Orvis Adventures Catalog

dswice

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In the mail today was a catalog: Orvis Adventures 2021 - Trips & Schools. I felt like a kid going through the old Sears & Roebuck's catalog reading about all the amazing fishing and hunting adventures they offer around the world. Unfortunately, my budget tells me to "keep dreaming". However, I am curious if you (or someone you know) have had the opportunity to go on one (or more) of the Orvis Adventures. The marketing copy in the catalog makes it sound like you're almost in heaven while fishing any of these dozens of destinations, from Mongolia to Montana, and the trout will be fighting over your fly. Can someone bring me back to earth?
 

Meuniere

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It's good marketing, that's its job- No, I haven't been on any of these junkets. IMO I think most people would be better off, under somewhat similar circumstances to the Orvis trips, to rent a place (or camp, if you prefer) at or near your dream destination, and then put your money into time with a guide or guides. The rest of the details you can work out pretty easily, but this will most likely get you the best experience and you are putting your dollars into local hands who want to serve you well so you will come back.
 

Hayden Creek

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It's good marketing, that's its job- No, I haven't been on any of these junkets. IMO I think most people would be better off, under somewhat similar circumstances to the Orvis trips, to rent a place (or camp, if you prefer) at or near your dream destination, and then put your money into time with a guide or guides. The rest of the details you can work out pretty easily, but this will most likely get you the best experience and you are putting your dollars into local hands who want to serve you well so you will come back.
This.
 

driftless22

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I have visited lodges that are represented by Orvis. The advantage of arranging a trip through Orvis or the other agencies that specialize in fly fishing travel is the assurance that the experience will be good; the guides will be competent, the accommodations will be nice, etc. The fishing will probably be good to excellent, but obviously there are no guarantees, no matter where you are.

Typically, these lodges are not inexpensive, and some of the expense is due to amenities that have nothing to do with the fishing. If you do your homework and make your own arrangements, it is certainly possible to plan a DIY trip for considerably less money, particularly in the USA.

Doing your homework is particularly important if you are considering a DIY overseas trip. One benefit of working with agencies like Orvis, Flywater Travel, Yellow Dog and others is the advice that they provide. I've heard a few horror stories about DIY fishing trips to other countries.

It should be noted that the lodges and outfitters represented by these agencies are almost all local businesses; they pay a fee to these agencies for their services.
 

LOC

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It really comes down to the experience you are after. For some what they are pitching is ideal for them. For others this is the farthest experience they are after. Something for everybody!
 
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Tippetsnap

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I have attended an Orvis fly fishing school. It was such good experience I attended the school again the next year and returned to the lodge (Madison Valley Ranch) again on my own. My experiences with Orvis were terrific. All of the folks with Orvis as well as the staff at the Madison Valley Ranch were professional, knowledgeable, and the facility is first class. They all worked very, very hard to make certain that every guest, regardless of abilities or experience, would have an enjoyable and memorable experience. We had time to get to know the other guests at night. Some were very experienced with a fly rod, some had never held a fly rod. I believe all of the guests had a good experience and the Orvis representatives as well as the staff at MVR did their best to make each days experience tailored to each individuals expectations. If not for COVID I would have booked another Orvis adventure to Chile next month. I agree with driftless22, booking with Orvis is not inexpensive. However, I do believe you do get what you paid for with Orvis. 99% of my outdoor adventures are do it yourself on a much smaller budget. I have enjoyed them all regardless of cost.
 

denver1911

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I’ve done a few overseas Orvis trips. I’ve also been with Red’s Fly Shop, Fishing With Larry, and a few other marketers of such trips. I’ve also been on self-arranged trips to the same lodges and some less-well-known facilities. The fishing is mostly the same whether you use a trip host or just go to these lodges alone. The food, lodging, guides, etc. .. mostly the same. The price is often the same too. Sometimes it’s cheaper to go on hosted trips. They buy up slots and re-sell them. They buy in bulk and get discounted. They can then offer you a break, such as a free rod, gear discounts, etc. Also, if you a single traveler, a hosted trip can arrange a boatmate for you to cut down the cost vs. going alone. The trip host also acts to make it a smoother experience. Guide got sick? No problem, we’ll find you another option. Don’t speak the language and need help with your room? No problem, I’ll get it taken care of. Lost your last fly of a certain type on a remote trip? Host may have a few. Rod broke? Host usually brings extra. As for things being “mostly” the same w/ or w/o a hosted trip .. these people know that places like Orvis, YellowDog, and the like keep them fed. If a problem happens, the hosted clients will get taken care of first. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Certainly not overt or probably even conscious, but it happens.

