Should I Get A Fly Fishing Guide? Yes, And Here's Why
The easy and quick answer is yes, but let me tell you the top reasons why.
Fly fishing is an activity that you can do all your life.
I fish on some private water, and they have benches around the lake so people can sit when they fish. The other day, I saw an older man get out of his vehicle, get his fly rod, walking cane, and a big net and sit down on the bench and start catching fish.
So, as a lifelong activity, it can be a lifelong frustration as well.
I see it all the time–people who have developed bad habits that decrease their chance of catching a fish.
For example, a trout set requires just lifting your fly rod. But if you are used to fishing for bass or saltwater fish, you are used to setting the fly hard.
When you trout fish and set a hook like a bass, you often miss the set because you rip the fly away from the trout. It’s an all-too-common problem that a guide will immediately recognize and help you correct.
That’s just one example. Here are a few of the other top reasons to hire a fly-fishing guide.
1) Correcting And Avoiding Bad Habits
Hiring a “Beginner-Friendly” guide helps you make sure that you aren’t developing any bad habits.
Why do I emphasize a “beginner-friendly” guide?
Because NOT every guide works well with a beginner.
There are incredibly good guides who can get you on fish, who know everything about getting you on fish, but aren’t good at teaching you.
A “beginner-friendly” guide is someone who can take the time and has the patience to explain the fundamentals of the cast, the set, the fight, the release in a way that is easy to understand more importantly, executable.
One of the primary bad habits I see is people false-casting.
Please do yourself a favor, don’t rewatch the movie “A River Runs Through It”, before you go fishing.
You are NOT Brad Pitt.
While the imagery is spectacular, and it was a great motivator for me to start to fish, it is NOT what you need to do on the water.
Casting is beautiful, but you don’t cast that way with a full nymph rig.
You will tangle up.
The more you cast back and forth, the greater the chance that you will tangle your rig and spend more time re-rigging.
If you are on a float trip, the guide will position the boat to where you can use your skills to cast. If you can cast, great, they move a little further away. If you can’t cast, they can position the boat for you to catch fish effectively.
They will also help you with other aspects of fishing, such as setting the hook or fighting a fish.
The best clients will listen to their guides and do what the guide tells them.
Often, once beginners get off the idea that they have to cast 50 feet to catch a fish, they begin to relax and follow the guide.
2) Exploring New Water
Here in Colorado and probably elsewhere, the waters are getting crowded.
In fact, on the South Platte, during nice weather, you can imagine any possible place to fish is taken.
Hiring a guide to take you to some of less-fished areas can be a real benefit.
I fish Deckers, Colorado a lot! When I first started, I stayed in certain spots because I had hired a guide, and that is where they took me.
Then, as these areas became more crowded, I would hire guides again and ask that they take me to different, less crowded parts of the water.
I learned that most people fish near the town of Deckers. But, as you go further downstream, the fishing pressure is less, there are just as many fish, and you actually get room.
So, even if you have a favorite river, if it is large enough, you can still find room to fish.
Have a guide show you some new areas, and that will make your river experience suddenly brand new!
3) Discovering New Techniques
Hiring a guide to teach you a new technique applies to beginners as well as advanced fly fishers.
I am still working on streamer fishing.
One of the guides at RiverBum's sister-company, FishOnColorado.com, is incredibly good at streamer fishing.
So, any time I have a chance to learn from him, I do.
When a guide has a specialty, such as streamer fishing, you should take them up on it.
For a beginner, it all seems new but if you “have the mind of a beginner” all the time, you can pick up some great lessons from a guide.
The technique of euro nymphing is beginning to really catch on.
Some people argue now that it gives beginners a better chance of catching fish than traditional indicator fishing.
I haven’t tried teaching a beginner starting with Euro yet, but I have worked with clients who have fished and want to try Euro. It is an incredibly efficient technique, but there are aspects to it that require a little different way of thinking.
Hiring a guide for a beginner can expose you to different types of techniques that you may find more interesting or easier than others.
Sometimes, during a day of fishing, you may try all different types of techniques such as nymphing, dry/dropper, hopper/dropper, dry fly fishing, etc., and a guide can help rig you and show you all the different aspects of that technique.
Many times, they will walk you through what they are rigging, so you understand “why” they are doing what they are doing.
This is also a great chance to learn how to rig something on your own.
4) Learning The Etiquette Of Fishing
Fly fishing sometimes comes off as a “pinky-up” kind of sport.
Yes, a little stuffy and a little pretentious.
My daughter once asked me if the fish recognize whether I am wearing Simms vs. Orvis waders and does one attract more fish than the other. Of course, I told her yes.
But there are some things you should be aware of when you are a beginner on the water.
For example, there is etiquette when fishing near people, you should ask if they are moving upstream or downstream. And, if you can, do the opposite. Or, if you are fishing in the same direction, you want to move much further down so you don’t crowd that person.
Or, if you must walk behind someone, tell them that you are coming so that they don’t cast into your face. A little heads-up helps the person already in the water.
And of course, try to walk as quietly as you can in the water.
A guide friend of mine once told me “don’t push the water” when I wade. Move slowly and try not to bang rocks with my boots.
The fish don’t spook when you are talking, they spook on vibrations through the water.
Hiring A Fly Fishing Guide
When you think about the lifelong aspect of fly fishing, it pays to start off with a good, strong foundation.
Yes, you can learn anything and everything on Youtube now. But there is a 3D world out there, and the right guide will be excited to come alongside you to help you enjoy this amazing activity.
See you on the river!