So I asked a handful of local guides what makes for a good guide trip. Even though the guides -- Greg Blessing, Steve Gossage, Jon Easdon, Deborah Jo Mance, Jon Kleis, and Juan Ramirez -- had different opinions on some specifics, they agreed that a succssful trip boils down to three big things: the teaching and learning experience, expectations, and attitude.
Almost every guide said the same thing that Steve Gossage expressed: “I like a client that is eager to learn. I really enjoy showing even experienced anglers a little more advanced stuff.” Jon Easdon added that when anglers begin learning new techniques on his trips, “the success is usually immediate.” Deborah Jo Mance and Greg Blessing agreed that communication between the angler and the guide is crucial. Mance stated that good communication means that the client can “learn new things, new approaches” to the sport. Greg Blessing added that it's important to make sure that the guide is clearly communicating what he is trying to teach and what the angler is asking to learn.
Jon Kleis echoed that sentiment. “I can tell it’s going to be a good trip when the clients ask a lot of questions and are really receptive to what I’m teaching.” Clients who have a goal or two for the time on the water make the trip more enjoyable, too. Kleis said that when anglers, for example, “want to be a better caster” or “want to learn how to approach new water” these goals help shape the conversation on the river or even where they might fish that day. Juan Ramirez summed it up best: “I love when I get a client that wants to learn. That means my job is to teach them things that will help them become a better fly fisherman.” And growing as an angler is really what it’s all about.
But wait. Isn’t it all about catching fish? Of course all guides want their clients to be successful on the river. But Ramirez offers this view, “If a client wants to catch big fish, I can help to make that a reality. But I can only control part of the equation. It's up to the fish to cooperate and some days that just doesn't happen.” Others expressed the same thought. Kleis offered that “Fishing is fishing and there's always the off chance that you could get skunked.” Steve added that you might go awhile without catching a fish, or even go fishless on that day. You have to “appreciate what’s going on around you and even where you are fishing.” And Greg Blessing usually cooks lunch when he guides -- because "you can't always have great fishing, or weather, but you can always have a great lunch."
If catching huge and numerous fish can’t be guaranteed, then what is the pay-off? Randy Babas said “I like being able to teach clients about the fish, bugs, conservation issues, and try to teach them more of a Trout Unlimited perspective to fishing.” Others echoed this idea of “the whole experience” of fly fishing. “I love it when clients stop to look around and say, "catching fish is just a bonus today,” Juan Ramirez said. “That [attitude] makes my job fun” and “I guarantee that client will remember the trip forever because they learned something and had fun.”
Greg Blessing, who has guided for Angler's Covey the longest, added that the best client to guide is the one "who wants to learn, either about casting, bugs, reading water, or the equipment we use. He could be somebody who just wants to have a good time, but most of all, he or she should try and enjoy the whole experience!"
Finally, Jon Kleis emphasized that “clients should be patient with themselves. If there is one thing I'm quick to crack a whip on is when clients start getting frustrated with themselves. That adds to the pressure they're already feeling, and if they let it, that pressure can defeat them. Just have fun! Life's too short. If you can't have fun on the water in God's country, then where can you?”
It’s not too early to start planning your guide trip for the spring or even later in the season. Check out our Professional Guides webpage or call Phil at the shop (719-471-2984) so we can help you design a guide trip that meets your needs.
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Early season stillwater Fundamentals-Classroom