Guides in Fly Fishing - Reloaded

Guides in Fly Fishing - Reloaded

Bernd Ziesche | Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Should a fly fishing guide demonstrate how to present the fly, hook, fight, land and release the fish to support you learning by watching him or not? Several pros and cons came up after my last front page about guides in fly fishing.

First of all, thanks a lot for such an amazing feedback on my last front page about guides in fly fishing. Many messages from all over the world - I truly was flattered.

On my facebook wall a nice discussion about an additional aspect to point out YOUR ideal guide was started: Will your guide share his own abilities to fly fish and demonstrate them or not? Lots of good points (pro and contra) were made.

I think we often (not only) find two groups of fly fishermen looking for a guide. Those having just 5 – 15 days for fly fishing per year and based on that not much (if any) interested in improving their fishing skills but spending all the time fishing on the (often low) level as it is. And then there are those who spent more time fly fishing and want to improve their fishing skills due to the support of the chosen guide.

There are different kinds of supporters around the globe offering different styles to support your fly fishing:

A) Old fashioned guides who almost only bring the client into position.

B) Modern guides who in addition teach how to fly fish helping to improve one’s fishing (and casting) skills. Some may even demonstrate how to hook, fight, land and release the fish.

C) Teachers hosting an educational fly fishing trip including everything along the way to catch the fish - fly tying, fly casting, fishing tactics, tackle adjustment and more are included.

Especially those in group C) often offer their service as well in the evening after the fishing ends.

A fair number of fly fishermen told me, that a professional guide would never demonstrate his client how to fly fish by fishing himself. I remember my guide in the Florida Keys. He used to draw Bonefish right in front of his skiff by chumming them (with shrimps). That way he created a chance for all his clients not being able to cast their fly to a fish unless several fish were feeding FOR A WHILE directly in front of the skiff. To me coming from the other side of the ocean that style seemed to be very unusual and I wasn’t much interested in catching a fish that way but instead increasing my presentation skills until I would catch a Bonefish without chumming. Later on I found out that most professional guides down the Keys used that technique to support their clients.

I am pretty sure that on my side of the ocean such a technique (like chumming) would not be accepted by (nearly) any of my clients. Instead they want to learn how to improve their fishing skills. No need to tell, that demonstrating how to fly fish (besides explaining it) is the most efficient way of teaching.

There are also many other differencies like on one side of the ocean it may still be a huge tradition to fish with an IGFA conform leader in order to be able to place a catch in the record book while on the other side it may be uncommon and most clients would prefer to fish a leader matching the power of the fish best.

Which way a guide should go? Only YOU (the client) can decide!

The biggest difference in guiding styles often come along when comparing fly fishing in crystal clear water (where the guide can watch the fish and the fly in detail) with fly fishing in muddy water (where the guide often doesn't know if the client did not catch a fish because he didn't fish effective or because no fish was in the spot). 

In summary we have old fashioned and modern guides, teachers and probably even more!? Simplified we are all supporters and often somehow become buddies to our clients. In the end we supporters all have different styles to support all our clients best possible.

To me it doesn’t matter, if my client catches as much fish as possible or if he catches the biggest fish possible. All that matters is that I do my best to support him having the best possible time enjoying his favorite aspects of fly fishing. Whatever catch may be special to him – I can’t wait to share that moment! I am sure: Only my client can tell me what exactly he/she is after. This is the only guiding-tradition I have!

Hopefully you will find the best guide to support you having a great time fly fishing!

Oh, and there is one rule for me: There is no need to talk bad about other guides, teachers or just fly fishermen – even if they prefer a different style. We are all family and love the same sport!

Great week to all of you!

All my best

P.s.: In my own fly fishing experience being in the right spot at the right time was 20% of the catch, while 80% was to know how to fish effectively.

P.p.s.: "Old fashioned" are just two words. Nothing negative in them. Sometimes the old ways are the best! Up to YOU again!