Tipping a guide...

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

  1. Topwater,

    Excellent post!

    I'd think tho that it's pretty straight forward figuring out what to charge. There is usually a prevailing rate in most fisheries. If you're higher than that, you'll probably get fewer bookings unless and until you've established a reputation that merits a premium - and even then, you may not get it. One of the brutal facts of life is that some occupations don't pay a good living. If guiding doesn't, then guides have to evaluate if they need to make a different choice.

    I completely agree that anything less than a pleasant day on the water would be a clue to book with someone else the next time.


    I'm not trying to change the practice of tipping guides. I'm trying to understand it. Of all the reasons given in this and similar threads, the only reason that stands up to logical analysis is that tipping guides has become customary, altho no really good reasons have explained why. I've hired guides who bust their ass all day to make a good trip, but I can't say they work any harder than some underpaid waitresses I've known who were on their feet all and worked every bit as hard. See BDD's post as an example of the lack of logic or correlation for tipping when compared to other service occupations. Where is the line? Yes, I've tipped the guides I hired, but only because I'd learned beforehand from these internet fishing bulletin boards that it is customary. If someone doesn't tell ya', how would you know? Same with NOT tipping wait staff in restaurants in Europe. If I hadn't learned in advance, I wouldn't have known.


    Just continuing my contrarian role in this thread, I did the math, and it looks like on average a guide makes about twice the minimum wage, depending on the state I suppose. It takes a worst case condition and long drive to bring it down to minimum wage. Like you say, if money was at the heart of it, you'd do something that pays more.

    I once was a fishing guide for one month, working with an outfitter friend. I did it because I figured one month more or less at my regular occupation wouldn't make any difference in my life - and it hasn't. I thought guiding might be a memory maker and be a fun and interesting experience. It was. I had fun. I worked hard (7 AM to 10 or 10:30 PM daily). I met interesting people. I met a couple assholes I'm pleased to have never seen again. The money wasn't enough to raise a family, which I was doing then. But it didn't matter because I'd built up enough annual leave to just take the time off and still get my regular paycheck. I rationalized the guiding pay as compensation for helping others fish instead of fishing for myself during my vacation. I admire what guides do. I've done it. But I won't be doing it again; I'd rather fish for myself on those days off. And I'm not sure I would work for the prevailing guide rate.

    I'm still looking for the logic for tipping guides, other than it is customary. The fact that it isn't a high paying job doesn't withstand rational analysis, since many jobs are low paying in this country. I don't tip the plumber, electrician, piano teacher, violin teacher, I do tip the cab driver, but not the bus driver (why? Not customary!), don't tip my dentist or dental hygenist, my doctor, or my lawyer.

  2. Interesting discussion. On the few guide trips I have taken I have always tipped and have usually felt good about it because I felt the guide went above and beyond my expectations. Only one time did I feel I got a raw deal because the river was a mess and the guide should have called and asked us to reschedule ... and once we got on the water the guide gave a poor performance. I probably wouldn't have tipped had I been paying but I was with a relative who had purchased the trip for me as a gift. Interestingly I have a buddy who guides for a lodge that posts on its website there will be a 15% gratuity for the guide added to the trip cost. He often gets more but he is guaranteed at least the 15% every day.
  3. My father taught me this years ago. Tip $20 a day per person on the trip. The good trips and bad will all even out.
  4. Dear Salmo g,
    Here's the deal, so now we all know you are some cheapskate ex -school teacher. What is that comment to me,"use logic and show your work" . I own Blue Skies Fishing guide service on the Yakima and Naches Rivers, I have forgotten more about this game than you will ever know. So I say," Show Me The Money" bonehead. You have know idea the personal relationships I have developed with my clients over the last eight years. It is not about the Money it is about simple respect, and in our culture that is expressed with good Bourbon, and dead presidents. But hey I'm just a fishing professional, what do I know.
  5. I'm likely not going to make any friends on this post, but I'm posting it anyway. That is what a fool I am. Randal, I think that Salmo G has engaged this thought process from many angles, most of which should be regarded as views which make sense. You own a guide service, you have for some time. He tried it with a friend for a short stint, realized it was a tough way to etch out a living as he said "raising a family" and he moved on to whatever he was doing before that month vacation. I'm glad you have geat relationships with so many of your clients, it is hard not to forge favorable bonds on good water with people of like interests. It does not take burbon, it does not take dead presidents, and to target Salmo G specifically because you think he is a cheapskate ex-school teacher and a bonehead is simply insulting and unnecessary. I'm a cheapskate ex-sailor, retired after 20 years and 9 days of going whereverinthehell they wanted me to, doing whateverinthehell they needed me to do so you could be more comfortable and open your own business. To critizize someone for being cheap, degrade them because they are or were an educator (in my opinion one of the lowest paying, highest impacting our youth and most under respected professions) I say step back to you. It is you who really showed you are the bonehead, I'm sorry to say it as bluntly as you. I look forward to venturing to the Yakima someday this year or next for a professional guided fishing experience that likely will etch memories for the rest of my life, but it will not be with you or your Blue Skies. Not because I'm cheap and don't tip well enough to meet your standards, not because I'm not that great a fisherman to begin with, no, for me it is just becase if you are so darn professional why do you feel it important to target one person for thier views and think it is okay. It is with great regret that I feel that I have to stoop to the same here in this post. I apologize to those who may be offended should they still be reading this long into my post or this long into a five page topic. Randal, you get my bonehead of the (fill in the time period blank here). Good fishing. Damn, now I need a freaking drink.
  6. As a small business owner I know one thing. It takes a lot longer to build a good reputation than it does to ruin it.

