Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Bendback


Text and Photos by Andrew Susani

Hook Talon TSSH or Mustad 34007 # 2
Thread 6/0 or 3/0
Underside Wound flash material or tinsel
Flash Flashabou, Krystal Flash or Comes Alive
Wing Bucktail, Kinkyfibre or Polafibre

For situations where you find yourself fishing over shallow weedbeds or rockbars for flathead or bream, the standard weighted flies such as clousers and baited breaths might be a bit too heavy to stay above the snaggy bottom, while maintaining a reasonably slow retrieve. The bendback style of tying is based around putting a bend in the hook to change the hook's centre of gravity and make the hook point ride up. This eliminates the need to put weighted eyes or lead wire on top of the hook shank to make the fly sit with the point up. I'm not sure who originally came up with this pattern, but I seem to remember seeing it a long time ago in some US tarpon articles, so it could well be American. Steve Starling wrote an article a long time ago based around a pattern he called the Crooked Creek Bendback, a pattern he used to great effect on the flathead and bream of Crooked River, at Gerringong. There are endless colour and material combinations possible to this pattern, so I have decided to outline the basic steps below - the rest is up to you!

Tying Procedure

1. Start by bending the shank of the hook upwards slightly using a pair of pliers. You only need to bend the shank up about 15 degrees.
2. Turn the hook upside down in the vise so that the front end of the shank is horizontal.

3. Start the thread down towards the bend on the shank and tie in the flash material that will be wound to form the underside. You can use mylar tubing if you like, or go for the cheap and easy alternative as shown here.

4. Take the thread up to a few millimetres behind the eye of the hook. Apply a light coat of head cement along the thread wraps.

5. While the head cement is still wet, wind the flash material around the hook shank and tie off. This makes the wound underside a bit tougher and resistant to coming apart through use.
6. Apply a thin coat of head cement over the wound flash material. You can use 5 minute epoxy to give an indestructible body, but make sure it is distributed evenly so that the fly is not unbalanced.
7. It's a good idea to tie these flies in batches so you don't waste time waiting for the head cement on the underside to dry before moving onto the next step.
8. Tie in a thin bunch of white bucktail for the wing material. You can also use Polafibre or Kinkyfibre if you want a more durable fly. 
9. Tie in the flash material on top of the first bunch of wing material (Krystal Flash pictured here).
10. Tie in the second bunch of wing material on top of the flash.

A popular variation ties in a grizzly saddle feather on either side of the head, so the feather extends along the length of the wing.

11. Build up a small head of thread, whip finish and varnish. You can stick on a small reflective eye if you want to add a good effect to the fly's head.
A bendback tied with a sparse wing of Polafibre. Sparse wings allow the fly to sink quicker - if you want the fly to push a lot of water and sink slowly, make the wing material bulkier.