View Full Version : Etiquette question

01-06-2009, 04:14 PM
Sorry if this is the wrong place to post but...

What percentage should one tip a guide? I am just not sure what the custom is. I know it is probably different if the guide works for someone else rather than being a guide on their own but I am curious.


01-06-2009, 06:03 PM
The average tip a client should give their guide is about %15. If you thought the trip was excellent and the guide was great %20. If you were not pleased w/ the trip and/or the guide %10 or less.

01-06-2009, 06:09 PM
The average tip a client should give their guide is about %15 percent. If you thought the trip was excellent and the guide was great %20. If you were not pleased w/ the trip and/or the guide %10 or less.

That is pretty much the rule of thumb I go by as well.


01-10-2009, 11:29 PM
I disagree a little. Guides are not paid like waitresses. And they probably enjoy their job a whole lot more. And I promise you, any guide that gets tipped at all is grateful for it. It also depends where in the country you are. The real employers of guides (flyshops and lodges mostly) set their rates depending upon how much tipping is done in that area of the country.

I'll give you an example. Wife and I went on a llama packing/fishing expedition in the Hilgard basin in Montana. I found out, in the middle of the trip, and after my wife had already told our in-laws and friends that a 5% tip seemed about right, that 10% was much more appropriate. We made up the difference out of our pockets for everyone else, in secret to avoid embarrassment. On a $5k trip, that was not a fun surprise.

But on another trip on the Deliverance river (the Chattooga on the SC-GA border) we found out that the guides usually got nothing. They were as shocked as a person can be that we would tip at all. We gave them the same 10% anyway, because they were good.

Personally, I do this. I tip between 5 and 15%. If the guide did exactly what I expected him to do, he gets 10%. If not, 5 or 15. And although I've never had to do it, I'm sure that somewhere out there, there is a person deserving of 0 or 20.

It used to be that in the services industry across the whole country, 10% was a good tip. Nowadays, that seems to have gone all the way to 20%. What's next, 30%? Tipping at the doctor's office? (that would actually make a lot of sense.) I mean, why do we have this system that doesn't pay a person for doing their job. I guess that's great for most employers to dump that expense somewhere else. I say hold the line, tip the traditional 10% for a job done right.

01-11-2009, 12:48 PM
If a guide puts you onto a 22" brown, you'll happily give a 20% tip.

David Knapp
01-11-2009, 05:48 PM
Guides are just like anybody else in that they have good days and bad days on the job. Yes, would be nice to spend lots of time out on the water but they have to deal with people who often have unrealistic expectations. I would tip 15% or so personally as a minimum unless they really do a horrible job. If I went on a guide trip and felt like they did a terrific job, I wouldn't hesitate to tip 20-30% if I felt like they earned it. In fact, the only guide trip I've been on I tipped around 30% and this was as a student in high school where money was precious. Did I have to do that? Of course not...I only caught 2 fish in the half day trip but I got everything out of the trip that I had wanted and then some. If I had the money I would have tipped a lot more. Guides are NOT getting rich with their job and are often working hard to make ends meet. If you are thankful for what they have done for you, tip accordingly...

Also, it doesn't hurt to check on approximately what they are making from the trip. Some outfitters pay horribly and the guides may only get $50-$75 for an all day float with lots of rowing...if that's the case but they do a great job, they deserve a lot more...

01-11-2009, 06:13 PM
I'd tip Timmy Doyle 20% just for the stories.

01-17-2009, 11:41 PM
I think tipping a guide on how well the fish were biting, or how many you caught, is a ridiculous idea. There are days when the fishing is just tuff, and on a bad day you find out how good your guide really is, not neccessarily at finding fish, but at getting you to have a good time. If you enjoyed the trip and your guide was friendly, informative, and willing to sacrafice every fly in his box to the surrounding shrubbery, tip him well.

I never expect tips, no disappointment this way, but they sure are appreciated.

01-18-2009, 03:11 AM
Just two cents here...But this is a broad question. How about experience level of a client. Let's start there. Guiding is a funny business! I think tipping should start there. There are a tremendous amount of people out there that seem to think that short cast's in a yard will make do during a days outing with a guide. Well just not true!

What did the guide do for you! What did you take from your trip. A big fish is memorable but what is the sole purpose of hiring a guide. Learning how to run a river in a boat, proper presentation, casting, what flies work, where to find fish, learning the stream bed, etc. etc.

When it comes to tipping, sure catching a big fish is nice, but what did you take from the trip? If you learned alot about the sport in general, the body of water, the fly selection etc. then tip well! (I'll leave it up to other's to say how much)

However, if you sat in the boat all day while your guide cussed and mumbled at your poor cast, or missing a hook set while watching the other boats/fisherman land fish, then by all means don't tip! Funny thing is, that most guides won't share all thier info to thier clients. Don't be afraid to ask questions and find out what it is that you wanted to know!