    Good luck!
  7. Must be a troll? Someone who has a bone to pick with Blue Skies? If not, wow. :eek:

    Anyway... I've never used a guide, so I've never tipped a guide. But I would imagine that
    spending the day fishing with a (good) guide could be a great experience. Something quite beyond watching a plumber fix your pipes.

    So, Salmo, the only "logic" I can see for tipping a guide (beyond convention) seems to be that it's an emotional response, a way to express appreciation for the guide and his work in a way that will help make the guides life a little better than he expected, since he just made your day a little better than you expected.

  8. Randal,

    I have never personally criticized anyone nor their opinion on this forum but you have absolutely no class whatsoever. What you claim to know is completely wrong and I would go so far as to say what you write is very foolish.

    Salmo g one of, if not THE , most respected poster on this forum. How dare you come on here with your 4 posts, babbling about things that show you really have no clue?

    Everyone has their respective opinions and you are certainly entitled to yours. However, when you ignorantly post statements that are completely untrue, well sir, I must emphatically disagree and call you on it.

    Good luck with your guiding business. I think you are going to need it.
  9. Do a little research on Blue Skies and Randal Sumner... The guy who posted the above has got to be a troll. The "real" Randal is well spoken, educated, with a Master of Fine Arts, and an accomplished artist to boot.

    Everything I've read about Randal Sumner and his work is completely out of character to the brazen scum that so riled our friend Mumbles. :)

  10. I checked Blue Skies too and agree that the person who honestly pissed me off is probably not the real Randal. Whereinthehell is Bill Dood and his everybody use your name mentality (no offense Chris, I never read your origional post, only the recent version).

    If the real poser-poster would stand up and be heard so be it. If this is an axe grinder you are a poor lame excuse of a person. If it is really someone affiliated with Randal of Blue Skies then I am shocked and remain true to my feelings as posted. Should the real Randal not feel the same as the poser-poster then I'd consider mending the fence I thrashed thinking I was really dealing with Randal the business man himself. What kind of crap are some people pulling here?

    My name is Mumbles and I approve of this message. If you claim to be someone you are not then you are one of the lower life forms on the Earth.
  11. Let's see, $350 divided by 8 hours = $43.75 per hour. You rich guys can go ahead and tip. I'm sure the guide probably working for someone else still get's $20 an hour. I guess I just don't get it. Too bad. Oh well.
  12. If thats the math you use to see how much a guide is making you honestly do not get it Larry.
  13. Pretty interesting topic and responses. I've only used a guide twice when I was much younger and I believe my father tipped the guides around $40 or so. Nowadays, after learning to fly fish, I don't even consider using a guide. It seems like cheating to me. I prefer to research the hell out of new waters before I go there. It has worked out pretty well so far. I've gotten good information from posters to web sites like this one (thanks Chris and Gary). If I used a guide service (and I can well afford it) it would take a lot out of the experience for me. I own many types of float craft and can usually locate a shuttle service through the local fly shops or internet fly fishing sites. Gotta love the internet and information age!

    I thoroughly enjoy all the pre-planning, researching and adventure of fishing new waters. I'm sure others feel the same way.


