How Much Do You Tip a Fishing Guide?

When starting out fishing, most people will want to hire a guide to help them out. After all, an expert guide has all the skills and knowledge to help you get the most out of your day on the water. So after you go out with your guide, what do you do? Obviously, you take out your wallet to give them a nice tip for all their hard work. 

Basic wisdom is that you should tip your fishing guide between 15%-25% of whatever their fee is. You can increase or decrease the tip depending on your guide’s skill, friendliness, and extra effort they put in. You should not base your tip on how many fish you catch that day, as your guide cannot control that. 

Tipping your guide is basic fishing etiquette. A tip is a reward for good service, and after a day of hard fishing, your guide most certainly deserves it.

Many fishing guides don’t make that much money, so any additional income can help them continue helping fishers like you and doing what they love. Keep in mind that whatever fees they charge, a large chunk of that will go to maintaining expenses, not profit. 

So we put together this guide on tipping your fishing guide. We will cover basic tipping rates as well as reasons to tip your fishing guide more. 

Tip Your Guide Like a Server

Anyone familiar with US culture knows that tipping after a meal is a common practice. Americans are accustomed to tipping, so extending the logic to your fishing guide is common sense.

At a restaurant, traditional wisdom is to give a tip between 15%-25% as a baseline. The same holds for your fishing guide. 15%-%25 is the baseline, and you can add more based on the quality of service they provide. 

So for example, if your guide charges $400 for the day, the extra tip should be between $60 and $100 as a baseline. If the daily charge is $600, then the tip should be between $90 and $150. The average rate for a fishing guide is $300 per trip, so you will most likely want to set aside about $40-$70 to cover the tip.

Most fishing guides do not work for an agency and are independent. That means that they have to cover things like equipment, boat costs, bait, insurance, and the like on their own. So much of that fee you pay goes to upkeep and maintenance, not directly into their pockets. 

Why Tip a Guide?

You might think that a guide just takes you out on the water for a few hours and then their job is done. If so, then why should you give them an extra tip if you’re already paying a rate for their services?

The reason why is that fishing guides do a lot of prep and administrative work for your trip when they are not actually on the water with you. Being a good guide takes a lot of planning and logistic work, and that stuff all goes on behind the scenes. 

Trip Organizing

The guide is the expert, which means they are the ones calling the shots for the trip. The guide will have to research where the catch is the best, make sure that they can get space and time on the water, and relay expectations to the client. 


Very often, guides will provide the necessary equipment such as rods, lures, bait, and fishing lines. These things cost money, and the price of fishing equipment can fluctuate. If they operate on a fixed-fee basis, the extra tip can help cover those equipment costs. 

Expert Knowledge 

Part of the rationale for the tip is to pay for the expertise and knowledge that a guide brings. Knowledge is something that is hard to quantify but is necessary for a good experience.

The guide can read the water and knows the best conditions to go out fishing. The tip is a premium for that expert knowledge base. 

Packed Trips Tipping

Many people prefer to hire an independent fishing guide, but you can also buy a packaged trip. Packaged trips combine food, lodging, and activities together for a single price.

If you buy a packaged trip, the traditional method is to tip the entire staff at the end of your stay. Tipping amounts can range heavily depending on the kind of service that the staff offers.

However, most clients leave between 7%-10% of the total cost of the trip. So if your packaged trip costs $3,000, then you should be ready to tip around $300. 7%-10% is the baseline and you can increase the tip based on other factors.  

Tips for Tipping

A lot of fishers get confused when it comes to tipping their guides. It’s not so much that they don’t want to support their guide—it’s that they just aren’t used to the practice and don’t know what to do.

With that in mind, here are some tips to make sure you tip your guide correctly. 

Don’t Base Tip on Number of Fish

Your guide is in control of a lot of things. They usually pick the place to fish, the kind of equipment to use, and what time to go out.

The one thing they are not in control of is how many fish you catch that day. For whatever reason, the fish may not be biting that day and you shouldn’t punish your guide for something they don’t have any control over. 

Tip More With Multiple People

Fishing is just as much a social activity as it is a solitary one, and sometimes you may want to bring friends with you out on the water. If you do bring a group and hire a guide, make sure you give them something a little bit extra for dealing with the additional people.

More people means they have to split their attention more evenly, which means more work for them. It’s a lot harder to get multiple people engaged than just one or two, and they deserve compensation for the extra effort. 

Give it Directly to the Guide

If your guide works for an agency, the agency may give you the option to tip when you check out at the main counter.

We are not saying that agencies are dishonest and would take tips from guides, but it has happened in other tipped industries. The best thing to do is give the tip to your guide directly. That way you can make sure the money gets to the right hands. 

Cash is Preferred

In today’s digital world, cash is less common. This is usually not a good thing for tipped employees, as they may have to take a fee out of credit card tips.

Checks are usually not a good idea either, as fewer people than ever have time to cash a check. When it comes to tipping, cash is the best. Cash is the most flexible and is much better for tax purposes. 

So make sure that you have enough green on hand to tip your guide. 

Get the Currency Right

If you are in a different country, make sure that you get cash in the correct currency. Your guide may not have much use for your money if it’s not in the right denomination. In many cases, you will be able to use US dollars. But in most cases, you should use the national currency. Most people won’t be able to quickly convert dollars into something they can actually use. 

Research Your Guide

Most guides won’t be upfront about how much they expect for a tip, as that is seen as rude in a lot of business contexts. So if you don’t already know how much to give and you cannot get in direct contact with your guide,  go about other ways of figuring it out.

If they work for a lodge or agency, call and ask about average tip rates for their guides. If your guide is a sole proprietor, see if you can find customer reviews online that mention tip amounts. If you really need to, you can contact reviewers themselves if you can find contact data.

Don’t Forget the Other Staff

Your guide should be first on your mind to tip, but don’t forget to compensate the other staff as well, such as the van drivers, janitors, bartenders, and anyone else who helps make your trip happen. Working for a fishing lodge is not necessarily a glamorous lifestyle, and a good tip can make a difference in their lives. 

Final Words

Fishing is a fun time and having a guide can make a good trip a great one. Lille aunty service profession, providing a tip is an expected part of hiring a fishing guide. Tipping your guide is just part of fishing etiquette, so make sure to be generous and appreciate your guide’s services. Even a small tip can be a large gesture.

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