So what about non-hosted trips or trips not sold by agents like TheFlyShop, YellowDog, etc. They can be great. Call up (or email) the lodge you want to go to and make it happen. Pick dates and lengths of stays that work for you. Pick guides you want (sometimes). Make your trip unique. Orvis sells trips to Blue Horizon. I go strait to Damien and get the dates/times and guides I want. How many on that Orvis trip will get to fish with Lincoln for four days in a week? I will in July. Not with Orvis though.

How about lodges not sold by the big boys? Good stuff there too. But, you have to be more careful and more open to less-than-perfect. Get picked up in a third-world country by the guides sister in a beater? Sometimes. Carry cipro? You better. Get stuck fishing with a half-guide one of the six days? Sometimes. These types of trips can be cheaper .. but usually more risky. They can also be spectacular and build memories like no Orvis trip can.

I say decide what experience you want (and can afford), do your research, establish your expectations that take into account cost and effort vs. risk and reward, and pick what works for you. As for me, I plan to spend a week alone in an empty house on a little island off the coast of a little island off the coast of Honduras next year. I hope I get to fish with “my guy” six days .. but understand it may only be four. I know there will be ants on my food and that I better bring cipro. I know that I’ll probably have to work to get to/from the airport and may feel some safety risk. I also know that once I arrive, I’ll feel like part of the family. I’ll learn things about the culture and community that I would never hear or see at a big lodge. It will be an inexpensive trip. And I’ll probably catch a permit. I also plan to spend a long weekend at El Pescador in Belize where I will fish my new Helios 3 9-weight they gave me for booking their trip .. at the same price I would have paid going alone directly through the lodge. I’ll be met at the airport by the lodge staff. They will carry my bags, give me a drink, and I’ll ride to the lodge with others on my Orvis trip. I’ll be fed great food every night and we’ll relive the days fishing around the table in the evening. It will be relaxing and I’ll put forth little effort. It will be a true “vacation.” No work or worry on my part. It will also cost about the same as the Honduras trip. Three days sharing a boat vs. six days just me and the guide. I already mentioned the Blue Horizon trip, but that rounds out the big trips for me next year. One solo adventure with a small, family outfitter that will be full of uncertainty, risk, and no doubt delight. One self-arranged trip to a big lodge that meets my specific objectives and travel needs. One trip arranged and hosted by a big outfitter (Orvis). For me, all types of trips have benefit and I benefit from all types of trips!

Lastly, have realistic expectations. Weather can be bad. Don’t blame guides or outfitters. Fishing can be poor. It’s that way everywhere. Regardless of what happens outside your control and the control of the outfitter .. enjoy all things.

I’ll also have some relatively local DIY or self-arranged stuff, but we all do that and it’s not the subject of this thread.
 
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LePetomane

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When I lived in the midwest and before that in NYC and would travel to western states, with a few exceptions, I always went with Orvis endorsed lodges. I never had a negative experience. I don't know what arrangement the lodges make with Orvis but I never had a bad time.
 

WNCtroutstalker

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I have attended an Orvis fly fishing school. My experiences with Orvis were terrific. All of the folks with Orvis were professional
I also attended an Orvis school. My experience could not have been more different. And was dismayed how Orvis handled (or rather didn't handle) things afterwards.
 

dswice

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I also attended an Orvis school. My experience could not have been more different. And was dismayed how Orvis handled (or rather didn't handle) things afterwards.
Would you share a little more about your Orvis school experience?
 

