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I’m only 16 and a junior in high school but I dream of becoming a fly fishing guide someday and was wondering what steps I should take to become one. I obviously already have my boating license and have been working on my hours for the past 5-6 years for a captains license but I know a lot more goes into it than the legality. I live in Panama City Florida and started fly fishing a few years back but to me my favorite part is not catching the fish but putting others on the fish and seeing their reaction. I was wondering how the whole process starts, how you find clients, and how to create a name in the area Also was wondering if any of y’all could share some insights or tips to the do’s and dont’s of guide fishing, for example if an older guide pulls up on your spot is it ok to keep fishing or should you move. Don’t really want to get on the water and make an ass of myself. Like earlier this summer I heard of a friend of mine got chewed out by guides for skipping the line for tarpon not knowing what it even was.

Thanks in advance for all your help
 

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I will caveat this by saying that I am not a guide, not do I pretend to know anything about being/becoming one.

That said, I have been listening to the Captains Collective podcast, linked below, lately. Its given me a little bit of insight as to what these guys deal with on a day to day basis, how they got into it, and the path they took to become successful. Reoccurring undertones of hard work, being humble, and knowing your place. While this is good info for being a guide, I think the mindset they describe lends well to be used as a general guideline to become successful in life and career.

Anyways, give a few episodes a listen and see what you think. There are definitely a couple legends mixed into the content, along with a few guides from very different walks of life. Some even following a very similar path to you so far.

Enjoy, and hopefully this helps.

Captains Collective Fishing Podcast – The Captains Collective Fishing Podcast is dedicated to gathering wisdom, knowledge, and stories from fishing captains and other industry leaders.
 

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I am not a guide yet and I do not have advice regarding etiquette or how to build a client base. All I know is that the best guides have great people skills. Its more about clients having a good time, than it is catching fish because there will be days that you may not catch any fish. This will turn into repeat clients and "word-of-mouth" reputation. I have heard this said by more than one fishing guide. Of course you need to have the fishing skills and spots.

I hope it works out for you!
 

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Here‘s a link that should help, this was recently discussed on here and loads of good info.

 

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I’m only 16 and a junior in high school but I dream of becoming a fly fishing guide someday and was wondering what steps I should take to become one. I obviously already have my boating license and have been working on my hours for the past 5-6 years for a captains license but I know a lot more goes into it than the legality. I live in Panama City Florida and started fly fishing a few years back but to me my favorite part is not catching the fish but putting others on the fish and seeing their reaction. I was wondering how the whole process starts, how you find clients, and how to create a name in the area Also was wondering if any of y’all could share some insights or tips to the do’s and dont’s of guide fishing, for example if an older guide pulls up on your spot is it ok to keep fishing or should you move. Don’t really want to get on the water and make an ass of myself. Like earlier this summer I heard of a friend of mine got chewed out by guides for skipping the line for tarpon not knowing what it even was.

Thanks in advance for all your help
As Cole mentioned, catching fish is but a very small part about being a guide. You could absolutely be the best angler in your area and also be the world’s worst guide if you don’t have people skills. Remember too that you don’t “get paid to fish” like so many of my friends would say. You get paid to watch people fish! Your Captain’s license is a must, so don’t get caught doing some of the crazy shit that we all did when we were 16 (50 years ago for me)! You’re making a great decision, enjoy the journey!
 

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Time on water
Safety
Observe everything
Strong work ethic
Treat people good
Don’t waste your time on people that will waster your time.
Have the best equipment that you can afford.
Don’t rely on electronics or what you hear
Keep your moth shut about what you see
Catch fish.
Keep your mouth shut about where you are.
if you do it right, they will come.
 

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It seems like you will want to set up where there sufficient demand.

Then you need to get your foot in the door at a shop/outfitter.

Then the easy part, work twice as hard as the competition.
 

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Its a small world now with social media and the internet and even smaller if you are a fly guide so reputation and word travels fast about someone. If I were you I would start talking to local guides, offering to help them tie flies, leaders, clean their boats, etc. Offer to go out with them on their day off and push them around. Once you get older and legal, tell them you are willing to take overflow trips if they have some and be willing to help them out. They will only do that if they have large parties and trust you and know you know what you are doing as it will reflect on them. The only way to get there is spend time on the water. Over time, your name will get out.

Travel along the coast and fish with other folks so people start knowing your name, personality, etc. If you are over towards the Orange Beach,Mobile,Miss Gulf coast area in the future, give me a PM. Happy to swap trips with you.

I'm not a guide and neither is my dad who I share this account with. He and his two friends are casting instructors who teach people to fly fish and provide recommendations all the time for guides. They dont get any money kickbacks or money cuts or anything. They usually refer to guides who are honest (won't take a client out fly fishing if its blowing and terrible weather), friendly, and trade information with them on what they are seeing in the area. For example, if a student asked me today for a guide in Mississippi, I would tell them Richard Schmidt.

