why use fishing guides

wthorpe

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Another recent thread on guides sort of devolved into a discussion of rates and tips. Not wanting to hijack that thread, I thought it would be interesting to hear members's responses on why use guides. I use them a lot, although a huge majority of my fishing is without guides.

i use them mainly to do things i cannot realistically do on my own. That can mean several things. Most often it means taking me and my wife or a friend in a drift boat somewhere i cannot realistically wade. Since i dont have a drift boat and likely would wreck it if i did, i need that access for a lot of places including recently the Henry's Fork below Ashton, the Missouri, and the Big Horn. But i also just sign up guides for a particular day a month or three or four in advance on the assumption we will do somehting i dont ordinarily do--fish this river you are not familiar with a quarter mile from the car, or fish that one after walking 3 miles in from the road, etc. I also get exposed to new (to me) techniques as in, "those drakes wont hatch til mid afternoon, so the only game in town for now is streamers." Boom. My friend and i, neither very good with streamers, caught 4-5 each 18-20" browns in a few hours--and then the green drakes did pour off at 3 o'clock.

Who else uses guides for what reason???
 

denver1911

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Guides know things I don’t and can quicken my path to success. They also own things I don’t .. boats located near where I want to fish.

I’ve only used a guide in my home state once. I wanted to catch a musky. I had never fished for them and knew little about them. I didn’t want to learn about it either. I just wanted to experience it. Once.

I’ve only used a guide twice in a state less than two states away. I wanted to fish their home waters and do it with a reasonable chance of success when I only had a single day to commit. Plus I learned techniques, etc.

Almost all local days, I fish without one. I have had enough experience to know when to go where and how to successfully fish those waters.

When I travel far .. I’ll take the guide every time .. almost anyway. You won’t find me in the Laguna Madre trying to DIY redfish. You won’t find me in Belize trying to DIY permit. Sometimes I am near good fishing water for work. I can throw in a travel rod and some gear, take a days vacation, and fish some cool new water. I fished a day in Biscayne Bay a few months back. Without a guide, no way.

As for the guy that says he’ll never use a guide. First off, never is a big word. Careful with it. Secondly, you might just miss some really great days by sticking to that.
 

srock

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I have learned a lot from guides and used them a lot earlier in my fly fishing career. They also have drift boats that can access better fishing places and have much more recent information on where to fish. I have literally had a guide say to me, Jerry, there is a steel head by the rock over there. Fish it. Sure enough, I hooked a steellie pronto. I have learned a lot about equipment and techniques from guides I still use today. So, I think using a guide is an excellent idea if you want to expand your knowledge, catch fish, and see new things. That said, as I have grown older I have used guides less, not because I do not value them, for I do, but because I now enjoy fishing by myself, and have enough knowledge and equipment to do that. I also no longer have a need to just catch fish. I know I will catch some, and that is enough. I would like to hear what others think. SR
 

bonefish41

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I don't live near salt or trout/salmon water. It's a trip of 8 hours driving for fresh or airfare to KW or Bahamas for salt. Venues and conditions change from the last time...guides minimize learning curve time and they provide guidance and coaching...I do prefer calm deliberate instruction with rationality; but I'm interested in result coaching/instruction first and foremost...if he's deliberate but not calm but the result is there; I don't care what he calls me or yells... for more than 50 years I've had to kiss A of clerks, cops, bailiffs, law clerks, witnesses and yes even judges who could not make it out in the cold, private sector all for the benefit of my clients and thus my wallet so I can go fishing. However, before using a guide I perform due diligence and I never book retain a group and pot luck who...for me my guides are like my physicians...specific individuals and not pot luck selection by the groups agent or scheduling nurse
 

brownbass

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I have used guides 6 or 7 times in my life. All out of state and mostly for fishing the salt. I had no experience and live in Missouri so fishing the Everglades and Keys was an experience I wanted. Twice I fished for Bass, I could have done it on my own but didn't want to have to do all the research required.

