Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Getting the most from your guide
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. A fishing guide helps me quickly figure out water I have never experienced, or reintroduce me to one I have not fished in a while. I am always striving to improve my skill, and an experienced guide can remind me (hopefully gently) when I am being lazy (especially in my casting), or provide tips to raise my game on the water.
So how can you get the most out of a fishing guide? You have paid good money to receive instruction on the water (and that can be any type of fishing on any type of water), so why would you not seek to optimize the experience (or ROI – return on investment). I reached out to three fishing guides that I know personally for their insights on how to leverage their services and knowledge to maximize the fishing experience.
Rob Snowhite is a consultant and urban fishing specialist in the Washington, DC area who has selflessly dedicated his fishing knowledge to aspiring fisherman through the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders and local Trout Unlimited (TU) chapters. But he supports his family as a fishing guide and podcaster. He strongly suggests his clients reach out ahead of time to prepare him for what they want to learn during their day out on the water. Even if the client just shows up with some questions or wants guidance on how to improve on technique – that’s okay. Rob would love to know in advance how he can help you.
I often research my guide and the water before an excursion so that I get the most out of the experience (besides catching fish). Take a moment to look at your guide’s background – maybe there are some conversation pieces that come out of this, which can be important if you are on the water for 8 hours with someone you are meeting for the first time. Maybe read about the technique or approach that works best on that water and explore this through your guide’s perspective. Your guide will appreciate the advanced preparation, for sure.
Demian Wiles is a fly fishing guide who I recently met during an excursion to Escatawba Farms, outside Covington, Virginia. His guiding experience was unique in that he provides “amazing gourmet lunches”. I can tell you that the three-course meal was better than advertised. He emphasizes that the value of a good guide is in elevating the learning curve for anglers at any level. For beginners, the guide will help focus on building the skill level; for the intermediate, suggest how to elevate the specific technique or respond to what skills the client would like to improve; and for the advanced angler, basically cut down on exploration time by getting them on fish as fast as possible. This latter approach was appropriate for me – once I had a few fish in the net, Demian was tweaking my roll cast and mending skill.
For me, hiring a guide has incredible value in, first, getting to the fish, and second, improving my skill. Even with 25-years of fly-fishing experience, I realize that I can be lazy with my technique. So I appreciate the approach that Kiki Galvin, professional guide in the Washington, DC area and TU leader, takes in her guiding of fly-fishing clients. She curates custom trips for her clients based on what they wish to accomplish during their personal outing. On the initial outreach from her client, her immediate concern is to identify what they want out of the experience. For her, a successful day is both meeting the client’s expectation in skills acquired as well as putting them on fish.
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 satisfied client.