20 years experience

The Best Fly Fishing
Guides in Ontario

Finding The Best Guide For Your.

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Ontario Fly Fishing Guides

In my opinion Ontario has less than a dozen really good fly fishing guides that you can choose from or should choose from and these are the only guides that you should hire.

Some Ontario fly fishing guides are veteran guides that have been in the business for many years and some guides have been trained and work for these guides, while others are independent guys trying to learn on their own.

The veterans and the trained by veteran guides are the guides that you want to hire because their guides are on the water over hundreds of days a year and have the knowledge and experience that you want.

The Shop Guides

Then there is the shop that have their own Ontario fly fishing guides. These are guys that may work part time or full time for the shops but in my experience many are poorly trained and have very little guiding and teaching experience. If you can get the shops head guide you should be OK but in-house part time guides may not be your best bet.

Independent Guide

We all have to start somewhere but some Ontario fly fishing guides are part time guides just trying to get started on their own and often they have very little or no training by another guide, and they may have very little experience with guiding and teaching other anglers.

You pay the same price or less for these guys than you might from a veteran guide and his trained guides but I wouldn’t recommend them. 

If you’re going to spend the money I recommend that you spend a little more and only hire guides from reputable and established guide services that specialize in guiding.

 

Non-Regulated Guides

In Ontario fly fishing guides are not regulated, licensed, or required to have any training or experience at all.

They are not even required to have insurance.

Anyone can be an Ontario fishing guide at any time they choose regardless of their fishing skills, guiding skill or qualifications.

This page discusses tips for finding and hiring the best Ontario fly fishing guides and may give you some things to think about to help you get the best guide for you.

Fly Fishing Guides in Ontario

Fly Fishing Guide Trips

Our guides at A Perfect Drift Guide Company are skilled in all methods of river fly fishing and they guide for many different river species so we can provide anglers with just about any trip they want.

We pride ourselves in have the best Ontario fly fishing guides.

Each one of these guys has spent time on the water and is trained by me using methods I have learned over 20 years as a guide. They are professionals at what they do.

They are also anglers, and damn good ones too, and they get lots of great reviews and testimonials and have great reputations which is why I can feel confident in recommending them to clients.

Dry Fly Fishing: There are many opportunities for anglers to enjoy dry fly fishing on our rivers from the end of April until the end of September. The best dry fly and most consistent dry fly fishing is in May and early June. After mid June the hatches become more sporadic and infrequent but there are times when it can be great.

Our Ontario fly fishing guides are skilled at dry fly fishing and know where to take you for the best fishing.

Nymph Fishing Trips: our head guide Graham Bristow is the top nymphing guide in Ontario and guides 12 months of the year using modern nymphing methods like Euro nymphing and competition nymphing methods as well as traditional nymphing methods for trout, salmon and steelhead.

Our Ontario fly fishing guides are all trained by Graham and are skilled in all of these methods.

Streamer Fishing Trips: if you’re looking for a fly fishing trip using streamers we have you covered. Some of our guides have over 30 years of streamer fishing experience and know which rivers fish best with streamers.

Wet Fly Fishing Trips: We also do some tradition wet fly fishing for angler that want to just do that and we know what sections of river are best for that.

Spey Fly Fishing Trips: We offer anglers Spey fishing for steelhead and salmon.

For fly fishing tips and Advice check out our Fly Fishing Page.

Ontario Fly Fishing Guides

Here are some tips when considering which Ontario fly fishing guides to hire

Ontario has numerous fly fishing guides, but not all are equal!

Even I hire guides still: I look back to my very first days of fly fishing and Centerpin fishing and remember how hard it was and how confusing it all was and how few fish I caught back then.

I kept thinking if I just had the right fly or the right bait I’d start catching more fish, I was very WRONG!

If there were fly fishing guides in Ontario like me that where available back then and I knew what I know now I would have hired them in a second.

In fact I still hire fly fishing guides and still train with equally skilled and more skilled anglers to continue improving both my fishing and guiding skills.

I search out the best anglers or fly fishing guides that I can find and I hire them to teach and guide me just so I can see things from a different perspective and learn and new tip or two that I can pass on to my guides and to my clients.

This is why I know what to look for when researching a good Ontario fly fishing guides.

Good angler or good guide: I’ve always said, “just because someone is a great angler, doesn’t mean they will be a great guide” and just because he has been fly fishing for 30 years doesn’t mean that he has the skills that are required to be a good guide and instructor”.

Some guys just don’t teach or coach well, some have no patience, some guys are like military drill sergeants and might even stress you out, and some guys just have the wrong personality for guiding.

