Bob Taylor is a graduate of the first class of the Colorado Fly Fishing Guide Academy (CFFGA). He decided to give it a shot after talking with one of the co-designers of the class, Robert Younghanz. Bob told Robert that fly fishing is his passion, second only to his family, but he had reached a place where fishing had become sort of routine. Robert suggested the CFFGA. Almost a year after graduation, Bob calls the Fly Fishing Academy one “heck of a memory for me.”
Bob, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, says he can “liken the Fly Fishing Academy to the experience at the Air Force Academy.” Coming together with others in the class of 2015, with similar questions, a common experience, and similar goals, united them. “We became a close bunch – even over just a week” – as they took the step toward becoming a fly fishing guide.
“I can’t say enough about this experience,” Bob says. “I was confident in my skills as a fly fisher, but, man, what this course did for my confidence in working with people. It truly prepared me to be a guide.”
When Bob reflects on his experience, he recalls the last day of the Academy. For the Sunday streamside session, the Academy participants co-guided anglers in the Orvis 201 class offered by Angler’s Covey. Bob’s client was a school teacher who had never fished before. When she hooked up and landed her first fish, “it was a real high” for Bob to put all the coursework together out on the river. To top it off, the Orvis 201 class served as a critique session for the new guides. Afterwards, they met with the veteran guides as sort of a final exam of the course where they received feedback.
Being a guide is more than just taking people out fishing. The Academy “took guiding to the next level” -- planting the seeds for the passion of the sport. This aspect calls on the guide to be confident in building a relationship with the client in just a few minutes, assessing skills, and making a personal connection. The guide’s goal is to make the trip a memorable experience for that angler.
One client that Bob had after the Academy when he was co-guiding with Dave Herber was an artist from Los Angeles. When she was netting the fish, Bob took a classic picture of her: net in one hand, bent rod in the other. A few months later, Bob received an email from her, thanking him for the experience and telling him about the blow-up of that picture hanging in her office. “You don’t just teach the skill. You instill the passion for the sport.”
Bob still has his notebook of Powerpoint slides and handouts from the course, but the course "is beyond the slides. All the stories from the experts, the little side comments, that’s what makes the course so valuable.”
“This course changed my life.” Bob hesitates a little bit after saying this as if he is considering if that is an exaggeration. “Not just for being prepared as a guide. Out there in the world as a whole.”
The Colorado Fly Fishing Guide Academy is hosted by Angler's Covey. The 2016 course begins on April 25th with five evenings of classes at the shop. April 30 and May 1st are streamside classes. You can find more information and register here.
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Orvis 201 Streamside