Get Your Guard Up: Weed Guards for Fly Tying

Get Your Guard Up: Weed Guards for Fly Tying
Single weed guard.

How many times have you looked through your saltwater fly box and wished that your go-to fly had weed guards tied on to it? I have many times, so as I prepare for my two-week trip to Belize this week; I am tying a few favorites with weed guards. These include small merkins for bonefish in skinny, grassy environs and Puglisi style minnows for snook lurking tight to the mangroves.

Fly tiers and anglers have many weed guard options to choose from and ultimately, the decision boils down to where and how the fly will be fished and personal preference. When grass and other impediments are present, but not terribly thick, a single weed guard is a good option. They are easy to tie in, unobtrusive and generally keep the fly weed free. I use 12 or 16# hard mono, but a thin diameter wire also works well.

Single mono weed guard.
Single wire weed guard.

Loop weed guards are often used for bass bugs and are typically made with a single piece of mono. The mono is tied in at the bend of the hook and follows the contour of the hook past the point before it is secured into the head of the fly. These are probably my least favorite weed guards, because the loop occasionally gets pulled to one side of the hook or the other rendering it useless and causing the fly to swim a bit awkward. This same style weed guard may be tied with two pieces of mono on either side of the hook, which is a bit more bulky, but is a more effective weed deterrent.

Single loop weed guard
Double loop weed guard.

My weed blocker of choice is a v-shaped guard, which skips, bounces and crawls the fly out of mangroves and stays rigid when the fly is being stripped along the grassiest of flats. I tie in a single piece of 12 or 16# mono bent in half to form a loop and whip-finish the fly, so the mono is sandwiched between the whip-finish and the hook's eye. This keeps the weed guard from being smashed down along the shank of the hook. I then either cut the loop and trim the mono into a v-shape or keep the loop in tact, which also makes a decent guard. When tying in either the single or double v-shaped weed guards, be sure to trim them so they extend to the hook point, especially if the mono is not very stiff. If they are trimmed too short, the point will catch grass and embed into wood more easily.


V-shaped weed guard.

Experiment and choose the best weed guard for the locale and type of fishing you will be doing. I carry flies of different weights and some that have weed guards and others that are weed guard free. Tarpon fishing on the ocean side of Islamorada does not require a weed guard, but you'll be happy to have a few flies with them when you move into the backcountry and need to swim your fly through a mass of floating grass. Trust me, you won't want to try to tie a weed guard in when you are surrounded by laid up tarpon. Bring a few flies with weed guards.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Fly Fisherman's documentary Industry

Fly Fisherman Magazine Documentary Recognized by Outdoor Writers Association of America

Fly Fisherman - June 24, 2019

Fly Fisherman's documentary "One Path" was recognized with two awards.

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly. Fly Tying

Tying the Strong Arm Merkin

David W. Skok - July 09, 2019

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly.

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere. Fly Tying

Fly Tying Chip's Monster Magic Fly

Dwayne 'Chip' Cromarty - January 15, 2016

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

A backhand cast is when you use your backcast to deliver the fly.

 Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones are brightly colored treasures. Trout

Alpine Lakes for Remote Monsters

Landon Mayer - April 18, 2018

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones...

Drift boats help you search through miles of river quickly and effectively. Here's the top models on the market today. Gear

Top Drift Boats of 2019

John Fedorka - April 02, 2019

Drift boats help you search through miles of river quickly and effectively. Here's the top...

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in United States

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado

Steven B. Schweitzer - May 03, 2016

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in " Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado."

See More Stories

More Fly Tying

Trout can't resist it, and it's easy to keep it floating. Fly Tying

Tying Grillos's User Friendly

Charlie Craven - December 19, 2018

Trout can't resist it, and it's easy to keep it floating.

This little pink fly can work wonders on fish. Learn all about it in Pretty in Pink, the Best Bighorn Fly! Fly Tying

Best Bighorn Fly

Gordon Rose - June 09, 2016

This little pink fly can work wonders on fish. Learn all about it in Pretty in Pink, the Best...

 The Clown Shoe Caddis is tailor-made to suspend heavy dropper nymphs, even in turbulent water. Fly Tying

Tying the Clown Shoe Caddis

Charlie Craven - July 25, 2018

The Clown Shoe Caddis is tailor-made to suspend heavy dropper nymphs, even in turbulent...

See More Fly Tying

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×