Remember, this is a guy you will need to spend 4 to 8 hours with and if he’s a grumpy non talkative guy you may not be happy with your results.

I’ve had guys tell me I’ve talked more in the first hour than their last guide talked all day and that they’ve learned more in that hour then in 8 hours with the other guide.

A guide isn’t just an angler, a really good guide is teacher and a coach first and an angler second.

Fishing and guiding are two different things: Guiding is a whole other skill-set then fishing is 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 independent full time Ontario fly fishing guides available.

The sad thing is guys trust the shops when they are told that their in-house fly fishing guides are good, but I’ve seen guys being guided by Ontario fly fishing guides that have little to know guiding experience and these guys almost always come from the shops or are new wanna-be guides and there is really no need to hire them when there are a bunch of excellent guides available.

Friendly, Patient and Skilled: If a guide isn’t friendly, patient or doesn’t seam flexible enough to accommodate your needs find another guide, you have choices.

Tell your guide in advance of what your goals are for the day and make sure he can provide that for you. If not find another guide or lower your expectations if you’re expecting to much.

Hire a Guide, Not an Angler: If the guide fishes with you then he’s not guiding you, he’s fishing, and believe it or not, some of the shops guides and some new guides do this.

Yes, I’ve heard the horror stories about how the guide sets his clients up in one spot and then he wanders off up the river and fishes another spot and tells his clients to “just call me if you need me” leaving them to fend for themselves and the sad thing is I have seen it with my own eyes on the river.

When inquiring with an Ontario fly fishing guide ask your guide if he fishes when he guides and if he says yes, find another guide FAST!

You want your guide standing beside you the whole time, guiding you to those fish, coaching you as you go, watching your every move so he can find out what he should be teaching you and how he can help improve your skills.

Your guide should not be fishing with you or leaving you and going fishing on his own. You’re not paying your guide to fish, you’re paying him to guide you and teach you and the last thing you want is to be on the river with him and be in an uncomfortable situation because he’s catching all the fish and you aren’t.

It happens, but not with us, ever! If me or one of my guides starts to fish it’s to demonstrate and teach because some people learn by watching. Once the lesson has been taught the guide fishing stops and gets back to coaching you on what you juts learned.

Think about it, how good is a coach of a professional sports team if the coach jumps on the playing field to play instead of coaching his players.

References and Testimonials: Check for references on your Ontario fly fishing guides, if he’s good, people will be happy with him and will say so. Look for lots of references and testimonials.

If you’re considering hiring a Ontario fly fishing guide make sure the testimonials are not just a few of the guys buddies saying how great he is, because that happens.

Ontario fly fishing guides with no references or testimonials probable aren’t very good and should be avoided. Wait a year or two to let them get some experience and check back again.

If I search through old emails I could probably find over 1000 thank you emails and emails from clients telling us how much they enjoyed their trips out with me or my guides and it’s great to hear these guys telling me how many more fish they catch after learning from us.

Check our testimonials page for some of those emails.

Reviews: Do a little research and look your guide up. On the internet you can sometimes find reviews, testimonials, stories, articles or get feedback and advice from other anglers on local fishing forums and social media sites.

If you do decide to go through a local shop for a guide, request only their head guide and ask them how much he guides, ask them if he has another job, ask them for testimonials, if you don’t ask, you may not get the guide you want.

You could end up stuck with a guy the shop dragged in off the street just so they could fill your guide spot and get you on the water and make some extra money.

Unfortunately this happens, the shops get so busy or all their other guides are booked up that day so they contact a back-up rookie guide that they’ve had in mind as a last resort and that’s who you get stuck with.

One of my clients told me a story about going out with a new Ontario fly fishing guide who was a last resort kind of guy from the local shop near him. I was booked solid so he thought why not try out the shops guide.

Unfortunately, that guide marched up the river so fast to get to the next spot that my client ended up falling and hurting himself just trying to keep up. I know to walk at my clients speed, but a new guide might not.

It was a bad experience for both of them and one my client will never do again.

Pictures Don’t lie: If you go to any Ontario fly fishing guides website and you see that 90 percent of the pictures are of him holding fish or it’s all the same 3 or 4 guys in the pictures, aka him and his fishing buddies, then he isn’t guiding much and he may not have the experience you want or need.

I have over 10 thousand pictures from guided trips. See a few of the best pictures on our photo album page.

You Get What You Pay For: When considering an Ontario fly fishing guide you need to ask yourself first what do you want from your guide trip, do you want the best possible guide that will know how to work with you and how to find fish in all conditions.

