Let the fishing guide, guide...

Let the fishing guide, guide…

Let the fishing guide, guide…

To get the most out of your fly fishing guide trip the best method is to let the fishing guide, guide you.

Sometimes I get an angler in the boat who wants to guide me. And that is OK.

I used to buck that feller, but now if that what the client wants to do…I just let him hang himself. If that is what he wants to do for 600 bucks a day, then he must know best.

The best way to get the most out of your guide trip is to let the fishing guide, guide. You hired him, let him do what he does best.

  • Let him put the boat in.
  • Let him row.
  • Let him tie the flies on, off, untangle, re-tie, rig, and re-rig.
  • Let him pass on his knowledge of specific hatches, locations, runs, flats, dry fly areas, nymph buckets, streamer flats.
  • Let him facilitate your success.
  • Let him net the fish and smile.
  • Let him take the boat out.
  • Let him tell a few bad jokes.
  • Let him teach.

That is what you should do to get the utmost out of your day.

He really wants to help in any way he or she can. That is what drives fishing guides. Is the teaching, helping, allowing you to enjoy your day or week. That is the goal of the fishing guide. So let the fishing guide, guide.

You too play a huge role in your day. It is important to outline your goals and expectations in the morning before the guide trip. One thing that fishing guides are not…is mind readers. They may not pick up your subtle nuances in the parking lot that you are really interested in enter quote here.

If you pull out an 8 1/2 Sage ONE with a 16′ leader hanging out of your click and pawl reel, he might assume you are a dry fly fan.

But beyond that he may not be able to figure you out in the first 30 seconds.

Although, sometimes he can. 

So you should enlighten your guide on stretches of river you would like to fish if you have an idea of where you would like to go. Driving back to the shop is not the time to let your guide know that you don’t like the Cascade reach of the Missouri River. Nad never have. Not much your guide can do about it then. But in the am, he and you can design the day you would like to have.

You would outline some of your goals for the day or week. You should let your guide know that learning the reach cast is high on your list. That nymphing is your weak spot. That casting split shot presents a problem for anyone in the boat, that you are one dangerous angler and have fought many people in the back of the head. That steamer fishing is your first love, and you have not let your girlfriend know that yet. It is important to tell him that fishing around lots of people makes you nervous. That you have a plane to catch at 4pm.

The classic line is when you are two hours from the boat ramp the fishing guest mentions that he has a plane to catch in about an hour. 


Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.

Understand that your fishing guide is on your team. He or she is your team captain and that their goal is for you to enjoy your day. For you to learn and take something home with you. That it is his best interest for you to have success fishing, learning, and not to get sunburnt.

Another common mistake of clients is to underestimate the potential for thunderstorms even when the fishing guide is pleading with you to bring your rain gear.

And you state that there is not a cloud in the sky and you don’t believe him it will rain. 

And your guide does not mind heading in early. And you won’t be the first guest to pretend he is GOD…and can predict the future, the weather, the landing rate, the…

There are plenty of stories about fishing guides being assholes, but this article is not about that. This is about getting the best result from your day, when you hire a fishing guide. It is not cheap, so get the biggest bang for your buck.

Open lines of communication is the quickest route to success, to learning, to using the net bunch, to laughter, to enjoyment for all parties involved. That is my suggestion. Communicate often. Let the fishing guide, guide.

So keep this in mind the next time you hire a fishing guide. Start out the day asking questions and illuminating your fishing guide on your goals and expectations. He in turn will answer any of your questions and outline a schedule for the day trying to check off as many of the boxes on your list.

And bring rain gear.


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  • Good post.
    SOL writes:
    “The classic line is when you are two hours from the boat ramp the fishing guest mentions that he has a plane to catch in about an hour. ”
    “The classic line is when you and your client is in the boat and your client who has about $5,000 worth of gear on mentions that he received all “this stuff” as a retirement present and has never casted a ‘fly pole’ before and ‘used to fish for catfish with stinkbait…oh, ’bout forty years ago'”.


    Yep per.
    Tight lines,

  • Great post Mark. Very timely. You highlighted well the fristrating part of guiding when a client won’t let you help. Guides want to help clients enjoy their day. Bottom line…..

  • Communication is the key to any successful relationship… fishing ‘aint no different!

  • So true and the mark of a good outfitter IMO is someone who makes the extra effort to speak to you in detail some time ahead of the trip to make sure guide and client are on the same page. It has to be tough for you guys to figure out some days how the client sees the ‘ideal day’ going .
    What do you guys think about this recent experience….call a shop ( not your place btw) 5 months in advance to reserve a float and put down a deposit with the idea that you better your chance to get a guide who is in demand . Check in two weeks before the trip and you hear ” my regulars had a change in their plans so I’m putting you with someone else”. Just the way it goes or did we have a beef? We made the most of it

    • Does not speak well of that feller. You must not be as important as those “regulars”. Integrity should not be an issue with outfitters and guides.

  • Mark,
    I kinda thought the same but hearing it from you confirms that we weren’t being @#$% about it . No worries…..wont be using that guy any more and happy to spread the word about our experience. Disappointed as it was a well regarded shop/outfitter. All the best to you guys

  • Love it, SOL. I am certainly guilty of all the bad shit you mentioned sports doing. Always trying to learn and get better though – not just as an angler but as a client. It’s a process.

  • wayne e clayton
    December 17, 2022 7:26 am

    The worst are the father son combinations. Dad always wants to guide much to the detriment of the son

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