A Perfect Drift

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"Graham is one of only a handful of independent fly fishing guides in Ontario who we recommend at our store. "

Jim Wilson, Wilsons Fly Shop


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September Salmon and Trout Guide Trips

Guide trips for Salmon

Ontario fly fishing Guides

Ontario fly fishing guides 

Why hire a guide ...


Learn more, learn faster and then catch more....


I think there's lots of different reasons anglers hire guides and I’ve been lucky enough to talk to thousands of guys about their reasons for hiring guides. Here are some of the common reasons guys hire guides.

  • For some guys they believe that hiring a guide is the best way to ensure they'll catch lots of fish. They envision tons of fish by the days end and the guide will make it so easy to achieve this that it's almost like catching fish in a barrel. In reality, unless you're fishing some remote fly-in wilderness river that no one ever fishes, its probably not going to be that good. On some days it can be that great but not likely because you're dealing with fish, a wild animal with a mind of its own and sometimes they just don't want to eat. Regardless of how good your guide is, sometimes the fish seam to take the day off! So don't let this be you primary reason for hiring a guide.

  • Becoming a better angler and learning from someone more experienced is probably the number one reason I hear from guys that hire guides, and in my opinion it's probably the best reason to hire a guide. It was always my primary reasons when I started hiring guides and I search long and hard for the absolute best guide in the area and its always paid off for me.

  •   Anglers that already know how to catch a fish but still want to learn more sometimes look to hiring someone who is more experienced, someone who is an accomplished angler and someone that can potentially increase their skill levels. Guys that hire a guide for this reason are the guys that understand that a good guide is almost like a personal coach that will teach you new things or let you know when you're doing something wrong and how to do it right or better.

  •   If you think about it, even the best professional athletes in almost all sports benefit from a good coach or trainer so why wouldn't an angler? A great guide is a coach.

      I often tell guys when I first get on the river with them that the guide in me will put them in front of the fish, make the decisions for the best methods and best baits based on the conditions, but the coach in me will show them how to fish correctly and will make adjustments and recommendations to their technique to increase the potential for the most hook ups. The coach in me will tend to look at all aspects of their game, from the way they hold the rod, to their cast, to how they present the bait to the fish, to how they set the hook, and hopefully to even how they fight a fish, and then make recommendations if required.

  • Absolute beginners also hire guides to take lessons or learn the basics from a guide to get them started down the right path, and this is a great reason to hire a guide. I've had guys buy their first fly rod or first centerpin set up and call me up and tell me before they even attempt to learn on their own they want a professional to teach them. To be honest I think this is the best way to get a head start, cut the learning curve down, limit the useless stuff you don't need, and start catching more fish.

    A friend of mine is a pro golf instructor and he once told me that sometimes the hardest guys to teach are guys that have been out doing it wrong for many years before they finally decide to take some lessons. They have so many engrained errors in there swing from years and years of learning on their own it's often harder to teach them the correct way then it is to teach someone who has never swung a golf club before and who has no faults yet. So learning from professional or someone who's qualified can be the best way to start.

  • Business men, and tourists or people in town visiting relatives also make up a portion of a guides business. These are guys that don't know the area's fishery at all and they don't really have the time to learn it, so hiring a guide who can put them in the best spots with the best baits right away is very beneficial. And if they take home a new tip or trick that's a bonus. In fact a lot of times how we fish here in Ontario may be totally different from where they live and these different techniques may help them catch more fish on their own waters.

  • A new adventure or to see and do something different is another reason why guys hire guides. In fact some guys have told me they don't even care if they catch a fish or not and that they just wanted to experience a boat trip through the wilderness or a hike along a beautiful river and if they catch a fish that's just a bonus. Some of my clients don't normally fish or the only fishing they've ever done was a worm and bobber off the end of a dock when they were a kid so just being on the water is a great adventure and a new experience for them

  • I've had guys hire me and say "just put me in front of the fish and I'll do it on my own" they just want a guide to show them where the fish are. It's also common to have guys say "I want you take my son or wife or buddy" what ever the case may be that day - "and teach them how to fish so they can eventually become my fishing partner". They say things like "he'll listen to you, but he wont listen to me, so see what you can do" or I'll hear them say "I don't have the patience to teach them and just want to fish when I get on the water so if you can teach them that would be great". Teaching and coaching is part of guiding so this works just fine for most guides and is just another reason for hiring a guide..

