Guiding Insight [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Guiding Insight

11-28-2002, 07:01 PM
First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all. Let's all count our blessings for living in a country that gives us the freedom to decide what we want to do on a daily basis. Apart from the requisite work obligations, my second choice is fly-fishing - carefully balanced with active family interaction of course !

Looking for some advice from fellow fly fisherman on feasibility of setting up a side line guiding operation. I have the good fortune to live in a section of Connecticut that abuts the Farmington River. While only getting started flyfishing a little more than a year ago, I have taken the sport to heart and now know all of the good waters in about a two mile or so stretch of water. Due to my generally obsessive nature, I know the holes, the hatches, the nymphs and tackle configurations that generate results. I would like to turn this knowledge into a little cash flow to support my gear purchase habits. Nothing more, not looking to quit my day job, and know that I won't get rich on this. Question would be, what is reasonable rate for guiding ? Most water access is not far from the road. Value would come from my knowledge of waters and input on technique and material...

Any thoughts?


11-28-2002, 09:57 PM
Andrew -

I believe that time is not the only criteria, and that some can achieve in flyfishing in a few years what other's miss in a decade. That being said, my own personal approach to guiding is much less aggressive in that I had been fishing an area over 20 years and took a job at a flyshop before booking trips for money.

I don't think I can provide a good answer to your question, each situation and person is different. I guess I will cop out and give you the standard business rule of thumb for the question:

"Price things at what the market will bear, provide a better value and better product than your competitors, and if you get lucky you might even succeed."

Good luck with your venture!

11-28-2002, 10:52 PM
I wish you luck in you venture as well...but I have to be more direct than Juro... Guiding is not just showing people where fish are but the whole thing. You say you have been fly fishing for just a year. Sometime guides teach from experience as well as showing where the holes are. Some people want to improve their casting or the fine points of the double or single haul. In my opinion a guide should know all the knots in their sleep and when to use them and should , at least in saltwater,, be able to tie a bimini on a moving boat. I am not trying to put this down ,it's just it seems that for you to charge people for guiding it should be more than what you have acquired in one year. When to change lines, reading water where there are no known spots, not to mention the tides and weather..Not saying you don't know's just I think a good guide must come with years of experience as well as a good personality. For example,I don't know one guide who does not tye their own flies , and in fact ,most are innovators when it come to tying. So... forgive my long winded perspective, but you should make sure you disclose to the prospective client where your skills are. Nevertheless ,It is great that you have a love for flyfishing as all of us on this board . But we are always students and the longer you go at this, like everything else , the more you discover that you know very little...but keep trying to master , at times , the uanattainable. Good guides do this because they love it, and devote a large portion of their lives to the vocation.. I somethime think a good guide is one who wants to give something back to the sport and try to make a living... part time guides would be better served to just fish and learn . Good luck. .....P.S. You had better get insurance, or incorporate as Limited liability Corporation, or you could lose your shirt if something happens. A good lawyer will love a case where the defendant is a guide will little guiding experience.

11-29-2002, 09:53 AM

Some excellent advice in the above responses, I have been fly fishing 43 years. Recommend you obtain some more experience, guide your buddies and learn as much you can about a couple of your local rivers fly hatches, how and where to fish them. Not sure how old you are but I don't believe I have seen many full time guides below mid twenties in age on the Michigan rivers I fish. A guide has a lot of responsibility and liability should your client have an accident on the water these days. Make sure you check into CTs guiding licenses, laws, legal incorporation, and insurance needed. Also if if you guide on national or state forest land there are additional criteria you must meet normally.

Best of luck in your endeavor and most importantly respect your fisheries and the resources which surround it including the other anglers. Start with good fly fishing ethics also which you can find information of on this board and other sources on the web. Join some conservation groups like Trout Unlimited or Federation of Fly Fishers to expand your network of local fly fisherman.

