Q: I fish where there is lots of grass, and my fly is constantly fouling. Can you suggest the best material for weed guards?
-Reader in Panama City, Florida
A: At times, a Bendback pattern is better than a fly with a weed guard. But that design somewhat limits what you can tie on the hook. For years, fly-anglers have used monofilament spikes or a loop surrounding the point to prevent snags. The problem with mono (as well as stiff metal trolling wire) is that it deforms badly and must be discarded after just a few fish.
Some years ago, I began using flexible, plastic-coated braided stainless-steel wire like that which we use for bluefish (I use 40-pound material for inshore fishing). This is not the modern, multistrand thinner stuff but the older, thicker type. I never loop it around the hook point but use it in a straight post configuration.
Tie the fly in a normal manner, leaving a little extra room behind the hook eye. Then attach one or two short lengths of braided wire. It is absolutely necessary to epoxy the wrapped joint – but if you do this, the flexible properties of this material allow it to be repeatedly straightened with pliers should it become deformed by fish.