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Hiring a fly fishing guide - part III

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

How to be a good fishing client

Regular readers of my blog know that I am not shy about hiring a fishing guide. Even after 25 years of fly fishing experience, I still rely on the expertise of a guide several times a year. I like to think that I am a good client, listening well, sponging up information and being open to suggestions about how to improve my technique – I already know my casting is lazy, so am never surprised to hear that! Hiring a guide helps remind me every so often to stop being lazy (which seems to last a little while, until I hire the next guide!).

How to be a good client to a fishing guide

So how can you be a good client and why is that important? You have paid good money to receive instruction on the water, and I would submit that to maximize that return you should be open minded to what your instructor can add to the experience. I reached out to three fishing guides that I know personally for their insights on how to be a good client on the water and why that is important.

Demian Wiles of First Light Outfitters

Demian Wiles is a fly fishing guide who I recently met during an excursion to Escatawba Farms, outside Covington, Virginia. His suggestion regarding being a good client is to listen well. As a client you are paying for an experience – the catching is important, of course, but building the skill is an important element in the ROI, or return on investment. A half-day of guiding can cost $250 to $400 dollars, depending on the type of fly-fishing. If you are calculating the return based on the number of fish you net, that is not productive. The intangibles of skill and knowledge should contribute to that assessment.

Rob Snowhite, the Fly Fishing Consultant

Rob Snowhite is a consultant and urban fishing specialist in the Washington, DC area who covers the topic very well in one of his podcasts. He recommends following the advice of your guide as it relates to proper dress, including wearing sunglasses, which are just as important for sun protection as for eye protection (from errant flies). Be ready to work! Fishing can be hard work, especially when you are on the water for four to eight hours, so get a good night sleep. Also, do not surprise your guide – if you have physical limitations, then let your guide know. And by all means, do not show up with extra clients or unannounced companions (re: dogs).

Guide, Rob Snowhite, on his favorite perch along the Potomac, shad rock

Many of these recommendations seem like common sense, but Rob is always surprised at how clients are oblivious to what would be common sense to a fishing guide.

It is also very important to assess your guide based on their approach to the profession and what they can control. Is your guide on time? Does your guide provide functional and clean equipment of good quality? Is your guide pleasant and helpful? These are the things that the guide can control.

Northern Virginia-based fly fishing guide, Kiki Galvin

Kiki Galvin of Ms. Guided Fly Fishing Services

As Kiki Galvin, professional guide and TU leader rightly highlights, fishing guides cannot control weather, water conditions or how the fish will react. So assess your guide on the basis of their contributions, not the conditions. And if your guide has checked all the boxes as it relates to courteousness, value add and putting you on fish, be sure to tip them generously for their hard work.

Tight lines!

I am not being compensated by my mention of the fishing guides in this post. I am simply a supportive fellow member of TU and/or a satisfied client.

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