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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

The Perfect Client
by Randal Sumner

A while back I talked to someone who was telling me about a magazine article they had read about what makes the perfect fly fishing guide. Ever since I have been mulling over another idea in my head.

What makes the perfect fly fishing client? This whole subject is fraught with landmines relative to my guiding business; I mean the customer is always right….right? I mean when I go to see my accountant Marilyn, my off the wall opinions about the tax code are always spot on… right?  No, and that’s the point of my hiring her expertise. It’s the same with hiring a professional fisherman and insisting on using your Lucky fly.

 “What kind of fly is that, ” I ask, “Why that’s my Lucky Fly” Allrighty….

            In a nutshell I consider that my job is to be a good host; the client is paying a wad of money to have a fun day and learn a few fishing truths. The real trick in my job is to match the client’s skill level with the fishing conditions on the day they have chosen to come fishing with me. Sounds simple, like making contact with the Mother Ship with my Tommy the Spaceman decoder ring.

            My perfect client is a person that is a student of the fly fishing game, maybe not the greatest caster or angler but interested in learning, moving there game up a notch or two.

This person would also a good listener. During our time on the water together I will be trying to tie together a few of the loose ends in your fishing knowledge. How far we get depends on how much experience you bring to the table. Remember there are no dumb questions: When you’re with the guide, this is your chance to ask all the questions you’ve wondered about. I get a lot of:”Randal, what is the purpose of the universe”? The purpose of the universe is to seek equilibrium. That usually brings them back to the more relevant fishing queries. 

 Over the years I have had some fine amateur anglers cycle through and become regular clients, they really don’t need me anymore except for the most subtle, almost unspoken advice.

 Another characteristic of my perfect client is sense of humor; this is necessary for a couple reasons.

 Number one is that a bit of levity will keep you loose and able to focus on the task at hand without becoming grim, after all were just fishing, so lets lighten up.

I learned this personally during my fling with ballroom dancing, without a sense of humor I’d have never made it through all the lessons. The truth is I still can’t dance but it does make me laugh out loud when I think about it.

The second reason is that I am a collector of funny stories; some of the things I’ve heard in the boat would curl your hair. Not the stuff for a family newspaper but really funny.

 Yes the guide needs to have fun too.

            The last thing my perfect client would be able to do is take the advice (about fishing only) in the spirit it is being given. Trust me the guide wants you to be successful, he wants you to catch fish and have fun: that is pretty much the point of the whole exercise.  We realize this fly fishing is not an easy avocation to take up, we also realize that some times people just want try something new (like ballroom dancing). Welcome to my world.
























More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner