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How about a guided trip on the Caney Fork or Elk River! Here are a few tips to get the most from the investment.
There’s no doubt about it. Guide trips can be expensive. Here, locally, you can expect to pay just north or south of $400 for a full day float trip for two people. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a guide is getting rich. Once you take out the cost of gas, a good lunch, the shuttle payment, leaders, tippet and flies, the guide walks away with much less than you would expect. For most guides, it isn’t the money that brings us back. It’s the passion for fly fishing, the time meeting new friends, and spending the day on the water that is the true paycheck.
All that aside, $400 is still a hefty sum to shell out for the day, even if you’re splitting it with a friend. You should approach the trip as an investment and mine out every nugget of instruction and knowledge that you can while you have your guide captive.
Most guides know a thing or two about casting and will be happy to give you a few tips. Ask your guide to watch your cast and give some feedback. You may be able to get some added distance, tighten your loop, or find ways to work out the dreaded tailing loop.
If you spend most of your time nymph fishing and haven’t tried any other technique, this is the perfect time to ask to try something new. I’ve been with clients that have never tried fishing a dropper, swinging a wet fly, or stripping a streamer. Guides will be happy to rig up your line and demonstrate their favorite techniques, explaining when and how they should be used.
One of the fun things about being a guide is collecting gear. My sister used to ask me, “How many rods do you really need?” My standard answer, “One more than I already have!” We feel perfectly justified in buying several rods and reels because we need them to share with our clients. Your guided trip is the perfect time to experience the difference between casting a 3 wt vs. a 6 wt rod or a fast action vs. a slow action rod. Have you ever wondered about fishing sinking lines? This is the time to try it. Ask your guide to bring along an extra rod for you to use and make comparisons.
If I go to a new river, I always hire a guide. I could spend my vacation trying to find spots on my own or, make the investment, hire a guide, and then go back later to the same spots. Even locally, a guide can take you to spots on the river that you may not know about, even if you have fished on the river for years. I recently had a very successful day of fishing with two friends, and I took them to one of my favorite runs. They had double digit hook ups and were very excited! Both of them told me they had never fished that run and had always floated past this particular spot. They had no idea that the section held so many fish. Similar to this example, being with a guide, you’ll learn about cut banks, riffles, a sunken log, or a special run that always seems to hold fish. Make a mental note of these spots, and try them next time you are on your own. Catching fish helps to build confidence. If you know the fish are there, you often will fish more intently and with more patience.
Be sure to ask your guide about their favorite “go to” flies. Remember these, or better yet, take a picture of the flies so you won’t forget them. We all have our favorites and, most times, we don’t mind sharing what they are when asked. It may not simply be the pattern of the fly but how it’s weighted, the color of the bead, the size, or flash that makes all the difference in how effective the fly can be.
Other fishing waters
Ask your guide where they like to fish. We all have our home waters, but there are times when generation schedules, crowds, or muddy water makes us travel to other rivers. Middle Tennessee has an abundance of cold water and warm water fisheries. Your guide can share some of their favorites with you. You may be surprised to find you have some great water less than an hour’s drive from where you live.
Have you ever wondered how to tell the difference between a rainbow, brown, or brook trout? Are you curious about spawning cycles or how temperature effects the way fish feed? Ask your guide. Many of us love to study up on anything fishy and can’t wait to share our knowledge.
Guides want more than anything to put clients on fish, but on those days when the fishing is slow, it’s a great time to look at the day as a teaching session. Soak up as much as you can while you are with your guide. Then you can put this education to use when you are out on your own. Remember, you are paying for the lessons this day can provide so get the most out of your investment.
Southern Brookies Rates: $325 Full Day Wade Trips & $375 Full Day Float