Monday, January 25, 2016

Fly Fishing Rangeley Maine: How to pick your Guide and Instructor

Do you want to be a great angler?  If so, you better find a great instructor.  Why?  In the academic world, studies prove the single most important factor determining the quality of the education a student receives is the quality of your instructor.  In other words, in the angling world, just because you have a badge on your hat or shirt, does not mean he/she is a great instructor.  Truth be told, there are a lot of great guides who claim they are great instructors, but they are not.  Equally, there are a lot of great instructors who claim they are great guides, but they are not.  So, what makes a great instructor? Like great educational teachers, great angling instructors share these qualities:

  • Set high expectations and tirelessly work to ensure that all students succeed. 
  • Clearly communicate and demonstrate desired outcomes. 
  • Prepared and Organized: instruction is organized, clear and easy to follow.
  • Engage Students: students are involved in their learning process by doing (not being lectured to, and drowning in facts).
  • Energy: great instructors have positive, caring, and thoughtful traits.
  • Masters of their subject matter: they are life-long learners and are willing to share.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills: creative and effective listeners; ability to communicator with people of all ages, gender, skill level and background. 

How to Find a Great Instructor

This can be difficult.  You are swimming in a sea of licensed guides and certified instructors who all claim to offer the best service and instruction.  Some clients choose the $75 per hour rate, over the $40 per hour rate, because they think it must be better.  Others take the advice from a local fly-shop. And last, some choose popular brands like Orvis or LL Bean casting schools.  Again, it can be very challenging, but here is what I would look for:

  • Work with a person who is a  certified casting instructor and a licensed guide.
  • Work with a person who has real world teaching and angling experience. 
  • Work with someone who has published their mission statement, and teaching philosophy. 
  • As much as possible, work only with one-on-one or small group instruction. 
  • Work with someone who can teach kids -- if you can get an eight year old to cast like a champion, you have found a great instructor! 

Content:  Poor Program vs. Great Program

Are you ready for an inside industry secret?  About 99% of the angling instructional content is the same. What matters the most is how your instructor disseminates the content.  Great instructors have great programs because they understand how people learn -- people learn from people and that process must be dynamic, creative, and empowering (not static, manualized, and boring).  Here are few things to think about when choosing fly-casting and fly-fishing lessons (not guiding services):

  • Does you instructor have a teaching philosophy, an educational style, a mission statement, angling values, and most importantly, does he/she live by them?
  • Can you verify your instructor's teaching abilities: credentials, client testimonials, education, professional training, real world experience, etc?
  • Do you prefer manualized, static, fact filled, put you to sleep style educational programs?
  • Do you prefer dynamic, engaging educational programs where you spend the majority of your time doing, not just seeing and listening?
  • Do you learn better in one-on-one and small group instruction?
  • Will you spend the majority of your time indoors or outside?
  • How much time will be spent on land vs. water?
  • If you are in a multi-day class, how much free time will you have to self-explore, yet follow-up with your instructor?
  • Is your instruction crammed into a one or two day event; or, do you have the option to continue a sequential learning process?     

Final Words

Folks, there are some people out there in the world who have a guide or casting instructor badge on their shirt, and charge up to $100 per hour.  I am not saying their rate is good or bad, nor am I saying they are bad guides or instructors.  I am just planting seeds in your head that may help you determine which method of instruction offers you the greatest value. It's your time and money, and you have the right to know what you are paying for -- I hope you pay for a great teacher.    

To learn more about our Rangnely, Maine lessons and guiding programs, please visit: 

Thanks for reading and hope to see you on the river.