Tipping in general can be a very highly debated topic, especially when it comes to whether or not you should tip your fishing guide and what proper etiquette calls for in that case.
A quick rule of thumb for tipping a fishing guide is that you should tip 10% to 15% of the price for a generally good service that creates a memorable day, and 20% for an exceptional job or if you just feel generous.
If you are not familiar with tipping in the service industry, it can be a confusing minefield of etiquette to navigate through for your fishing float trip, but this article will cover the basics and let you know when tipping is appropriate and how much a proper tip should be for different situations.
Anglers Can Get Confused About Tipping
Whether you should or should not tip can be very confusing, and some anglers will have different opinions about the subject of whether you should tip your guide, as well as how much to tip.
While tipping is not required, it is a nice gesture and a way to thank your fishing guide for a job well done when it comes to locating fish and getting you some nice catches. After all, these guides spend countless hours on the water trying to learn the patterns of fish that you may want to target.
For travelers coming into the United States from other countries, the idea of tipping may be unfamiliar to them especially if it’s not known within their country’s service industry. It’s something that seems to have a stronghold in the United States especially and can be found in anything from restaurants to hotel service.
Tipping can also be somewhat confusing when it comes to values. Some say a tip only needs to be a small symbol of thanks, while others feel it should help pad the worker’s income on top of other costs you may have already paid.
In short, tip-based services for anglers can be very confusing to have to deal with. But, if you know in advance a generally accepted amount for tipping, your overall fishing trip will go much better, and return trips to the same fishing guide or lodge will be much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Do You Need to Tip Fishing Guides?
Some fishing guides will say tips are not expected during your guided fishing trips, while others will expect them after every fishing trip. If you have a fishing guide that has everything prepared and waiting for your arrival, takes you around to some great fishing spots, and puts you on fish where you can easily land some trophy-sized bass, trout, walleye, or other species, you may want to tip 15% to 20% of your overall guide cost.
Your tip, also known as a gratuity, should not just be a base percentage of the overall cost of your guided trip. Instead, you should use the tip to show how much you appreciate the work your fishing guides provided.
For example, if your fishing guide found a nice pocket of fish and you and your fishing partner were regularly pulling in good-sized fish without too much downtime, you could tip 20% to act as rewarding good service.
On the other hand, if the fishing was slow, or if the weather unexpectedly changed and ruined the trip, you can tip a lower amount to whatever you may feel is an appropriate tip for the services given.
However, fishing is not an exact science, so there may be some trips where the fish just aren’t biting no matter what your guide does – this can be especially true with fly fishing. In these cases, you can choose to tip less, but the gratuity should be based on how well your guide handled the wide range of variables instead of how many fish you were able to catch during your guided trip.
How Much Should You Tip Your Guide?
The generally agreed-upon industry standard for tipping on guided trips comes out to anywhere from 10% for a poor experience, to a great tip of 20% for an outstanding experience that will create some lasting memories.
Tipping percentages should be based on the overall cost of your fishing package, whether it was for a day trip or a week-long excursion, and not for the entire amount your trip cost from start to finish.
If you would rather not deal with the math and just want to know what a good tip may be, a lower-end tip for a full day of fishing could run around $40 or $50, while a great day of fishing with a very attentive and knowledgeable guide could constitute a $100 tip.
Half-day fishing trips can, of course, be tipped at a lower price point. Different tipping situations come into play here, and tipping guidelines will normally be focused on how well your guide performed rather than anything else whether you fished for an entire weekend trip or a half-day trip.
How Much Should You Tip A Fly Fishing Guide?
When it comes to a guided fly fishing trip, a 15 to 20% tip is normally suitable for your fly fishing guide. Fly fishing adventure locations can be somewhat more niche than general freshwater fishing spots, and your fly fishing guide can also take you to some gorgeous locations in the mountains where you will catch fish that will create lifelong memories.
A guided fly fishing trip can potentially be more involved when it comes to the work the fly fishing guide needs to do in order for you to get started catching fish. Fly fishing is normally more affected by the weather, so your guide will need to use their past experience to avoid bad weather and get you the fish you are after.
Different species of fish are normally targeted with fly fishing, which could potentially be located at lakes inside national parks or certain regulated fishing areas. It’s normally part of your fly fishing guide’s job to handle all permits and paperwork in advance to ensure you have a smooth and hassle-free fishing experience.
Don’t Forget the Lodge Staff When Leaving a Tip
When you are traveling into an area from another state or country, you will most likely stay at a lodge that is near the location you will be meeting up with your guide and fishing in. The job of the lodge staff is to ensure you have a relaxing time between being out on the water or on shore of the lake fishing.
Staff in the lodge will provide all the comforts of home, as well as offer up some great local history and general information when asked. They may also be on hand for taking photos of your trip, and will of course provide proper bedding and cleaning of your room as well as potentially early morning breakfast services in a group setting.
When tipping your lodge assistants and staff at many locations, many anglers recommend adding anywhere from 5 to 15 percent extra onto your total fishing trip package cost as general tipping guidelines. This would not include your airfare to get to the lodge, and should only take into account the cost of the fishing and lodge package itself when you decide how much to tip.
Many anglers on a fishing trip will suggest that you leave a group gratuity instead of feeling like you should tip individually every lodge staff member that does something for you. This collective tip can be added to your overall booking cost.
If you are in doubt about a proper tip to leave, you can discuss the subject of a gratuity with your booking agent or the lodge itself and see what they recommend. They will be happy to provide a recommendation for a total cost or simple percentage for your tip before you spend your day on the water.
Cash Is King When It Comes to Tipping Your Guide
In most cases, tips will be left in the form of cash since not many guides will have a credit card reader handy during your day on the water. This cash tip can be handed directly to your fishing guide after a great day of fishing, or left in your lodge room when you depart if the staff had a good attitude and made your stay enjoyable.
In some cases, adding an extra percentage for a gratuity charge can be added to the overall booking cost of your trip, which will eliminate the need for you to tip individual people when you arrive. Most guides would also be willing to discuss how they will accept tips during your day on the water in case you are unsure of the proper way to tip your guide.
While some countries and online establishments are embracing electronic transfers and bitcoin as viable currency, you should never expect this with your fishing guide or lodge. Instead, hit an ATM or bank before you get to the lodge or boat ramp and withdraw some cash from your account to specifically be used as a tip on a job well done by your guide and the lodge staff.