Bill
 

silver creek

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Whenever the subject of experiences with guides comes up, I think of my fishing friend, Jin Greenlee who introduced me to the Madison River. His wife still lives on their log home upstream of the Raynold's Pass Bridge and if you have ever walked up stream, you have seen their home. Every year I stay at their guest cabin.

Two of my best guide stories are when I was fishing with Jim. My first float trip was with Jim. We went to fish the South Fork of the Snake River out of Swan Valley. He had arranged for a guide "Oolie" on the advice of a friend. So we got up and were ready to go at 8:00 Am just like the other anglers at the lodge. By 8:30, all the fly fishers had been picked up and we were the only ones waiting.

Around 9 AM "Oolie" shows up with his custom wooden float boat and Jim lays into him about the lateness of his arrival. He asks whether "Oolie" was an "amateur," whether he had ever guided before, and whether we were his first customers.

"OOlie" explained that the river was in a canyon with steep cliffs, and that the sun would not hit the water until later in the day. He explained that the fish would not be feeding much until the water warmed up and by starting late and fishing late, we would have the river to ourselves during the best time of the day. "Oolie" was right.

As the day went on we learned that "Oolie" was really Italian, but he got the nickname of "Oolie" because he grew up in a neighborhood of either Norwegians or Swedes, and the nickname stuck. Oolie was the best guide I had ever been with. We left the river after dark and got back to the lodge at just before the restaurant closed. Oolie got a good tip and we invited him for dinner.

On another float, this time on the Green in Utah we floated and Jim was in the front in the morning. We were giving each other a hard time and trading insults. The guide thought we hated each other!

After lunch we switched places and I got first shot at the best water. Early on, as I let the strike indicator float back, Jim casted over my leader, tangling our leaders. The guide grabbed the lines but Jim said he would untangle the leaders. Jim grabbed the leaders and with his ever present cigar, he melted my leader off and then he proceeded to cast his rig up into the water I would have fished.

The guide thought we were going to get into a fist fight, but we both had a good laugh over Jim's ingenuity. That episode created a memory that I will treasure forever. By the end of the day, the guide understood that like we were like brothers who goaded each other for fun.

Without hiring a guide, those memories would never have been made. I can still hear Jim berating Oolie and see him burn off my nymphing rid.

Jim continued to fly fish until he no longer could. Then I fly fished the Madison for him. Then after passed, I fished in the name of his memory. I still do.

Jim, may you rest in peace.

Jim Greenlee's log home and guest cabin taken from across the river.

 

Ard

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Here in Alaska there is a very limited road system. If a person plans to fish using the road system they should have been here during the period between 1988 and 2005. There are a million people using the limited road system during fishing season so all the access points are either void of fish or crowded.

The visiting fisherman needs either a friend with a good boat or you need to find a guide who knows where to take you with a good boat. Most places I fish at are between 5 and 20 miles from nearest road access point, some as far out as 90 miles out the rivers.

There are also technique factors that a local will know that most visitors aren't privy to.

Something else worth mentioning is that unless you are extremely adaptable to new conditions, species, etc. some guides are very good at catching fish and know where to look for them.

In the end everywhere I fished except Alaska a fellow could find their way pretty easy. Here you can go fish the Kenai if that's enough of an Alaskan experience for you or still water some stocked lakes... But, to get off the beaten trail you need help. This isn't advertising because I'm about done with it as things are. I am still hear and in the years ahead will always be willing to meet any of you that come up and if you're willing to fish where I fish I'll take you with me. That's how this all started, me offering to take people fishing that is. If you were to go to my blog (here on forum) and page back a couple years you can find the story 'How I Became a Fishing Guide' you may be surprised at what it says.
 