  • I get anglers every year that hire me for multiple days yet these guys are good local anglers that know the water and the fish so well that they probably don’t really need a guide at all. But they have their reasons to. It could be just that they want someone to hang with on the river or to get them into spots they cant get to on their own because they don’t have a boat or don’t have access to the private property that their guide has access to. Maybe it’s a safety thing, kind of a buddy system and they don’t have a regular partner so they hire a guide to make sure they get off the river safe and dry at the end of the day. What ever their reason, these guys want a guide with them and if that makes them happy I'm all for it.

If it's just one of these reasons or a combination of these reasons there are benefits to hiring a guide for almost everyone.

What ever your reason might be to hire a guide I strongly recommend hiring a guide that’s suitable and able to provide for your specific needs.

Think about your reasons for hiring a guide before you speak with a potential guide by email or by phone tell them what your reasons are and what you hope to get out of your guided trip.

Hiring the right guide


I've always said, just because someone is a great angler, doesn't mean he'' be a great guide.

  • Make sure your guide has lots of guide experience. Just because a guy has been fishing for 30 years doesn't make him a good guide. Guiding is a whole other skill-set and you don't need to hire a weekend warrior from one of the shops when there's a bunch of very experienced and skilled Ontario guides available.

  •  If the guide isn't friendly or doesn't seam flexible enough to accommodate your needs find another guide.

  • If the guide fishes with you then he's not guiding, he's fishing, and believe it or not, some of the shops guides do this. Ask your guide if he fishes when he guides. If he says yes, find another guide. You want your guide standing beside you the whole time, guiding you to those fish. You're not paying your guide to fish, you're paying him to guide.

  • Check for references on your guide, if he's good, people with be happy to tell him so and guides with no references or testimonials probable aren't very good.

  • Look your guide up for reviews. On the internet you can sometimes find testimonials, articles or get feedback and advice from other anglers on local fishing forums.

  • If you go through a local shop for a guide, request their head guide. You don't want to be stuck with a guy they dragged in off the street just so they could fill your guide spot and get you on the water. Unfortunately this happens, and like I say, a good angler, doesn't always make a good guide.

And remember, it's not always about catching fish. It's about having fun, learning, seeing new things, and catching fish is just an added bonus!

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Graham Bristow

Head Guide

Graham Bristow is the head guide and owner of A Perfect Drift Guide Company. Graham started fly fishing for trout on the upper Head Guide Graham with a huge Brown TroutCredit River at the age of 13. Now 30 years later Graham runs 2 of the top professional guide services which he built through many referrals and many happy repeat customers. Graham knows that being number 1 takes a lot of work and he's not afraid to work hard for his customers.

   Graham also owned the Anglers Pro Shop in Orangeville Ontario until the guiding got so busy that he decided it was time to sell the store, focus on just guiding and continue to provide the great service he's known for..

   Along with his 30 plus years of experience on the rivers Graham has fished and trained with great anglers like Bill Spicer and Colin McKeown from the New Fly Fisher show, Nick Pujic from the Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine and Fly Nation TV, Mark Melnyk from the TV show "Guided", Aaron Shirley from "Getting Hooked" and "Canadian Sport Fishing Show" and with George Daniel who was the head coach for the USA youth and adult National USA fly fishing teams and medal winner of many national and international fly fishing tournaments. Graham has fished and trained with many more great anglers as well and shares this knowledge and his 30 years experience with his customers, his other guides and his friends.   

