How To Choose A Fly Fishing Guide?

How To Choose A Fly Fishing Guide?

Many friends have requested information over the years for how to choose a fly fishing guide? It seems like a loaded question for sure. It really depends on you and your expectations for how to choose a fly fishing guide. What do you wish to learn? During the age of instant gratification, it is obvious which choice the mass consumerism has chosen. The retail industry tends to follow this as well by offering to give the people what they want!  I like the KISS principle (keep it stupid simple). The 3 or 6-hour tour is purely ENTERTAINMENT for the most part across the country. The Education aspect is evident in small niches across the country from those that choose to become instructors. This brings us to the point that many guides are not instructors. Instructors possess the ability to teach in a preventative manner. This begins with lessons in fly casting, rigging, techniques, tactics, and hooking and playing fish.

Connor fly fishing on Conejos River

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”-Benjamin Franklin

I chose to teach for an occupation after college because I am OCD about all things fly fishing. I can tell you from 35 years of teaching that folks learn best from discussing these minute details before things come unraveled in the heat of the moment. Mac Brown Fly Fish has enjoyed the experiences of sharing information and teaching others about this magnificent sport. The sage old advice of experience matters is at play on each and every outing! Why guide for several hours to watch the fish of the year get broke off in an instant with a vertical hook setting jerk? This all too common problem plagues most folks for the simple reason that their habits are self-taught as well as the guide not instructing. Instructors assist in tragedy narrowly averted before they happen. They head it off so to speak well in advance. The instructor/client relationship is a team effort which assists you with improved results on the water.

One of the most rewarding benefits of teaching and sharing knowledge is that it creates much more enjoyable days guiding! The teamwork of client and instructor are conquering more advanced locations on the water for better presentations! This equates to better quality fish being landed. It is for this reason that I love my job instructing because it is always evolving in some of the most beautiful locations on the planet.

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Entertainment tours are designed for those that have “all the gear but no idea”. It includes the fraudulent retail chains that feed on delusions to sell more gear, private waters of grandiose expectations, fine cuisine ranks higher than quality fish, good joke telling guides, and many other factors which focus on entertainment. The bobber fishing generation, the Skagit crowd, and the Euro-nymphing craze have all played their role in the regression overall of this sport called fly fishing. The instant gratification today is overwhelming for those that seek a false destination. Good luck to all because with this approach you will need ample amounts of it! For those that seek an overall lifestyle of fly fishing read ahead for the journey.

New golfers tend to perfect their swing by taking lessons and having the goal to drop their score over time. The swing is universal for all shots made from the short game to the long ball. New fly fishers tend to skip these goals because there is not a score. Hence, many will go at it alone and remain self-taught. You must set out some goals for improvement to take place fly casting and fly fishing. My friend Gary Borger has a clever term for this and calls it the 3-dollar cast. For every perfectly tied fly thrown away in the tree is another 3-dollars! This may get expensive in a hurry if it is not corrected in short order.


Everyone begins this incredible journey at different ages. The pics above are from the Wemenuche Wilderness on a recent trip fly fishing in Colorado. The sport of fly fishing has something to offer everyone! Teaching kids will offer some of the finest moments fly fishing. Most of the Big Brand conglomerates also take the “instant gratification” approach talking about the experience in tranquil locations on the planet. You know the “fly fishing life experience is grand” approach. The art of casting a loop of line for the cast is where it all begins. The more precisely you can place your pattern the more numbers of fish you can expect to take. As an example, we often cover the rise of lakes and rivers to a fish that is rising. These fish are easy to catch because they have shown they are willing to feed as well as a location. When they are not rising, accurate casting enables you to grid off a section of water (like a checkers board). This methodical approach equates to more activity of fish landed due to your methodology. Check out the fly casting definitions and fly fishing definitions pages to assist your journey (click colored text).


In order for your casting and stream craft to keep improving you have to practice! Fly fishing many types of waters will prepare you for greater challenges. Time on the water enables you to perfect your hook setting and playing fish. Another huge asset for actual fly fishing is to remain within your means! If your bow and arrow cast is the only technique you have perfected then use that when you fish! Fly selection for differing water types and conditions is also part of this practice. Big fly or tiny and shiny? Natural or colorful? The greater experiences with wild fish and stockers really pay off for your intuition of instincts on these decisions.

For those that take the fly fishing journey, I cannot think of a more enjoyable sport in beautiful locations. The action of fly casting is such a free-form mantra of poetry in motion. Tying your own flies to match various aquatic or terrestrial insects balances out the overall perfect marriage of hobby and sport. Choose wisely from the Groupon specials, the exquisite lodges, the “magic fly” sellers and all of the other falsehoods that are out there. The sport is all about YOU!