Hope this helps,

11-29-2002, 07:28 PM
Take the advice from the other posts. I work part time in a fly shop and carry a guides license, but only take people out when no one else is available. Guiding is hard work when the sun is beating down and it's 100 deg in the summer and you have people who have never fly fished. They need special attention, they may need to use your fly rod and flies, and some have no ideal of what to do, but they saw fly fishing on TV and expect you to make them a pro the first time out.
If you are like me, I feel guilty when the don't catch any fish, but you have to charge them weather they catch fish or not.
As far as how much to charge, Davy Wooton guides on the White or the Norfork rivers hear in Arkansas and he gets $350 for one person. Others charge $250 for two. Dave Whitlock runs a school here that people with more experience than you go to.
When you are guiding you can't fish, that's why I don't like to guide.

Dble Haul
12-02-2002, 08:38 AM
Andrew- You have received some very good advice here. I was a guide with an outfitter in Maine back in the early 90s and found it to be simultaneously humbling and rewarding. I had been flyfishing since I was 7, and came into the job thinking that I knew a great deal about the sport. Then I met some of the other guides and the owner. To make a long story short, there's always room for improvement and learning, even if you think that you already have what it takes.

I brought a lot to the table in that situation and had some insights that the others didn't. But by opening up to the others and accepting what they had to offer with their time and experience, it not only made me a better angler, but a better person as well.

I'm sure that you know the Farmington. I live in CT and have fished it too. But after only one year, do you really think that you can handle the river in extremes? This year was very dry.....what if next year the water is unusually high throughout the season? And have you become familiar with ALL of the good holes? This will be necessary, because this river is crowded and sometimes a list of good spots is needed just to find elbow room.

There are other considerations, but I think that you get my point. Give yourself a chance to know more spots than just those in the mile or two that you've mentioned. You'll need them.

Good luck.

12-02-2002, 11:53 AM
Let me be the first to offer myself as a Guinea Pig.

I've been dieing to learn more about fishing the Farmington. I have no real knowledge of "matching the hatch". My casting sucks. And I have a tendency to slip on rocks. As far as I can tell, I'd be a perfect sim guidee.

Plus, I'd be happy to provide a thorough critique at the end of the day, including my patent pending "What Your Worth" ranking.

Let me know.


Professional Simulation Guidee


Bob Pauli
12-02-2002, 05:41 PM
All of us on this board appreciate your enthusiasm for fly fishing and welcome you warmly into a group consisting largely of dedicated, passionate Type A predators.

Just a thought before you invest in a guiding operation: how many of the top students in a high school or college freshman class become professors the following year?

Welcome aboard, Andrew

12-02-2002, 05:59 PM
Jeff had the right idea - I volunteer as well if you aren't adverse to guinea pigs. The more trips you take, the more you know about it. Plus we'll buy the beer and burger afterwards.

12-03-2002, 04:16 PM
I am only 16 but i got my fiirst experience of guiding on the farmington this summer. i guided my uncle. he is the man that got me started in fly fishing. i have surpased him in skill and knowledge of fly fishing. anyway, i guded him on the farmington one day. we usually bass fish the whole summer but this year it was just me my rod and my grandpa who drives me every where. this was the first time my uncle had been flyfishing in a long time. i helped him for about an hour and then left him alone. during that time i caught about an 18 inch bow. after that i go and help him again. i gave him a size 14 royal wullff. after about 10 or so casts he hooked up with a 18 inch brown. if there was any river that i would like to start guiding on it would be the farmington.
maybe we could go on a fishing trip this summer on the farmington. i know there are plenty of guys in this forum that live in that area.
Good luck with the guiding bussiness andrew

12-03-2002, 04:18 PM
Andrew where are you ?

Come on back, this is the place to seriously discuss fly fishing, however there are many here who have been fly fishing for a long time and have opinions.



12-03-2002, 04:19 PM
Originally posted by jborkowski

And I have a tendency to slip on rocks.

