When you are out on the river fly fishing, casting, drifting and setting the hook are only a few of the things that need your undivided attention; but what is most important is to remember exactly where you are.
Tight Lines, Glenn
When a client walks into my shop Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, I greet them with a “how’s it going, ready to catch some fish?”, make some small talk, get them “wadered” up and load ’em up in my truck to take them fly fishing. This is just business as usual, an everyday ritual. I will be the first to admit that it is easy to take all stuff, the ceremony of this for granted. I am here to tell you first hand, that I have learned a valuable lesson as of late; I do not underestimate the importance of what this day on the river might mean to these clients or shall I say, my guests.
Allow me to back track a week or two:
I just had my birthday at the beginning of September…thank you, and the opportunity came up for me to take a trip to Bozeman, Montana with my beautiful bride to be. If you don’t’ know, Bozeman is theoretically the the center of the fly fishing universe, it is a pilgrimage, a fisherman’s right of passage. I never have been there and was very excited to go. I wanted to earn my stripes.
When the dates of our trip were solidified, I started two weeks in advance to line up a guide, I started to buy bugs from my shop that would be unique enough to impress my guide and have some out of state special sauce that might just be the ticket for those legendary Brown trout and Rainbows from that Big Sky state. I spent time, a lot of time, going though my gear, getting rid of the things that I didn’t need and getting doubles of what I did need. Tippet, leaders, Dry Shake, Hoppers, Mice, Ants, everything. I made sure I had all the bugs I was told by my friends, clients and guides that have been there. I was very excited.
At my shop, we have a great guy named Rich that lived in Montana, (in his truck, perfect) for a couple of years and offered to mark out his favorite places on a Rand McNally map of where that he love to fish, with add commentary stating “classic scenery with an old barn in field” or “fish the island loaded with Hogs…”. I’m not sure if that was exactly his wording but you get the drift.
I was thrilled to have his insight and a taste of a locals intel.
When the time came for us to catch our very early flight out of Aspen, I looked like a guy taking a fly fishing trip, somewhere else. I had my rod case in hand and made sure I didn’t let it out of my sight, ever. I checked all my gear, twice. I called the guide I hired to let him know that we were still on our way and I would hit him up when we got into town just to confirm that we were good to go. We went straight from the airport to the fly shop to get our licenses just to that out of the way, done and done!
The point of this article has nothing to do with my fishing trip in Montana, which was epic BTW, but everything to do with being a engaged, hard working, understanding as a working professional fishing guide.
Now that I have been on the receiving end of the service I offer I now I meet my clients that booked their trip with me, as if they were as excited and prepared for their day with me as I was, when I first met my guide, Brett Seng at 6:30 in the morning in front of Rivers Edge Fly Shop in Bozeman. I was absolutely giddy, in the most macho way possible of course. By the way, Brett is the BOMB, hit the link and look him up…
I have seen a number of guides treat the day of work as a day of work. Get in, get out, done. Trust me, I have felt that way from time to time, especially at the end of season, we can get a bit “crispy”… but I am doing my best to remember, I have know idea of my clients story, I don’t know if they are excited to be out there or if it was just a lark to try fly fishing or if this is a fulfillment of a chance to fish in the Roaring Fork Valley. But what I do know, is what I felt when I was a client and not the guide and how everything was memorable. So whatever you do for a living, what you do will always be someones fond memory.
As we say, keep those line tight,
Be sure to follow me @artofflyfishing on Twitter and Instagram
Not many people in this world has an occupation that you “choose” to take a vacation or shall I say for tax purposes, an R&D trip for what you so everyday. I am one of those very lucky people. I am on way way to fish the great waters of the endless stories in the Big Sky state of Montana.
As many of you know if you follow my blog postings that I am a professional guide in the the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley in Colorful Colorado. The fact is, I have 4 Gold Medal rivers right out my backdoor, so it is very hard to leave. This is why the Montana trip is so exciting.
I plan to post this entire week documenting the events of a guide in foreign lands. I hope you enjoy this series with the first photo of the mouse pattern I intend to use.
Throughout this summer I have been posting fly fishing tips and tricks in short form on Twitter. What I have learned in the exercise is that why use 7 words when 4 will do.
It is easy to get caught up in listening to yourself talk when you are perceived as an expert at anything. Twitter does not allow the luxury…and I kind of liked that.
So here is a series of Glenn and The Art Of Fly Fishing guide tips that I have recently posted. If you enjoy them and find them useful, please share them with the troutbum in your life and follow me @artofflyfishing on Twitter.
“The first rule of flight club is you don’t talk about fight club”. This is one of the many famous quotes from the Brad Pitt movie, Fight Club. There is a wisdom in this quote. Some things are best kept to one’s self and those that know the secret. I believe this deep into my fabric of my soul.
