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Fly Fishing Guides – Should You Hire One?

Fly fishing guides are some of the hardest working people in the industry. They are on the water more than anyone else, and they pass on their knowledge to their clients everyday.

As a beginner fly angler, it can be tempting for folks to teach themselves how to fly fish. The thing is, a fly fishing guide can really jumpstart a beginner’s knowledge and offer them success on the water. A day spent with a guide can unlock a lot of questions for a newbie, and they will have that knowledge forever.

There is no doubt that hiring a guide can be expensive. It is a larger purchase and many folks will not want to pay for it. However, hiring a guide can be one of the best ways to gain knowledge and success on the water.

This article will discuss the benefits of hiring a guide. I did it when I started, and I am very thankful that I did.

Learning Valuable Knowledge From Guides

In order to be successful in fly fishing, people must have good knowledge and solid techniques. When beginners are first starting out, it can be really intimidating because they have no knowledge. They don’t know where the trout live, which fly to use, or how to cast. These things can take years to learn.

Hiring a guide will give beginners insight into these questions, and it will start to make more sense. Understanding how to read water, which bugs are hatching, etc. This is all valuable knowledge that will stay with people for life. It is a guides job to pass on this knowledge and techniques, so that their clients can benefit and be productive on the water.

Learning Where To Go

One of the toughest things for beginners is figuring out where to go. Where are the actual access points where trout can be caught? Beginners don’t have this knowledge, and a guide can show them good holes and runs where they can come back to later. With this info, newbies can have success on their own, because they know where to go now.

Guides often know all the local zones that are productive. These are holes that hold lots of trout, where anglers can catch multiple fish. A good guide won’t be afraid to show clients these spots. Once beginners start to figure out good access points, fly fishing becomes a lot more enjoyable.

As beginners build up their knowledge of fishing spots, they gain more confidence. Eventually, they will know their local waters very well, and they can pass that info onto other new fly anglers.

Learn Rigging Techniques From Guides

For beginners, it can be hard to learn how to rig up a fly rod. There are many ways to do this – between dry flies, dry droppers, nymphing and streamer fishing. Guides can show clients how to rig for success, and they will often teach clients the best knots to use. Clinch knots, perfection loops, nail knots – these are all very helpful to know. Once clients know how to rig their rods, they are more likely to have productive fishing on their own.

Since fly fishing is pretty particular when it comes to rigging, it helps to have a guide show you the ropes. When beginners get their knots down, the whole process becomes a lot easier.

It is also good to see how guides rig for their local waters. How deep are they fishing, what size tippet, and which flies? When beginners see how a guide fishes their local water, they will start to understand what the trout want. By understanding what the trout want, anglers can have much more fun on their fisheries.

Being Coached All Day

One of a guides main jobs is to be a patient coach. As the client is fishing, the guide is pointing out suggestions on how they can improve. This is a great trial and error approach where clients can learn as they fish.

When the day starts out, clients are usually fishing pretty poorly. By the end of the day, their drifts and presentations will be much better – and hopefully they caught a few trout! This is all thanks to the guides coaching. Guides can mold clients into better anglers by improving their technique.

Although it can be frustrating, hiring a guide for the day can seriously improve your technique. You will form better habits that will serve you well throughout your fishing.

It is very important to listen to the guide and not take things personally. They are simply trying to improve your technique and get you into some fish.


For beginner fly fishers, I highly recommend hiring a guide. The benefits are huge, and beginners will be a lot more successful earlier on. The price of a guide can definitely deter people, and that’s understandable. Often times, a half day wade trip is all it takes to gain necessary knowledge. Float trips are more expensive, so a wade trip is a great budget option.

If you do decide to hire a guide, make sure to factor in the cost of a tip. Guides rely on tips just like restaurant servers, so it is highly appreciated if you tip at the end of the day. 20% is customary, if you were satisfied with the guide.

It is also important to do some research before you hire a guide. Read reviews and find the most reputable outfitters/fly shops in your area. These outfitters often have the best, most experienced guides. It is usually easy to find out a shops reputation, read reviews and ask around.

If you find a guide you really like, consider booking them for multiple days. Many fly fishers have guides they hire every season, and building these relationships can be a great thing. The guide will get to know your fishing style, and you can express the ways you want to improve.

Although teaching yourself to fly fish is possible, hiring a fly fishing guide just makes things so much easier.