We’re getting a lot of positive feedback for introducing “opinion pages” in the print issues of Angling Trade. Many of you have commented on our last issue, which featured David Leinweber’s challenge to the industry on fly rod warranties, and Chuck Furimsky’s piece on guides “daisy chaining” runs in rivers. We are going to continue featuring opinions from industry members on hot topics in future issues, and encourage you to submit ideas directly to us at [email protected]
Here is what Vail Valley, Colorado, guide Marc Barnwell had to add to the commentary on a common guide practice (for the original story click here):
Chuck, after reading your article, “Daisy Chaining for Trout,” I felt the need to respond. While I fully agree with your analysis that guides are engaging in this type of guiding, what I felt missing was the reason WHY, guides do this. The answer I believe is because it’s EASY. It’s easier for the client and for the guide, and it avoids having to completely re-rig a bird’s nest a few times (or hundred). I’m also seeing the trend of using switch rods to make it even EASIER. I’ve been guiding now for 17 seasons and a similar situation to what you described in Montana is happening here in Colorado. Just float down the Roaring Fork River on any summer day and watch the bobber fest happening. Guided fly fishing trips have simply come down to getting the client into fish rather than teaching them the art of the sport, no matter what’s going on in nature: “Get ‘em in and get ‘em out.” The easiest way to do this is to “lob the bob.”
Anyone reading this and familiar throwing dries knows it’s very difficult to teach newbies the art of casting (ie. what to do with your line hand, mending, false casting) before and as you float. By the time I have explained all of this, and they still can’t get it done (understandably), I could have been a quarter of the trip done by simply lobbing a bobber. But where’s the fun in that as a guide? Seriously where’s the fun watching an indicator the whole time, day in and day out? Big Boring Deal. Let’s face it guides, dry fly fishing is HARD for the newbie and landing a bunch of fish this way is simply not going to happen. I always tell my newbies getting one to the net is a good day. And don’t even get me started on streamer fishing a newbie from a boat…(Not going to happen!)
I see the following scenario all the time about someone wanting to learn the sport of fly fishing: A newbie calls or walks into a fly shop and says I’ve always wanted to try/learn fly fishing, and if you ask them to describe why they want to try the sport, they will describe the CAST. That is the draw. WE NEED TO TEACH THIS, as well as explain to them that a lot of the time fish simply won’t rise to a dry and the only way to catch them is to “dredge ‘em up” accordingly. I guarantee that newbie clients will remember catching their first fish on a dry more than nymph any day. Even the experienced or somewhat experienced prefer to at least try dries even if it means catching fewer fish. You have to give the client what they want.
While it may seem that I’m anti-dredging, I’m really not. There is a time, place and client need for it, but in the long run, having your clients lob full nymph rigs day in and day out is not serving them and is CERTAINLY NOT doing the sport of fly fishing justice. It’s just like anything else, you have to work for your reward. Let’s let newbies EARN catching lots of fish by learning and practicing. How sweet is it to have someone in your boat who can fish according to what’s happening in nature that day by throwing dries, dry dropper, nymphs or streamers (cautiously), and not worry about getting your fish quota for your clients? My guess is that this style of guiding will not affect tips negatively. My tips this past summer certainly did not seem to be impacted by the amount of fish brought to the net. If anything they went up.
Let’s let nature dictate what we throw on any given day, even if that means an extra half hour to hour devoted to teaching the cast, the heart of the sport.
Marc Barnwell, www.marcbarnwell.com