So back to my first paragraph. If your intent is to get in the boat and float down stream making your wrist hurt and leaving your guide with tangled messes, get yourself some casting instruction before heading out. This will make things alot easier on you and your guide.

I say this because I've had several people in my boat that had never held a fly rod in their hands. It's hard to teach a person how to cast a double nymph rig in 8 hours with minimal tangles. Let alone four. Well I had the glory of teaching it in four! And sir if your on this board you can attest to this!

A cold morning we set off on a four hour guided trip on the Clinch (of all rivers). This particular gentleman had never casted a fly rod and eagerly wanted to learn. One of the first words out of his mouth was he wanted to catch some fish! So, two hours later I finally put the first fly on his line. That's right, I made him cast in the boat for two hours until he could manage nice loop control. Once he had the distance down I put on his flies and we went the other two hours catching fish, having a good time, and learning about the river system. Luckily this guy knew that it was a mistake only booking a four hour float trip on the Clinch! He was extremely happy with the knowledge he had gained on casting and the river system. The fish he managed to catch that day were icing on the old cake!

So finally keep in mind what your skill level is and what you set out to accomplish with your given guide. If the guide did what you expected of him tip him for that accomplishment.

And sorry for not answering your original question on the percentage. you know your budget and how big your wallet stretches, apply the rest and you and your guide will be golden!


01-18-2009, 05:25 PM
I've only used the services of a guide twice. Both times, I tipped them somewhere between 15 and 20%.

I based these decisions not on how many fish we caught but how much I felt the guides were working and teaching my son and I. In both cases, we were much more interested in learning how to catch fish in the areas than in catching a lot of fish. On the trip to the river, I explained to the guides that my son and I had some experience fly fishing but we were not experts and we had limited experience in the waters of the area. We were interested in learning from the guide and would be asking a lot of questions. If he asked us to cast to a given spot or he tied on a different fly, we would be asking why.

Both of the guides seemed to appreciate our honesty of our experience level and the fact that we were interested in learning more than catching.

Both of these men spent a lot of time with my son and showed incredible patience with a 12 (and 13) year old boy as well as all of our "why" questions.

I think like any service industry, the more open the client is to learning and the more honest the client is, the better able the guide will be able to offer his/her service.

I tiped both of these guys to the best of my budget.

Had they been impatient, cockey, ignored our requests to teach or just old fashioned lazy, I would not have tipped them. Since they did just what we had asked and both of these guys worked really hard, I thought it only appropriate to tip them to the best my finances would allow.


01-18-2009, 07:31 PM
I posted the question because I have only used a guide once. I tipped him about 20%. My expectations are not too high (at least in my estimation) I expect the guide to know where some likely locations are and make the occasional suggestions about how modify what I am doing given the location. Like some others have indicated for me the guide's attitude made the differnce in my tipping level.

I may have the chance to go out to Colorado and get some fishing in and wanted to know what others thought was the norm. I do appraciate the info provided and the variety of viewpoints especially the views posted by guides.

01-18-2009, 08:23 PM
when i was doing hiking/photography safari's, i was generally tipped about $20 a person....unless a person was under 16 or so....i didn't set that, it was up to the customer....but what's it worth to get good pictures of bears and other critters? plus to learn about the park, it's history, and see some things you would never see on your own?
but i never guide fishermen......

The Principal
01-19-2009, 01:29 PM
Tim Doyle deserves 20% just for making the Trout jump out of
the water and grab the fly. I actually witnessed this on Little River,
My Cousin will back up my story.

The Principal
01-19-2009, 01:35 PM
I tipped a guide 20% last fall on the Manistee in Michigan and we didn't
catch a fish. He worked his "Butt" off trying to get us on fish however.
He went over and beyond what he had to.

01-19-2009, 04:42 PM
I typically try and do 20% unless the trip really blows. Those guides really work for their money. Now I will say if it is a owner/guide I do not do that due to they are already getting their pay from the booking. I would just give them a smaller tip if any.

01-20-2009, 08:56 AM
I find this thread very intersting. I have thought at length, and for some time about trying to start a small guding outfit. i have kinda balked at the idea because I have had my days where i didn't think I could guarantee people fish. I love taking some of my friends out, especailly the ones who do not have the experience in the streams around here and putting them on fish. I have just been hesitant about attempting it.

01-20-2009, 12:25 PM
speckleman5 I am a firm believer in leaving what I love as my hobbie and not my job. I would hate to loose what I do for relaxation to what I have to do to pay6 the bills. Then again reading Byrons reports you can not argue with success.

01-20-2009, 02:49 PM
Very much agree with sentiment that guides cannot control the weather, and if you hit a front with high pressure system, ces't la vie. Attitude is what guides me in tipping. Also, failure to recognize what is wrong is a factor. Example: once hit Roaring Fork when water was low and wading possible. I lost two large fish in a row because my drag was not set right, (at all), and the guide never figured it out. I like guides furnishing hand tied specials for the water we are on. 10-15% about right.