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Thread: Tipping a fishing guide?

  1. #1
    Member ysr_racer's Avatar
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    Default Tipping a fishing guide?

    For you guys that have fished with a guide, what do you tip them? I usually give them $20 per person, or 10% which ever is more.

    The reason I ask, is I was on a guided fly fishing trip that cost the two of us $360 total, so we gave the guide a $40 tip (total).

    Later that day we were in a fly shop (they do guiding also) and I asked one of their guides what most people tip on a full day trip ($360) and he said anywhere from $75 to $100.

    There's no way in hell I'm tipping $100 on a $360 bill. What go you guys do?

    Oh, and I never tip the owner of a business, they're already getting 100% of the bill.

    Thoughts?
    brad g.
    So Cal, USA
    Visit my Sporting Clays website
    http://www.ysr-racer.com

  2. #2
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    I've done a few guided fishing trips in similar length and cost to the trip you described. If I'm satisfied with the guides effort, not necissarily the amount of fish caught, I usually tip a total of $80, or $40 per person. I only tip owners if the trip is exceptional, that means great service and lots of fish being caught.

  3. #3

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    I wouldn't recommend you fish with the guide again after a $20 tip.

  4. #4
    Member bnkwnto's Avatar
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    Tips for full days fishing normally average $75 to $150. If I only get tipped $20 I feel like I did something wrong.

  5. #5

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    I used to own a fly shop (we had an associated guide service) and I fish extensively with guides myself. In my experience, the average guide tip is around 15%, with amounts varying widely amongst different clients. In my experiences, I would say that tip amounts from 10-20% amount to the vast majority of guide tips, and claims of receiving an "average" tip of $100 a day are not all that common (except at fancy fly fishing lodges that go for $1000/day). On a $360 trip, 15% would be around $54, so you're only a little below average. Myself personally, I feel a tip is a reward for exceptional service only, and I start at $50 a day (total) and adjust up or down from the $50 (mostly up because I don't fish with a crappy guide). And yes, I have tipped a guide $100 a day on several instances where he worked his butt off and fished me hard for 12+ hours in the day.
    PS: In many instances the guides I hire are independent guides that own their guiding business and they get tipped the same. So being the owner has no bearing on how much I tip and they get the same amount as any other guide.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    I always have to chuckle when I hear the Statement "I never tip the owner, only the deckhand(s)" But standard practice (at least in my day) was that the Capt and the Deckhand split tips 50-50. Over the years, I received a lot of tips (and I truly appreciated every one of them) Some were pretty small, and One in particular that my son and I recall was really out of this world.. but it was based on a business deal that took place on the fishing trip. A lot of it depended on the Client. If it was a family from the Midwest, on a trip of a lifetime, that they had been skimping and saving for a long time to make, and they only tip $20 I didn't have a problem with that. If I had a boat load of high-rollers and they tip small, well I just hoped they wouldn't book another charter with me. But, Better than a tip of any size, you always knew you did a good job when the same group booked a trip or so, with you every year.

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    I was a owner, and sold my charter permit and boat. I ran charter trips for a charter outfit after I sold my charter, and cleared more money every day I ran their boat then owning my own charter! As for the tip, you tip for the service you received! As a guide it doesn't take long to spot a cheap *****
    Quote Originally Posted by ysr_racer View Post
    For you guys that have fished with a guide, what do you tip them? I usually give them $20 per person, or 10% which ever is more.

    The reason I ask, is I was on a guided fly fishing trip that cost the two of us $360 total, so we gave the guide a $40 tip (total).

    Later that day we were in a fly shop (they do guiding also) and I asked one of their guides what most people tip on a full day trip ($360) and he said anywhere from $75 to $100.

    There's no way in hell I'm tipping $100 on a $360 bill. What go you guys do?

    Oh, and I never tip the owner of a business, they're already getting 100% of the bill.

    Thoughts?

  8. #8
    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    The first halibut trip I went out on, 14 years or so ago, the experience was so bad that I wanted money back-forget about a tip! Captain never talked to the clients, only through the deckhands, sat in one dry hole for 6+ hours working on the engine. Wife caught a ling, deckhands chopped it up for bait without asking us. No other fish and when we got back to Whittier the deckhands stood there with their hands out. I should have spit in their hands! Soured me on charters for a long while.
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

  9. #9
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Just Sayen! Sorry I am going to P people off here. Happens. When I guide which has been limited the past three years i.e. been doing more personal fishing however even running 60 days a year I always tell all my clients Tipping is Optional and there is no requirement to do such. They have paid full price for their Charter be it inland or Sea. If it was one of my guides i.e. I own the business I state the same thing however if you feel the guide has exceeded your expectation feel free to do so.

