Hiring a Fly-Fishing Guide
A professional fishing guide will typically cost $350 to $550 per day for two people. That's expensive, but usually worth the money. Even expert anglers often hire a guide when fishing a new river or lake. Here are some reasons to use a guide and ways to locate a good guide, followed by some ideas about how to get the most out of a guided trip.
Reasons to Hire a Guide
- They fish the same areas day-in and day-out, so they know what works best under all conditions.
- They can help you improve your fishing skills.
- They know the un-obvious places to find fish, especially when it's crowded.
- They have the skills and equipment to get you safely down a whitewater river.
- They can loan or rent to you equipment you don't have.
- You get to relax and concentrate on having a good time. It's an investment in better fishing.
Finding a Good Fly-Fishing Guide
- Word of mouth is best. Ask your friends and acquaintances if they have used a fishing guide and what their experience was like.
- Some fly shops have their own guide service, while others can recommend a competent guide.
- The Oregon Guides and Packers is a source for that state. Their members are professional outdoor guides and outfitters, most of whom do it full time. To get a brochure listing their guides, call 800/747-9552 or go to their website, www.ogpa.com
- Make sure you choose a guide who is familiar with the water you want to fish.
- Ask a prospective guide how long he's been guiding the water you are going to.
- If you're fly fishing, ask what percentage of the guide's trips are fly fishing.
Things to Do Before the Trip
- Be frank and objective about your skills; if you are a beginner, make sure the guide understands that.
- Don't mix fly anglers and gear/bait anglers in the same boat.
- If you want lots of fish, but don't care about the size, tell the guide. If you want trophies, but will settle for fewer hookups, make sure the guide knows.
- If you have special diet requirements, tell your guide before he packs a lunch.
- Health concerns or handicaps? Let your guide know!
- Fishing tactics you "don't do"? Tell the guide when you set up the trip, not when he's launching the boat!
- Want to take home lots of fish in a cooler? Say so before you hire your guide, because some of them (especially fly fishing guides) advocate catch-and-release.
- How long do you want to fish? All day for some folks is eight hours, but for others it's dawn to dusk.
- Should you bring your own lunch and water? What about snacks or alcohol?
- If you're going fly fishing and your casting skills are rusty, take a fly casting lesson from a local fly shop; a $30 investment in a lesson can help you get the most out of your $300 trip.
- Make sure you know what clothes to bring on the trip. Ask the guide for advice.
- Know what the cancellation/refund policy is. If it's a gale force wind or the temperature is 20 below, what happens?
- Who's supplying flies? You or the guide? If the guide is supplying them, be sure to pay for them (maybe in your tip).
- Get a good night's sleep the night before your trip.
Things to Do on the Day of the Trip
- When the guide tells you to meet at a certain time, be prompt!
- This is your trip; give the guide enough information so he can make sure you have a good time.
- Try to do what the guide tells you do.
- If you're tired or cold or don't feel well, tell the guide.
- Ask questions.
- It is customary to tip a guide, especially if you've had a good time. Tips vary, with $20 per angler being a rock-bottom minimum. On many rivers, tips typically run 15-20% of the guide fee. Did the guide supply flies? Was the lunch especially good? Did you learn a lot that you can use on your own? All these considerations should go into your decision about a tip.Your guide has to pay for lunch, permit fees, a shuttle, and perhaps a booking fee to the shop or outfitter. That means about half the money you pay will go to someone else. So your tip can be very significant to your guide.