If someone is a closed vault and only wants to take and never quid pro quo on info, it doesn't go very far. You don't have to share exact spots and most people won't expect you to but if someone asks how the water clarity is for example and you respond "I dont know, you go and find out yourself" that won't get you very far. This is just my opinion on how to go about getting started from the non-guide side of it and what we hear from people who are looking for guides.
Best of luck! You can find us on instagram at gulfcoastflyfishingschool. Say hey if you are over in this area in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Its a small world now with social media and the internet and even smaller if you are a fly guide so reputation and word travels fast about someone. If I were you I would start talking to local guides, offering to help them tie flies, leaders, clean their boats, etc. Offer to go out with them on their day off and push them around. Once you get older and legal, tell them you are willing to take overflow trips if they have some and be willing to help them out. They will only do that if they have large parties and trust you and know you know what you are doing as it will reflect on them. The only way to get there is spend time on the water. Over time, your name will get out.

Travel along the coast and fish with other folks so people start knowing your name, personality, etc. If you are over towards the Orange Beach,Mobile,Miss Gulf coast area in the future, give me a PM. Happy to swap trips with you.

I'm not a guide and neither is my dad who I share this account with. He and his two friends are casting instructors who teach people to fly fish and provide recommendations all the time for guides. They dont get any money kickbacks or money cuts or anything. They usually refer to guides who are honest (won't take a client out fly fishing if its blowing and terrible weather), friendly, and trade information with them on what they are seeing in the area. For example, if a student asked me today for a guide in Mississippi, I would tell them Richard Schmidt.

If someone is a closed vault and only wants to take and never quid pro quo on info, it doesn't go very far. You don't have to share exact spots and most people won't expect you to but if someone asks how the water clarity is for example and you respond "I dont know, you go and find out yourself" that won't get you very far. This is just my opinion on how to go about getting started from the non-guide side of it and what we hear from people who are looking for guides.
Best of luck! You can find us on instagram at gulfcoastflyfishingschool. Say hey if you are over in this area in the future.
Appreciated the help and I’ll make sure to swing by someday!
 

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Study hard in school, get a college degree first. You'll probably need to have a FT job and a PT guiding job as you get started.
Yes, regardless of your profession, if you can’t manage your finances and understand business it will be a struggle. Hell, it will be anyway but it really will be without these skills.
 

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You need a great mentor - search one out. Everything you are trying to learn others have long forgot - find someone with wisdom that focuses on the right things. But it is a tough gig - long days, early mornings. Work yourself into it one day, but have a good back up if it turns it isn't for you.
 

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Unfortunately you have to spend money to make money and what I mean by that is you will need a poling skiff minimum of 25 to 30 k if you can find one and have financing or cash in hand it's a sellers market right now. Next you need a decent pickup in my opinion once again 25 to 30 k used same thing if you can find one then add your insurance, fuel, boat ramp fees. I am not trying to deter you if that's your dream than definitely go for it. As many have said fishing with a guide is more than about catching fish it's about the experience. The fly thing is smart though as they're okay with one fish for the day or sightfishing shot unlike the livebaiters who are about numbers imo. Either way just put in your time their's nothing like time on the water. And good luck.
 

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Time on the water. Other guides will start to notice you at the dock. Be polite, and humble or else they can make your life a living hell as a guide.

Don’t waste your time tying free flies for them or cleaning their boat for free. That shits not cool and only makes you look foolish and gullible. Earn respect by being on the water before they are or buying them a drink at the bar.
 

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Time on the water. Other guides will start to notice you at the dock. Be polite, and humble or else they can make your life a living hell as a guide.

Don’t waste your time tying free flies for them or cleaning their boat for free. That shits not cool and only makes you look foolish and gullible. Earn respect by being on the water before they are or buying them a drink at the bar.
normally I don’t respond and I am not trying to argue but I have to disagree since you stated what advice I gave would make him look gulliable and foolish. I completely disagree. He’s 16, he can’t by alcohol or a drink for someone.

I know a lot of people that started by coming down to the docks and offering to help to get their foot in the door. Every single guy that did that showed they were willing to help and no captains took advantage of them.

Most guides are not just going to tell you what they are throwing if you ask because you want to be a guide. By offering to help tie, you can learn what they are throwing for what fish and what time of year. By offering to help push them around or clean their boat or gear, you are showing respect and a willingness to do whatever it takes to learn the business. Most people actually respect that and are more willing to help a young guy out. At least that is what I have seen over the last 25 years or so.
 

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Time on the water. Other guides will start to notice you at the dock. Be polite, and humble or else they can make your life a living hell as a guide.

Don’t waste your time tying free flies for them or cleaning their boat for free. That shits not cool and only makes you look foolish and gullible. Earn respect by being on the water before they are or buying them a drink at the bar.
I work with some guides that will think that if you’re on the water before them, you’re a Dick! Just sayin!
 
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