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From A Guide's Perspective: What Makes a Great Trip?

05/28/17 at 08:40 PM by Vince Puzick


So I asked a handful of Angler's Covey guides what makes for a great guided fly fishing trip -- from their perspective.   Even though the guides -- Greg Blessing, Steve Gossage, Jon Easdon, Kristina Dougherty, Jon Kleis, Justin Brenner, Zach Tokach, Scott Voyles, and Juan Ramirez -- had different opinions on some specifics, they agreed that a successful trip boils down to three big things:  the teaching and learning experience, expectations for the trip, and the client's attitude toward the experience.

 

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.” 

 

kristinaKristina Dougherty and Greg Blessing both agreed that communication between the angler and the guide is crucial.  Kristina stated that clients shouldn't be afraid to ask questions to help shape their experience on the river. "Want to learn a new technique like Euro Nymphing? Get your casting dialed in or learn a new river system? No problem -- just ask!"  

 

Justin Brenner added that "communication leading up to the trip is important, as well, especially with experienced anglers."  

 

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 the decision of 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.”  

 

Scott Voyles and others echoed this idea of “the whole experience” of fly fishing.  "Good listeners" tops Scott's list and "people who enjoy the outdoors" is on that list, too.  Justin Brenner added that it's important to know what clients want.  "Some people want beautiful surroundings along with their 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.” 

 

Or as Kristina put it, "It's definitely a bonus when the client believes there are no bad days on the water." 

 

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!" Greg is also known for his delicious streamside lunches -- "because you can't always have great fishing, or weather, but you can always have a great lunch."

 

In one way or another, all the guides shared Zack Tokach's sentiment:  "I get motivated by enthusiasm, so when clients are excited, so am I!" 

Check out our Professional Guides webpage  and our menu of guided fly fishing trips.  Let's design your trip of a lifetime!

 

 
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