What Makes a Guide a Good Guide?


As Kommendant Dave and I were driving back from a day on the Toccoa earlier this week, we had a short discussion about what makes a client a good client and what makes a guide a good guide. We’ll leave the client question aside for now, but I’m curious about your experiences and thoughts on the guide side of that question.

I know guides that are probably worth twice their price, and I’ve seen guides that would have a hard time justifying half of their fee. Setting aside the obvious answers like knowledge of the fishery and general preparedness (all necessary flies, quality gear, etc . . .), I wonder what clients value most. Is it simply the ability to consistently put you on fish? The knowledge that even in challenging conditions they never stop trying their best? A good shore lunch? Maybe it’s as simple as someone you want to hang out with all day.

Aside from all of the obvious answers, what do you think?


8 thoughts on “What Makes a Guide a Good Guide?

  1. So putting all those more obvious skills aside that you listed above, personality is what makes me a repeat customer and what I’ll be sure to give every client a good dose of when I start my guiding career. Simply put, after spending what can sometimes be 8+ hours on the water with a complete stranger, I should walk away with a friend. Guides should teach you about the area, help you develop a new skill or 2, share some stories, and make you open enough to share your own – fishing or non-fishing related. The guide should be able to read the personality of the client and adjust accordingly – working to create a connection that can entertain or distract a client during the slow periods and pump them up when the action is hot. Having fished with dozens of guides over the years, it was the guys that made it fun regardless of the conditions I remember most.

  2. The biggest things I look for in a guide, not only for me but for my clients I send to them, the ability to adapt to the client, and give them what they want, if it’s big trophy fish or just fish, are they a novice that needs help or seasoned and just looking for water knowledge. Never stops trying! And finally but most of all show them a good time!! So they can’t cast to save their life, they missed the fish, or the fish just won’t cooperate, you’re fishing have fun!! Side note clients be honest with your guide, tell them your skill level let them help you. Stay Fly!!!

  3. I’m with Ryan. I have no control over the conditions or my client’s attitude. I do have control over my honesty and my own attitude. I think a good guide knows when & how to call the shots and let’s their clients know what is going on. That starts right off the bat with the guide/client fit. I have turned away many “fish counters” because that is not what I am really about. I know that sounds crazy but around here it has been my experience that those guys are rarely satisfied. I take the folks that want to learn or are looking for a relaxing fishing outing. That is what I can realistically provide. I think a good guide works hard for his clients when it makes sense to and tells them straight when conditions aren’t looking good. Honesty in work and word on and off the water.

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