If yes, then you need to find out who is the best guide in your budget range.

One guy might be charging $300 for a day and the other guy might be charging $400 for the day, who do you want?

You have to consider that if one guide is charging a lot less there is a good chance they have a full time job doing something else and that guiding is just extra cash for them, or maybe they are desperate for the business which means they’re probably not that good.

Maybe they are even new and are not confident enough in themselves so they could be cutting prices to attract more clients.

Certifications and Insurance: In Ontario fly fishing guides are not required to have a guide license, or to be insured, or to have any certifications or training.

That means anyone can be an Ontario fly fishing guide and it’s not uncommon to see guides pop up on social media and the internet claiming they are now guides. But are they?

I would say that most of these new fly fishing guides in Ontario are not insured and have no certifications or guide training at all.

A good guide will not only have insurance, certifications and training, but they will promote it so that you know it.

Self Regulated Guide Industry: One thing I know for fact is Ontario doesn’t need guides to be licensed to make sure clients are protected.

With the amount of information on the internet now if a guy gets a bad guide it’s his own fault for not doing the research or because he tried to save a few bucks by going out with a new or inexperienced guide.

I’ve seen probably 100 guys start up a guide business in the last 17 years and 99 percent have disappeared within the first year so this business is self regulated meaning good guides will keep getting busier and bad or new guides will disappear quickly.

With my above advice you now know what to look for when choosing the right guide for you and you can limit the risks of getting a bad guide.

My Experience: I admit that when I think back to the beginning of my guiding career that I was also very inexperienced and I made mistakes and I did stuff I probably should have done differently, and do different now.

I only know that now because I have guided probably a couple thousand anglers over the last 20 years and I have learned so much since my first days.

I train my guides on what to do and what not to do so that they don’t make the same mistakes I made and the same mistakes non-trained new guides will make. That’s why they quickly become some of the best Ontario fly fishing guides available.

It’s also why brand new guides trained by me will get great reviews right from the start.

Some years I would guide between 200 and 220 anglers and the amount of knowledge and experienced I have gained can’t be beat or even understood by new or inexperienced guides. I do things that few other guide do and that pays off with lots of repeat and happy clients.

Today I am likely the top independent Ontario fly fishing guide and guide service in Ontario and I’m still growing and still learning.

Hope to see you on the water.

For rates and packages go to our River Guide Page

Fly Fishing Class in Ontario

BONUS TIP OF THE DAY

Fishing With Less Friends: I often have guys that want a guide trip with them and 2 or 3 of their buddies.  They think this is a great way to spend the day with friends and the more people they bring the more fish they will catch.

I hate to break it to you, but more anglers almost always means less fish and less big fish too.

1 angler and 1 guide often catch ten times more fish and bigger fish! Why?

 

Most of our rivers are smaller and don’t have pools big enough to fit 3 or 4 anglers and a guide comfortably so there’s less tangles and problems to deal with when there is only 1 guy.

Also, trout and steelhead can spook easily, so 3 or 4 guys in the same spot means 3 or 4 times the noise and a much greater possibility of spooking fish.

On top of that your guide has to move back and forth between each of you which can spook fish to.

Spots to fish will be harder to come by because sometimes there are other anglers on the river so getting into a pool that has another angler is possible if it’s just you but when there is 2 or 4 of you there will be a lot of spots your guide won’t be able to take you.

In my experience, I almost never, ever, ever, catch big fish when fishing with 3 or 4 anglers.

If a guide tells you, “yes, no problem, I can guide 3 or 4 guys and you’ll catch fish too, ” he’s either lying to you, doesn’t know any better or he’s going to take you to a spot loaded with stupid little fish that will eat even if you almost step on them.

The other thing I tell these clients is that if you come with 4 anglers that means I’m only spending 25% of the day with you.. Which means you’re learning a lot less than if you come alone or with a buddy.

So, the next time you’re considering hiring a guide and if your goal is to catch more fish and to learn as much as possible, save the “getting together with a group of your buddies” for the golf course or the pub.

Ontario river fishing lessons

RIVER FISHING TIPS AND ADVICE

Have you ever wanted to know what the guides know? Now you can!

Anglers ask me all the time about what rods and reels and other gear that I recommend, or they ask me about my best flies, or my best methods or even which rivers are good to fish. I build a website that cover’s all of that and more . . . . . You should checkout our sister site where I tell you exactly what gear you need and i give you free tips and tricks to help you catch more fish. Check out www.ontariotroutandsteelhead.com

Graham

Head Guide / Owner