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Fishing Guide Basics - Top 8 List 


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Fishing guides offer a great service. There are guides throughout the world that offer anglers of all levels the opportunity to spend time on the water to catch fish in any local. Some experienced anglers think that fishing guides are only for the novice angler. This thinking may be a big mistake as any lake or region has lures and techniques that are more effective and it can take years to perfect these techniques. We have broken this subject into two lists. One for the more novice angler guide trips and one for the more knowledgeable anglers.

Novice anglers list for Fishing Guides This article is for the novice angler. This does not necessarily mean that you are learning to fish for the first time, it means you are new to a species or technique. Example: You have spent decades fishing for trout with lures and bait. You decide to pick up a fly rod for the first time, you are a novice to that technique. An experienced fly guide can provide you with their years of knowledge to assist you in accelerating your learning curve.

To add a Guide’s view on this subject, I invited Professional Bass Fishing Guide Rusty Brown to comment on these topics. Rusty is a very accomplished tournament competitor with 20 years on the American Bass tournament trail. Rusty is also a U.S. Open Champion! Rusty is a full time guide and travels to lakes throughout the state of California. He has clients from all over the U.S and many international clients. Here is his phone number: (714) 273-0036

So let’s get down to business. You are new to the GREAT sport of Bass Fishing. HIRE A GUIDE!! The money and time you will save will prove to be the best money you ever spent in our sport. This being said, picking the right guide can be tricky.

Here is our top 8 list to assist in making good guide decisions.


1)  Selecting a good guide

• Licensed and bonded. Be sure that any guide you are considering has their information listed.

• Don’t just look for photos of big fish, it’s important to see the success of clients but not the entire game.

Ask questions:

    • A) What style of fishing will we do?
    • B) Ask if the guide will help with a specific technique that you might want to learn. The answer might be that this technique is not a very successful technique at that lake or at that time of year but the guide can five you tips on the technique if they are solid with that technique. This might not be what you are interested in but it is worth mentioning.
    • C) How long will we fish? Each guide has their hours that they guide. If it better to understand that before you get on the water so that there is no misunderstanding about when the trip will end. There is no right or wrong on this subject, just ask so that you are comfortable.
    • D) What should I bring? This applies to everything from tackle to lures, even food and drinks! Don’t assume that the guide is going to have drinks, just ask. Many guides will supply all tackle and even lures. You need this make sure to discuss this subject in detail during your booking phone call so that you make the most of your trip.
    • E) How much does the trip cost and when should pay. Some guides work for a service and the trip is paid in advance. There may be tipping. Most guides work independently and all transactions are made directly with the guide. 


2)  What to expect from your guide

Cheap AirObviously you expect a professional experience. Should they fish? Many guides do fish during the trip. This is a way that they can figure out the bite and make the most out of your trip. You should never feel that you are in competition with the guide. Once the guide figures out the bite, they should definitely offer you the prime water and make recommendations for you to make the best casts/catches.


3)  What NOT to expect from your guide trip

There should be no unprofessional behavior or drama. Like any business, the guiding business has it’s issues. You are not paying to learn about those issues. The hope is that you will enjoy the trip and learn enough that you will become a repeat customer. Another issue is safety. The guide should handle the boat and weather conditions in a responsible manner.


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4)  Have realistic expections

Don’t expect to catch the fish of a lifetime on your first bass guide trip. The sport of bass fishing is a sport where your skills will improve with each trip you take. Landing Trophy fish happens when many factors align. Your guide will work hard to control as many factors as they can but big bass are elusive so you can only do so much to improve your odds.


5)  Pay attention to details

The difference between anglers that finish in the top 10% in tournaments and the other 90% can be very small details in tackle and presentation. There is no doubt that location is critical, but tackle preparation and presentation are the factors that typically make the biggest difference. Many tournaments are won on community hole type conditions. That means that one or two anglers outperform the others while fishing the same spot. Pay close attention to the details your guide shares with you.


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6)  Color of baits

We all know that color is a critical factor in bass fishing. Most guides have refined the colors of their lures to the waters they guide on. Ask lots of questions about the subtle or stark differences in color based on the conditions for that body of water.


7)  Patters, NOT spots

Many anglers think that “if I only knew where that guy fishes, I would win as many tournaments as him”. Locations can be critical but understanding patterns is “everything” if you want to be consistent in competition. While one day of fishing will not teach you about future patterns, you guide might share very important information that they have learned through their years of experience.


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8)  You don't have to impress the guide with your success

Many anglers have competed and have had some level of success in competitions. Be careful to not spend your valuable time with a guide telling them what you caught in the past. You might miss out on learning something new that could lead to many great catches in the future.


I hope this Top 8 list will assist you in selecting a great guide that will provide you with a quality experience on the water. I know that a good guide trip will accelerate your learning curve in our sport. It is also possible that you may have one of the best fishing experiences of your life. I want to thank Rusty Brown for his input. I highly recommend using Rusty if you are fishing in California. His schedule fills quickly so call as soon as you know when you want to go out and see if he is available. (714) 273-0036


Outdoor Lists are a production of American Bass and authored/compiled by Craig Sutherland. American Bass has been the #1 bass fishing organization in the western U.S. since 1983. Craig Sutherland is the President of American Bass and has been the editor of American Bass Magazine and American Bass Fishing News, Co-Host of American Bass TV & Radio and many more activities in bass fishing. Outdoor Lists is a fun and informative collection of interests for everyone that enjoys bass fishing and the outdoors.  If you would like to see a topic featured in Outdoor Lists, please send us an email with your suggestion.  [email protected]


you would like to see a topic featured in Outdoor Lists, please send us an email with your suggestion.  [email protected]