Sunday Classic / Some Say I’m an Intense Fly Fishing Guide

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Am I too intense in my guiding, you tell me? Photo By: Louis Cahill

I’m sort of a blabber mouth on the water when I guide.

Similar to a sports radio announcer that’s calling a game play by play, so the listeners can easily follow and visualize what’s going on. It’s a hands-on style of guiding that’s served me well over the years. Nintey-seven percent of my clients would have it no other way, but every once in a while, I’ll get a comment defining my guiding as being too intense. When it happens, I’ll back off and give them some breathing room, but I always chuckle, because it tells me I’m upholding a promise that I made to myself many years ago.

When I was a kid and had the dream of becoming a full-time fishing guide, I promised myself, if I was ever fortunate enough to become one, I would give my clients my absolute best every day on the water. And if the time came when I was unable to do so, because I lost my love for guiding or simply just got too old, I would promptly hang it up as a guide.

Beginners make up the bulk of my clients, and I’ve found the best way to teach them is by constantly communicating what’s going on in my head, and how I would approach and fish the water if I was doing so on my own. I’ll talk them through every cast and fishing spot throughout the day, if that’s what it takes for my clients to learn how to do it the right way and find success. The way I see it, if I can teach my clients to think like a guide when their out with me, when their on their own, they’ll catch fish like a guide.

I can be nit-picky at times, but its not done in a negative way. I’ll say things like, “your high-sticking this spot 90% correctly and that’s great, but there’s 10% of your technique that’s wrong and it’s keeping you from catching fish. Let me fine-tune you a little bit and show you how to do it 100% correctly. That way, when you find yourself in a situation like this during your next fishing trip, you’ll catch more fish.” I’ll instruct clients to walk behind me and follow my foot steps when we’re approaching a fishing hole. This teaches them how easily success can be jeopardized if they wade in the wrong places. “See how if you walk downstream of this shoal in the shallow riffle, you won’t send shock waves upstream to the trout holding in that flat water upstream?” Some may look at this as being too intense, but I see it as taking the time to teach my clients the stuff that you don’t always run across in fly fishing books.

I also have fun with giving my clients the reigns and letting them try to find success on their own during the trip. You might find me asking my clients, “if you just walked up on this spot, where do you think the trout should be holding?” If they’ve pointed out their going to fish water that’s not the prime water, I’ll explain to them why the trout should be holding in this spot versus their spot. If I feel they’ve missed an opportunity to use an easier or higher percentage type of cast, I’ll ask them, “what about if you tried this kind of cast standing here?”

I look at every moment with my clients on the stream as an opportunity to teach them and transform them into more competent fishermen.

Don’t get me wrong, we laugh and find plenty of time to relax and enjoy ourselves, but they booked me to teach them, and I’m not the type of guide that’s going to sit back and keep my mouth shut as they’re making mistakes fly fishing. After all, you wouldn’t see a golf instructor silently watch a student slice the ball over and over again, without stepping in and correcting their stroke. Same with my guiding, I choose to step in when needed to make adjustments and explain the fishing scenario at hand. I care about my clients way too much to have them go on fishing year after year making the same mistakes, and not improving their game. And I also look at it like I’m paying it forward to their next fly fishing guide. If I can teach them the fundamentals, their next guide will have it easier and will be able to focus on more advanced skill learning. It’s a win/win for everyone.

When I get home from a day on the water and I’m completely drained, deep down it always feels good, because I know I’ve done my job. Even better, when I’m guiding those past clients down the road again, and I find myself not needing to step in to instruct them, I know my clients have gotten their money’s worth out of me. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t find it necessarily a bad thing if a few people look at me as being too intense. The last thing I want, are clients at the end of the day, pondering over whether or not I gave them my all.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Some Say I’m an Intense Fly Fishing Guide

  1. My definition of genius is an idea that immediately elicits the response “That’s obvious, why didn’t I think of that?”
    In this article Louis Cahill writes “I’ll instruct clients to walk behind me”. Brilliant, why didn’t I think of that simple guiding technique – wade ahead of, rather than behind the client !
    Think about it for a moment – it doesn’t matter one jot or tittle how good a client’s tackle, presentation or fly choice is if their approach scares fish. I see this time after time on small rivers on and around Dartmoor. But it is remarkable how trout will return to within a few feet if you just stand still, preferably screened by bankside vegetation. Also the same thing can happen if you pause after catching a fish. It helps to have a ritual after releasing a trout – I dry the fly using an amadou patch, apply desiccant powder followed by floatant gel – I call this “faffing about”, it may not be necessary but it fills the time.

  2. I never want to go on a guided fishing expedition, following foot prints, and targeting a single lone fish. It takes all the fun out of fishing for me. The entire day is an experience for me. I’m some times happy just to sit on the stream and watch the river run. I’ve rarely been 100 % at anything in life, but I’ve gotten 100% out of what I do, do………not trying to be a wise guy, I like this site a lot. Just that some prefer to be alone, and make a single footprint, observe, and try to learn on their own. Just reading what you have to say will make me think next time, and I’ll have only myself to enjoy it until the sun goes down. Thanks,

  3. I had the chance to fish with Kent several years ago. To this day when ever I am on the water I still hear his instructions and compliments. One day on the water with him was well worth the fee and more. From the way I cross a stream to how I role cast in different situations.
    Dan E

  4. Louis, your words have reinforced in me the importance of teaching others. I just recently came back from fishing a small river in the Easter foothills of Alberta, and had an acquaintance who was just starting out fly fishing. He was fishing a hole upstream and waded down into mine, flat water, big cutthroat, sipping, and his waves put the fish down. I then demonstrated to him to be aware of that bow wave as it travels a lot farther than u think. Next day, different creek, he got an 18″ cuttie by not wading. It was cool to see him learn and pick up tidbits to help him be more successful. The articles that u write help us all get better. Keep it reel

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