We run fly fishing lodges, so we talk to lots of people who are trying to decide where to take their next fishing trip.
Some folks seem to do a great job with their research. They may or may not decide to fish with us, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to have a good experience wherever they go, because they’re doing a good job asking all the right questions.
Other folks…not so much. We’re going to shy away from the term ‘clueless’, but some people just don’t get the answers to some pretty important questions before they make a decision, and that could very well lead to a lot of wasted time and money.
That being said, here are 6 things, on our humble opinion, that you should do/discuss/ask/look into before you book a trip to a fishing lodge.
- Pick a great fishery. Assuming you’re thinking of this as a ‘fishing trip’, the absolute most important thing you can do is go where the fishing is really good. On a fishing trip, all the camaraderie/equipment/great food/witty hosts in the world can’t make up for poor fishing.
- Be honest about what’s important to you. Different things are important to different people, and that’s just fine. Be honest and ask the questions to make sure that your priorities are addressed. Do you really value a comfortable bed? Loaner gear? Casting instruction? Great coffee? Dry flies? Internet access? Be honest about what you care about, and ask.
- Learn about the guides. Right after the fishing, the guides are the ‘product’ at a fishing lodge. You’re probably going to spend 8 hours or more in close proximity to your guide each day, so things are really going to go a lot better if you like and respect that person. How long have they been working at the lodge? What do they do the rest of the year? How are guides assigned to anglers?
- Talk to someone who has been there. Maybe you found out about the place from a buddy who had a great trip there. In that case, cross this one off the list. But if you found the lodge through an ad/trade show/Google search, it might be wise to actually talk to someone who’s been there before you commit your hard-earned time and money. It’s like a reference check, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask, and it’s shocking how infrequently it happens (to us, at least). “Sounds great Mike, could you put me in touch with someone who’s fished with you?” See, that wasn’t hard, was it?
- Ask about techniques. We fly anglers are a strange bunch, and some of us are awfully particular about how we fish. Make sure you get into some detail about the techniques used at the lodge, and make sure you’re going to have fun. Do you like fishing streamers but they only fish dry flies? Do you like swinging flies but they fish nymphs under indicators? Do you want to sight cast in shallow water but they fish sinktips in the deep?
- Ask about bad things. We all envision the ‘trip of a lifetime’ but reality is that things can go wrong on fishing trips. Ask about how bad things are handled and make sure you’re comfortable – keeping small problems small can make or break a trip. What if I break my rod? What if the weather’s too bad to fly? What if I get sick? What if it’s really windy? What if the airline loses my bags?
Have you visited a bunch of fishing lodges? How do you think anglers should choose their next destination? Leave us a comment and let us know.