Tipping a guide...

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jonathan Gardner, Jul 30, 2007.

  1. "I don't tip because society says I
    gotta. I tip when somebody
    deserves a tip. When somebody
    really puts forth an effort, they
    deserve a little something extra.
    But this tipping automatically,
    that s%*t's for the birds. As far
    as I'm concerned, they're just
    doin their job." - Mr. Pink, Reservoir Dogs

    I couldn't resist...

    In a perfect world the guide should tip ME. He is getting paid to put folks into fish, wade and paddle around in beautiful rivers. How many of you go to work in waders? :)
  2. My brother guides on the Kanetok in AK and he gets tipped around 25%. They company he is affilated with brings in high clientele who tip generously. It works well that way.
  3. Damn good quote!
  4. How good do you cast???:cool:
  5. Guiding with multiple clients is like bird dogging.

    I am responsible for watching out for safety, success, and for paying attnetion to all of the little things and conditions that clients may not be aware of or may not have seen. If you arent tired at the end of the day it is because you werent doing your job well enough.
  6. I have enjoyed the conversation so far and appreciate all the input, esp. CWUGirl and Salmo_g. Very well presented thoughts. If I may get back to the original post, however... how much is actually coming out of your/their pocket? $20? $50? $100?

    When I went on my first (and only) guided trip, I was treated to a great day by a young man who knew what he was doing. We didn't catch a lot, but my wife and I learned a lot and really appreciated his effort. When I asked him about what a customary tip might be, he refused to say anything beyond something like "You don't have to give me a tip, but usually people pay based on how well they were treated". Not an exact quote, but you get the idea. Remember, this was my first experience. His answer was correct and it was diplomatic but it was not HELPFUL. I ended up paying him $40 and have wondered ever since how a person is supposed to know what "customary" is. That is what got me on to this train of thought. Even better than that would be knowing how much people REALLY pay in the real world, not in theory. :confused:
  7. I always tip the guide, but never based on numbers of fish caught. If a guide goes above and beyond what I would consider his or her normal effort, I'll tip even more.
    One of my best trips ever resulted in very few fish being caught, but the guide made the experience a great fishing memory.
  8. Derek,

    25% of what? Of what the client pays the lodge? That’s a very different figure than what the guide is paid. I’m trying to figure this one out as I’ve got a trip this month at a lodge, something I’ve never done before. The lodge has a cook and housekeeping service, so that’s like tipping typical hotel and wait staff. Then there is the fishing guide, one per two anglers. Gets pretty complicated since tipping staff is customary. However, a good part of the fee covers amortization of the lodge and profit for the owners. Is it customary to tip such things as mortgage and profit in addition to the labor of staff people? That flat out doesn’t make sense to me.


    I don't know how much other people tip their guides, so I developed my own rule of thumb, so to speak. As I explained above, I'm confused and befuddled about this notion of tipping fishing guides, but I accept that it is customary. I haven't hired many guided fishing trips, since I learned to fish on my own decades ago when I couldn't possibly afford a guide, and besides, there were no fly fishing guides in the PNW then anyway.

    I usually tip 10-15%, with 20% for a couple outstanding trips. What that pencils out to in cash varies because the cost of trips has varied from a discounted to $250/day up to $425/day for two or three anglers in the latter case. I don't know how much my fishing partners tipped, so I can only report for myself. Is it the right amount? It is for me because I feel comfortable doing it, and none of the guides has looked back at me like they were being short-changed, and each has indicated they would like me to keep them in mind if I need guide service in their area again.

    My point to you is that you should tip your guide if you feel like it, and you should choose an amount that you're comfortable with, and forget what anyone else thinks about it. It's about the business relationship between you and your guide. Everyone who lists a bunch of "oughts and ought nots" is making up stories because no one offers up any published account of social or etiquette rules on tipping fishing guides. All we have to go on is that it appears to be customary, at least in recent years, and that the % varies quite a bit. With that much info to go on, you're in good company whether you tip $40 or $80. Another way to look at it is this: if a guide turns down your request for a future booking, ask him if he'll be up front with you and tell you why. If he chooses not to tell you after you provide the perfect opportunity, then he owns the problem, not you.


