We’ve all been there – you return back to the dock after a long day of fishing, begin settling up, and the question pops into your head, “how much should I tip?”
The general rule of thumb for tipping is between 15% and 25% of the day’s boat rate, but there are some considerations to think about as well. At a bare minimum, you should plan on tipping 10% – 15%. Anything above that should be based on other factors like the guides preparation, attitude, work ethic, instruction skills and other intangibles.
You should absolutely not plan to tip a guide based on how many fish you catch. Generally speaking, guides have no control over your fishing skills, or whether the fish are biting, so it is not a fair judgement to reflect a lack of fish on their tip. There are a few cases where a lack of fish could be reflected on the guide, but that should never be the case if you use a well known, respectable, guide service.
So what does separate a good guide that’s earned a tip above 15% and a bad guide that’s earned the 10% tip? Let’s look at a few considerations below.
On-time and Prepared
Just like you’re supposed to show up to your job on-time and prepared, your fishing guide should show up on-time and prepared as well. This ideally means that your guide has arrived before you, has to boat ready to go, and has a plan for the day.
Taking this one step further, great guides will ask you about your skills and what you want to do for the day. That way they can blend your ability and desires into their plan to make for a great time.
Guiding is as much of a customer service job as it is putting you on the fish. That means that attitude and dealing with customers is paramount. Throughout my years, i’ve fished with more than one guide that was confrontational and had a bad attitude. If you’ve had experiences like this, you know what I’m talking about. If not, let’s hope you never do
More than anything else, a guide with a bad attitude makes fishing a little bit less desirable, and puts pressure on the paying customer.
Like all jobs, having a good work ethic is incredibly important. This is no different with fishing guides. A good guide will be quick to rig lines, handle fish, re-bait, make location decisions, and anything else that needs to be done.
Instruction skills matter a bit more to beginners, but that doesn’t mean that experienced anglers can’t learn as well. Working with a guide that knows what they’re doing can make fishing not only more fun, but you can even improve your skills and take lessons away with you.
Generally speaking, you should never base your tip on the amount of fish you catch. Fishing can be tough, and you could have an excellent guide, but if the fish aren’t biting there’s very little that they can do.
Sure, there may be a few instances where not catching fish could be the guides fault. Like if the guide takes you redfishing with bobbers, or some other far fetched scenario. Cases like this are unlikely though and as long as you’re using a well known, reputable, guide you shouldn’t have any concerns.