Learn from Linehan: Do We Need Standards?



Following up on the Orvis Guide Rendezvous, I had a chance to do something in the days that preceded that event that I have long wanted to do.  I got to fish with Tim Linehan.

I’ll spare you the details here, but please check out a post I did for fieldandstream.com that talks about the day I spent with Tim and what I learned.   I think Linehan has some perspectives that will help any shop or guide grow business.

In following up, I am left to wonder if it is time for fly fishing to follow the PGA model and implement some type of higher standard when it comes to the certification and/or accreditation of fly guides.  Not that we want to send everyone back to “school.”

But is it time for fly guides to carry a “card” that legitimizes what they are all about, and in turn, helps the industry as a whole up its game in a cohesive, national context, instead of being focused state by state, or even river by river?  Your comments are welcome…



  1. cbrian moran on

    years ago I was compelled to join the pffga out east ,as I knew many of the guides out that way I thought it was a good idea to have standards for the business, that organization fell apart ,why ,individual conversation with those who were a part will tell one of many points of view. I fish the western part of the island for the most part ,, when fishing is bad and its getting bad , I feel my obligation to let the client know its just a boat ride today and I think you would have better luck fishing with another guide at another location ,,,I’ve seen some shops and guides claim the bite is on fire while I know that’s not true .the phrase I’ve heard from clients that fish with me ,wow what I day yesterday ,to bad about today ,,cant wait for tomorrow,, having a card has nothing to do with my ethics as a guide or businessman and I don’t need approval from yet another agency or regulation,, my reputation speaks for its self,,, sure id love to fill my calendar with sports but the plain truth is a good guide or shop will prosper for being up front on conditions with the fishery..no , I wont die rich or famous, ,but at least I did the right thing and im fine with that.
    thanks for letting me have my two cents ,,

  2. I think there needs to be a standard. I believe every state should set a similar standard as Montana for fly fishing guides. I realize that Montana has a ton of guides and opportunity for guides and guiding so there has to be some regulation. I was a fishing guide for 14 years, 7 in Alaska and 7 in Montana, which are both heavily regulated. I now part of a fly shop in a state where there are no standards whatsoever. There is no insurance required, no first aid/cpr required, no independent contractor exemption certificate required and so on and so forth. I just applied for my “Guide License” in the state next door, I had to send 100 bucks in an envelope and they sent me back a guide license, not a single question asked.
    I recently sat with a 20 ish year old kid start his own “professional” guide service when he has never put a day on the water as a guide. I wonder if he knows the risks he is taking? I may be out on the water guiding my clients right next to this kid. Or, potential customers of our shop could have gone out and had a horrible experience and decide fly fishing is not for them. As a doctor you need a license, as a painter you need a license, as an architect you need a license, and as a contractor you need a license, as a pilot and so on and so on. And you must keep your license up year to year. Guiding fly fishing is VERY professional business and I feel like some sort of accreditation is needed. The big question is how to go about accrediting and or licensing someone to be a guide. In Montana you need to have an Outfitter sign your paperwork before you can guide. If you don’t have the signature, and are caught on the water, you will have your guide license pulled. An outfitter is someone who has been in the industry for many many years and knows the ins and outs of guiding and the biz. Yeah, it just boils down to setting up a standard nationwide that everyone must meet. Possibly an industry guide school set up by some of the long established outfitters? And if you pass you are good to go, if you don’t go back and work on your casting skills, personality skills, endurance skills, humor skills, lunch cooking skills, jet boat driving skills, rowing skills, water reading skills, nymphing skills, dry fly skills, fly tying skills, etc etc etc. It will keep fly fishing professional and reputable. Would you fly with a pilot who didn’t have his license? Would you let a contractor build your house without a license?

  3. Kirk, you know how I feel, it is long over due for consumers to have a tool to recognized who is a profession in our industry and who has the token bumper stickers. Currently the Orvis Endorsed Program is the only game in town.

    When someone is actually ready to tackle this issue please let me know.

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