    I don’t need other reasons. The reasons I gave are the only valid ones in my opinion. I’m disputing those reasons that appear related to guides somehow “deserving” tips because their pay is too low (why not raise their rates if they’re independent?) or because they have business overhead expenses. Those reasons do not withstand a critical analysis. It’s a fact of life that some jobs pay less than others. No one twists a person’s arm and makes them become a fishing guide. They take that job because it’s what they want to do or because it’s the best occupational fit they can come up with. They know what they’re getting in to regarding compensation.

    Just because someone cannot afford a tip in no way means they shouldn’t book a guided fishing trip unless the guide forewarns the prospective client that he expects a tip. That’s sort of like an unwritten demand. I have no use for such indirect bullpucky; be direct or be quiet about it is how I play the game of life. I refuse to bear other people’s problems for them. If the guide books a trip and his client doesn’t tip him, the lack of a tip is the guide’s problem, not the client’s. If it’s that big of a deal, then the guide doesn’t have to book that client in the future.

    You mention that guiding isn’t a 5-day/week job and that guides go for periods of time without work. That’s true. That is called a part-time job. In no way is that my or other clients’ problem, and we do not owe guides a tip to tide them over during periods when they’re not working for criminy sake. Add that to one of the dumbest reasons for tipping.

    So we’re back to the only valid reasons I listed earlier: tipping’s customary, and it’s an expression of the client’s appreciation and gratitude for a good experience. Therefore whatever % or amount a client chooses to tip is the right amount.

    I’ve engaged in this discussion for my own curiosity and to learn what reasons might substantiate tipping fishing guides. In my estimation the additional reasons you added don’t make the cut, but since tipping is voluntary, you’re welcome to tip for those reasons.

    At least Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs makes the sort of sense that most anyone can understand.


    Salmo g.
  9. G-
    at big lodges you are talking about going to they typically share out whatever tip you give between guides, housestaff, etc... From what i know about the big lodges (having never been to one as a guest or guide) it is typical to tip based on the cost of the trip. i have a buddy who just got back from belize and he and his friend tipped 50 dollars per person per day, obviously what ever you do is up to you.

    As far as the tipping per fish it is frustrating as a guide to hear that because you cant control how many fish people catch, but like you said, its one's own decision.

  10. Tipping is customary for variable service....not because of how little or a lot the service provider makes. You don't tip waitstaff because they are paid min wage, instead you tip because the quality of your experience is dependant upon there effort. Same with guilding, the tipping process encourages a guild to work harder in order to earn higher comp. Without tipping, waiters and fishing guilds are only insentivised to work hard enough to ensure repeat bus (which in many cases would be simply "a good time". Plumbers, and other trades don't get tipped because there is next to no variable service that they can offer. Also, tipping based on the amount of fish caught is a bad idea because that simply insentives the guild to try to boat as many fish as possible without any thought to the overall experience. This is the case on many salmon fishing services where they bait the hook, let the line out and grab the rod from you when the fish is near the boat in order to ensure "high counts" for the end of the day.
  11. Very interesting discussion and valid points made by all. I am a guide and I have paid for guided trips in areas I was not familiar with or did not have my equipment. I would agree that 10-15% is average tip I have received. This is about $20-$50 per person on the trip. On the odd occassion I would receive a much higher tip but this is infrequent and happens about as much as no tip. I do not expect a tip. I give all of my clients the best of my efforts and knowledge in the short time we spend together. I've been tipped on no-fish trips, one fish, and on 30 fish trips. I have also not been tipped on many occassions. At the end of the day, I appreciate every tip I receive. I also appreciate the business so I would never refuse a trip because I knew that the client wasn't going to tip. If that were the case I wouldn't end up taking most people from outside North America where it is not customary to tip.
    Tip what you please, as I do. To make a point about tipping and the overusage of it: I have purposely written on Visa slips "no tip" to let them know I didn't forget the tip I just made sure they knew I felt they did not deserve one. I encourage you to do so. If I were to receive no tip from you I would not think about it for long unless I knew that you actually meant to not to give me one.

