I feel that if a person has problems communicating the very least he can do is to shut up. ~ Tom Lehrer
Authors Note: Most of this advice is for fishing out of a drift boat. If I was a wade fishing guide, I’d probably have other words of advice, but I don’t do that, so it isn’t included here. Also, it’s meant to be taken very lightly. I am by no means a yeller, or do I take bad fishing personally. Calmer than you are dude—Matt
The 2018 season is quickly coming to a close. The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this year, is how key, communication is for a successful day of fly fishing. Having anglers and guide communicating effectively, greatly increases the odds of catching fish, and having an enjoyable day on the water. The above photo is a great example. Front angler has a fish on, said fish is running towards the back of the boat, rear angler still has flies in water. Even though I mentioned to rear angler a number of times to get the flies out of the water, communication broke down, and we resulted in an angler to angler assist. The fish was landed even with the other anglers rig twisted around the front anglers fly line. Not the worst thing that can happen, but can get annoying if it happens repeatedly .
So, to help folks out, here’s a list of common phrases used by guides. Some are tongue in cheek, and some mean exactly what they mean.
OPE!-This might be my thing. When I see the bobber go down, or a fish eat a dry, or a flash at a streamer, I say OPE! It’s just the first thing that comes out of my mouth. Probably not super helpful, because most clients don’t know if I’m opeing them, or opeing their counterpart. If I’ve oped several times, and the bobber is getting pummeled, I’ll start repeating your name over and over again. (I actually do give my clients this speech almost verbatim in the morning)
Hit it-This means to set the hook. The usual reaction is usually ; “Do you mean me?”, or, “You think that was a fish?” The answer is always yes.
Set it-Same as hit it, and usually is followed by same questions
There it is-still, the same as hit it, set it, and OPE. For some reason, “there it is” usually (for me) results in fish being landed. Which makes me think I should use that exclusively.
He ate it-this is dry fly specific. It means that your dry fly was eaten by a fish. I say “he” because that’s what comes out of my mouth. It could be a she or a he, hard to tell from my vantage point. But, just like OPE, it’s the fist thing that is said. The most common remark after a “he ate it”, is, “was that my fly?” Yes, yes it was
Let ’em run-after a fish is hooked, a lot of times they will run from the boat. Let ’em run means, let them run. If you don’t, you will lose the fish that is hooked. Simple concept, difficult execution sometimes
Keep the tip up-when fighting trout with a fly rod, it is necessary to keep the tip up, to keep leverage on the hooked fish. Keeping the tip up means, keep the tip up with your armed raised in the air. Not the rod pointing at the fish. I want that arm raised like the statue of liberty
Seam-A seam is where two speeds of water meet. For example, imagine a rock in a river. Imagine the water that speeds up on both sides of the rock as it passes the rock. That is the seam. Seams will have slack water behind whatever object is creating the seam. Trout like seams. Either in the seam, or on the edge of it. They also like the slack water, but that’s another discussion
Get it right in the seam-this means, get your flies in the seam. Right in it. Not a foot off it, not a foot past it in the slack water. In the seam, where the trout live
Row around-also could be called a daisy chain or a circle jerk. This is when the boat is rowed back up a run so it can be fished again. On productive runs you may spend a lot of time rowing around on it. I had a client make an observation this week while I was rowing around. He asked me if I was doing it because we had a short float and wanted to waste time, or if it was because I thought we would catch another fish there. Fair question on his part. I politely explained to him that rowing two people a hundred yards up river was not my idea of a fun way to waste time. He got it
Get your flies ready-there are at least two occasions where I will say this. Either while doing a row around, or if a really good spot is coming up. What this means is, when we get to said spot, I want the flies ready to go, so you can fire out a cast and catch a fish. It does not mean to get them ready too late and miss the entire run that I just rowed up, or tangle the flies while getting the flies ready. Also, please make sure that you don’t have your flies hooked into one of the laces on your sperry topsiders, or your sock, this is key for having the flies ready
Slack is the enemy-it really is. Whether casting, mending, or setting the hook, slack is, and will always be your enemy. Pick up what ever extra slack you have on the water. The reason you’re tangling around your rod, or apologizing for rocketing in a blur of flies and fly line and then apologizing to every one in the boat for doing it, is a result of trying to cast with too much slack. It’s also the number one cause for flies either hitting people, or hooking people. You will not get a good hook set with too much slack on the water either. You will either miss the fish, or foul hook it
Left side-this means left side of the boat. Always, every time, means the left side of the boat.
Right side-this means the opposite of left, every, single, time
You’re casting too much-If you are nymphing or blind casting dries, the general rule is to leave the flies either in, or on the water for as long as possible. Of course a good drift needs to be managed as well. Some folks like to let flies drift for 10 feet, then pick them up and recast. Casting is fun, but not all that conducive to catching fish. Leaving your nymphs, or your dry fly in the water for longer periods, in my experience, leads to more fish landed. I see it a lot. Clients have a good drift going, we’re getting to a piece of water I expect a fish to eat in, and then bang, up come the flies and the recast. The recast usually gets just as far out of the boat, and nothing has been accomplished. There are few absolutes in trout fishing, one absolute is that trout don’t live out of water. Leave your flies in the water.
Fly fishing is fun, catching fish is fun, getting guided should also be a fun experience. The key to a successful day on either side, be it guide or client, is communication. The best days are where everyone is on the same page. Beginners or experts alike. Fly fishing out of a boat is a team effort, and teams are victorious where communication is effective. Having said that, if you and your guide are not communicating well, i.e. you don’t understand what they are trying to tell you, let them know that. I certainly get a head of myself some days and fail to communicate important details of what my expectations are of the client. Hopefully I can catch where I failed in my communication and correct it. So, the next time you find yourself in a raft, or a drift boat and you hear OPE! Set the damn hook and let ’em run—Matt