1. You tell clients whatever they want to hear
Don’t manage clients expectations. Talk up the fishing to potential customers, telling them whatever they want to hear. You know there aren’t any stripers around yet, but you won’t tell them until you’ve left the harbour, until it’s too late.
2. Communicate as little as possible with the client
Leave organising gear, meeting time and location to the last minute. Make the client call and email you. After all its the client that wants to fish with you, they should have to chase you up.
3. Pickups are best when they are as convenient as possible for you
The harder it is for the client to get to the meeting spot the more relief they will feel just having had made it. After all the journey is more important than the destination. Tourists? Without transport? They’ve come half way around the globe, another $100 for cab fare isn’t going to deter them.
4. Make it hard
If a client finds the fishing too easy they’ll wonder why they even hired you. Therefore you need to be creative with your boat operation. When on the flats, loudly jamming the pole, kicking the gunnel and last minute boat movements during the presentation cast are the key.
5. Carry limited flies
There are a few ‘go-to’ flies that you use for 90% of the fishing. Only take 1 or 2 of each per day. Once these are gone insist on using experimental or prototype patterns that have never caught fish before, unless they want to use their own. This will save you money and time at the tying vice. Also make sure you clip the fly off the clients line at the end of the day. You don’t get paid enough to let each client take home a used fly as a souvenir.
6. Don’t carry a net
Whether wading, poling or rafting, these $20 pieces of gear are too efficient at landing fish and keeping them healthy while removing hooks and posing for photos.
7. Grab the leader
Once a client has hooked a fish, and since you don’t have a net, make sure you grab the leader as soon as possible into the fight. If the hook pulls it was because of a bad set and not your fault. The tippet may also break, lucky you’ve already got the client using their own flies.
8. Any photo is a good photo
So the client wants a photo, you’re a fishing guide not a photographer. Get this over and done with as fast as possible. If the angler and fish are both in the photo, you’ve done too well.
9. You leave fish to find fish
So the client has just landed one. Give yourself a pat on the back, then relocate to another part of the river, lake or fishery. Catching one fish after the other gets boring. This is also a good point to change flies.
10. Have a fish yourself
Whenever possible, carry a fully rigged rod. Tell the client that it is a backup or so you pretend to fish in order to protect more water from other anglers. Once the client is busy fishing further down the pool have a crack yourself. Make sure you get the client to stop fishing and take a photo of you with your steelhead, but don’t release it immediately. Check the photo first and make them retake it until you are satisfied.
11. You regularly quit early
Never mind that you told the client you’d fish all day if they wanted to, and you haven’t even had lunch yet.
Believe it or not, these are all situations I have experienced first hand. While there are plenty of good, hard working fly fishing guides out there, there are plenty that don’t deserve your time and hard earned dollars. Being able to tell these apart is sometimes difficult, especially when travelling.