   Graham is known as a patient, easy going, skilled instructor and guide. Graham has also appeared on numerous fishing TV shows, and has been seen in many magazines and books over the last 10 years. Graham has also been a guest speaker at fishing clubs and events around Ontario and the USA.

   Join Graham for a day on the water and see for yourself why Graham is one of the top guides and instructors in the industry.

Graham with a Lake Ontario Steelhead Graham, Bill Spicer and Mark Melnyk with a steelhead Graham with a 23.5" brown trout

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Mike Metcalfe

Fly Fishing Specialist

Mike Metcalfe is a certified FFF casting instructor and our fly casting and fly fishing specialist. Mike is an all around nice guy and great fly Guide Mike M with nice steelheadangler and is a pleasure to be on the water with. Mike has spent time fishing with and training with many great anglers including Bill Spicer, Mark Melnyk and Graham Bristow to name a few. Mike has been teaching fly fishing for years and the lucky anglers he's taught are much more skilled and catch far more fish then ever before. Give Mike a try if you want to be the next lucky angler. 

Mike also has access to some private water sections during the spring and fall steelhead and salmon runs.

Mike is a great fit to our pro team and without a doubt provides the educational, fun and great guide experience we and you expect from A Perfect Drift Guide Company..

Mike and Bill Spicer with a nice steelhead Mike and Mark Melnyk Mike guiding for Salmon

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mike Van den Hoek

Boat trips and centerpin expert

Mike V is our centerpin specialist and is total steelhead fanatic.  Mike has spent many hours on the water with Graham and other Mike V with a big Steelheadskilled anglers perfecting his centerpin skills. Most days Mike is that one guy that catches the most fish, and the biggest ones.

During the summer season Mike spends time on the lakes fishing walleye and bass and hanging out with his kids.

 Mike offers walk and wade trips during the salmon and steelhead seasons and also offers boat trips to five of the rivers we guide on. Mike's easy going personality and patience and his ability to teach others makes him a great fit for our pro team.

Mike's big steelhead Mike with salmon Mike with a spring steelhead

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Joe Ward

Steelhead and centerpin expert

Joe Ward is the newest member of our team and is well know for his great work with the Credit River Anglers Association where he Joe with a nice steelheadmaintains a position as the Hatchery Manager.

Joe's experience fishing with so many great anglers through his years as part of CRAA has made him one of the best centerpin anglers I've ever met. Joe is an easy going, fun and patient guy that loves to help other anglers catch fish..

Joe specializes in walk and wade centerpin guiding for steelhead, migratory brown trout and salmon of the Credit River, Bighead River and Nottawasaga River..

With Joe's skills and his ability to teach centerpin fishing Joe is another great fit to the A Perfect Drift Pro Team.       

joe with a steelhead Joe with a migratory brown trout Joes silver bullet

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    Gift Certificates for a Perfect Drift Guide Company

Gift Certificates are now available for Lessons and Guided Trips

   Click Here for Details


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Contact Graham at 416-937-4911 or ontarioguide@gmail.com

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      Most Popular Adventures

Kevin and Sheldon on the pontoon boat

 Pontoon Boat Trips

Get into secluded water
with more fish, great
scenery and no crowds.      
Our 3 man pontoon
boat can take you there.

Price: starting at

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Kyle with big brown trout

Walk and Wade Trout

We provide educational
guided trips and lessons
in some of the best
Brown and Brook trout
 water around.

Price: starting at

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Mike with a chrome steelhead

Wild Steelhead Trips

These fish are arguably
the best fighting fish in
Ontario and plentiful
enough that we're
getting up to 30 a
day from Mid October
 to Mid May.

Price: starting at

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  Check out our Photo Gallery and Testimonials pages  
  Tony with a fresh run steelhead   Steelhead fishing   A really big Brown Trout from the Credit river
            Tony with 1 of over 12 Landed                  Martin with 1 of 30 Landed                Huge Resident Brown Trout
Drift Outfitters Toronto 

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Company info Things of interest Gift Certificates for trips and lessons
Gift Certificates