March 24, 2021
Keep your fly clean when it matters most.
It's been a slow morning when, suddenly, the school of redfish you've been looking for pushes up on the flat. They're happy fish, and the water shimmers as shrimp get bum-rushed and tails break the surface. Your cast couldn't have been any better, you're in the zone, you come tight on what you think is a fish... nope, just seagrass. The school blows out and you have just been robbed of your bottom-of-the-ninth winning home run.
We've all been there. It stings… a lot. That beautiful fly you spent 30 minutes tying last night is missing one key ingredient, a weedguard. Everybody has their favorite flavor, and they all work well, some better than others in certain scenarios.
There are three main materials used for most weed guard applications. Mason Hard Monofilament is one, a popular choice amongst fly tyers, due to its stiff profile. Fluorocarbon is another—strong, not as stiff as Mason, but holds its profile well, and nearly invisible in the water. An oldschool material that has seemed to succumb to the materials above, but still works great, is single-strand wire. Twenty-pound in both Mason and fluorocarbon are standard, No. 5 suffices on the wire.
There're a couple different styles of weedguards you can tie. Where I'm going to fish dictates which fly I choose. A majority of my sight fishing is over sandy bottom with scattered patches of grass. A single piece of Mason will keep the grass I do come across, off of my hook. Now if I know I'm going to fish somewhere with really dense grass and other vegetation, I will go with a double weedguard; fluoro or Mason does the trick. Popular in freshwater, often found on deerhair poppers and such, a double weedguard is used, but not like the one I spoke about above. Two pieces of Mason will be tied in on top of the hook shank, wrapped back down the bend and come all the way forward, tied off on the hook-point side of the eye. This is for ultimate protection, making sliding through lily pads and debris a breeze.
Well, it'll pull through just about anything you throw it in with the correct weedguard, but how about materials themselves fouling up?
Trey Wheeler, fellow FS staffer, and I both love to fish for baby tarpon, topwater gurgler flies being our niche. The movement of a marabou tail is killer for these fish, but fibers tend to wrap around the hook bend when they get a chance. This not only can affect the action, but when pierced through the lip of a fish, the material gets gnarled up much easier. If you know marabou, you know how easily it falls apart.
Wheeler had a good idea: Instead of tying in the marabou directly to the hook shank, why not bring it in through the crease of the foam, kicking it up and away from the hook, but not impeding any action.
Tie in your piece of foam first, wrapping back to the hook bend. With your bobbin (or mark with a Sharpie, then poke through) pull the piece of foam forward, measuring out where it will be tied in, and stick the bobbin through the back of the crease. Grab a plume of marabou, thread the quill through the hole, and tie it off at your desired tail length. FS
Published Florida Sportsman Magazine October 2018