WON Landing Page March 2022

Guest post: On tipping your fishing guides

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



Photo courtesy of Anietra Hamper


Independent guides

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.



Photo courtesy of Anietra Hamper


Foreign guides

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.



Photo courtesy of Anietra Hamper


Bottom line

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!

  • About The WON

    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.


The Conversation

  • kyle fishinglane says: September 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    great tips i love offsure fishing

  • Sarah Irvin Clark says: April 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Who knew that tipping can be so different around the world. I find it interesting that in Japan and Australia, tipping is actually frowned upon. Anyway, this is great information. Thanks for sharing your great tips (no pun intended!) from all the fishing trips you’ve taken — and love the photos, too!

  • Karen Davis says: April 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    As someone who has never taken a guided fishing trip, I wouldn’t have otherwise known all these helpful hints…especially the cultural differences in regards to tipping. Great information!

  • Joseph "Fishnwithjoe" Jordan says: April 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I’m host of Ohio’s most popular online fishing show for 8 years straight and a fishing guide. I actually started the first dedicated online fishing show ever made. As a result of the popularity of my show I end up guiding quite a few people. Clients like seeing shows of their future guide and favorite fishing show host hooking up. It makes them want a trip that much more.
    There are tons of articles for anglers about fishing lures and techniques but, there aren’t any articles about how to treat your guide after a great day of fishing. Guys aren’t wired to write about those things. Those are the gentle nuances you get from a lady. Things like good etiquette and thoughtfulness. As a guide I’m thankful for the thoughtful clients and even more for thoughtful articles like this. Contrary to popular belief consistently catching fish is one of the hardest things to do and a little reward goes a long way. Thanks for this kind article. I’ll be sure to send this to the other guides I know so they can avoid awkward moments at the end of the day. Joseph “Fishnwithjoe” Jordan

    • J. W. Snyder says: January 27, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Hey Joe,

      When I provide guide services for a client I never have any expectations for a tip. I charge a fair and competitive rate that provides a comfortable living.

      When I do receive tips I always gratefully and gratuitously accept it but it is not necessary for my clients to do so.

      I love what I do and love to teach others as we’ll. Plus sharing the experience of witnessing someone catch that first is truly beautiful thing.

  • Anietra Hamper says: April 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks guys!–and gals!!
    David, you bring up a great point. Two things to consider with that:
    1) The BEST advertising for a fishing guide is showing off a fantastic catch! So, they are often very happy to help showcase your fish because it is a reflection on their success rate. You can tip above what you were planning to, but my guess is they don’t expect extra for the free promotion to ALL of your friends and on their website.

    2) Sometimes people want to extend thanks to guides by inviting them to dinner. While the gesture is nice, keep in mind that they are working and consider their time with you ‘on the clock’ so I don’t recommend this. Let them get home with a hearty tip instead!

  • Any Zerkle says: April 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Thank you this article is very helpful since I find very little about tipping in the fishing industry .I thought 10 % was appropriate -so now I am am better prepared to reward a great guide. Ok Now how about an article on the trip pike fishing trip ,a guide that brings a picnic basket !!

  • Jamie McGann says: April 9, 2014 at 10:11 am

    This takes me back to my high school days when I actually fished regularly…so fun to see! I’m a catch and release gal myself. Great to see women out there taking this seriously and being taken seriously!

  • Lisa Bryant says: April 9, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Top notch, fun and informative info! Great pictures, too, Anietra! Looking forward to many more stories to keep me motivated to get movin’ and enjoy the outdoors!

  • DAVID PETERS says: April 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Excellent article, thanks for the tips! That’s always a tough thing to figure out, not like going to a restaurant and tipping your waiter. Do you have any advice
    as far as if they do more than just help with the basic stuff? I caught a sailfish in Cabo and the captain helped me arrange to have it mounted and took a bunch of pictures and even showed me the best way to have it shipped. I had no idea how to compensate him for that. Thanks!

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