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.

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Hopper Time

Its usually drought in Australia, until you want to fish a river, then it floods.

Walking the banks of a stretch of a low land western river I had hoped to fish for natives, I realised two things. Firstly, there was no way I was going to hook into any natives due to the chocolate milkshake that was barely contained within the usual river banks; and secondly, there were an insane amount of hoppers around. So many hoppers that simply walking through the long straw coloured grass with your mouth open would result in a decent feed.

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Bucketloads of hoppers

After a quick rethink I decided to cut my losses, head to higher ground and settle for a weekend of trout fishing. According to the guru at the local fly shop the girl scoutin’ had been particularly good although the hoppers I had seen in plague proportions at lower altitudes were only present in certain localities.

It was early afternoon by the time I hit the mighty Eucumbene River and after a short hike was in some prime water.  Initially I was surprised I had the place to myself, but I guess the imminent thunderstorm kept a few punters at bay. The river fished well, with most fish opting for the stimulator of the dry dropper rig. I only managed a few fish, including a rainbow at 38cm, before the storm hit.  The cell appeared to get stuck in the gorge. The days fishing was well and truly over as I crouched soaked to the bone under a tea tree bush trying to avoid the splintering lightning bolts that hit trees on each side of the gorge every few seconds with deafening devastation.

By the next day the weather had cleared and I relocated to higher country to fish the highly oxygenated, acidic waters of the Thredbo River. A long time favourite, the Thredbo is one the rivers I cut my teeth on many years ago. When it is firing it is unmatched in Australia for both quality fly water and fish. This day was no exception, even with high water. The fish weren’t easy to find but they were in excellent condition and were looking up.

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Strong Rainbows, clear water

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Looking up

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Extreme wading

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Fast water brownie

This was the first time I had visited the Kosciusko National Park since the completion of the Thredbo Valley Trail. A bike and hike trail that spans the ~20kms between Thredbo and Crackenback. The trail includes heavy erosion and 4 river crossings, facilitated by monolithic steel bridges.  If you thought that National Parks still had any role in the preservation of intact and undiminished wilderness in Australia then you will find the trail disgusting. After a million years of neglect industrial tourism has finally come to the Thredbo Valley. Rather than spend money on the irradiation and control of feral floral and fauna, which is so desperately needed, the KNP instead chose to develop one of the last remaining stretches of untouched alpine river. Just another national disgrace from the National Park Service.

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Fools progress

Yes there is some irony writing about trout fishing in a national park while also complaining about the lack of vermin control. Sure eradicate the trout, but not before you remove the dams clogging our waterways and restricting the passage of native fish. Let our rivers run.

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Suiting Up

10257499_753751864657265_4893673440228550360_oFitting enough gear into a backpack for a six month journey is difficult.  By the time you pack the tent, sleeping bag and stove, and throw in some clothes, there isn’t much room left for fly gear.

Fly fishing so many different places over 6 months out of one backpack worth of gear posed quite a few selection issues.  Ideally, I would have liked to have taken 5 fly rods but ultimately that had to be cut down to 3.  These ended up being a 9wt TFO TiCRx, a Sage Bass Bluegill 230gr, and a 6wt Sage Flight.

The 9wt should handle all the saltwater as well as the big rivers and salmon of Alaska.  The Sage Bass rod was taken to cover all the warm water fishing and also as a back up for any salmon available on the surface.  Hopefully it gets bent by a few Silvers at the last frontier.  The 6wt rod will cover all the trout fishing and any light warm water opportunities.

Unlucky to miss out was the 4wt which would have been unreal to have on the small trout streams in the North West and for targeting grayling in Alaska, however the 6wt will manage.

A couple of sets of poly leaders will help get the flies to the fish.  Tippets are all fluorocarbon and are 3lb, 6lb, 8lb, 20lb, 40lb and 32b wire.

I have packed a stripping basket, waders and boots, but could not fit a net.  This may prove to be a problem but hopefully not often.  I have deliberately not taken any flies so I can stop in at plenty of fly shops and pick up some the local patterns as well as the good oil.

Time to hit the road

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A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Fly Fishing Dream

We can't stop here. This is bat country

We can’t stop here. This is bat country

G’day USA

Being an Australian, the majority of my fly fishing is done throughout Australia and trips to New Zealand. But that is all about to change as I’ve finally pulled the trigger and clocked off work for six months.

During May 2014 I will pack the great red shark and hit the road in North America to chase of some of the most respected quarry in the fly fishing world.

So far the list of target species and where I think my best chance of targeting them are as follows, in no particular order:

Bonefish                                              Hawaii, Florida

Peacock Bass                                      Hawaii, Florida

Smallmouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

Rainbow Trout                                     Various

Steelhead

Atlantic Salmon

Cutthroat Trout                                   Idaho

Whitefish

Shad                                                    California

Brook Trout

King Salmon                                        Alaska

Chum Salmon                                      Alaska

Sockeye Salmon                                  Alaska

Silver Salmon                                       Alaska

Pink Salmon                                         Alaska

Grayling

Artic Char

Dolly Varden

Northern Pike                                      Alaska

Lake Trout                                           Alaska

Bull Trout

Sheefish                                              Alaska

Striped Bass

Muskellunge

Redfish                                                Florida

Snook                                                   Florida

Tarpon                                                 Florida

Chub

Bluegill

This is what I have put together so far from a bit of internet research and a few books, however I would prefer input from ground zero local fly fishos.

So what are the best fly fishing experiences in the US? What is your favourite species and locations to fish for them?

If you have any suggestions for species, places to catch them, or fly fishing experiences that I should include in my trip please feel free to help me out by letting me know.

After all there is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the depths of a fly fishing binge.

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