A great AZ fishing guide: 8 characteristics

Many anglers can benefit from an educational trip with a professional guide.

So what makes for a “Great Guide”? There are many in Arizona, and they can make you a better angler with one trip on the water.

Do your research, ask around, and check out these eight characteristics of a Great Guide:

Great guides are safe guides

You can’t enjoy yourself if you don’t feel safe. A Great Guide will keep track of weather patterns and not take you out on the water during a bad monsoon.

Last year an angler told me about a guide who took them on a trip where he felt uncomfortable with the waves and weather. The more time a guide has spent on the lakes and rivers in Arizona, the safer the customer will be.

Pro Staff guides have the necessary experience for keeping you safe.

A great AZ fishing guide considers conditions — and the well-being of the client — before risking heading out into the water.

Attention, hut: conditions, fish, angler

Concentration is the hallmark of a Great Guide. He’ll be sitting on the edge of his seat, focused on every aspect of the fishing conditions in front of him. He will not be kicked back with his feet propped up like he is on vacation.

A Great Guide watches your rod tip. How it moves tells him what is happening to your bait or lure. How fish react, or don’t react, to lures and baits tells him even more.

A Great Guide treats his clients like royalty. He rigs their tackle, baits their hooks, nets their fish, takes the fish off the hook, and maneuvers the boat into optimum position over each fishing hole. The reason a Great Guide does all of these things for his clients is because he can do it faster and better. This results in more quality fishing time for the client in a day’s time.

Pro Staff guides also frequently cast for the client because they get the bait in the optimum zone for any condition.

Get an attentive guide.

A water-wise guide

There are many levels of fishing experience. The test of a Great Guide is whether or not he can fish any time of year in any weather and water condition. A Great Guide can typically catch fish in low water, high water, or muddy water.

A guide will explore and map out many spots on a lake and expose the client to various locations/options on a trip. A guide should never start up the motor, move 100-200 yards, and fish from the marina all day. I’ve seen guides who turn their motor over for 1 minute, then turn it off — just so they could move to a different marina and tie off to a public dock and fish. Meanwhile, the client is fishing next to unpaid anglers on the dock and never seeing the lake at all.

If anglers wanted that experience they can do it for free and park the truck at the marina … and save money.

Barry Worman, moderator of Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page, with a largemouth bass from Lake Pleasant.

Spare the “celly”

Great Guides always give their undivided attention to the clients in their boats at all times. This means not talking on cell phones unless it is absolutely necessary. A Great Guide saves his business and personal calls for when your fishing trip has ended.

There are times Pro Staff guides might call each other for hot fishing tips.

A Great Guide is focused on the elements — not the voice in the phone.

A positive, fun atmosphere

Fishing is fun and the atmosphere on the boat should always be positive — no matter how many fish you’re catching.

Fishing is fun — it should stay that way on a guided trip.

Fish in the net: a strategy

You can’t say you caught it until it’s in the net. A Great Guide is a good coach — not a drill sergeant. He’ll talk you through the moves you need to make when you’ve hooked a big one.

He’ll coach you through rod position, tell you when to let the fish run, when to fight it with line pressure, and how to steer the fish away from obstacles.

By paying close attention, and by using the boat motor and current to his advantage, a Great Guide can increase or lighten your line pressure. Once the fish is close enough to net, a Great Guide knows how to dip the net into the water without spooking the fish or knocking it off your line. They make it look easy.

Boat positioning

Getting you on the right spot means you’ll get the best possible fishing action.

A Great Guide can do this all day. When drifting in high water, the challenge is getting bait down to the fish. As you drift across the river bed, the depth of the water changes from shallow to deep, and back to shallow. A Great Guide knows the lakes and rivers well. And so can follow constant changes in water levels.

Lake Pleasant, for example, by the end of summer, will be 100 feet lower as compared to mid-spring. That has a huge impact on the fish and a guide will understand the pumping and releasing of water in these waterways.

Boat positioning is one of the most underrated aspects of successful fishing. Find a guide who is experienced at maneuvering a boat.

Your fishing money’s worth

Just like anything else in this world, you get what you pay for (in most cases). Do your homework. What’s the guide’s reputation? Will the guide clean the fish after a catch and give you fresh dinner in a bag? Are there any amenities on the boat that you require?

Do the math, shop and compare – all that common sense smart-shopping.

The main goal of Arizona Striper Fishing is to educate and provide the knowledge to empower anglers to have success on their own.

So get out there and turn your money into fishing memories — the smart way.

Tight Lines!

Barry Worman is the moderator of the Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page.

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