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If you are going somewhere you are not familiar with for a fishing trip, it’s always a good idea to hire a fishing guide. Sure, for a little lake you may not need a guide. However, when it comes to huge lakes and especially for deep water fishing in the great big sea, a guide can come in very handy.
So, how much do you tip a fishing guide? As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to aim for 15% to 25% for good service. Of course, how much you tip your guide is going to depend on a variety factors, which we will cover n detail in this article.
What Is An Acceptable Tip For A Fishing Guide?
The rule of thumb here is that for good service, an average tip for a fishing guide is somewhere around 20%. Now, if you are on a tight budget and you are happy with the service, it is acceptable to go as low as 15%, but really no lower.
As an example, if you are pleased with the service and you want to leave a good tip, if you paid $500 for the guided fishing tour for the day, you will want to leave around $100 as a tip, but once again, as low as a $75 tip on a $500 bill will do.
Of course, the more the better, at least as far the as the guides are concerned. However, if you don’t want to make a bad name for yourself, anything less than 15% is definitely not recommended, and less than 10% is generally deemed as being unacceptable.
Sure, it may seem like a rip off to pay hundreds of dollars for a guided fishing tour, just to have to pay another hefty sum of cash to tip the guide and/or crew, but this is the way the system works.
More often than not, these poor people are not paid well by their employers and they more or less rely on the generosity and tips of their customers to get by.
That said, exactly how much you tip your fishing guide is going to depend on some factors, the ones discussed below.
5 Factors to Consider When Tipping Your Guide
So, are you going to leave a 10% tip, a 15% tip, a 20% tip, or even more? Yeah, there is a lot of money involved here, so you do want to think carefully about it.
Exactly how much you tip should in all reality be based on the overall service and performance which the guide provided, as well as how fun the day was.
1. Where You Are
One of the biggest deciding factors in terms of your tip amount is the location. This is true in two different ways. First off, it depends on how high class the location is where you are getting your guided fishing tour.
Are you in some small town off the beaten path or at some high end fishing resort? High end places are going to expect high end tips. Of course, this also depends on the country you are in.
Generally, tips in places like Canada and North America will expected to be higher than in places like Mexico, Central America, and South America. Affluent places expect affluent tips!
How much you tip your fishing guide is also going to depend on the location in terms of how far that guide takes you from the start point, as well as the perceived dangers.
The longer your guide has to navigate through waters to get to the fishing locations, the more you should tip. It all has to do with where you are.
A high class fishing resort with a guide that takes you hours out into the wilderness is going to get a big tip.
2. Were They Helpful & Knowledgeable?
Of course, a big part of how much you tip that guide will depend on their service and knowledge.
Did the guide know where the best fishing spots are? Did the guide know which areas to avoid? Was the guide knowledgeable with basic fishing principles? Did he or she know which hooks and baits are best for which kind of fish?
Obviously, when you hire a guide for fishing, you expect to get a knowledgeable guide that can give you reliable fishing tips and help solve whatever problems may arise along the way.
Simply put, somebody that was actually there to guide and educate you deserves a better tip than somebody who stood there the whole time not providing you with any useful information.
The main question to ask yourself is “was this person actually a helpful guide, or were they more just like an additional passenger along for the trip?”
If you got somebody who more or less just watched you do the fishing without providing any help or tips is not going to deserve a good tip.
3. Were They Fun?
Yes, knowledge and skill make a difference of course, but so does the attitude of the guide and the atmosphere which they create.
Even if you got a guide that knows every single last thing about fishing, and even if they helped you the whole time, if they were abrasive and rude about it, or just very nonchalant and apathetic about the whole experience, you aren’t going to have much fun.
How friendly was the guide? Did they smile a lot and talk to you in a friendly way, or did they seem like they had something better to do and better places to be?
A guide doesn’t only need to be a skilled and knowledgeable angler, but they also need to be friendly and generally pleasant to be around.
There’s nothing worse than hiring a guide who is rude or just silent. That creates a really bad and awkward atmosphere.
