One of the privileges my life has afforded me is the opportunity to be a fishing guide and instructor. I’ve been doing it for the better part of 20 years. For the most part its been a part-time hustle but its also been an important part of my life every year. Those 20-plus years spent on the water with guests has proven to be one of the best learning experiences when it comes to my own fly-fishing.
When you stand beside someone coaching them on how to fish successfully you invariably draw on lessons you have learned from a variety of places. You use that experience over and over whether it is casting technique, knot tying, fly selection or reading the water. As you do it time and again, you learn what works and what doesn’t.
The bottom line, guiding has changed my perspective on fishing. As an angler I have one perspective, and that can lead to tunnel vision. That’s not always bad, you need to stay focused on the fishing. As a guide I get a bigger picture. I can assess the obstacles to success and suggest adjustments according. I’m much freer to think about the next fly change, the next piece of water, the weather or what have you. As an angler, guiding has helped me to break the tunnel vision mode and look around figuratively and mentally.
I not suggesting everyone has to be a guide to learn the secrets of fly-fishing, far from it. As I tell my guests or friends, time on the water is a great teacher; the river teaches and the fish grade.
What I am suggesting is that time spent with a good guide whether that be a professional guide or a more accomplished anger can help you enjoy your time fishing more and likely will increase your skill.
I came across an article in Hatch Magazine, 5 ways my fly fishing changed after I became a guide, that captures a lot of those lessons and rings true based on my experience as a guide. As the author Jacob Friesen points out, a lot of “fishing” is vicarious. Besides continually validating my fly-fishing experience and increasing my knowledge, this vicarious fishing is a marvelous psychic reward.
Friesen’s article is well worth a read, it will give you some great insights. Hope you enjoy it.