Fly fishing

On the fly: sermons before the trip

A guide and a client prepare to bring in another fine trout from Roaring Fork.
Courtesy of Taylor Creek Fly Shop

The first part of any guided fishing day is usually the “guide spiel”. Whether you’re the guide or the guided, that little conversation at the start of the journey sets the tone, sets expectations, and helps create understanding from the start. The sales pitch usually explains everything you need to know for a successful day, summed up in easy-to-digest nuggets. Some clients enroll in the program immediately; others still need to be reminded to set the hook well into the afternoon.

If you’ve listened to 10 different guides give their pre-trip sermon here in the valley (or anywhere in the world), you’ll hear 10 different approaches to how to catch fish. There will be universal truths (positioning the hook, reading the water, what insects hatch now) but also completely different views on the philosophy, methodology and goals of the day.

Many people (and rightly so) find a guide that they click through and feel prepared for years to come. I would say it is important to experiment with more than one approach to how fly fishing is “done”. Personally, I like to borrow this and that from different people, plus a few things that I managed to distill myself, combined into what works for me.

There’s a distinct difference in guide spiels, once you listen to your fair share. As with any career, once you’ve done a task thousands of times, you learn to break it down simply and provide clear, concise instructions on how it’s done. A seasoned guide also learns to read people. Some customers just want to catch a bunch of fish; others are more concerned with refining their distribution or learning more about entomology. Different shots, different people.

Whether you are a guide or an “athlete”, take the time to listen to yourself. It’s a great day on the water, no matter how many fish you catch. Plus, you might make a friend for life.

This report is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or