Anietra Hamper shares guidelines about tipping fishing guides, including guides in the United States, and out.
Before we cast our lines into the muddy waters on the topic of tips for guided fishing, let me first say that there are no hard and fast rules. Like many other service-related industries, there are general guidelines to consider, but in the end, it boils down to how the experience met your expectations.
Here are some general guidelines on tipping your fishing guides that have been collected from anglers, captains and guides themselves.
Get information before you go
There’s nothing worse than wrapping up a long day of fishing and trying to do quick math amid saying “goodbye” and “thank you” and hoping you have the right change — or worse yet, enough money period. AWKWARD!!!
Before you go, find out:
- Total cost of trip
- Number of people you may need to tip (deck hands, single guide, etc.)
- Location/culture of your outing and the expectations there
- How many people are sharing in the trip
Tipping etiquette for independent guides follows basic service industry 10 to 20 percent guidelines. Less than 10 percent means you were dissatisfied and more than 10 percent means the outing exceeded your expectations. If you are booking the excursion through a third party company or a lodge, feel free to ask what is customary for tipping the guides in that area.
Offshore boat fishing
The guidelines change a little when you’re talking about a chartered boat with a crew. For offshore fishing, it is customary to tip the captain around $50 and $25 for each crew member on the boat. Generally, you should factor in approximately $150 per day in total tips for the crew.
Destination fishing lodges and package trips
Planning to tip 7 to 12 percent of your total package cost is acceptable for larger packages. It is best to leave a collective tip for the lodge or operation manager at the end of the trip, than to tip individually, as there may be a number of non-fishing staff that contributed to your overall experience.
Many of these packages are expensive to begin with and tipping expectations are different than those for independent guides. If you book a $6,000 trip, you are not expected to tip 20 percent of that cost. The range listed above is appropriate and the manager can distribute your collective tip. If you only work with one guide for the duration of your package, $40 to $60 per day is the average.
This is tricky, because in many cases, independent foreign guides charge less than guides in the United States. Tipping $40 to $50 to guides in the Caribbean, Central and South America is acceptable. For places like Iceland, plan on $50 to $100 per day.
Hey, that’s too much!
Believe it or not, in some countries like Australia, New Zealand Japan, Germany and China, tipping is considered unusual, and sometimes, uncomfortable. It is important to know this kind of information before you go, so you can plan accordingly. It would be acceptable to leave a small gratuity if you are staying at a fishing lodge ($100 to $200 for a week stay), but discuss protocol with them ahead of time.
In some countries like Central and South America, Mexico and in the Caribbean, you may have the opportunity to work with small village or tribal guides. In these cases, be cautious about OVER-tipping. Generally, they charge much less and they expect much less in the way of tips than guides in more organized bookings. This also means that many of these “guides” are not professional guides, but fishermen just looking to make a little extra income. Therefore, they may not provide the kind of “guide” services you typically expect.
Set it aside
Figure the amount equal to 10 to 25 percent of the total cost of your guided fishing trip and set it aside so it’s already allocated in your budget. I like to place the money in an envelope and keep it with my important travel documents, so it is ready to go. If there are multiple people going on your trip, discuss the tip ahead of time so you can split the cost.
There are great fishing guides and lazy guides. A guide who shows up prepared and puts in exceptional effort to make the best possible experience for you deserves to be tipped well especially since tips make up a large percentage of a his or her income.
I had a guide who showed up once with 3 types of poles and 3 types of bait to try differing methods to catch pike. He even had a picnic lunch with great food. He put in a tremendous amount of effort and the day was far beyond my expectations – AND I caught 6 fantastically huge pike!
Even if you are not happy with your service, tip something, it just shows class.
Visit Anietra’s blog, Three Word Press, where you’ll travel from your chair to her world of fantastic fishing and adventure!