I spend a lot of time writing about the “experience” for fly fishing, what it means in the big picture? and how it can change you when you are living in “the moment”, as you follow the perfect drift to a splashy strike of a big brown. What I don’t like to do is gloat about it.
Recently we had our annual guide meeting at Taylor Creek, the fly shop I guide for. When I say guide meeting, I really mean, a bunch of pretty unkept guys and gals with mad fishing skills, drinking cheap beer, giving each other a full rationing of shit and listening to what is expected from us as guides and ambassadors of the shop. I have been to countless gatherings like this. This is also the time when the veteran guides, more or less, stake claim to our seniority and rank in the shop. Yes, it is a pissing match between people who fish for a living. I smile and get a kick out of every one of the “meetings”. It is just plain fun.
But a topic was brought up by the guides this year that I wasn’t expecting to discuss. It was the matter of not publicly “advertising” the amount of fish you and your clients caught on any given day. To not walk into the shop and blurt out “We got 10 to the net” or “Man, we killed it today!” This, I thought, was progress and something I take very seriously. Let me explain why…
As guides, it is our job to help you catch fish. I have always joked with my clients by saying “You can’t catch fish on your own, you don’t need me standing next to you, talking and not catching fish…” There is more to that quote but I will share this some other time. The point is simple: We will catch fish. But what exactly does that mean? Will we catch a 100 fish? Will we catch 3 fish? I believe that numbers are all relative to your clients expectations or the “total experience”.
We, as guides, should do exactly that, guide. Sure it is important to catch fish, that is what we do but it is not our job to assume that the only thing our client wants is to catch countless fish.
Case in point: I have had days on the river when the fishing was off the hook, and I have had days that it was difficult to even buy a strike. We have those swings out there, so if I am on my own, I continue to walk, wade and cast as the day passes by. If it’s slow, I find another spot. If the fishing is on fire, I stay. It’s that basic. But when out there with a paying client, guides think that their purpose has changed. They feel compelled to prove that they are fly fishing gods of the universe and all swimming creature are at their complete beck and call. We all know that this is not true and the that the only thing that has changed from your normal day out fishing is that a few extra people are tagging along. The difference is you are being paid for your knowledge, not by your fish count. With that said, why the pressure on numbers? Are you out there to stroke your own ego by vicariously upping the number of fish your client is catching? Does it challenge your manhood? Are you less of a guide than you thought? Do you think that you will impress the shop and other guides by how many fish you brought to the net? Not at all, not even close. Your client only knows the experience you are giving them and their own past history fishing; and the shop only cares if your client was satisfied by their day out on the river with you.
The definition of satisfaction is:
“sat·is·fac·tion noun \ˌsa-təs-ˈfak-shən\
: a happy or pleased feeling because of something that you did or something that happened to you
: the act of providing what is needed or desired : the act of satisfying a need or desire
: a result that deals with a problem or complaint in an acceptable way”
If your client wants to learn how to become better at casting, and you teach that, they will be satisfied.
If learning about the habitat, history of the area, insects, how it relates to our sport and the environment, they got what they wanted, they are satisfied.
If you get a client that only wants to catch big fish and a ton of them, do that. But be prepared to address this expectaions if the fishing happens to be slower than usual. What else will satisfy this client?
So to wrap this up, when you walk into the shop or at the bar next door, your fish count does not matter. Anyone who has been fly fishing for most of their lives and guide for a living, truth is, we don’t care. Every fly fishermen should remember one thing, an average or below average day to one person could be an amazing day to another, quote me on that. Let your clients do the bragging because they paid for the right to do so Our reward, as professional fly fishing guides, is knowing a job well done, securing a future repeat client and hopefully a decent tip to put towards our cheap beer that we love so much.
Keep that tip up,
In fishing, I believe that you don’t teach, you transfer your skills and love of the art of fly fishing.
I can teach technique and methods, I can drill over and over casting methods and discipline. What I can’t teach is the awareness of being on the river and watching the Barn Swallows swoop down to dine on the fresh hatch of Green Drakes popping out of the current. I can’t force someone to learn to be patient enough to wait to cast at a rising fish and just observe the way the fish is sipping.
What I can do is transfer my passion for the minutest details, the magnitude of nature, the gift of where fly fishing takes us, not only geographically but mentally and spiritually. I’m not saying that being on the river will change your life and you will find religion, what I am saying is it can’t hurt.
It is important when you introduce someone to the sport of fly fishing, be sure to mention that catching is only a part of the equation not the total sum of the problem.
Photo credit Taylor Creek Fly Shop
1958 Cocoa Beach Mid Modern Home Being brought Back To Life