Hiring A Guide

By Lefty Kreh 

Hiring a guide can benefit anglers of all skill levels.

You can learn about the different forage and entomology of a certain body of water. You can also spend valuable time getting casting, and fishing advice.

However this can present opportunities of failed expectations and disappointment.

Consider some reasons why would you hire a guide, especially if you are an accomplished angler.

A guide will know when and where peak hatches occur and how best to imitate them. They can also be a valuable resource to refine casting and fishing technique.
©Nicholas J. Conklin

If you are fishing an unfamiliar area, a guide can be invaluable when seeking a particular species. They can also advise you on the best season to fish a specific body of water.

Are you an angler in search of quantity of fish? Or quality? Do you want to further develop approaches such as nymphing, dries or streamers? Are you wishing to improve conventional techniques?

The guide will know when hatches occur or what insects are prevalent. They will know where to search for bait and where and when those schools will likely show up.

When selecting a guide, honesty is the best policy.

It is best to lay out what skills you are confident in and which may be shaky. It may be tough to admit that your double haul needs work, or that you need practice pitching baits or casting lures. But, that will all come out while on the water, so it is best to have that conversation beforehand.

By indicating your skill level and the skills that need to be refined, your guide can put you in the best possible position to not only land fish, but also improve technique.

Topics as simple as explaining how you want to fish can also greatly improve your guided time. Do you prefer to wade or fish from a boat? Are you physically able to navigate fast water and make long hikes? Age and physical condition are vital considerations. In New Zealand some of the top lodges helicopter you into a remote area to fish. It is not uncommon to hike and fish several miles on your way to the next extraction point.

A guided trip—even near home can be expensive.

Add on travel, motels, etc. for those trips away from home, and the costs can quickly multiply.

Unfortunately, there are both high quality and poor quality guides. Some guides with bright personalities and other more reserved, introverted types.

When hiring a guide, ask for references. Previous clients can provide some insight into a guides personality and guiding style. A rule of thumb is to try to contact four people. It will help separate ‘buddies’ of the guide, from those with a neutral, unbiased point-of-view.

What about fees and charges?

A guide can be a vital tool in the process of locating and landing fish. 
©Jim Shulin, Temple Fork Outfitters

What does a guide charge for things such as fuel, bait and tackle? Consider the hidden costs that may arise. Will a guide charge for transporting a boat to and from the water? Is there a fee for lost or damaged tackle? Is there a fee for providing lunch and/or beverages? Does the guide furnish all tackle? If you need flies or lures are they available and are they free? Or will you have to pay for them –and how much?

Also consider asking about some of the non-fishing related concerns? What type of boat does the guide operate? What about life saving gear, life jackets, radio, and a first-aid kit? Are there inclement weather policies in place?

The quickest way for a guided fishing trip to turn sour is to not have done proper research before selecting a guide. Choosing the right guide will give you the greatest opportunity to expand your fishing knowledge and get a shot at a trophy fish.