    A Tip is something earned not an automatic hand out. If someone is guiding with the expectation of earning a tip be it large or small they just might be in the wrong business. Same goes with any service related business that may have the expectation of a Tip. Heck I have tipped $20.00 on a $30.00 meal was some of the best service I have ever had and I have been a few places. I have also left nothing on occasion and asked to speak to the Manager of a place on a $100.00 meal for two.

    As stated already I have had three day trips where someone has dropped $800.00 in tips between two people which I always pass to my assistant who does not deal with the clients because I could not do what I did without them handling all the Pain in the &^% stuff behind the seen and I have had 4 day, three night trip that was a great trip and Grayling fishing was great however King / Red fishing stunk (can't change the timing of the runs some years) and did not meet the clients expectations and received nothing which is OK they paid for a 4 day trip.

    Last Note I promise - I can't say enough about this subject and guiding and or being guided. When I consider a tip the easiest way for me to receive one and or provided one is to ask what the clients expectations are for the trip or when I take a guided trip if not asked I state it up front these are my expectations so the guide knows. Of course you have to have real expectations as a client i.e. I want to catch a 30 inch Bow, 5 King Salmon and limit our Reds and catch 100 Grayling today on most rivers on day trips that is not a real expectation when your booking a Pike Charter etc.... or King Charter however there have been days!!!!! Just open a channel of communication with your guide and or client and all things will work out where everyone feels a fair and reasonable balance has been reached.

    No need to get into Salt Fishing and Bug Boats .338-06 said it all!!!

    Regards

    RMM
    Blue Moose Rafting.

  10. #10
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    I have asked this question for over twenty years and I have gotten over twenty years worth of different answers. I have posed this question to guides, mates, and owners. I have found no standards, no consistency, and no right or wrong answers. I have also posed this question to paying clients, both national and international, and have found no standards, no consistency, and no right or wrong answers.

    Professionally, I have been hired by charters and lodge owners to go undercover in the guise of a paying guest in order to review client treatment by guides and mates. In so doing, I tip the good ones and stiff the bad ones before making my final assessments to the owner. Good guys get bonuses, bad guys get fired.

    It's a very difficult call. Money beyond up front payment is private. Some internationals do not even tip because tipping is not a part of their culture.

    I'm not an owner, but if I was, I would include in my advertising a section on tipping and ask my potential client to consult me for advice in order to defray any misgivings well ahead of the experience...

    Rosenberg; Sarasota, FL / Zhengzhou, CN
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


  11. #11
    Member ysr_racer's Avatar
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    I guess if I asked a waitress how much they should be tipped, they'd say 100% too

    This tipping thing is getting out of control in America. That being said,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce M View Post
    I would suggest that if you feel obligated to tip him then it is a percentage of the total bill, maybe 10% or 15%. If you are offering a gratuity to him because you appreciate what he did, how he treated you, that he distiguished himself from other guides, then offer something that is meaningful and deserving.
    All right, you guys wore me down. I think the tipping point (get it, tipping point) for me was the above post on another forum. I sent the kid another $40. So now we tipped him $80 on a $360 trip.

    You know how long I have to work to make $40, 30 minutes. I hope you're all happy now
    brad g.
    So Cal, USA
    Visit my Sporting Clays website
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  12. #12

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    It's pretty simple. Good guides are hard to book and they fill up really dang fast. A good tip will ensure that the top guides, who usually have a waiting list, will let you rebook. Or, you can be a cheapskate and roll the dice on another guide. It's up to you.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    ...a waiting list....
    Several I know keep "never again" lists as well, and they share them with the other good guides they pal around with. Stiff one of the good guides, and you just might find all the good guides "booked up" next time you come to town.

    I can't blame them. There are only so many slots in a short season, and it's just good business to fill them with tippers rather than stiffers.

  14. #14
    Member Milo's Avatar
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    Guides that are insulted by a small tip always have the option to stand on their principles and give it back. You can only be insulted if you allow yourself to be. I've seen captains get a dollar and still put it in their pocket.

    Clients also keep never-again lists. Only difference is they share that list with everyone they meet.
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

  15. #15
    Member ysr_racer's Avatar
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    Anyone that's insulted by $20, feel free to send it to me.

