Fishing guides are easy to come by in Montana. Many see guiding as Big money. Others are great rowers but not great fishermen. Why should you hire a guide and how do you know if a guide is worth the trip?
The best guides are great teachers. When you talk to the guide, you will understand. Ask them some relevant questions about how to fish and the skills of fishing. There is so much more to fishing than just catching.
When I fish in a new area, I hire a guide. Guides guiding guides is a fun day. You will learn so much about the fishery and how to fish if you pay attention and have a decent memory.
If you just want to catch a lot of fish, you are wasting your time and money. If the guide ties your knots, selects your flies, lures, or bait, and just hands you the rod, you are learning how to fish. You are just catching some fish. If you don’t know why or how, then what success will you have when you are on your own.
There is not just one thing that will make you are great fisherman. There is a boatload of things which change with the seasons, fishery, and place. When you pick a guide, look for the sweatiest and filthiest guide in the corral. They don’t have to be old, but they need to be experienced. Sweaty hats and stained vests come from experience and time on the river. The guide with a pretty boat, new hat, and clean shirt will rarely teach you much.
Great guides also Invite, Invest, and Share Ownership in your day. This is just how great teachers teach. They will offer great information, advice, criticism, and share priceless information if you are listening. Sometimes it’s about fish, casting, flies, rowing, wading, or hundreds of other relevant topics. Pay attention to get your moneys worth.
I once guided a fella from Georgia. He hired me for 3 days. We fished in 3 Blue Ribbon rivers together. He spent the first 2 days telling me what a great fisherman he was, how expensive his equipment was, and how many fish he has caught. On the third day, he was not so talkative. He had netted just a few fish over two days of superb hopper fishing. His casting was lousy, he was slow setting the hook, and he ignored any, and all advice.
On the third day, he was ready to listen to a guide. I told him that I do my job and give advice 3 times. If he fails to listen, I start talking about Custer’s Last Stand. He said please help me catch some trout. I rowed the boat to the shore and got out. We spent 30 minutes practicing casting. Next, we learned how to tie a proper knot and select the right flies. Next, I showed him how to stay cocked, locked, and ready to rock, so he could set the hook faster.
The next several miles of drifting were epic! He wore out the net! Not only did he catch plenty of trout, but he also learned how to do it!
Listen, learn, and love to fish!