    C. Goyette - Squamish
  12. That's the type of attitude that would earn my business and tip. :beer2:
  13. I know this is off-topic slightly but I have to chime in. Not tipping a waiter/waitress is absolutely outlandish. This person either gets paid minimum wage or often times, below minimum wage. In the restaurant industry (in the U.S. at least) tipping is an expected/assumed part of one's wages, which is why restaurants can pay $3-4 per hour in some (many) cases.

    Tipping a guide however, is an entirely different matter altogether.
  14. Interesting. I like Salmo_g's logic. I'm like Johnathan in that I don't use a guide enough to know what's expected.

    I hope I don't hijack this thread but I have a situation coming this fall. I'm booked with a guide for a steelhead trip that I almost accidentally won in a charity auction. All my money so far has gone to "Cast for a Cure", none to the guide who offered the item for auction. I'm inclined to tip him well because of the neat thing he's doing for the cause and because I won the item at such a low price, as long as it's not a disastrous trip, like maybe half-assed effort because the guide figures I'm getting him for free. Maybe 50-80% of his usual fee. At 50%, it's like the guide and I are splitting the donation down the middle. What guidance can you folks give?
  15. Paul, I like the notion of 50% in that case, so that you're both contributing half the fee to the charitable cause. Each of you could feel good about contributing to the cause. If the guide sandbags that day because he sees it as a free trip for you, then I'd rethink my charity toward the guide.

  16. Greenstork,

    It's not outlandish to not tip a waiter/waitress. It's outlandish that restaurants can pay less than minimum wage, if that's what they're doing. Tipping may be expected and assumed, but since it is voluntary and since customers often calculate their tip according to the price of the meal and the quality of the service, it's outlandish to expect and assume based on something so tenuous. See my other comment about being direct or being quiet. It's outlandish to expect me to bear someone else's problem. It's not that I'm a mean or uncharitable person; I do tip and do so according to the standards as I understand them. But I do draw distinctions between responsibilities and voluntary behavior. The surest way to not get a tip from me is to demand one. The next surest, crappy service, and I leave a nickel to leave a message.

  17. TIPS= "To insure propt service."

    Good thread here, but, save for 'cow girl' and her $100 up front, most have long lost sight of what a 'tip' was all about. It was not to say 'thank you' for doing your basic job, but to get you to do your 'job' "promptly."

    "However, I'm trying to be clear that of all the reasons given for tipping guides, the only ones that stand up to my critical analysis is that the tips are an expression of a client's appreciation and gratitude for a good trip. I can be persuaded that there are other reasons, but you'll need to make an effective case."

    Equipment, knowledge, etc., aside, I see little reason to tip a guide who has already been reasonably paid for his services. Present thinking is a 'tip' is required for someone doing their basic job function, be that take your order for a meal (and delivering same) or a day on the river. Perhaps this is why, in many places in the world, tipping (as such) is not only frowned upon, but actively discouraged. One restaurant owner (Italy) I talked to (all-be-it several years ago) said (to the effect) 'I already pay my staff a good wage .....':ray1:

    In these situations, if you left a tip -which I usually did - it was hidden under the coffee cup.

    Personal feeling is I have a basic understanding what I'm paying for when I sit down, be that at a table or in a drift boat. It's what goes on beyond that point that I even begin to think about an 'extra.' :hmmm:
  18. This thread is a very good read! I am a guide and I have always woundered what people thought of tipping and this thread has enlightened me greatly. Now I do not expect to get a tip but when I do now matter how much or little it is I feel greatfull for it. I give it my all ever trip and put in a full day 10 to 12 hours if not more every trip and try my best to make sure everyone has a good time regardless if they are going to tip or not, because to me its not about money its about the people who are on the boat and letting them experience what I get to every day!!! I would never turn down a trip because I know the person is not going to tip that is just bad business, besides the boss wouldnt go for it either ;)
  19. iagree

    I assume 'the boss' is "Mrs. Dances?"

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