Choosing Your Next Fly Fishing Guide

So you have planned your next vacation. Maybe it’s the traditional week long adventure or maybe it’s of the “extended weekend” variety that seems to be becoming more and more popular with today’s career minded workaholics. Once you start researching the local activities that are available at your destination, you decide to consider really taking in the scenery away from the towns, interstates and highways and do a little fishing.

My family and I have found that over our years of traveling, you truly can, take in a much deeper experience with the environment in which you have traveled to, by boating/floating the water ways or wade fishing the local rivers, streams, or ocean flats.

Hazel Creek Head Waters

Nolichucky River

Years and years ago, before the highways and railroads that people now travel were around, many people traveled by water. They either floated/paddled the rivers or walked along beside them. Ever noticed that almost all roads today follow alongside streams and rivers? Once foot paths along the streams became wagon roads, then eventually turned to roads for vehicles.

It’s the magic as well as the necessity of these water ways that seem to attract all things. People began to travel by them, eventually building their homes by them. Wildlife come to them for water, people use them for recreation and for water as well. Things just seem to come to life around the water. It is for this reason that we have found that to truly experience what an area has to offer, example beautiful scenery, wildlife, etc…………..get into the water!

Now that you have established where you are going and what you need to do in order to get the fullest experience possible once you arrive, you need to select a guide to show you what the area really has to offer. No one will know the area you are staying like a local guide! Most of the time these guides grew up in the area or have lived there for many years and spend several days of their lives on these waters.

So the question is; how do we choose the right guide to maximize our experience? Let me just preface that getting this one correct, can make or break your experience. I have personally been out with some great guides that made our outing with them the highlight of the entire trip and really enhanced our experience and we have also been with a few where the opposite was true. So how do we decide?

I think the very first question that we need to answer in order to definitively decide on how or who we choose as the person in charge for a full day of our lives, is what exactly is our expectations for defining a day great?

If we are going fishing, then I would expect a great day to be one in which we catch fish! Hopefully a lot of fish. A great day would also be one where we ate like kings rather than munching on convenience store snacks. It would be one where all involved where kept safe and out of harm’s way and where my family and I are able to see things that many never get the opportunity to see from the highway.

The things that are very much in control for a guide is the food experience, lunch/snacks/drinks etc. and the safety precautions needed to keep everyone safe and healthy. For the most part, where the clients are taken can be controlled as far as what scenery can be viewed, which location gives the best representation for the area and the best opportunity to catch fish.

Riverside Dining

 I remember a client telling me that once he took a trip to the mountains of North Georgia and his guide for the day took them fishing on a stream that was located behind a bunch of old abandoned buildings in town that flowed back and forth under a couple of interstate highway bridges. He said that they did catch fish, but it was not a very pleasant experience and it took them a while to get their hearing back. The worst part of that experience, was that just a few miles out of town is some of the most beautiful mountain streams and some of the greatest fishing that I’ve personally experienced. I had no idea what their guide was thinking taking them to where he did or even if he was from the area.

For the most part of course, we can find out by word of mouth and website reviews from the personal experiences of others. But one of the things on a day’s fishing trip, that most of the time cannot be controlled, is the fishing itself. In the stock market world, there is an old saying that says “don’t confuse brains for a simple bull market”. In the fishing world it works kind of the same way in the fact that when the fish are really on the feed, anyone can look like a great fishing guide. But what happens when the conditions are tough?

Here is where I want to talk about fishing guide credentialing. You mean there are certified credentials for fishing guides you may ask? My answer to this question is YES! This certified fishing guide, get your clients to catch fish no matter what their skill level, under any and all conditions certification comes in the way of competition Gold Medals and Cups.

In any sport, competition drives innovation. Competitors focus on the details, they weigh the costs/benefits of certain techniques or flies given the environment, and utilize the most efficient gear and discard the inefficient. The ones that are successful, can do this with amazing speed and consistency on any water and in any conditions. Simply put………..they are the ultimate fishing guide when it comes to putting fish in their clients nets and they have the credentials in the form of competition victories, to prove it.

Helen Classic Champions

Battle of Gatlinburg One Fly Champion

There is a distinct difference in just catching fish and catching high numbers of fish. There are moods that I will get in, where I want to go out on the water for a couple of hours and just catch fish using the technique that I am in the mood to use such as streamer fishing, or on dry flies, or on tiny naturals just simply depending on the mood that I am in. Will I catch fish? Yes, I usually do. But did I maximize my catch numbers using that particular method? Most likely not. The particular method being used, has to be the one that the fish are preferring at that given moment in time. The competitive angler knows this more than anyone as he is forced to catch more fish with in a given time frame and has to maximize his catch numbers.

A lot of times my son and I will go fishing and purposefully go where there are a lot of anglers in the water. Once we get them dialed in and start landing high numbers of fish, it doesn’t take long for the other anglers that are around us to come around to see what we are doing. The only difference is that we are utilizing the most efficient methods/techniques that the fish are preferring at the moment when others are using some other.

A fishing guide can take you out and put you on fish. A fishing guide that is also a competitor will take you out and teach you not only how to fish, but how to maximize your catch numbers. Isn’t that what it is all about? You have a few hours after work, or you have a Saturday afternoon and you want to catch as many fish as you can within your given time frame. This is the exact scenario that the competitive angler is put in………. in every single competition.


Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you make a friend for life! At Eat Sleep Fly Fish, we want to teach you the secrets of the competitive fly angler and how to catch high numbers of fish. We will also feed you like you have never eaten before with professionally prepared food and unmatched scenery. If you are looking to learn how to fly fish or looking for an experience of a lifetime on the rivers and streams of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, we would love to take care of you. For more information please visit us at

Dr. David Moulton Big Fish


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