A Question for all the "Guides" [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: A Question for all the "Guides"

08-25-2004, 01:12 AM
I hope I am not crossing any lines or asking an innapropriate question here (if I am, please square me away)

For all the Guides in the crew, how did you get started?

I have been doing a great deal of inquiring and most every outfitter that I talk to says they only hire guides that have already been guides for a while. In that, is the only way for someone to hire on as a guide is to have their own operation and then go from there?

I am thinking, if they only hire experienced guides....then how does one get the experience to be a guide, if they only hire experienced guides?

Dumb question, I know...sorry about that. But this has me stumped. Thanks in advance. jay

08-25-2004, 06:28 AM
Going on ten years, Northeast saltwater specializing in sight fishing and two-handing the surf for striped bass, blues, small inshore tuna when you can get 'em. Started fishing the target area over 30 years ago.

Got started while working in a flyshop part-time, giving casting lessons and advice, initially being asked by customers.

Initially I did the introductory program, mostly lessons in fishing with some real fishing mixed in targeting reliable fisheries in estuaries usually just to get some schoolies and an occasional first-time keeper. The take-away from these outings were focused on learning the ropes - casting in wind, gear nuances, strip retrieves, safe wading, etc. People should be able to pursue the species well on their own after such a class, I called it "Stripers 101".

Eventually more advanced outings were the rule, eventually I dropped the beginner classes and focus on sight fishing on the Monomoy flats and hardcore 4x4 two-handing on the beaches. Both are not trivial and working with a guide can provide a much shorter learning curve.

I teach casting with emphasis on two-handed casting and spey. I am FFF certified which is a formality I didn't really appreciate until I did it. I found it to be tough, but a great journey toward mastering one's ability and improving one's ability to express it to others - not just passing a test. In fact the test is just the start of the journey. I recommend it highly if you want to guide because you are always teaching when guiding.

I'd say the best 'first step' is to get involved with a local flyshop. Prepare your materials and make a presentation to a flyfishing club that is of high quality and content. Teach boy scouts how to cast and fish on a volunteer basis to help them get their merit badge. Organize a day to benefit new anglers like the Big Brother Assoc in your city. Take newbies under the wing, maybe even people from this site, and show them what you know.

Get involved - being a good guide is something that is developed over time and earned the old fashioned way... lots of time grinding it out.

Most of all, you really need to have the unconventional wisdom that sets you apart from the crowd or your business will flop quickly. You must be a student of the game in a serious way, a head-shaven zealot.

You must be able to accept responsibility for a bad day even when you do everything perfectly just as you are the star when you blunder into a banner day by accident.

It's competitive, you must have an edge over other guides as they will copy your techniques, locations, even flies. You get shadowed a lot if you know what you are doing. If you share your information openly, you get burned a lot. My personality is prone to share too much and it's been a hard lesson out there. But a good guide can open new doors for his clients and the challenge is a good thing in the end, keeps one turning over new rocks all the time.

It's a tough game. I LOVE it :lildevl:

Leland Miyawaki
08-25-2004, 11:15 AM
I'm new to the game as this is only my second season. I simply "fell" into it due to many requests from flyfishers. Before I began, I talked to the guides I knew to understand the client/guide relationship from the guides perspective (I already knew the client's point of view).

Since this was to be a labor of love and not my sole source of income, I decided to specialize in only those intermediate and advanced flyfishers who wanted to wade beaches and cast dryflies to salmon and searun cutthroat.

I don't take out as many clients as other guides but I get to introduce knowledgeable flyfishers to something they might never have considered doing.

I hope this little bit helps,

08-26-2004, 01:42 AM
you can't set the hook for anyone,,just get them down the river safeley,,,i just got my license this year,,,toughest `job' i've ever had,,,throwing people out of the boat like i do, :devil: ,also the best place in the world to be,sliding down the river, :hihi: ,trying to outrun my own mortality :eek: ,once i'm on the bank,,well,,the animals live there,, :rolleyes: look it's not hard to get the license,,but,,are YOU the personality for it,,it's a tremendous commitment for way less money versus the hours you would put into a,,,aa,,a,`normal'!? business,,,i just can't stay away from the river i grew up on , the dynamics of it,,i feel like i'm missing out if i'm not there,,it's as if i'm one with the constant change in runs,flows,,ah heck,,enough WHAT'S THE POINT,,i can't explain it,and if i have too :roll: ,,,it's laTE,,GOOONIGHT :cool:

08-26-2004, 03:55 AM
Thanks for all the responses. I was just curious about the whole thing. Its that whole income thing that gets in the way, or maybe it is the regular job that makes the income that gets in the way.

