of the hook. One must make sure to have ample room up front to allow for this tie-in.

Good: These are easy to add to a fly and, if the mono is not too stout, aid in keeping the fly weed-free. 
Bad: This is the worst method to use for a weedless fly. Most of the time the guard succeeds in preventing the fish from firmly grasping the fly meaning a lot of missed strikes. I cut these off on any fly that I get containing this style of weedguard.

Metal Wire Weedguard: The metal wire weedguard can extend from just behind the eye or from the rear of the body. In most cases it is tied as a loop of wire and contoured such that end of the loop contains a V-shape that will sit just inside the barb of the hook. In many cases the will extend below the point of the hook.

Good: In the example shown, the guard will most likely collapse when grasped by a fish.

Bad: With the point of the hook exposed, it will not provide the weedless function for which it was designed.

Ugly: I don’t care for wire weed guards as they tend to bend easy and deform. This makes it almost impossible for wire weedguards to be part of a durable fly pattern. It’s difficult to find a place for them in a fly box that won’t bend the guard into an unusable shape.

Mono Loop or Peg Weedguard:

Good: This is the best style of weedguard to employ. It can be a loop, as shown, or a single or double peg of hard mono extending straight down and below the plane of the hook point. The ends of the loop are epoxied into the body of the fly. In the case of a popper, holes are punched and a drop of glue is placed on or in the hole. The loop ends are then introduced into the holes pushing the glue in. You can also use a toothpick to push the glue into the holes before inserting the monofilament.

Bad: The only bad thing about this style of weedguard is the time and technique to get the end of the mono firmly secured into the bottom of the fly. This is part of a fly tying sequence that one may wish to do in stages. At one sitting, add these weedguards to a bunch of popper bodies (after you’ve already seated them to a hook). This way you can use a five minute epoxy and get five or so poppers done before it becomes un-workable. Quick dry glue is not durable enough for these weed guards. You should use a hard mono, like Mason, in the 25 – 50 pound test class, depending on your personal preferences.

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