4. Did You Have A Successful Day of Fishing?
Although exactly how many fish you catch is not really in the guide’s control, if they did a good job, provided you with good tips, and took you to the best fishing locations, in all reality, you should have caught a lot of fish and had a successful day in general.
However, if you are out all day and you haven’t managed to catch many fish or any at all, chances are that the guide did not do their job right.
Even if they seem to know what they are doing, if you didn’t catch a single fish by the end of the day, they may have just been faking their way through the whole thing.
Obviously, if you don’t catch any fish, you aren’t going to be happy. An unsuccessful fishing trip, although maybe not totally the fault of the guide, is not going to warrant a fantastic tip.
It’s like being at a restaurant. Sure, the service may have been great, but if you were served hot garbage on a plate, you won’t be inclined to leave a nice tip.
5. Would Your Recommend Them to Friends & Family?
At the end of the day, would you recommend the guide in question to your friends and family? Yes, this all depends on the overall experience at hand.
Simply put, if the guided fishing trip was not good enough to recommend to friends and family, then it also probably was not good enough to warrant leaving a good tip.
A Note on Not Tipping For Bad Service
Ok, so what happens when the trip totally fell through? You had a bad guide. They were rude, they were quiet, they weren’t helpful or knowledge, and it just seemed like they did not want to be there at all.
Yes, you may be inclined to leave a far worse tip than the 15% to 20% average, or even less than the bare minimum of 10% (even 10% is considered too low).
Yeah, sure, in all reality, it may be reasonable to leave a bad tip or no tip at all for horrible service. Technically speaking, it would be fair. After all, why would you leave a hefty tip for a horrible guide?
The reason is because guides talk. If you plan on going back to the same place for a guided fishing tour, or somewhere very close, if you left a bad tip or no tip at all the previous time, you might find out that all of a sudden, all guided tours are sold out and fully booked.
Simply put, guides may tell each other about your lack of tipping, and that may very well affect future service. Yes, it might be fair to leave no tip at all for a horrible guide.
This is totally up to you. If you think that it is fair and you don’t plan on coming back to the same place, then all the power to you. Leave no tip at all and see what happens.
How Much Do You Tip A Fishing Boat Crew, Deckhand and Captain?
Yes, guided fishing tours don’t have to consist of just a single guide on a small boat. Sometimes fishing tours can take place on larger vessels with a real captain and various deckhands and crew members.
Folks, yes, it is expected that you tip all of these people, not just the captain or the one specific guide that stuck with you the whole time.
So, how much do you tip each of these people for a job well done? The issue here is of course that you cannot tip each and every single person on that boat $100.
If the trip costs your $500, then a 20% tip would be $100, but if there is a captain, 2 deckhands, and a 2 crewmates, you can’t tip them each $100, or else you’ll end up spending double than the initial cost of the trip. So, what do you do?
Using the $500 trip cost example we have been working with, leaving a 5% tip for each boat crew member is generally acceptable, which would be a $25 tip on that $500.
Using the $500 trip cost example we have been working with, leaving a 5% tip for each deck hand is generally acceptable, which would be a $25 tip on that $500.
Using that $500 trip cost example we have been using, it would be fine to tip the captain 10%, or about $50. The captain pays for fuel, insurance, and all of that other fun stuff, plus they also operate the boat, so they deserve the biggest tip.
A Note on Large Guided Tours
It may not seem acceptable to leave the captain with a 10% tip and the rest of the people with a 5% tip, especially when compared to industry standards.
However, remember that if you are going on a large guided tour with a large boat, a captain, crew members, and deck hands, there will also be multiple people paying for that tour.
If you are on a big boat, expect to have between 5 and 10 other people coming along, each of which is also going to leave all of the crew members a tip too.
The bottom line here is that if all goes well, tipping a fishing guide between 15% and 20% is fine. For great service, you might want to increase that tip to 25%, but for bad service, you could lower this amount to 10%.
Remember that for horrible service, you should still leave a bit of a tip, or else you reputation will suffer. However, if you plan on leaving a low or no tip, be sure to explain to the guide why you have done so. If you are not pleased with the service, let them know as much!