11 Signs You’re a Dodgy Guide

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.

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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.

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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.



Home Water

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Prime fly water

Somewhere along the line, these sparkling emerald waters crowned with ancient slabs of dull sandstone became my home water.  Originally the arrangement seemed to form due to convenience,
I could make it there for a quick session after work in summer.

In the beginning the numbers and size of the fish were nothing remarkable, but I enjoyed knowing the water, every pool, bend and snag.  As the summers came and went I learnt to read the mood of the river.  The flow, weather and insect behaviour all providing clues as to what could be expected before a fly was even cast.  I mastered where to find the fish and where not to waste time.  Which fly to cast and what time of day.  I knew the likelihood of any cast getting a take before it was even made.  When the conditions were right, I could hit all the hot spots and rack up good numbers.  But still, the fishing was not as good and the fish not big as many other waters that I preferred to fish when gifted with a full day or weekend.

For all my experience, occasionally, I even still got skunked.

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The home turf

Fishing that river became a routine; routine seemed to bring frustration.  Somedays I would be irked if I could not get a rise from a snag I knew always held fish.  Eventually, I knew the water so well I could have fished it in the dark of night.  And so, I did.  Thats when I realised I had been doing it all wrong.

That night, I crabbed my way through the darkness to a hole that usually produced a fish or two.  I could not see my line or fly as I cast, but heard it hit the water.  That first cast I caught the largest fish I had ever caught in that river.  Followed by two more without taking a step.

I thought I had this place figured.

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Humble beginnings