Paying for a guided trip? Then listen to the guide – always

I have a friend who’s heading out to Yellowstone this summer, and I convinced him to book a float trip on the Madison River. He’s into his 70s now and hedged on plunking down some serious cash for the day trip, but when might he get another chance? I convinced him it would be well worth it; he’s an avid fly fisherman who doesn’t get out as nearly as often as he should, and he’s a very good fly-tyer as well.
 
I was up at his place the other night patterning my turkey gun ahead of the season, trying out a new choke tube, when he began showing me the flies he tied this winter. There were several boxes of them, impressive caddie dries, March Brown and Hare’s Ear nymphs, and some eye-catching terrestrials that will be pure death on trout this summer.
 
When he said he couldn’t wait to use some of the flies on his guided float trip, he was surprised and a bit disappointed when I told him the guide will likely select some local patterns for him to use.
 
“You mean I can’t use my flies?” he asked.
 
Well, yes and no. He could, in fact, use the flies of his choice, but I told him I wouldn’t recommend it and instead would yield to the guide. Always.
 
Keep in mind, these guys fish the Madison and other waters in the region virtually every day, year in and year out. They know the rivers intimately, know what works and what doesn’t. You’re shelling out some serious cash for them to guide you, and you should let them do just that.
 
At some point ahead of his trip, I’ll have to sit my friend down and let him know what else is likely to happen on his guided float trip.
 
The guide will tie the flies onto the tippet, and the tippet onto the leader. Keep in mind: he just met you a few minutes ago, he doesn’t know your knot-tying skills, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let you lose a fish – especially a big fish – because of a poorly tied knot. Don’t be offended when they handle that duty for you. Chances are – well, I can pretty much guarantee – they can do it better and quicker than us. That means more time with the fly in the water, which translates potentially to more fish, a happier angler and, perhaps, a bigger tip.
 
Also, and I can’t stress this enough, listen to the guide. If he tells you where to cast, cast there. If he offers up some constructive casting criticism, take it. Chances are he’ll do it casually without sounding like a drill sergeant. After all, you’re fishing, and a day on the water is supposed to be fun.
 
And it will be. These guides are, almost without exception, real pros who love what they do and like people. Listen to your guide and chances are it will be a memorable day on the water. You’ll catch enough fish to make you happy, and you’ll probably learn a thing or two as well.

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