How To Get The Most Out Of Your Guided Trip

Most people decide to take a guided fly fishing trip in order to try and catch more fish, see a new piece of water, or utilize the guides' professional skills to tap into a tricky fishing situation. These are all good enough reasons to pay hard earned money for a day's worth of fishing time, but they miss the mark when it comes to the most important aspect of taking a guided trip; knowledge.

Guides are people too, and in the realm of fly fishing there are dozens of ways to go about fishing. Because of this, you may take a guided trip one place where your guide suggests one way to do things, and then while on another guided trip, your guide may suggest something completely contradictory. Should this ever happen, it is a great opportunity to open up the discussion with your guide about his or her methods and why they choose to practice it and teach clients in that way.

Here are a few examples where guides may differ in the way they teach clients.

Rigging Techniques

Some guides will rig up multiple flies differently. Some will prefer the "in-line" method, where the second fly is tied off the back of the first using a length of mono. Others prefer to use tag ends where the flies are dangling off the sides of the straight piece of mono.

Casting Techniques

Depending on the fishing situations present for the day, a guide may ask you to place a cast or a mend in a way that completely contradicts what another guide told you to never do. In order to simplify things on the water, a guide may say, "never do that," but in reality they are likely narrowing down the things you need to perform or think about on that specific day. It's doubtful that they said never to do something and meant it in perpetuity.

Gear Choice

Guides, like all consumers, have preferred brands of gear they like to use. It's great to hear the pluses and minuses of specific types of gear, but don't let it become a sales pitch or an attempt to push you one way or another. The gear suggestion could be a great recommendation to use a specific type of equipment, but make up your own mind about what to use and why. If your guide uses a specific brand, and throughout the day you are reminded of the superiority and use of that specific piece of equipment, then the gear has likely sold itself to you and should be a good enough recommendation of the brand.

Getting The Most Out Of The Experience

Guided trips are bar none some of the best ways to get practical, on-the-water knowledge. Guides spend their days teaching clients, seeing a lot of water, and being exposed to a wide range of fishing conditions and experiences. It's doubtful that many fishermen spend as much time on the water as a professional guide. You may feel like you are paying to fish, but in reality you are paying for that guide's years of knowledge and experience to teach you how to be successful on that specific watershed.

To get the most out of your guided trip, you should use the day as a way to ask as many questions and try to get as many explanations from your guide about all the aspects of the day's fishing.

Ask About:

  • The flies you're using and why.
  • The section of river you're floating and why that one instead of another.
  • Their rigging techniques.
  • The specific water they instruct you to fish in lieu of other water.
  • Their guiding experience and fishing history.

If when instructing you on fishing and your guide contradicts something another guide told you, it's a great opportunity to open up discourse with your guide.

Tell them:

  • "Hey, another guide told me something completely opposite. Why do you differ?"
  • "I was taught another way, and actually find the other way more helpful or easier. Is it ok if I choose to do it differently?"
  • "Wow, your way is actually easier or better. Why do you think my other guide had me doing this differently?"

Most likely, the answers your guide gives you will be an insight into differing techniques or choices, and is a great opportunity for you to continue gaining knowledge and learning on the water. Even if you may disagree at first, always give your guide the benefit of the doubt and hear them out about how they choose to do something. In taking a guided trip, you are paying the guide for their experience and skill, and the reasons they have for doing the things the way they do them isn't arbitrary or thoughtless. It's ok to disagree with your guide, everyone has their own preferences, but always use the opportunity to learn something new, learn something different, and learn the value of the wide range of possibilities and techniques in the realm of fly fishing.

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