Guides are an eclectic mix of fishing enthusiasts. The world of fly fishing can be very small, and those who choose it as a profession have a common thread that connects them all. They clearly have a deep love and passion for the art of fly fishing. It is similar to someone selecting to be an educator in our school systems. However a fishing guide has a freedom that we don’t allow to our teachers. This freedom allows guides to find the way to teach that best suits there greatest strengths.
Guide can focus on the technical side of things, the physics behind the sport, or the biological dna that is instrumental in why a fish selects your fly to eat. They can focus on the surrounding fauna, describing local cultures and bring the history of the watershed into light. Or they can choose the militant philosophy known at the fish nazi technique. Whip in hand yelling at each mistake and breathing fear down the neck of the student. Each technique is not without its pleasures, but the freedom to create there own style is what attracts so many to this job.
At guide school they will tell you The only absolutely necessary precursor to becoming a fly fishing guide is an in-depth knowledge and love of the sport of fly fishing. This is completely false. You need an extremely high level of people skills. Anyone who has ever taken someone fly fishing for money will suffer from Post Traumatic Guide-Related Stress Flashbacks. You need an ability to let it go. Luckily for guides its easy because they spend so much time meditating. It is a fact that all guides meditate.
Eastern religions use a mantra to enter a higher spiritual state. Buddhists chant “Ohm.” In Jewish meditation, they chant Yud-Hey-Vav-Hay. Like mantra meditation, the casting of a fly rod allows the angler to let go of the everyday and access the spiritual side of him or herself. Even wading in the river is a form of mediation. Have you ever noticed while fishing that 4 hours have passed without you even realizing. Its the meditative trance you were in.
The best fishing guides have endured many things in there lives. They have found a way to do what they love even if just for a short time of the year. They are true artists in every sense of the word. Like any artist they have to dedicate there lives to what they love. Just like a great chef who has travelled the word learning techniques and sampling fine cuisines, or a wood carver who dedicates all his time to perfection. Being a successful fishing guide requires the same mindset that an accomplished artist achieves. Many people who have utilized a fishing guide have not realized the correlation between these unique activities. Fly Fishing guides dedicate their lives to the environment, our natural resources, and the preservation of the species that supports their lifestyle.
The greatest lesson I ever learned on the river is also a lesson in life. When you are fly fishing you should never focus on the fish you are after, you should focus on the surroundings they lie in. This is the common thread that all fly fishing guides have. If everyone could accomplish the same situational awareness in general life as their fly fishing guide has, the world would be a better place to live.