Thinking about making a career change and working as a fly fishing guide? There are a few ways to break into the business. It's not always easy but once you get that first gig, you can grow and advance your career.
Have Realistic Expectations
It's easy to imagine fly fishing guide jobs in all their glory but there's a ton of work that really goes into the job. First off, you will not be fishing. You are guiding and you will only touch a rod to untangle and demonstrate technique. Your time is spent observing, coaching, entertaining, tying knots, untangling and navigating rivers on foot or by boat. Then there's the gear maintenance, driving, cleaning and doing labor. If you're working a lodge, plan on unloading cargo from planes, doing basic carpentry and mechanical tasks and doing everything from digging outhouse holes to building trails. If you're willing to work hard, there are some really great jobs out there.
Start by making some connections in the industry. Invite outfitters on floats during the slow season and prove that you have the fishing and boating skill set. Connections and friendships often turn into jobs or referrals. It's a small industry and a good referral can get you started. In many cases, you will start working a fly shop and progress into a guide position. Fly shop jobs are an excellent means of entering the business.
Attending a guide school is a great learning experience. Many schools guarantee work or have job placement. They aren't cheap but it's a great way to break right into a job. Here are a few options to explore:
You can contact shops and lodges directly. They receive a fair amount of junk mail so find a way to stand out in the mix. otherwise, search the job boards online and signup for job alerts to know when someone is looking to hire a guide.