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Learn what it takes to be a Great Fishing Guide

We've all done it, it's been a long work week, the boss has been breathing down our necks and we start to daydream about leaving the rat race and becoming a fly fishing guide.

This week I connected with one of the best fresh & saltwater guides in the business, Danny Frank, owner of Denver-based Colorado Trout Hunters, and we asked him what it takes to become a great fly fishing guide.

Ascent Fly Geek Peter Stitcher - "Danny, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into fly fishing."

Danny - "I have been fly fishing for as long as I can remember. What started as a hobby quickly turned into my life’s work. I began working in a fly shop in my hometown of Northeastern Ohio when I was 15 years old. My desire to be around trout fishing led me to Colorado for college where I majored in Environmental Science and Sustainability at the University of Denver. Clever scheduling allowed me to fish most days throughout the week and guide for Tad Howard, the founder of Colorado Trout Hunters. At that time, I had no idea that ten years later I would take over the company and have my own guide service."

Ascent Fly Geek Peter Stitcher - "We've had the pleasure to work with you for a while and have loved watching how Colorado Trout Hunters has been blowing up across the Front Range! In addition to your trout fishing services, we've been talking about maybe doing a salt water camp together. Tell us a little bit about what you are doing on saltwater."

Danny - "Besides Colorado Trout Hunters, I also work for a fly fishing travel company, Frigate Travel, that is owned by two of my good buddies, Justin Crump and Kate Taylor. With them, I have been lucky to fish some incredible destinations around the world. I have hosted trips multiple trips to Christmas Island, Baja, Alaska, Louisiana, the Bahamas, and Coastal Oregon. I have also done some fishing in Belize and the Yucatan. My favorite thing in the world is exploring this planet with a fly rod in hand. I even spent a year going to school in New Zealand just so that I could chase the giant brown trout that inhabit the South Island. Saying this out loud makes me see that pretty much all of my life’s decisions have been made with fly fishing in mind."

Ascent Fly Geek Peter Stitcher - "It sounds like you are living the life! Having guided for so many years and and likely rubbed shoulders with a lot of guides around the world, what do you think makes a GREAT fly fishing guide?"

Danny - "To be a good guide you need to truly be passionate about fishing. And not just fishing for yourself - you must have a love for teaching and sharing your passion with others. There are some phenomenal fisherman out there who aren’t very good guides but there are also some pretty average fisherman who are great guides. Enthusiasm and effort are contagious out there. Another key trait is being able to find the commonality with anyone. You are going to be spending a lot of time with a wide range of individuals so you must be good at generating conversation. You can’t always control the fishing or the crowds but you can control things like being engaging, knowledgeable, and focused on the water. You also of course need to have a lot of patience and an in-depth understanding of the area you are fishing. The fishing aspect is my favorite part of guiding. It is a fun puzzle, knowing you may be able to catch that fish but you have to figure out how to get someone else to catch it. Maybe the client can’t cast far so how can I get us closer to the fish, or maybe the guest can’t get a good drift so how can I make the flies get in front of the fish quicker. I always try and think of it as I am still fishing out there, I just don’t have the rod in my hand."

Ascent Fly Geek Peter Stitcher - "One question I get from a lot of clients contemplating making the jump into guiding is if it is necessary to attend guide school. What is your opinion?"

Danny - "In terms of "formal training" in my opinion that is not necessary. This might not be the most popular answer but I think guide schools are there just to try and give their own shop guides some work during run-off or the off season. I mean how many shops actually go and hire on guides that completed their own guide school? The answer here is very few. To become a good guide, you have to be a people person, and be very confident on the stretch of water you are working on. There is no cheat sheet or “easy button”, something like intimately knowing a stretch of river and time on the water are not topics that can be taught in a week-long guide school course. That being said, guide schools are a great way to improve your fly fishing, learn to row a boat, and pick up tips from instructors who have spent countless hours on the water.

Ascent Fly Geek Peter Stitcher - "Danny, thank you for joining us in the Ascent fly cave today and sharing your insight on what it takes to be a great guide! I can say honestly that you are indeed one of the best and I hope that we get to spend some time together on the water sometime soon!"

Danny - I would love the opportunity to share my passion for fly fishing with the Ascent community and spend time together on the water. I and my team take great pride in my guiding and creating an experience you won't forget. I enjoy guiding anglers of all skill levels. There is something special about helping a beginner angler get their first fish on a fly and to me, it is equally enjoyable taking a seasoned fisherman out to “hunt” for that trout of a lifetime. If you’d like to book a trip with myself or any of the professional guides at Colorado Trout Hunters, you can reach me at (303) 325-5515 or my website

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