There are a lot of things to think about when using the services of a fishing guide, whether it’s one you hire directly or who is assigned to you as part of a lodge or outfitter’s travel package. Of course, you want to catch fish, but have you thought about how this is as much a learning opportunity as it is a fish-catching opportunity?
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From a guide’s perspective, the ideal client is someone who is a decent person to be with, a reasonably able angler, a person who can follow instructions, and someone who knows that fishing is not magic.
Many clients do not understand that at times no one catches fish, or that even the best efforts can fail to produce, or that the lack of production is due to the inabilities of the angler rather than the guide. It is not always the guide’s fault when you don’t have a successful day; the fact that most inexperienced anglers do not understand this, or expect that paying a guide ensures success, is very frustrating to a guide.
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Follow the Leader.
You don’t have to be a world-traveled angler to impress a guide. In fact, you shouldn’t try to impress a guide with your knowledge and experience. If you’re good, the guide will know soon enough. Many guides are surprised and pleased to find clients who can tie their own knots and unhook their own fish, and may let clients do so if they wish. Many people who talk a good line can’t produce, and a guide finds this out fast.
No matter what your level of experience, until you’ve developed a rapport with a guide, yield to the guide’s direction and ways. In many types of fishing, there is a bit of a knack to doing certain things (hooking a bait, a certain jigging method, or a nuanced retrieval technique), and the guide would not do a certain thing unless the guide thought it was best.
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After all, the primary objective is catching fish, and whether or not you catch fish is often the yardstick for measuring a day’s success.
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A good guide wants to produce results and wants to do what will best accomplish that. Yield to the guide’s discretion when reasonable; the guide should know best and, most of the time, do know best. This doesn’t mean that some technique or lure or approach that you have in mind isn’t worth trying or suggesting. Some experienced anglers know things that some guides have yet to learn, and you might show the guide something (but don’t do it by insulting the guide) that will benefit both of you.
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Guides are often frustrated by anglers who ignore what they are told and who do things their way rather than the guide’s way. Some anglers have just enough fishing experience to think they know a lot, and these people are among the worst offenders because they already have developed habits and methods, whereas inexperienced anglers have not.
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Many guides say that greater success is achieved by children and women with little or no fishing experience, rather than by men with considerable experience because the former follow instructions and pay better attention. There’s a lesson here.
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In instances where there is a knack to setting the hook, or a preferred method of doing so for a particular species and the way it strikes (like steelhead and salmon), many guides say that they have problems with people who are avid bass anglers. These anglers have a tendency to reel down and rear back ferociously on the hookset, sometimes ripping the hooks out of fish. So, listen to the guide, and if the guide says that you just have to lift up and keep a tight line, then do it his way.
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