hatidua

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How about lodges not sold by the big boys? Good stuff there too. But, you have to be more careful and more open to less-than-perfect. Get picked up in a third-world country by the guides sister in a beater? Sometimes. Carry cipro? You better. Get stuck fishing with a half-guide one of the six days? Sometimes. These types of trips can be cheaper .. but usually more risky. They can also be spectacular and build memories like no Orvis trip can.
I don't want to sidetrack this thread so I will simply say that that paragraph brings back some epic memories that might cause me to start a separate thread 😆:oops:😬😱
 

denver1911

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Traveled to Roatan Island in May. Met with a hug and welcome back at the airport by my guide (and friend). Taxi ride (45 minute) and boat ride (5 minute) to the beach house where I stay. Water pump had a leak .. water worked, but had to turn off the breaker when not using it. The cook/cleaner had taken another job (great for her!) two weeks before I arrived. Only got laundry done one day. Ate at the sisters or had take out from one family member or a local (for locals .. not tourists) restaurant each day. I sure missed her cooking, but I didn’t go hungry. What time do we start tomorrow? “I don’t choose. God decides that.” Motor not working first day .. guide brought a rental boat. Missed half day fishing to take a taxi back to town for my COVID test. Certainly not a five-star fishing experience .. as Americans would rate it .. much better in many ways .. if you can roll with it. But I fished permit from daylight until near dark each day with a guide who knows these fish and knows how to catch them. I left with a tear in my eye. And did I mention three permit? Yeah, this trip carries a little uncertaintly. But I am certain I will fish with a friend, get shots at permit, and feel like family. NOT an Orvis experience .. but a pleasure for sure.

In two weeks I go to an Orvis sanctioned lodge in Belize. Four days fishing with Papa Lincoln and three with another excellent guide. I doubt you’d get those four days with the master on an “Orvis” trip. But it’s the same lodge, same food, same hospitality, and works on my schedule.

in October, I go on an Orvis hosted trip to a different lodge in Belize. I look forward to meeting fishers who share my common interest. It will be spectacular. It was cheaper for me because they can pair me on a boat with someone else. And they gave me a 9wt H3 .. a nice rod that I like very much.

Booked in Mexico with Reds Fly shop and looking for a 2023 hosted trip to Christmas Island. But first, I’ll be back with my friend in Honduras catching more permit at whatever time “God decides.”

This travel game can be played many ways. I like the many versions. If I was a first-timer again .. I’d go on a hosted trip and Orvis does an excellent job. You can be guaranteed that it will go as smoothly as possible.
 

denver1911

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Pay me that kind of money and I'll meet you with a hug too . lol
I doubt it. Airport pickup/drop-off 45 minutes away by taxi, two bedroom beach house, all meals, daylight until near dark fishing .. all included for several hundred less per day that a guide that just meets you at the ramp in the US around 7:30 and drops you back off at 4:00 or 5:00.
 

sasquatch7

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I doubt it. Airport pickup/drop-off 45 minutes away by taxi, two bedroom beach house, all meals, daylight until near dark fishing .. all included for several hundred less per day that a guide that just meets you at the ramp in the US around 7:30 and drops you back off at 4:00 or 5:00.
I didnt say it would be a good experience for you . lol
 

ruddyduck

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I was fortunate enough to go to an Orvis endorsed lodge as a gift. The lodge was absolutely first class, the food was absolutely incredible, and the top shelf alcohol was free. I talked to the owner about what it takes to get the Orvis endorsement. He said Orvis sends reps. to the lodge every year to critique EVERYTHING! They assess every single detail. If there's something that needs to be changed, the reps. point it out and ask what you plan to do to remedy it.

I was there for two days. The fishing was really good (not great) the first day. The second day was just OK. We caught fish, but not a lot. I will say that the guide busted his hump to find fish. The fish just weren't cooperating. Even the best guides don't have stellar days every time they take someone out. I realized that long ago, so I don't expect a once-in-a-lifetime fishing experience every time I go with a guide.

Another thing I'll point out: The main reason Orvis endorsed lodges are so expensive is because of the accommodations and food. A lot of those places don't make you stay at the lodge to take advantage of the guides. Typically, their guide fees are about the same as other guides in the area. If you stay at a hotel and just meet the guide to go fishing, you can save a ton of money. However, I can guarantee you that you won't eat as good as if you stay at the lodge!
 
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