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The 'Self' Factor

By Al Campbell


Recently the Ladyfisher wrote an article ("Need a Guide?") about to to select a guide. It was nice, full of insight, and a good way to narrow the field of prospective guides down to a chosen few. But, she forgot to write about the flip side of that story. The one about how the Guide would like to be able to choose his clients.

One factor fishermen often forget is their role in the success equation. Equipment, practice and personality play an emormous role in this game. During the ten years I spent guiding fly fishermen, I managed to meet many fishermen with personalities that had a negative effect on their chances for success.

I've given each personality a name for easy identification. Although any experienced guide will have a few extras to add to my list, I'm sure they will be able to identify the ones listed here because they have shown up in his or her boat too.

I'm curious. Are you one of these people? As you read the list, check yourself out. You might need to work on the 'self factor' before you go on that guided trip you've been planning.

If the guide could detect these personalities in advance, he or she would proabaly develop a severe case of something nearly fatal just prior to the planned trip down the river. Are you one of these people?

Orvis Orville: This is the guy who shows up with a new fly rod he doesn't know how to use. The salesman at his local fly shop said this was the rod for him. He's outfitted to the teeth with tarpon gear, but this is a spring creek trip, and he doesn't know the difference. You will have to spend half the day showing this guy how to cast, thoroughly aggravating the other client in the boat who paid for this trip too.

Light Rod Roy: Like Orvis Orville, this guy doesn't have a clue. He shows up for an Alaskan king salmon trip with a six foot, three weight bamboo rod some bright salesman sold him. And, he gets upset when you suggest that he use your old nine weight fly rod. After all, this is a new rod, and he's just dying to try it out.

Magnum Leader Mack: No sense in letting the big ones get away. This guy can't imagine fishing with a leader lighter than a 2X. It worked fine for bass, so why won't it work with size 20 dries on a spring creek?

Machine Gun Mel: This guy shows up with three thousand flies tucked into every pocket of his vest, shirt and waders. And, he insists on changing flies every cast. His theory is that any fisherman can get a fish if he lobs enough different flies in the direction of that fish. He's not a subscriber to serious casting practice, but he can change flies and cast again in less than two seconds. He won't want to hear about your favorite flies for this water, he's got enough patterns of his own to try.

Sinking Sid: Sid is always one step too deep for his waders. He'll show up in your boat on the coldest day of the year, forcing you to row with the current to the take-out point so you can treat his hypothermia. Pray that the other client in the boat knows something about first aid for drowning victims.

Shooter Sam: This guy uses a dozen false casts to land a fly ten feet from the boat. His line is in the air so much of the time, he misses all of the good runs "getting the fly into position."

Backcast Barney: Barney is Shooter Sam's brother, and he has a dreadful backcast. He will hook everyone in your boat and any other boat that passes within fifty feet of yours before you reach the first good hole. The other client in your boat will be so tired of removing hooks from the back of his head, you'll have to take his net away to prevent the creative insertion he's planning.

Fishes-a-lot Freddie: Freddie knows everything. He's been fishing for thirty years (or was it ninety) and he's sure the tactics that work on his Virginia bluegills will work on Montana trout. Don't try to disagree with him, especially if you're younger than he, because he's got a lot more experience than you. Just ask him if you're not sure.

Leaky Wader Lou: Lou's waders leak, his vest has a hole in the pocket and all of his flies fell into the river, the bill fell off his cap, and the reel seat fell off his fly rod. In fact, nothing he has is in working order. You'll hear about his bad luck every moment you're on the river.

Crabby Craig: Here's a guy who can't find happiness in anything. The food isn't like he's used to; the waders are too hot, the water is too fast, etc. Don't expect his fishing companions to hold fond feelings toward him either. He'll make enemies out of all of them before you leave the boat ramp.

Many Dreams Mike: Mike has visions of huge fish just jumping into the boat. If things don't turn out the way he dreamed they would be he'll turn into a Crabby Craig. And, it'll be your fault if he doesn't have a fifty fish day like he dreamed he would have.

Lacks Equipment Lonny: A good guide always runs a final equipment check before his clients get out of the fly shop parking lot, just in case Lonny is in the group. This fisherman will show up without his fly rod, waders, vest and wallet. He'll always forget something critical to the trip ... usually because he forgot where he put your equipment checklist while he was packing. You'll need to take a trip back into the fly shop to replace all the things he forgot, before you head for the boat ramp. But first, you'll have to wait for him to find the wallet he's sure he left in his car . . . someplace.

Too Much Tom: Just the opposite of Lonny, Tom shows up with four of everything. And he expects you to pack it all in the boat for him. There won't be any room to move in the boat after you pack the gear he just can't live without. Let's hope his vest and wader sizes fit Lonny. He's got enough for four people.

Boat Hater Bob: Bob will have a life vest on both arms and both legs before you get him in the boat. He'll panic at the rapids and shake the boat bad enough to draw about 50 gallons of water before you find a calm stretch and bail it out.

Catskill Charlie: Charlie has fished his native Catskill Mountains for years. And he's a dry fly purist. If he can't catch it on a size 20 coffin fly, it doesn't need to be caught. God help the guide who gets Charlie in his boat during a salmon fly hatch. The whining about the bad fishing is enough to drive a guide to tears.

Calamity Clyde: Everything Clyde touches breaks. You'll go through two fly rods and a boat before you get this walking disaster to the boat ramp. Then his reel will break yours will break too (if you lend it to him.) For gosh sakes, don't let him row the boat. Drift boats are too expensive to replace after he sinks yours in the rapids.

Some people reading this will probably think I've got a bad attitude toward fishing clients. Not really. I've just noticed a few personality traits that make life difficult for anyone who is around people with those traits. Most of the clients I've met were great people to be around. But sometimes you get one of these "special" fishermen in your boat, and things get pretty rough. And, this "special" client usually wants to blame all of his problems on you, the guide. That can make any trip a very long one.

If you, the client, fit one of these profiles, make every effort to correct the problem before you get to the river. Good guides can make a lot of things happen, but they can't perform miracles at least not on a regular basis. Your success, or lack of it, could be the result of your own 'self factor.' ~Al Campbell (January 19th, 1998)

About Al Campbell

Al Campbell has been on all of the sides of fly fishing. He was a guide for ten years, and fly fishes for a variety of fish. He has been a commercial tier and rod builder. He is an excellent photographer, and contributed the Beginning and Intermediate Fly Tying and Graphite Rod Building sections, plus the Fly of the Week series. You will also find him as a Host in the Chat Room. Since 1994 he has worked in the retail side of fly fishing, for Scheels All Sports. In addition to his duties as part of the sales staff in Rapid City, he teaches the rest of the sales staff in the 18 other stores the finer points of fly fishing. He also does most of the product research of new fly fishing items and gets to decide which of the new products on the market to stock. For more of Al's excellent writing, as well as information on fishing the Black Hills, Click Here! ~ DB

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