Tipping a guide...

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jonathan Gardner, Jul 30, 2007.

  1. How much do you tip a guide for a day's services? I'm not asking how much you SHOULD tip, WANT TO tip or WOULD tip you can afford it. How much really comes out of your pocket? Guides: How much do you get - high, low, average?
  2. One of the interesting things about these kinds of threads is that anglers and guides who post indicate tips well above the 15-20% range that is the guidelines for waiters and waitresses when dining out. I've tipped 10-15% and 20% on occasion.

    I used to think tipping guides was silly for the same reason I don't tip my plumber, electrician, etc. These are tradesmen who set their own rates and are making well above the $5.85/hr that a lot of waiters/waitresses receive. I've since been persuaded that, silly or not, tipping guides is pretty standard practice.

  3. depends how many fish we got
  4. That's not really fair. River conditions vary from day to day. A guide might work his ass off to get his client a couple fish when conditions are poor (while overcoming many clients poor fishing skills). Following your logic you would tip very little or nothing.... Not every day is going to result in big numbers.
  5. I tip a guide based on the kind of service I get, not how many fish we catch. The guide cannot control the fish, but I have had guides who clearly worked really hard to put us over fish when the fishing was slow. I have had guides keep fishing for several hours past the time we would have quit because the fishing got really good late in the trip. Those guides earned the tip; they got more than 15% sometimes much more. For an average day I tip 10 -15%. I have not tipped when the service was poor - guide showed up late, did not seem to have his act together, would not shut up talking subjects other than fishing (mostly politics) all day.
  6. Agreed, many conditions go into fooling fish that are well beyond a guides control. 50-100 is the average that i see, with tips over 100 not that uncommon.
  7. there is no "fair" or right or wrong way to tip... simple fact of the matter is if we catch 20 fish i had a better time and i would tip more then if we only caught 1.
  8. If that's what you base it on, you have no business fishing with a guide.
  9. iagree
    Don't you know that fly fishing is simply about catching fish.
    Esibnitsud-Do you keep accurate track of every fish on a guide trip so that you can tip accordingly?
  10. You mean the guide would rather have not booked a trip that day than to have booked a trip with someone who doesn't tip if no fish are caught? I guess guides should be clearer in their advertising and advise people to not book a trip with them if they don't intend to tip or gage the size of their tip according to what they catch.

    That's silly at best and stupid overall. A guide works for the fee he charges. Tips are just that, a generous expression of appreciation from their clients who can afford it and feel like giving it.
  11. Assuming one isn't fundamentally opposed to tipping like Salmo_g (can't change those people) and you are intending to tip your guide, all I'm saying is the amount of the tip should be based on service, not the final tally of fish.
  12. I'm not going to say guides count on tips, but it's pretty much expected that there will be a tip involved. Anyone hiring a guide, IMO, you should add the cost of tipping to the cost of the trip when you book it. I'm not saying that they should automatically be given $50 for a $350 trip, but plan on giving something at the end of the day if the guide did his job.

    You don't go to a resturant and decide when you get the bill that you can't afford to tip. You realized when you ordered your food that tipping is expected.
  13. Wait staff don't set the prices. Independent guides do.
  14. CWUGirl,

    I understand perfectly that tips are customary in the fishing guide business. I haven't said they aren't. What I have said was in my first post in this thread, that I don't understand why tipping guides is customary, since it's a trade comparable to the hypothetical plumber and electrician who all set their own fees based on what they think their time and skill is worth, along with the competitive aspects of their respective markets. Yet plumbers and electricians, as far as I know, work for hourly rates and don't expect nor receive tips. However, fishing guides do receive tips.

    Fishing guides are not waiters or waitresses. At $350 - $400 per day they are not making the $5.85 per hour paid to wait staff who depend on tips for much of their income. I'll duly note that the guide is providing a boat and has other overhead that wait staff don't. If fishing guides want to compare their service to waitressing, I'll be expecting a significant downward adjustment in their rates.

    I don't know much about the expectations part of the guiding business. The guides I've talked about it with all say that tips are not expected. However, they are very much appreciated. So whether it's pretty much expected that there will be a tip involved appears uncertain to me. And because it's a tip and not part of the base fee, whether to tip and the amount of the tip is totally at the discretion of the client. That is why I chided Alpinetrout for his comment to Esibnitsud. He's free and entirely within his perogative to tip for whatever reasons he chooses, be it a very large number of fish landed, or a super shore side lunch, or the congenial graciousness of the guide, whatever. Esibnitsud doesn't have to use Alpine's criteria for tipping. Period. Alpine, you, and I can suggest reasons for tipping and criteria for calculating a tip, but that's the limit of our authority.

    When I go to a restaurant I assume I will leave a tip because it is customary. That's the main reason. And I accept that it is customary because the prevailing wage in the wait staff industry is notoriously low. But I gage the amount I tip on the quality of the service provided, and I follow what I understand to be the accepted standard of 15-20% for good service. Twice I've left a nickel to make it clear that I hadn't forgotten to tip, but tipped according to what I thought the service was worth when it was especially bad, not just poor.


