I admit it. I am guilty. No trial, no judge, no jury. I am throwing myself upon the mercy of the world. I still take the grip and grin! I know…. it’s out of favor, played out, and tacky. I might as well be wearing neoprene camo waders and be dragging a limit stringer of steelhead behind me. If there is a 12 step program for this, I’m in!
Having said this, the fish gods have a way of laying the karma smackdown upon those that stray from the path of the righteous. See exhibit A:
Yes…. I deserve to look as stupid as I do right here.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,
Yes, It’s true. The guy that is hell bent on doing anything and everything possible on his own hires fly fishing guides! The better question is why? The even better question is, should you? So what spawned this thought?
A few weeks ago, CW and I has a weekend planned at Nemacolin Woodlands with our significant others. This was a make everyone happy weekend which consisted of spa services, wine, fine dining, drunken entry into animal enclosures, and yes…. FLY FISHING!
We had booked Mike Steiner the head guide at Nemacolin which is an Orvis endorsed resort. The plan was to do a full day float on the Yough for trout but as our typical luck would have it, mother nature did not cooperate and the river was completely blown. We ended up going to plan be and Mike guided us to a beautiful day on the Cassleman River in MD. We stuck bunches of trout, had a ton of fun, and learned a ton of cool things.
So back to my original point. I am a firm believer in DIY for a great many things and I love the challenge of exploration. Having said that, here are a some outstanding reasons why you should consider hiring a guide!
10. Notice the guide fly!
Guides have to tie a bunch more than the average fly fisher. Guide flies are typically simple, easy to tie, and very effective. A guides living is dependent on helping below average fly fishers button up to fish so they are pretty darn good with versatile patterns that can be applied to multiple situations.
9. Casting vs. Fishing
A quality guide is an expert at situational fishing and reading water. They spend their day taking in information around them and processing it into directions. Pay attention to what your guide is looking for! If it’s not obvious… Ask! Next time you are approach ing the water, STOP and be a guide for 5 minutes. Put your rod down and pay attention to what you see before your fly is even wet. Yes, you will catch more fish.
8. Knot Tying
Watching most guides work with knots is amazing. They typically lean towards a single knot for each situation and they tie them very fast and very well. This is an area where most of us can improve. Nothing worse than losing a fish of a trip or even a lifetime because of a poor knot.
7. Fish Spotting
Your guide will almost always spot fish before you do. Part of this is that the already know where to look. The other is a well trained eye and sharp focus. See that push, flash, refusal, take, etc….. Most guides are happy to put on a clinic if you ask!
6. New Techniques
Always wanted to learn to Euro-Nymph? Spey cast? Streamer fish? Interview a qualified guide and turn a guided day on the water into a clinic and walk away with a new set of skills that you can leverage for a lifetime.
5. Depth Before Location
One mindset that I learned early in my day with Mike Steiner was that he was confident in his knowledge of where fish were and he would change depth prior to changing locations. Sometimes adding a heavier fly, raising an indicator, or changing a dropper length is all it takes to put you into fish.
4. Great Stories
Nobody, and I mean nobody has better stories than fly fishing guides. They spend more time on the water and see more crazy stuff than you can imagine and a good guide can have you laughing all day if you ask the right questions.
3. Casting Tips
Very few of us don’t have bad casting habits. If you tell your guide that you’d like some instruction throughout the day, it is amazing some of the little things they can help you to improve. Tailing loops? Poor mending? Running line management? Shooting line?
2. Learn a New Piece of Water…. FASTER!
I love exploring but not as much as I love sticking fish. If there is a piece of water that you have been dying to unlock but don’t know where to start, a guide can dramatically shorten your learning curve. They might not take you to all of their own personal secret spots but they can take months or years off of your path to having a good working knowledge of the waters they work on every day.
There are no guarantees, but your chances of getting into some good fish on a guide day are typically better than on your own. Even on tough days, a good guide has plenty of tricks up their sleeve to make sure you have some success…. Remember, they want a return booking so putting you on fish is how they feed their family.
If you’ve never fished with a guide, I highly recommend it. It is truly an investment in your fly fishing skill set and a day you will likely remember. I also highly recommend interviewing a guide on the phone before hiring them. If they aren’t willing to spend 20 minutes on the phone to see if you are a good fit for one another, don’t hire them! If you are a novice and want a good teacher, make sure your guide is patient and likes to teach!
Btw, if you are heading up to Nemacolin or the Laurel Highlands in general, you can get in touch with Mike here.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,