Fishing Guides – How to pick one

Fishing with a good guide can be a valuable experience. In fact, I have many clients who choose to book multiple trips a season as opposed to buying their own boat.  By going out with a guide you will maximize time on the water and save money by going on someone else’s boat. When selecting a guide look for someone who is reputable with experience in the area.  Tackle shops can recommend guides and it may be worth it as well as to search on google. Take into consideration the equipment guides use.  Be on the look-out for a quality boat, electronics, and gear to increase the overall experience.

Before your trip, give a clear idea of what you want to do but also listen to what the guide says. If you prefer to fly fish or don’t want to troll, tell the guide before booking your trip and then listen to what he has to say. Discuss what species you want to target. During the trip it is important to listen to what the guide says.  For example, if the striper bite is not happening and your guide suggest targeting another species during the slack tide then go with the it. Fishing is all about making the most of your time on the water. I run into situations where people want to fish for false albacore in the fall. I let my clients know if they are targetable we will fish them, if not we will fish for something that is like stripers and blues. It is not possible to catch a fish that is not running in the area so time is better spent targeting fish that will bite.  

A good guide is consistent with his catches. This means that if a good guide is fishing everyday then the majority of trips result in good catches and one or two days will not be as good. This is the reality of fishing for a variety of reasons and some days the fishing can be tough. When you book a guided trip, you pay for the time of the captain and boat. It is best to have this understanding before your trip and enjoy it whether or not the fishing is great. A successful trip means the the captain tried their best by having a good attitude, switched up tactics, and gave you the best shot to catch a fish. During challenging trips, I will try to stay out longer but this is not always possible.  It is important to know the duration of time that is booked and expect to be on the water for that period of time. If you book a five hour trip then you will be on the water for five hours despite how the fishing is.

Tipping is something else to consider, a customary tip is twenty percent. The tip should be based on the quality of the experience and not for reasons outside of the captains control.


  • Be clear about what you want to fish for
  • Be early for your trip
  • Tell the captain ahead of time if you want to keep fish
  • Bring food, water, foul weather gear, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • Assume it will be significantly colder on the water. Nothing ruins a trip for someone faster than not being dressed appropriately.


  • Guide the guide
  • Tell the guide where to fish
  • Be late
  • If you arrive on time you are late. Arrive early enough so you are dressed and ready to go sharply at the start time.
  • If the guide says be there at 5:00 am, don’t tell him you would like to start at 7:00 am
  • Assuming your guide has quality tackle don’t bring your own tackle as it will get in the way. On Reel Cast Charters we usually carry 12 to 14 rods on the boat. When a client ask if they need to bring their spinning rod I tell them “if we can’t catch them on 14 rods we have bigger problems”
  • Again don’t bring your own rods if they are lesser quality than what the guide has, this is counter productive and drives most guides crazy.
  • Again don’t bring your own rod if it is not strung up and ready to fish
  • One last time, don’t bring your own rods if your knots, leaders and line isn’t as good as the guides.
  • Last time, don’t bring your own rod if the guide has every rod holder in the boat filled, your rod will be in the way.
  • Just don’t bring your own rod!
  • Bringing your own fly rods is okay but have them set up prior to leaving with a leader, fly and ready to fish. (this is why getting to the dock early is important!)
  • Don’t bring excessive amounts of gear
  • Don’t assume the captain will have food and water for you. Discuss this before the trip so you know what you need to bring.

1 thought on “Fishing Guides – How to pick one

  • Mia Evans July 28, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Thanks for pointing out that a good guide will be consistent with their catches for most of their days. I hope that we find a guided fly fishing trip with a professional like that so that the experience would be successful. My husband and I are going to be first-timers in this, and we wanted to tick this off of our bucket list.

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