Fun Questions That Drive Fly Fishing Guides Insane
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Fun Questions That Drive Fly Fishing Guides Insane

Fly fishing guides can get somewhat surly after an endless summer or fall of wading or rowing. Long days being battered by the elements, tough fishing or even tougher clients can literally suck the life-force from a guide’s body. What suffers even more as a season progresses is the guide’s psyche. Time starts passing slower and slower as the weeks linger. Visions of a couch in an air-conditioned room with a TV and an Xbox was what one of my friends saw as he rowed his clients downriver against the hot August winds on The Deschutes. In my case, dreams of a bed with a mini-fridge full of beer within arm’s reach started invading my thoughts about September. This vivid image would usually permeate my subconscious as I sprinted my rabble of fishermen across the half-lit tundra to beat the 12 other planeloads of anglers to the “spot”.

Needless to say, the romantic life of a fly fishing guide takes a toll on every facet of his or her life. This is why testing a guide’s patience can have devastating effects on the guest’s day of fishing.

A boat in Alaska with fly fishermen and their guide. The guide is filling the engine with gas.
A day in the life of a fishing guide

By 10:00 AM the guide has probably tied on multiple flies, fed the clients coffee and cookies-twice, landed a fish or two and has told several captivating stories. All of this activity is going on as the guide’s mind wanders to its “Happy Place”. The guide’s mind wanders relentlessly, even as he is netting a fish or re-tying the laces on a wading boot for a client with a bad hip. Then to top his day off, he is dragged out of his fog of glorious imagination. This inevitably happens when someone asks a question that puts the cheery guide over the edge.

This is a partial list of questions that guides hear over the course of a fishing season. Some of these insipid inquiries will drive a guide to drink, or at the very least, make the guide scratch his head. I have one friend who was asked so many “interesting” questions by a guest that he took the offender’s rod and walked away for a few minutes in frustration. This is extreme and was extremely funny. An angler in my group asked me why the poor woman was left standing waist deep in the water looking confused. My buddy had radioed me earlier, telling me what she said and that he couldn’t take it anymore. The member of my group who asked what horrible offense had been committed was a client I had guided for years. When I volunteered what had transpired he almost fell into the river as he laughed. Then he said; “I bet you guys get all sorts of fun questions, don’t you?” He finished with a snort and some tears. He didn’t notice as I reached down, subtly taking the fly rod from his hand and mischievously walking downstream.

So, without any further adieu, here is a list in no particular order of…

Fun Questions That Drive Fly Fishing Guides Crazy

  • “How deep is the river (or lake) right here?”
  • “Why aren’t we catching as many as those guys?”
  • “How many fish can I expect to catch today?”
  • “Is the wind going to blow all day?”
  • “Can I trade you sandwiches?”(after a bite has been taken out of the inquirer’s sandwich)
  • “How hot (or cold) is it going to be today?”
  • “Did we go in a circle?” (asked as you pull your drift boat or raft into the take-out and they see your truck or airplane)
  • “Do you think they are using the same flies?”
  • “Do I really need my license?”
  • “How big do you think this fish is?” (and then argues with the guide about the size of the fish until it is taped)
    Four fly fishermen lying behind a raft on a gravel bar in Alaska to get out of the wind.
    Wind, rain and snow can make for a long day for the guide and anglers.
  • “Do you think you would be catching more fish than me if you were fishing?”
  • “What do you think of my rod?” (after they insist the guide casts the ancient Fenwick or Eagle Claw rod they got from their Dad or at a yard sale)
  • “How come my wife (or husband or kid) isn’t catching anything?
  • “Do you think I could row for awhile”?
  • “Is your backpack heavy?’ (as the guide unloads the twelve beers that they needed, a spare rod, a spare reel, first aid kit, 2 thermoses, and a spare water bottle from the pack to get to their lunch)
  • “What kind of fish are we fishing for?”
  • “Do you think the fish will eat this fly?” (and ties it on before the guide is able to answer)
  • “How come you don’t fish when you are guiding?” (usually asked as the guide is tying on his 32nd  double nymph rig of the day)
  • “Why did I break that one off?”
  • “How did I lose my fly?” (often asked after a loud “SNAP” heard during a back cast)
  • “Wow! I wonder why my rod broke?” (often asked after a loud “WACK” has been heard the cast before from a split shot or weighted fly hitting the rod)

And Lastly…“Do you think we would be doing better if we were using bait?