Whiskey Creek Fly Fishing

Thoughts on fly fishing and fly tying

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Client – Guide relationships

July 19th, 2008 · No Comments

I have heard stories from guides and fellow fly fisher’s alike of some miserable times spent with a guide. Some guides I have known have related stories of difficult to please clients. No matter what they did or how they did it, the client would not be happy. Likewise, I have heard from fellow fishermen about guides that were bad, didn’t help, didn’t do this or that (things they thought were expected from the guide)

Luckily, I have had the pleasure of using or hiring guides about 10 times in the 12 plus years I have been fly fishing.

One of these occasions was a one week trip in British Columbia where we had 5 days of guided fly fishing. At the lodge we stayed at, there were a total of nine guests the week my fishing buddy and I were there.

On our first morning there we met our first guide of the week. I had decided to take a few minutes as we were helping hook up the boat trailer to the truck to speak with the guide. During this conversation I explained my fishing background and experience and had my friend explain his level of experience to the guide. We also laid out our expectations for the day and what equipment we had brought. For example, we had not brought any flies as the lodge’s website indicated we would be supplied these during the day.

I wanted to make sure I had outlined the expectations about gear and experience before we left the lodge. As it turned out, this was (by chance and dumb luck) the very best thing I could have done. We ended up having a fantastic day and a wonderful experience with the guide. He knew what we wanted and what we expected and he was able to tailor the day to meet our needs. Our discussion on the way to the launching point was very pleasant and we were able to work out who needed what level of his attention and help.

After we returned to the lodge that night, we found one other group of clients bad mouthing their guide from that day and bad mouthing their experience fishing in along the great Skeena river for Steelhead. As luck, or “Karma” would have it, the guy who did the bad mouthing of his first day fishing there ended up getting skunked for Steelhead for the entire week.

The greater lesson I learned from this guide experience was that I as the “client” really owed myself, my party and the guide the respect that comes from explaining my skill level and my self perceived expectations for the day of fishing. I ended up following this same philosophy for the rest of that trip (4 more days of guided fishing) and the five days of single day guided fishing I have had since.

In each of my subsequent guided fishing experiences, I have done the same thing and in each of these experiences, the guides, my fishing partners and I have all had fantastic days. (of course it helps to start out with the right frame of mind. That a day off work is worth it in itself and catching any fish is just bonus…).

The take away for all of us fishermen is that we need to communicate with our guides (I am no guide) and knowing that you as a client will ultimately determine how much enjoyment you as a client will realize from you day of guided fishing. Hey, you are spending all this money for a guide, you need to elp the guide make sure you have fun and get your money’s worth.

There are all sorts of things to consider during your day of guided fishing. From food and diet needs, drinks, use of liquor, smoking, use of studded boots, heaters, rain gear, safety gear, use of the guides rods, flies etc. Whether you need the guide to untangle knots, tie flies on all the way to the use of language (off color jokes, free speech, cuss word laced language etc). Having a conversation with the guide or the flyshop/booking agent to work out these points will aide you in maximizing the enjoyment of your day.

I have yet to meet a guide or shop during my booking calls who did not appreciate my taking these extra steps to make sure I got matched with a guide with a similar personality. I have had guides return e-mails and calls between the booking call and the actual day of the guided float so we could discuss these points.

As a result, I would say that this philosophy has resulted in very mutually enjoyable experiences for me and the guide. It always leads to a situation where the guide actually ends up doing more for you because they “want” to and not because they have to. I have found the guides like their jobs and having “good” clients who understand that the guide cannot guarantee a day of catching will make for a more enjoyable day for all.

Anyone who deals with people in the “service” industries knows that you will have the extreme client every now and then. We as clients should want to be there to have fun and should come to the day understanding the limitations of the sport and setting the expectations with the guide is helpful. I am sure that all guides know they will have the client here or there who will need him or her to do just about everything for them. There are also those of us clients who “think” we know everything and then spend the lionshare of the day frustrated because we have yet to catch a fish. It can be frustrating for all.

As clients, I think we should prep the guide with our skill level and what gear we bring to use. At the same time, we as clients should be willing to “listen” to the guide and hear what they are saying (Keep an open mind to learn a new technique or a nuance that may make the difference between fishing and catching). After all, the waters they are guiding us on are typically their home or local waters that they have fished and floated countless times. The only way to learn those waters is to actually listen to the guide. In this vein I conclude that being a good client requires us to be good communicators. After all, being a successful flyfisherman is about learning every time you go fishing. Whether alone or with friends or with a guide.

In closing, communicate with your guide and buddies, look, listen & learn, go have fun, and enjoy your day of fishing and may you have tight lines!


Tags: Fly Fishing

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