Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Part I: A good investment.
If you are regular reader of my blog, you know I have a penchant for trout fishing. That can also extend to any species of salmonid, which I have pursued on several continents and virtually always on fly. In these exploits, it is very rare that I don’t seek out and contract with a guide to introduce me to new water in my pursuits.
There is nothing shameful in saying that you need the assistance of a guide in fly fishing for trout. The species is cunning and easily spooked at the same time, and every habitat is different as well. In looking to a guide for support, you are saying that you really want to learn to catch fish on a particular water.
How do you find a good guide? I start by calling the local fly shop where I expect to fish as a start. But Trout Unlimited also endorses multiple guides in many fishing destinations. It is not crazy either to reach out to a local chapter of Trout Unlimited to ask for advice. I generally have better luck with these sources and rarely am disappointed.
What can a guide teach you? Well if it is your first trip to a particular water, they should know where the fish will be hiding – at different times! Fish can move about and a guide that knows the water should know the hang outs, especially if they fish the water often. But for me, that is not the only reason to have a guide on the water. Inevitably, I will learn each time I am out with a guide something different about technique or flies or equipment that I didn’t know before.
I leverage that. I don’t seek just to know about where to fish, but also how to fish. I ask about knots. I ask about flies. I ask about casting, drifting, retrieving. I ask about a lot. That is the beauty of a guide. You get them out on the water alone and all they have is your quest and your questions – you have them cornered for four to eight hours of an excursion. Heck – it is your money, why not leverage the one-on-one for every bit of information you can.
Importantly, keep in mind that having a guide is not a guarantee of landing fish. I have had some real clunker days fishing with a guide and rarely is it their fault. The angler is also battling mother nature in the quest for fish, so often a day without fish is a day in which weather conditions did not cooperate. Command and confidence in technique can also influence the prospects of “hooking up”.
My experiences with guides cover Italy, France, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and a lot of territory in the US. I have appreciated most of the guidance and it has led me to many memorable fishing experiences. I certainly consider the investment in these guides an investment in my future knowledge and success as a fly fisherman.