Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia: Walk-Wade Guiding or Lessons?

How to search this blog for helpful information?  Use the blog search engine and type in key words such as Float Trip, Walk-Wade, Float Tube, Lessons, Pesos, Fy Rods, Flies, Best Months, etc.  The search engine is located on the right side, just below the weather.  FYI, there are over 100 post about fishing Patagonia... the information you are looking for, is probably on this blog. Thanks.

You are in a foreign land and resources such as good doctors and hospitals may be questionable and scarce. You are walking-wading-hiking in water and on land...this is not your local town stream.  From my experience, and if you are a beginner (true beginner, intermediate, advance), you have no idea what it takes to safely and effectively fish Patagonia waters.  Prior to booking a trip with us, be prepared to be questioned about your experience and skill level.  Folks, we guide to make money, but if your not capable of walking-wading, for your safety, it's not worth it...your better off floating, or staying home.

I am not sure if I am blessed or cursed.  Each year, I have more Patagonia clients, both new and repeat. This season, I have had more clients than ever before. That's wonderful, right?  It should be! But, I have had a string of extreme beginner clients who honestly, in my opinion, have no business being here.  For some of my readers, I realize this sounds ungrateful.  To clarify, my thoughts stem from a true desire to offer safe, comfortable and enjoyable fishing programs. Perhaps the best analogy to truly understand my thoughts:

  • Would you let your child start a fire with matches and lighter fluid?
  • Would you let a 7 year old drive your car?
  • If you have a hard time walking a few miles on flat pavement, would you expect to successfully compete a marathon? 

Obviously, the answers to the above questions are, NO-NO-NO.  Honestly, I am wondering what these beginner anglers are really thinking.  What is happening in our culture (USA), that makes people think and feel that they can show up to Patagonia, walk-wade in fast moving waters, and instantly catch fish? Back home, in your town/city, is there something in the water? Are you watching too much reality TV?  What is it?  I truly can not understand how/why people that have never cast a fly rod, and have never waded in a river, are investing thousands of $'s, traveling half way around the world, to begin their fly fishing careers; again, without ANY prior experience!  Do you have any idea how much intense pressure/stress this puts on me and our guides?

Folks, don't get me wrong, I am all about helping people get into the sport of fly fishing.  Back home in the USA, I offer donation only lessons.  But, I never take beginner clients into the water on their first day; not even their second or third days.  My classes are designed to be affordable so a student can take multiple classes, over a period of time.  The goal is to steadily progress at a physical and mental pace that is safe and productive...this is what I call (coined) the E.I. Fly Fishing System. It's a system based on Emotional Intelligence; a process where the mind, body and heart create a union; not an unsafe crash course that risks your physical health and mental well-being.  Take for example, one of my most recent Patagonia clients:

  • 60 year old man who has never fly fished a day in his life.
  • He signed up for a DIY Walk-Wade program, yet has health issues that prevent him from walking reasonable distances.
  • He signed up for 13 straight days of DIY Walk-Wade!
  • He had 7 months to prepare for this trip.  A week before his departure, he asked me what flies to bring.  I kindly referred him to the welcome brochure, which is loaded with info.  He showed up with 6 Elk Hair Caddis flies and a set of Walmart purchased bass flies.
  • Weeks before the trip, in cold November temps, he claims that he took a 2 hour beginner casting class in Columbus, Ohio. He never stepped in the water with boots and waders.
  • He can not walk in the river without a wading staff.  He brought adjustable ski poles, purchased at Walmart, that failed to work.  He never tested them! 

In Patagonia, our programs are based on guiding, not teaching.  With the above client, we are now forced to teach him how to fly-fish in one of the windiest places on earth, filled with crystal clear-fast running water, with slippery rocks and wild spooky trout.  What a HUGE pain in my ass, and a HUGE health/safety risk to everyone involved.

Final Word

If you read my blog and eventually read my welcome brochure, one thing should be crystal clear; I do everything possible to communicate with my clients in an open, honest fashion.  I ask the same from my clients because they are investing a lot of $$$, and they are only spending a short amount of time with me, in Patagonia.  However, there still seems to be a communication barrier because I have had a string of clients who did not tell me they were beginners.  In the end, when the problems start mounting, the mental and physical energy levels of each client takes a thumping, and the guides are blamed.  We try not to take it personally, but we do.  Honestly, we are tired of it.

Once again, before you invest thousands of dollars to fish Patagonia, PLEASE read the following:

Thanks for reading and hope to see you in Patagonia, for GUIDING, not lessons.

All my Best,


PS.  Floating is significantly safer.  Many of our clients are getting old (+60 yrs).  They think they can still walk-wade, but they can't.  Spend a few extra dollars, be safe, catch some fish, and enjoy Patagonia!