By Louis Cahill
There’s not much better than the feeling you get when angler and fishing guide work together like a well oiled machine.
Regardless of which role you play in that relationship, it’s in your best interest to work together toward a common goal. Unfortunately that’s not always the way it works. Often the relationship is strained and stressful for both parties. If you have a regular guide you fish with, it’s probably not an issue, but getting to know a new guide, or client, can be tricky.
Since I do a lot of saltwater fly fishing, I do a lot of fishing with guides, both as a client and just swopping turns on the bow with a friend. I’ve had good and bad experiences and learned how to get along fishing with just about anybody.
I’ll try and share a few thoughts that might make your days on the water more productive and pleasant, whether your the angler or the guide.
Most human relationships boil down to communication. I mentioned working together to achieve a common goal. All too often flies hit the water with guide and angler having different goals in mind. It’s worth having a conversation about early on, and it should be a conversation. If the angler has a goal in mind that just isn’t realistic, a good guide will give them some perspective on the challenges. A good angler will listen to the guide and decide if they are willing to accept the risk of failure.
It’s important to be realistic about your needs. If you are an angler who needs to catch fish to be happy, don’t fight your guide when they try to put you on fish. If as a guide, you have an angler who is truly more interested in the challenge than the numbers, respect that. Never bullshit your guide about your skill level. They will find out soon enough exactly what kind of angler you are.
The foundation of any good relationship is mutual respect. It has nothing to do with who’s a better caster or who’s paying who. It’s the kind of basic respect due any good person and it will make your day a whole lot better. A good guide never assumes his client is an idiot, even if the last hundred were and a good angler never judges his guide on his bank account. Always remember that a boat only has one captain and in the end, especially where safety is concerned, his word is final.
Accept the level at which you’re operating
It’s important for the guide and angler to each understand their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll give you an example of what I mean.
I recently spent a very windy day on a flats boat with a guide I’d never fished with before. The first bonefish I had a shot at was at 3 O’clock, fifty feet out with a thirty plus MPH wind at my back. That’s a high percentage shot for me. I had that fish in my wheelhouse but before I could make the cast the guide started to turn the boat. He assumed I couldn’t make the backcast presentation and set me up for a forward cast with the wind off my right shoulder. I had to switch gears and use a Belgian cast. I got the fish but I struggled.
After I had the fish hooked I calmly told my guide that I had a strong backcast and in the future I’d prefer to make a shot like that with the wind at my back. The next time we set up on a fish in those conditions, things went smoothly.
What if you suck?
So you’re not a rockstar fly angler. A good guide doesn’t care. All guides know that they are teachers as well as guides. A good attitude and willingness to learn is more important than skill. As a guide, it’s a delicate matter to offer instruction to an angler who is struggling. If it’s not done with tact, feelings get hurt. The best way to diffuse this situation is to ask for help. It’s not a secret to anyone when your putting your fly in your ear every other cast, you might as well talk about it. Remember that the best way to learn is to have a sense of humor. The idea is to have a good time. In the grand scheme of things, catching fish isn’t that important.
Stick to these basic principals and you’ll have more pleasant and productive days on the water, whether you’re a client or a guide. If you’re interested in more ways things can go right, and wrong on a guided fishing trip, check out these two articlesGink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!