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al_a

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I've used a lot of guides over the years because I've traveled a lot. Used to use guides on every trip to Montana, now I live there part time and can't imagine using a guide on the Yellowstone anymore...but still have used them on rivers in Montana a little farther away. I use guides if I'm traveling for some other purpose and just have a day or two to fish...might not even take along my own gear and just use the stuff the guide furnishes. I use guides for trips of longer than a day where they will be setting up and taking down camp and doing the cooking. I use them for trips where a boat or other watercraft is necessary and it's too far to bring my own, or where I just want to fish and not have to worry about boat handling. If I didn't travel to fish, I wouldn't use a guide.

Just thinking about the places I've used guides...a lot of spectacular to mediocre country and spectacular to mediocre or worse fishing, but generally memorable.
 

flafly14

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I used to think that hiring a guide was a good way to learn - new ways of approaching a fishing situation, new spots, casting tips, etc. But I've since figured out that I learn just as much by fishing with other people whenever possible. From fishing with "Z" I learned that working a shoreline for reds can be a productive approach. I learned a new perspective on persistence by fishing a day with the guy I bought my pushpole from. And I would be a complete failure if I didn't mention my good buddy, Ben, who I fished with all the time when I lived out west - he really took me from being someone who generally gets skunked to someone who catches fish most of the time I go out. I'm very grateful to him!

Hopefully when I fish with others, they also learn a thing or two from me. And If not...we ALWAYS have some good laughs and a great time anyway.
 

Rip Tide

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No guides for me, thank you very much
I'll perfectly willing to succeed or fail by my own skills
I don't ever fish more than a half day's drive away and I've spent a considerable amount of time studying and understanding my fisheries. I even worked at the local trout hatchery one season and believe me, that wasn't for the pay.

I no longer fish 4 and 5 days a week like I used to and I wouldn't ever consider myself as an expert at anything but I'm pretty confident with my own abilities. I don't need anybody to hold my hand
And if I don't do all that well, well that just adds to my experience and that experience will benefit me the next time around.
 

karstopo

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I think a guide makes sense, at least from a financial and access standpoint, if there’s no other good or reasonable way to access the water you might be interested in. I think a guide makes sense for the occasional fisherman that will come out way ahead not having to acquire the boat, motor, etc. to access the water they are interested in. Around here, folks sink $80k on up into a boat, rent at considerable expense a place to store it, spend major cash on gas, ice, etc. all so that they can take the boat out 3-4 times a year. Then the boat won’t run when they do want to fish.They’d be miles and serious money ahead had they simply hired a guide for the same trips. If you are the one with time consuming business and family obligations, why add the additional stress of dealing with boats and the like when you can let the guide do all that heavy lifting. Guides can definitely share valuable knowledge about a fishery and they can definitely put people on an experience and on fish they might otherwise never get to see.

Myself, I like being my own guide. I have zero interest in hiring a guide for the places I fish. I’ve been a part of some guided trips, but having a guide dilutes the experience for me and has in the past taken a lot of the fun out of it. My dad likes having a guide and guides tend to get results and do the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively, but I never felt like I accomplished anything when the guide is basically leading one by the nose. Having a guide feels like being at the Disney World, which feels sort of canned and artificial to me. Then a number of the guides around here tend to get on social media and trash their clients all the while pumping themselves up to be the good Lord’s gift to fishing. But, in some places and situations, a guide is pretty much a necessity to get to the fish.

I guess for now, I’ll just happily fish the places where a guide isn’t required. Maybe if and when I get too old and decrepit to move around much and I still want to fish, I’ll look into getting a guide. Different strokes for different folks.
 

bigal36

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A guide, especially on new waters, has been well worth it, for me.

1. (2013) First time I ever held a fly rod was a float trip on the Middle Fork of the Flathead. We hired two guides for two boats and 4 fishers....I was "hooked", even though I didn't catch one fish until the last 100 yards of the float.

2. 2nd time I hired a guide was the week after we got back from MT - hired him to help me on our local tailwater...plus I paid as a "consultant" to help select my tackle and fly selection.

