Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tips for being the best "dude"

Even the best sports make some mistakes

"Dudes" are the reason that there are a few of us that get to call places like Twin Bridges, Montana home year-round.  Here are few tips from the middle of the boat that will help you be the best guest ever next time you're contributing to the delinquent lifestyle of your favorite Hank Patterson.

Have Fun!  
This seems like a no-brainer, and is number one on the list for a reason.  It is surprising how many guests stress themselves out about the fishing.  It is understandable when you have been looking forward to your week long fishing trip all year that you are probably going to be a little amped up (hopefully!).  A little pressure can help you preform when that big fish eats your fly, but make sure that you’re not hanging on too tight.  It’s a fine line between too much pressure and too relaxed, but just remember, don’t stress yourself out too much.  I tend to error on the side of laid-back.  It’s always best to take it easy on the water, and have fun!  After all, they’re just fish!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Anyone who has spent even a small amount of time around guides has probably heard them laugh at the guest that asks the stupid question (Does this river go in a circle?) and may be gun-shy to ask questions through out the day.  Rather than be intimidated, ask away.  My all time favorite guests ask a lot of questions about how we’re fishing, why we’re doing things, and in general trying to learn through the day.  This is huge, and helps them to become better anglers!  If you do end up asking a really crazy one (at what elevation do deer turn into elk?) you can rest easy knowing that you’re going to live on in guide stories forever!

Bring your own tobacco 
Although a bad habit that I would never recommend, many guides and clients enjoy a good dip or smoke while fishing.  When I chewed, there was nothing worse than having to give away the end of a can to a guest who didn’t bring their own Coppenhagen.  Being on the river tends to turn the non-chewer into a cowboy-dipper, so if that’s you, bring your own can so that your guide doesn’t feel obligated to give you his last dip and run out at the end of the day.  And if you really want bonus points, bring a log or two to dole out to the guides on your Alaska or destination trip where tobacco is harder to come by, then you know you’ll be getting the good flies all week.

Tip Cash  
We all know that tipping is a sensitive issue on a guide trip, and can cause confusion as to how much, when to give it, and who ends up with it.  As my buddy Modobi says, “It’s never expected and always appreciated”.  That being said, it is the norm to tip your guide, and cash is always appreciated it.  For most guides this is the gas, grocery, bar and make-it-through-the-summer fund. That extra percentage doesn’t need to go to Uncle Sam, and can help keep that boat cooler stocked with better beer than keystone light!

Fish hard and don’t apologize (unless you hook me in the face) 
These two rules could easily be separate, but are too closely related to combine.  If you fish hard for me while in the boat, or at least as hard as you want to (or can), it will cover up many other flaws that you may have as an angler.  In reality, I could care less how well you fish.  If you try hard, and try to do what I’m telling you, that’s all I can ask for as a fishing guide.  If I get pissed at you for not doing something and you’re trying, that’s my issue, not yours (and might be time for you to find a new guide).  And when you’re trying your best, don’t apologize if you screw it up.  We all screw up when fishing.  You’re guide will screw up multiple times through out the day.  I don’t want to hear you apologize for little things like a bad cast or missing a fish, this is all part of the game.  I have one apology rule for my boat, you can only apologize if you hook me in the face.  Anything short of that doesn’t matter, we’re fishing!  This is supposed to be fun!


  1. Love it joe! awesome list. I have to ask if the elevation elk question is real? after 4 years of guiding sled and atv tours I'd say your list pretty much nails it... the have fun rule should always be at the top.. I had one client and his wife come from florida to ride sleds and they were so awesome on the tour that I had them hang around and once everyone left I took them for a night ride as friends... also, best question I had.. A chick asked me as we took the atv's into a DOT cinder pit below mt. bachelor how I knew the volcanoe wasn't going to go off..

    take care

  2. Great tips here. I have been a guide for 18 years and a client as well so seeing both sides I got a kick out of this article. I have had the "river circle" question many times and also get the "How long is it going to take you to row back to your truck?"

  3. great list. you hit the nail on the head with number one. if everyone remembers to have a little fun, everything else usually falls into place.

  4. Yeah, some of the comments are hilarious. Agreed @Gavin, fun is the key!


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