;) [/B]

thats funny i also have the tendency to slip as a matter a fact i did it on the farmington this summer

12-04-2002, 03:02 PM
I love the Farmington...great river, just don't get to fish it as much as I would like. But had some banner days this past Spring fishing the Hendricksons.

If you boys are slipping at the Farmington, beware the Deerfield! Talk about slippery....YIKES!


Already have the days marked next year for the Hendricksons and when I'm *hoping* to fish that hatch next year.

Sounds like more than a couple of you might be around...


12-05-2002, 03:28 PM
When i slipped at the farmington i was talking to someone behind me and stepped on the edge of a rock and consequently fell over.

12-06-2002, 09:47 PM
Thanks to all for their valuable input. That's what I was looking for. I agree with all of you that my time "in the sport" is limited, (at this point, slightly over a year..), and that there is much to learn in becoming an effective flyfishing angler. I don't know it all, and probably never will. That to me, is one of the many beauties of the sport. I have however had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in a fairly limited area of water, gotten to know the area pretty well, and have been a "student of the business" all the time. I have benefitted from input from fellow fisherman, fly shop banter, extensive reading and internet browsing, and perhaps most importantly, experimenting in the water with multiple approaches, rigs etc. No teacher is better than experience. I don't profess to be an expert by a long shot, and don't catch fish every time I go out !!!

I am not looking to get rich by guiding, and at the end of the day, may just end up spending time with folks with an eye to sharing my knowledge and helping folks gain a greater appreciation for the sport than anything else.

There was an article in the Hartford Courant Sunday Magazine, NORTHEAST, a few months back on flyfishing in the Farmington. Part of the article talked about the 5 stages of flyfishing. To the best of my recollection, they went something like this...First stage, You like to fish, you hope you catch a fish. Second stage, You want to catch alot of fish each time you go out. Third stage, you want to catch a big fish. Fourth stage, you want catch alot of big fish. Fifth stage, you just want to go out, and don't care if you catch a fish at all.

Tight lines...

12-07-2002, 01:18 AM
Good thinking Andrew, BTW I have been in the fifth stage for quite a while now.

12-07-2002, 12:33 PM
On the farmington it is hard to not catch a fish every time you go out. This summer was the first time i really fished the farmington. every day i caught a fish. one day i was almost skunked but i caught a brown on a bwo at the last minute andrew maybe we could hook up this summer and could show you a few tricks that i have learned in the five years i have been FF i am only in ct in the summer though wish i could be there year round.

12-07-2002, 09:18 PM
FYI to all, when suggesting knowledge of the Farmington, I am talking about only the area between Unionville and Collinsville. I recognize and appreciate that the rest of the river has much to offer, my "expertise" is in that stretch. Went out today. colder than a witch's breast. All nymphing - Tried copper john/ brassie combos, prince / pheasant tail combos, yuck bug/disco bug combos... all to no avail. sometimes you just have to appreciate the fact that you are standing in the middle of a beautiful river and that's going to be it on the satisfaction input meter for the day.

12-09-2002, 03:53 PM
where i fished the farmington this summer was in or near riverton, don't know if that is where you fsihed. every once and a while i will just stand in a river and stop fishing just to take a look arround.

12-12-2002, 09:41 PM
I don't disagree that there are times when it is not that difficult to catch a fish on the Farmington. Especially soon after stocking. However, I would point out that the Farmington, from the bottom of the dam in Barkhamsted down to Unionville and beyond contains a variety of water and opportunity. The river contains several sections of Trout Management waters and much access to the waters. Also, the water level varies throughout the year and the fish do get highly selective, especially in heavily fished areas. The seasons also have their effect in terms of water levels, leaves, fishing pressure etc. It is far from a sure thing to fish the river expecting a hook up every time you get in the water.

Winter months are particularly challenging, balancing potential hypothermia, nymph selection and not slipping on icy rocks. The reward is solitude, a view of the tapestry of nature, including the occasional bald eagle flying overhead, and the simple pleasure of casting and retrieving your fly line.