    I'll relieve your pain
    brad g.
    So Cal, USA
    Visit my Sporting Clays website
    http://www.ysr-racer.com

  16. #16

    Default Here's the simple part

    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    It's pretty simple. Good guides are hard to book and they fill up really dang fast. A good tip will ensure that the top guides, who usually have a waiting list, will let you rebook. Or, you can be a cheapskate and roll the dice on another guide. It's up to you.
    No, here's the simple part:

    Guides are easy to book and stacked up unhired like cordwood all over Alaska, and OP's location (CA). The only waiting lists are guides waiting for clients. The last "top guide" I went with brought a box of troutbeads and peg-its like that was some big secret (aren't we supposed to be fly fishing, duh, hint-hint?). You'll find internet-lurking guides boast and brag about catching ridiculous numbers of fish, always without corroboration by a client, but with some "last-minute" cancellation deal next week.

    What most people who have taken guides realize, is there's no relation of fishing success to having a guide. Other than providing basic technique and flies to someone who is a complete novice, or to someone who needs a driftboat and someone to manage it, you don't need a guide. The only people who will tell you different are guides.

    I'll start tipping guides for good service, when they start tipping their customers for bad service. If guides think they deserve more, then charge more.

  17. #17

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    If you don't need a guide, then you don't need a guide. Lots of guys enjoy the success they experience by using a guide, as they can't have the experience by themselves. Whatever floats your boat.

  18. #18
    Member DannerAK's Avatar
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    I disagree stevesch. Good guides are booked with returning customers or those whom have received a recommendation. The secret doesn't lay in the fly or bead that is put on your rod for you by the guide, it is the knowledge of where to put that fly or bead, when to mend, or not. It is a hard working guide who wants their clients to be successful and consistently puts their clients on fish. This type of guide is hard to find and book. This is the type of guide who has made it their profession. There certainly can be a relation between fishing success and having a (good) guide. I'll tell you different and I have never been a fishing guide. Sounds to me like you've never fished with a good guide or have had bad experience(s).

    Oh, and always tip your guide. Give them what you can for their effort or lack there of. If they made your day, return the favor with a 20% or more tip.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

  19. #19
    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    There is a big difference in guides. I have only used one once but it was a good experience.
    I didn't pay for it though so I don't remember what the tip was but I do remember we gave them one.
    I know with saltwater fishing most of the clients don't have access to a boat and thats one reason why they hire the guide.
    There are a lot of second rate guides out there. We hear about them every year on this forum from those who thought they were getting a hot deal only to find they got what they paid for.
    I would tip a guide but it would be based on what the trip cost,how the trip went,was I satisfied with the whole experience etc.
    I know a lot of people save for years to visit Alaska and do so on a budget. I wouldn't expect them to tip 30% if they could not afford it though they should budget in some money for tips.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

  20. #20
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    I had a client one year who did a week floating and fishing the Togiak with me. He was a former Operator, and is now a missionary pilot in the Bahamas, two years prior to the trip he'd been in a serious diving mishap where he saved a kid from another boat, and as a result suffered a serious case of deepwater bends that left him in a wheelchair for almost a year. He'd always wanted to come to AK, and as he convalesced his wife scrimped and saved and booked him with me as a 40th Birthday present. By the time the trip arrived he was out of the chair, but still had difficulty getting around.

    Long story short, he was an amazing individual, with a keen mind, and we spent almost every evening sitting by the fire long after everyone else had turned in discussing History. It was a great trip, and 2 folks caught once in a lifetime Rainbows. Neither of them was Tim.

    At the end of the trip, Tim approached me and tried to give me his backpack as a tip. I had admired it on day one as we unloaded the Goose at the lake and he said it had been a Get Well Soon Gift from his former Team Members. I refused his offer, and Tim stated that as a missionary his income wasn't much but he had absolutely loved every moment of the trip, and as such he wanted me to have the pack. I thanked him sincerely but still politely refused the pack.

    Tim and the guests flew out in the first load, and I followed hours later when the Goose returned for me and the gear. As we landed in Dillingham I saw Tim and the other guests boarding the PenAir flight back to Anchorage. We waved as I taxied to the hangar.

    After we got the gear unloaded and sorted out, I walked into the office to settle up with the folks in there. Lo and behold, there on the counter was Tims pack, along with a note, the details of which I don't share with anyone.

    The pack is sitting here next to me, and it goes on ALL my trips, be it a float, a hunt or vacation. It is without a doubt the best tip I have ever received.

    As a guide, it ain't about "Hey here's twenty bucks" it is about connecting with a client to the point that you think of them as a friend, and one that you would do anything for to see that they have the best experience possible.

    If your guide doesn't feel that way, they are in the wrong business.

    And if you feel the need to be a cheapskate over a hard job done to the best of ones abilities in an often times harsh and unpredictable environment...Then you are in the wrong state of mind.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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