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Guide Lines to Becoming a Better Saltwater Fly Fisherman - Vol. 1

I have been a guide for over twenty years in both fresh and saltwater and pretty much run into almost every situation you can possibly think of. In this new series, “Guide Lines,” I’m going to focus on tips to help make you a better saltwater fly fisherman. These series of tips may be second nature to some of you, but I’m sure there are many of you that will simply say to yourselves, I can’t believe I never thought of that!

Guide Introduction:

The initial introduction is where first impressions reign supreme. It’s so important, for both guide and angler alike, to begin the day on the right foot. I’ve always enjoyed meeting new anglers. One of my best attributes was the ability to read my anglers and know exactly how to run my program within minutes of shaking their hands. Guides that share this ability have proven successful in assuring their anglers return for future trips.

Setting Proper Expectations

I believe it’s extremely important to talk about what your expectations are in the days fishing to come. Are you interested in numbers, looking to improve your abilities or just out to have a great day on the water?

I believe it’s equally important for the guide to explain their expectations for the day as well. Setting a reasonable bar for the day and hoping to over deliver is what each guide strives for. It’s important for the angler to understand the conditions they will be presented with and whether or not fishing has been good or not.

Communication is of the utmost importance. You can never over-communicate.

Once the day’s expectations have been laid out, I can promise you the day’s fishing will be more enjoyable for everyone.

Listen to Your Guide, Listen to Your Angler

When I refer to listening to your guide, I’m simply saying that guides spend countless hours on the water honing their skills to become the most knowledgeable guide they can be.

Guides have “local knowledge.” This is what you are paying for. It’s important to listen and understand instruction. I can assure you the guide has your best interest in mind.

At the same time, it’s equally important for the guides to listen to their anglers. I’ve seen anglers that want you to push them and I’ve seen anglers that need a bit more nurturing. I refer to guides as chameleons, each day we need to change our colors to match the anglers we have in our boats. There is no day on the water that is the same. Everyday is a completely new experience for us.


If first impressions proved successful, expectations were set correctly and the guide and angler shared the ability to listen to one another, then you are looking a wonderful day on the water.


Brett Novik

About the author

Brett Novik

Hi. Thanks for visiting Tidehead. I’m Brett Novik. I have over 20 years’ experience guiding fly fishermen (and women) in fresh and saltwater. I founded Tidehead to put that experience to work for you: booking only the very best guides and lodges. I have fished every destination we represent. I’ve seen the guides at work. And I’m confident that they will make the most of your time on the water.

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