Harnessing of ultrasonic guided waves confined in local features such as bends and welds, known as feature-guided waves, has emerged as a promising technique for non-destructive testing and structural health monitoring of industrial and aerospace structures. This article introduces a fiber Bragg grating based technique which uses feature-guided waves to detect anomalies or defects in plate structures with transverse bends. We are able to obtain good consistency between simulation and experimental results, both in the case of defect-free bent plates and those with transverse defects. Such results establish fiber Bragg gratings as a viable alternative to conventional techniques for structural health monitoring of bent plates. © 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.