During my recent trip to Montana for my first Fly Fishing Experience I had the opportunity to spend 2 days with a guide. Now I went into this with a level of apprehension for a couple of reason. First was my lack of experience. I had just learned the basics of fly casting the day prior and knew I wasnt very good. This lead to the 2nd reason, not wanting to look like a fool. Now leading up to this, we were meant to go out with a guide that my Brother in Law had used prior and was told that he was excellent at taking people that didnt know a thing and getting them up to speed. Unfortunately the day prior to the guide trip, the guide had a family emergency and was unable to take us, and set us up with one of his sub contractors. So morning of, we meet the guy and he is down to earth, and seems like a good guy.
We ride out to the river we are going to float for the day and watch as another guide sets out with his group of guys and let me tell you, my concern about my lack of skills was quickly squashed watching these guys cast. Now I know im not very good, but I was worlds better than these guys. For those that have never been on a guided river float in Montana, let me tell you, it is not what you expect. First off there wasnt a motor on the boat, the boat is 100% row powered. 2nd we were not in a small little stream, we were in a massive river (by Delaware standards), the Clark Fork River. The idea with the guide is that a) he knows the river and where to find the fish and is able to give you the appropriate flies to use for the day, and conditions. This is amazing because it make it possible to catch a large number of fish. Where the guides real work comes in is in navigating the river. Besides rowing to get us into position there were many time where he rowed us back up river in order to allow us to pass through a run 2, 3 sometimes 4 time, all simply by rowing! Dude was a beast!
We set out and we were immediately into it. At some points he had us casting individually, ie, my BIL would go for a pass or two, then he would row back up river, and I would go for a pass or two. We caught something in nearly every spot. Towards the end of the day, we came to the most hectic spot for the day, it was right underneath a bridge. The water was moving fast and the fish were biting basically as soon as we put a fly in the water. We must have pulled 10 fish each out of the water at that spot, between pulling the fish in, our guide unhooked and tossed them back in and somehow kept rowing to keep us in the spot. It was intense.
By the end of that first day with the guide my BIL had caught more fish than me, im not sure if that is because he was in the front of the boat and hit most of the spots first or simply better technique. On the 2nd day we went to a different river. This river was much wider and shallow, but it was much of the same. Float, to a hole, cast in catch a fish or two and then move to the next hole.
The whole time he was teaching us what to look for in terms of where the fish like to hide/sit, what kind of flies to use, where to cast and how to maintain our line/float as to not spook the fish. Im not sure I mastered anything, but I definitely came out of the experience a much better fly fisherman than I started.