What to look for in a Guide [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: What to look for in a Guide

06-12-2007, 07:41 AM
I am trying to find out what I should look for when hiring a fly fishing guide. There are so many options out there for each location it seems and I would like some tips on narrowing them down.

06-12-2007, 09:18 AM
Half of that is what "you are looking for" in a guide.

For instance, do you want to boat a lot of fish or learn how to fish better on your own? Where I have been a guide that was two completely different animals. Now in either case you could have a slow day or fireworks, but you wouldn't learn to sight fish trolling in the rips with a fly rod. You might not want to though.

How about casting - do you want someone who can make a difference in your casting through the day? What are his/her credentials as a casting instructor?

Knowledge of the area - some guides go to the same rock every time out. If conditions change, what is their plan? Ask them a few questions ahead of time on the phone, an interview of sorts.

Reputation / referral - if you know someone who really likes a guide and can relate to their point of view, that's worth a lot.

Ironically, a guide's true worth is measured in the slowest of days. Anyone can be a 'guide' when the fish are going nuts. But if the fish don't cooperate and the clients still enjoy the day and learn a lot that the client takes with them into their future as anglers - then that's as good a guide as you will find in my opinion.


06-12-2007, 09:47 AM
Normally you only find out if the guide is good after the days fishing.

If your question is: "how do I pick a good guide?", then there are a number of different criteria and as Juro says it really depends upon where you want to go fishing and what type of fishing do you want.

For example: If you want to go flats fishing in the Keys for bones or redfish you do not want a guide with a big Actioncraft and twin 150s on the back. You need someone who has a 14ft skiff with a draft of only a few inches with a 40hp motor. But that is only about the boat.

The most important factor in a guide is the chemistry between you and him. You will spend most of your day together and you develop quite a relationship or not. So it is essential that you have someone that you can get on with.

Maybe if you could be more specific as to where you want to fish, we could be more specific with the answer.


06-12-2007, 04:21 PM
I want to trout fish around Montana and Wyoming. There seem to be plenty of guides. I am just looking at traveling, I am not sure yet, but I would want to hire a guide and get into some fish. Thanks for the replies, that helps a lot.

06-14-2007, 06:52 AM
you said the key words-"want to get into some fish". while it's hard to determine in advance, i believe that the measure of a good guide is whether or not he or she can find fish-period. while all the casting lessons and banter are an added plus, they are a poor substitue for finding fish. i would want to know whether the guide is at it full time or part time, how long has he or she been guiding and how long guiding and fishing that river.

06-14-2007, 12:46 PM
I agree that before anything else the guide must know how to sniff out the action first and foremost; the rest is only important if you need it. You have the perspective of a good caster and experienced angler, which changes what you need from a guide.

However knowing where fish are doesn't always translate to success whereas coaching on key elements like presentation can be the difference.

Fishing technical water in Montana is less about where fish live and more about presentation skill.

Spey fishing in the Pacific Northwest definitely, hundreds or thousands of fish lay in some longer runs in the rivers I fish.

When skating dries over a pool blackened by holding salmon on the Gaspe, it's playing into the fish's psyche with proper presentation that brings them up.

Hooking up on the flats of Monomoy in July isn't about the presence of fish, everyone sees them - few hook them.

The fish mystery is often solved easily in cases like these, but the advice received leading to the hook-up is pure tutelage and although it may involve casting, it's much more than just that.

So let's summarize as this:

A good guide is one who knows where the fish are; knows how to make them eat and is good at conveying that to you so you can capitalize on the opportunity. Whether that is casting, fly choice, strip retrieve, drag-free drift, or holding your mouth a certain way, that knowledge combined with the knowledge of the fish's locations and habits is what makes a good guide.

He should also know some damn good jokes and best places to eat in case the fish are MIA, because no matter how good the guide is he isn't the pied piper and can't control the fish, weather, wind or lady luck. :)

06-14-2007, 01:48 PM
Hi Juro
You have basically defined what a good guide is. I agree with what you say.
However the question that is being posed is how do you find this person.

It is very easy, after a days fishing, to say "the guide was great" or "the guide was crap".

How do you do this before you go fishing.

What are the things to look for so that you think you are booking a good guide.

06-17-2007, 11:24 PM
I guess the main thing I'd say is to ask for recommendations. This forum has a lot of guys that have fished all over the world, and there's a few other forums out there too for fly fishing where you could probably get some good advice.