3. (2015) I regret NOT getting a guide when we were in Utah (Zion/Bryce)....thought I had it somewhat figured out. Frustating lesson learned.

3. (2018) 3rd time I hired a guide for my son and I when we were in Yosemite for a week - we had two half days and one full day. All wade fishing in various locations - mountain creeks for brookies, the Merced inside and outside the park and a full day up in the Tuolumne Meadows region. On the off days, the guide gave us some locations to try and flies to use.

4. (2019) 4th time - when we were in the Clearwater area to give tarpon a shot. Had NEVER held a rod that weight nor fished in those conditions. 5 hours later the guide had put us on 30-40 tarpon....he did his job, we just weren't skilled enough to make a proper presentation.

5. (2019) 5th time - we have guides for our upcoming trip to Yellowstone. 2 half days, two full days.

Fortunately, All of the guides I have used have been well worth the price and tip....regardless of the number of fish and their respective sizes. I hope I can continue to visit new places and have those who know the area, share their expertise and love for the tug.
 

rfb700

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I've used a guide once in my life. It was a gift from my significant other during a trip. It was very enjoyable. He was knowledgeable and a good fishing companion.

BUT, I like doing it on my own more.

I like exploring new places to see what's there. I like the surprise that comes from not knowing if where I'm fishing will produce anything. Getting skunked doesn't really concern me. I just like being out there, in the wilderness, without people. And I've found some productive places that way that people don't go to.

Besides I'm cheap. I'd rather spend the money on alcohol, I mean fishing equipment.

I don't knock people who use guides. I think they're a great resource. Just not for me.

Although the one exception I might make is if I was ever in Alaska I'd be more than happy to pay Ard. I think fishing with him would be a hoot.
 

iv_wjb

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Guides are an invaluable part of my fishing experience and a huge asset as I learn to read water, identify hatches and locate fish.

Their knowledge, equipment, advice, camaraderie and access to fishy spots are why I’m happy to hire them several times a season.
 

ia_trouter

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The right guide delivers a memorable experience. I only had one that just took my money and provided a boat ride and little more. The others were good to exceptional. It's no coincidence I properly researched the good ones well in advance. They were passionate for the sport and taught me so much I could use tomorrow when they were not around. There is no requirement to pay guide fees to enjoy this sport. There is no requirement to drop $1000+ on a new fly combo either. We all decide where the value lies, and spending one minute worrying about what others decide to spend their money on is a waste of your time.
 

bigal36

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The right guide delivers a memorable experience. I only had one that just took my money and provided a boat ride and little more. The others were good to exceptional. It's no coincidence I properly researched the good ones well in advance. They were passionate for the sport and taught me so much I could use tomorrow when they were not around. There is no requirement to pay guide fees to enjoy this sport. There is no requirement to drop $1000+ on a new fly combo either. We all decide where the value lies, and spending one minute worrying about what others decide to spend their money on is a waste of your time.
Spot on.

Our tarpon guide equated his style of guiding to deer hunting - "some sit in tree stands waiting for the deer to walk by, while others stalk them". It was clear to me watching the 2 other guides we could see they were fine with waiting for fish, while our guide continue to search them out.

I had zero issue giving him a tip - he had to work much harder for us due to our inexperience. He earned every penny.
 

ia_trouter

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Spot on.

Our tarpon guide equated his style of guiding to deer hunting - "some sit in tree stands waiting for the deer to walk by, while others stalk them". It was clear to me watching the 2 other guides we could see they were fine with waiting for fish, while our guide continue to search them out.

I had zero issue giving him a tip - he had to work much harder for us due to our inexperience. He earned every penny.
Good Analogy. Sounds like he taught you a lot. Exceptional guides will get a REP that isn't so hard to search out. I would never just show up at a fly shop and ask who isn't busy tomorrow.
 
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