How to Hire a Fishing Guide
There is no better way to jump-start your fly fishing career and put you on the fast track than to spend a day out with a good guide. The key is to find a true professional that spends a lot of time on the water. When you decide to hire a guide, inform them that you are hoping to catch a fish, but that you’re just starting out and really want to improve your skills. You’ll have plenty of time to pursue actually catching fish, but it’s not every day you’ll be able to spend a day learning the tricks of the trade from a seasoned guide. Suck them dry for all of the information you can, and then tip them handsomely for it (assuming they did a good job!). As a former guide I might be a little biased here!
Finding A Guide
Finding a reputable guide is not as hard as it once used to be. A good place to start is by asking people you meet while fishing, or to do some research online. Many outfitters and lodges have guide services that specialize in fly fishing. Use the Internet, and check in with local forums, and message boards.
Here are some questions you may want to ask a guide before the trip:
- Are you a full time guide? – Guides working full time may spend 100 plus days a year on the water and have a better feel for current conditions.
- I’m just starting out, do you work with beginners? – Look for a guide who doesn’t mind teaching beginners on the trip.
- What is the latest fishing report and conditions? – Try and plan a day when the wind and weather are cooperating.
- Do you supply flies, or do I have to bring my own? Try and hire a guide that supplies the flies for the day. It’s unlikely you’ll have the right ones when you’re just starting out..
- Do you have equipment I can use? – Many times guides will have extra equipment you may not have.
During the trip ask your guide the following questions:
- Can you point out access I might be able to reach on my own? – Find places that you can fish without the guide, that way you can go back and fish on your own.
- Can you show me how to tie the knots I’ll need? – There is no time like the present to learn how to tie knots.
- What kind of flies do you suggest? – Find out from the guide which fly patterns are best for where you’re fishing.
In recent years, many ‘Pay-to-Play’ fisheries have cropped up. These are privately owned lakes or stretches of river that are carefully managed to reduce angling pressure, and produce quality fishing. These fisheries are as close to a guaranteed catch as you are going to get. Though not inexpensive, pay-to-play fishing is a good way to sky rocket your learning curve, and is well worth the money. So often when an angler is starting out they have very little opportunity to know when they are doing something right. On popular public water, fish that are seeing a lot of flies may become really tough to catch for the beginner. You may be doing everything right, but come up short, simply because the fish you’re after have just been pressured too much. Pay-to-play fish will often respond much more readily, and be willing and able to tear you a new one! These fisheries will give you a good opportunity to learn very quickly how to hook, fight, and land fish.
Now Go Fishing!
Now that you’ve decided on gear and have the basics to get started, it’s time to get out there! It’s important to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your casting and fishing skills. Part of the fun of this sport is that there is so much to learn. Every day that I head out on the water I learn something new. The best way to grow your learning curve is to simply just GO. With every cast, every fly you tie on, every fish you catch, and every new piece of water you fish, you’ll get closer to making your fly fishing dreams come true. Slowly your addiction will grow, and lifetimes of memories are just waiting to be made.