    Salmo g.
  15. A good fishing guide provides a much different service than a plumber or electrician. when was the last time your plumber brought you under your sink and taught you how to fix the problem for next time. or how bout the last time your plumber brought out a part from his tool box that he built on his own time and made your pipes run better?
  16. Well written and thoughtful post... When I first started using fly fishing guides some 20 years ago, I had no idea they expected or received tips, and thought much along the lines that Salmo posted above. Over time I discovered that some people do tip the guides, and some guides expect to be tipped. It seems that in recent times there has been more tipping of guides and more expectation that a tip is due. I agree that it is confusing to the consumer as to what the expectations are, and I guess I should clarify ahead of time with the guide what those tipping expectations are before going on a trip, so no one is surprised and everyone feels good about the deal. I also agree that a tip should not be based on how many fish are caught, or if that is what a tip is based on, then the client should let the guide know ahead of time what is expected so the guide can act accordingly. When I've used a guide and been skunked, I usually still feel it was worth the money because I learned a lot about the river/lake, learned how to better read the water, learned where the fish might hold at different water levels, learned different techniques, and so on. With fly fishing for steelhead, if my expectations were only for catching lots of fish, I'd sure be sorely disappointed on a lot of guided trips! With fly fishing for pink salmon or chums, you'll likely catch a lot of fish, but does that mean you should tip more than for a steelheading trip? Not to me... If it was up to me, we'd eliminate tipping and just have the guides charge what they think their service is worth, and then we can decide whether to use the guide or not. That way it is clear and upfront, like the "No Dicker Sticker" for auto purchases.

  17. Jergens,

    First, are you saying that a not-so-good fishing guide's service isn't much different than a plumber and electrician's?

    I sure hope to heck a fishing guide provides a much different service than the plumber or electrician. But just how is that difference relevant to the topic? The fishing guide is in the recreation/hospitality business, whereas the plumber and electrician are in the home construction/maintenance business. So is tipping more associated with recreation/hospitality? I think I can find some traction there since it's common to tip hotel staff along with the restaurant wait staff. But otherwise your comparison isn't cutting it for me. As an aside, the plumber did show me how to fix the pipe I'd accidentally driven a nail into, and it was a neat little trick. However, you're bringing into the equation the aspect of the guide as a teacher, when most plumbing and electrical services are just done for you, and they aren't expected to teach homeowners how to do it themselves.

    OK, so the guide is an instructor and provides parts from his tool box. Those are good examples, but seriously, what exactly does that have to do with tipping? The reasons I hire the guide in the first place are twofold: first is access; they provide a boat when I don't have one of my own, and that makes the difference in getting to where the fish are. The second is education. If I already knew everything about fishing an area new to me, I'd have only the first reason to hire a guide. So education about this specific fishery is one of my main expectations. I'd presume that's built into the fee, wouldn't you? And if not, why not? If the guide provides flies from his box that he tied on his time, why isn't that built into his fee?

    Partly because of PMs and partly because of posts like yours and partly for the entertainment of this topic, I'm driving it pretty hard. Maybe it's because I'm a jerk, but I'd prefer to to think it's because I'd like people to think harder and develop clearer understanding for their opinions, rather than saying they deserve tips because they work hard or because they have overhead expenses (so do the bad guides) or because a poster is an asshole if he tips based on how many fish he caught with that guide. As I've already indicated, I understand and accept that tipping guides is fairly customary, and in no way am I arguing that it isn't or that they shouldn't be tipped. However, I'm trying to be clear that of all the reasons given for tipping guides, the only ones that stand up to my critical analysis is that the tips are an expression of a client's appreciation and gratitude for a good trip. I can be persuaded that there are other reasons, but you'll need to make an effective case.

    One of the weak arguments is that some guides are not independent businessmen, and they work for outfitting services who set the prices. Just because that is true has no bearing on whether they deserve tips. All those guides will have personal business overhead in the form of boats, transportation, fishing gear and so forth, but some will be congenial guides who make their clients feel like they've had the fishing experience of a lifetime, and it's my guess that they take home more tip income than the guide who is late, has a boat or vehicle that's not entirely reliable, or who spends the day engaged in negative conversation about most anything. Both guides have the same expenses and need the additional income, but only one of them is going to get it. So deserving tips has nothing to do with it, but the quality of their service would seem to have everything to do with it. Just a few more thoughts on the matter.


    Salmo g.
  18. How'd this thread become about plumbers?

    When trying to justify tipping someone you just paid $350, it might help to ask yourself whether the fishing/teaching/lunch was to your standards. It might help more to ask whether this guide would turn down someone who they know doesn't tip. My guess is they would book the trip and guarantee themselves $350. I don't mean any of this to suggest you shouldn't tip, only that it's far from mandatory.

  19. The last time that I treated my Dad to a float, I tipped the guide upfront. I told the guide to take care of my Dad and not worry about me as I gave him $100. At the end of the day, my Dad said he could not have imagined a better day of fishing.
  20. Well, in my mind, you've shown plenty of reason to tip. 1) It's customary. 2) They're an expression of the clients appreciation. Why do you need other reasons?

    My objection was your comment in an early post about it being from clients who can AFFORD to tip. If you can't afford to tip appropriately (I'm not fool enough to get in to what that means..), you shouldn't have booked the trip in the first place.

    You brought up that guides make significantly more than waiters... Well, that might be true for SOME guides, but remember this is not a Monday through Friday job. Often there are weeks or even months that they might go without work. At the end of the day, most are probably not making much more than your average waiter. Yeah, it's a dream job for lots of people, but from what I've seen (I live with one), you won't get rich doing it.

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