How to Prepare for a Guided Fly-Fishing Trip

Guide to Getting Ready for a Guided Fishing Trip

Some people fish with guides all the time, but most anglers have probably never done it, writes Phil Monahan, the respected editor of Orvis News.
Despite his own wealth of fishing knowledge, he decided to ask some other experts on what the best way was to prepare for a guided trip in order to ensure the best possible experience.
He posed the question to guides from various parts of the U.S and Canada.
While their answers varied quite a lot, he found that three things appeared on almost every list.
Here are Phil’s tips for those who might hire a guide once or twice a year, or who have in fact never done so.

1. Practice casting.

This is a no-brainer because the better you can cast, the more likely you can put the fly where the guide asks you to put it. Frank Smethurst, who has guided from the Rockies to Baja California, wrote:
“The three most important things that would make any guide trip on any waterway better would be casting, casting, and casting.
“The toughest thing to hear before any day of guiding begins is “It has been a couple of years since I have picked up one of these’” while the client vaguely wiggles the rod.

2. Talk to the guide about your preferences, expectations, and limitations.

Fishing guides are not mind readers, and they deal with many different kinds of clients over the course of a season.
Bozeman-based Brian Grossenbacher notes:
“Any information the client can provide is invaluable in creating a more personal and enjoyable fishing experience. It is their trip after all, not mine.

  • “Is it important to catch lots of fish? Big fish? Lots of big fish?
  • ​”Do they prefer fishing dries? Streamers?
  • ​”Do they have any physical limitations?
  • ​”Do they consider themselves to be a beginner, intermediate, or expert angler?
  • ​”Do they prefer wade fishing or fishing from the boat?”

The question of personal limits is one that plagues guides. In general, clients believe that they are fitter, stronger, and better anglers than they actually are.
Fly Fish Alberta’s Dave Jensen says:
“I once had a fellow show up, having booked a backcountry hike-in trip, just months after he’d undergone laser eye surgery and a hip replacement, and he’d never revealed that he’d been on dialysis for three years, was diabetic, and had also had a pair of knee replacements.”

3. Dress appropriately and prepare for the conditions.

  • Check the weather before you arrive and make sure you’ve got all the rain gear and outerwear you may need.
  • Sunblock is a must, no matter where or when you fish, and several guides stressed the importance of hydration.
  • Ask as many questions as you can think of before the trip.

The many varied responses I received from guides showed that they all have their own quirks, expectation, and pet peeves.
Some guides provide all the flies you’ll need, while other will request that you stock up on specific patterns.
Some guides want you to relax and let them take care of everything, while others expect you to share their intensity.
The key to almost all of the above is open and honest communication between the guide and the client, who should ask each other a ton of questions, so they’ll both end up on the same page at the end of the day.

Thanks to Phil and Orvis for this extract.   You can read the full article here.