    BTW, If you use a guide, I believe you should be prepared to tip based on good service performed (15%-20%).
  14. :hmmm:Same breath:hmmm:

    Well, I have sampled the marketplace. I believe in tipping good guides but not the bad ones.
    As most guides are independent they can set their own price. They aren't working for tips like waiters or other professionals so no one should feel obligated to tip all guides. The exception being in situations like bluewater fishing when the deck hands work only for tips. However, in a marketplace where half the guides are just guys that have fished for a few years and have a pretty big egos or just some punk kid that has figured out out to row, it goes a long way to tip those guides that know the waters and work their tail off to get you into fish.
  15. I guess I don’t get it. But I think I will get my guide license and charge $250 with “no tips required” and show them your favorite sea run cutthroat beaches! :D
  16. Sloan,

    I get your point. Although I'm not sure about the "same breath" part. If I was even considering hiring a guide I wouldn't consider just anyone. I'd research him/her extensively before plucking down $350-$400+ for a day of fishing. Rolling the dice on a "kid" or egomaniac with a few years experience would be a nightmare and probably a waste of time and money. Over the years the old adage still rings true: You get what you pay for. Rather than hiring a guide and fishing public waters with everyone else, I've found it best to pay to fish "private" waters. The fishing is always better, not crowded and to boot, costs less than hiring a guide.

    I must have missed it, but has anyone here posted that they have gone with a guide and not tipped them? The few people I fish with that use guides several time per year all told me they generally tip between $25-$50 and don't know of anyone in their fly fishing clubs who don't tip. What says the group?

  17. Deleted
  18. It was a joke, referring to the fact that you mentioned that you don't use guides and believe it takes away from the spirit of the sport, then discuss the proper etiquette of tipping guides.
    Just a joke, only a joke.
    And I've not tipped. But I think if he thought he deserved a tip it was made up in all the the food and drink of mine that he helped himself to.
  19. Ok, I get it now. I'm just a lil' slow (product of public education). Not that I care to book a guide, but if I did I would tip proportionate to the level of service received/perceived. Call me a conformist if you will. When you plop down $350+ for a trip, what's another $40 or so if it makes someone's life a lil' better? I have nothing against guides earning a living. I just get more out of the whole planning/logistical part of the fishing trip. Having a plan/trip come together and actually catching fish is the icing on the cake for me.

    I do agree with you that the guy eating your food and drinking your drink probably did not deserve a tip. Neither would a guide who showed up late then made me pay for his breakfast and the launch fee. I've heard of a guide who behaved in such a manner.

  20. Randal,

    I thought I was finished in this thread, but you motivate me to keep writing. Uh-huh, I'm a cheapskate who tips wait staff, cab drivers, housekeeping some places, and even fishing guides, altho no logical reason has been established for doing so, when comparing that occupation with other service industry occupations and relative pay scales. BTW, I've never taught school, altho I have taught fly casting and maybe some steelhead fishing in a mentorship way. To have forgotten more about the game than I will ever know isn't saying much unfortunately. Trout fishing is a sideline in my fly fishing hobby. Altho I did a brief stint as a guide mainly for the change of pace, it was also to help a friend who was outfitting multi-day steelhead float trips. Altho I wasn't a professional guide of long experience, I was well qualified for the task as I'd done it numerous times on my own and with friends.

    Of course I have no idea about the relationships you have with your clients. I don't need or really care to know. I was focusing on Bill Dodd's post and his relationship with his guide. It read odd to me, too much like the relationship turned on the exchange of money, which is precisely why I went extreme and used the hooker analogy, since those relationships typically exist only on the basis of money being exchanged. I said what I did because Mr. Dodd's description didn't come across that way at all to me. So I took some entertainment liberty, literary license if you will, to point that out. I agree completely that mutual respect is the sound basis for a friendship type relationship. Sharing bourbon can easily be a part of that relationship. However the dead presidents aren't shared; that's a one-way street from client to guide - legal tender for services provided. Nothing wrong with that, but the exchange of money generally denotes a business relationship moreso than a friendship.

    Lastly, as some point out, I sure hope you aren't the Randal who owns Blue Skies guide service because as PT so aptly points out, it's a lot harder to establish a good business reputation than it is to hurt it. That post probably didn't win any new friends for Blue Skies.

    OK, so lastly again, I have no where in this thread advocated not tipping fishing guides. I've even indicated that I have tipped the guides that I hired. I participate in these threads because I'm personally curious how other people think about the subject. Except for noting that tipping is considered customary, not one person has offered up any other rational reason, since guides are not nearly as low paid as wait staff, and many are independent businessmen. But this thread contains a panoply of emotional reasons for tipping guides, and the emotions have run pretty strong at times. Keeping emotions in check can be a good thing. No guide service ought to be harmed by a marginally relevant internet thread.


    Salmo g.

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