Screw it, I am moving to the British Columbia back country, building myself a cabin on a good river, and becoming a hermit, a hermit with lots of fly rods! :chuckle:

08-26-2004, 08:15 AM
What makes a good guide for me is one who is a good teacher and dose not have a huge ego. The best guide I had was on the BigHorn River. Steve Wolf was his name. He had a tough job guiding our group because he did very little fly fishing . However, he knew the river and was very laid back. Let us do our own thing and worked with one member of the group who had a lot of problems with his leader ect. Don't really like a guide who insists on doing things his way when they are not working. Just my .02 for the few guides that I hired.
FishHawk :smokin:

09-04-2004, 12:45 PM
I think the way is to become the best fisherman you can be. This means under ALL conditions...high water, wind, dirty water, saturated water, even overfishing. Once you do that, people will start coming to you. Then BIG fish will start to come. But you cannot catch fish without fishing. I dont write diary but keep video of all times and dates. Also it is very important to want to be a teacher. The desire to see OTHER people do the catching!!! I speak from flyfishing YEARROUND in Alaska. Not many people will fish in Feb. standing on 8ft ice sheets casting flesh pattterns. Hope this helps. Good Luck!

09-04-2004, 03:51 PM
something i forgot to mention.. becoming a guide because you like to fish is a bad idea.. become a guide because you want to help people.. i think that makes a huge different in terms of your attitude.. all of the complaints i have heard about guides has nothing to do with their abilities but their attitude!!!

09-04-2004, 05:11 PM
no wonder guides get an attitude,,,you try to help,,,that's what you idealise,helping people catch fish,,,,,any guide will work his a-- off for you,,,if you're worthy,if you keep trying to help,,and they're not receptive,,, :tsk_tsk: ,you're forced to back off,,,,, Rob,,i think you should tip your hat to the man that started this thread,,he's going to Iraq, :frown: ,,my nephew just left for there,a couple possible son-in-laws are there now,,they've all got seats waiting on my boat,,hope all our folks come back from that bucket of bull----,,,,!!!!!!!!!!!!!

09-08-2004, 08:29 AM
After college, I wanted to be a guide but I ran into the same problems you did. I called plenty of outfitters across the west and had the same response. THe outfitters in Montana hired guides that grew up in the area. They suggested I come out and fish acouple of years, work in a shop and then start guiding if I liked what I saw. I did not do that and was about to quit until one outfitter, I wish I remembered who, suggested I try some of the Alaskan Lodges. I opened the back of fishing mags, sent resumes and recieved call backs almost immediately. Then I consulted some guide books, picked the best looking 5 star fly-out lodge and started packing. After a summer in Alaska, I moved to New York to be with my girlfriend and learned the waters. I now guide on the side, probably once or twice a month, have plenty of repeat clients and that pays for all my fishing trips. The most important thing that I find in guiding is that you understand and can convey the things that make a good fisherman. You don't nessasarily need to BE a great fisherman. One of the local guides I do combo trips with isn;t a great fisherman but he is a great guide, very patient and a great teacher. Also, do the little things that make an INTERESTING trip. A little history, local lore, entemology, (I take five or ten minutes of each trip to turn rocks and explain what they might see), and other interesting stories. You also need to catch fish or do everything possible to do so. If it's slow, change flies or spots often ect. Also, I cater each trip to what the client wants, not what I want. If the emphasis is on casting, I video tape the clients so they can take a tape home with them, if it's on catching fish then we go smallmouth fish and so-on. The good thing about working for yourself is you can dictate timing and other variables. If you work for someone else, they can get your name out there. Another thing is that I don't know any rich guides so don't think you can make your first million. The rich ones have other jobs or make their money first. Think about writing for local mags and sports newspapers to get your name out their and if there are local fishing shows on TV, offer free trips if they film a show. Good luck,