Make the Most of Your Destination Fishing Trip

Destination Fly Fishing Trips

How to improve your travel, navigate new places, and work well with your guide.

Don’t be that guy (or girl). We’ve all seen him… the one who shows up fly rod in hand for the trip of a lifetime, that destination trip we’ve all dreamed of, wholly unprepared and therefore quickly becoming a problem for the rest of the anglers on the trip. Sure, he might be a nice enough guy, but his lack of basic preparation and bad attitude with the guide dampens the vibe of the entire trip for everyone else.

Don’t be that guy.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past 15 years traveling around the world as a fly-industry photographer and writer, meeting all manner of travelers along the way. Thankfully, most of them are pretty solid—fishing tends to draw some truly good people. But, of course, there have been the inevitable exceptions. The unprepared. The high-maintenance. The ego-driven. The pouters.

While attitude is something I can’t help you with, there are a few tips that might help you make the most of your next fishing trip. You bring a positive attitude, and I’ll bring some of the basic tips I’ve garnered over the years.

Fly Fishing Flats Boat

Travel 101

First off, do your own, independent research on your destination and the fishery. If you’re booking with a lodge they’ll likely send over a pre-trip packet with information, but it’s still well worth finding your own information as well. Read about location safety, what you can expect for basic local culture, and certainly dive through any existing fishing reports or blogs on the fishery. (You’d be surprised what a simple web search will bring up.) Learn a few key phrases in the local language. “Thank you,” “No thanks,” and “Yes please” will get you surprisingly far, along with a friendly smile and shrug.

If at all possible book flights for which, if there is an unexpected delay, you can at least get airline credit for. Delays do happen, and it’s no bueno to be stuck somewhere with an expensive international flight that’s suddenly canceled with no hope of getting your money back. Spend the few extra dollars to upgrade to a refundable fare if necessary. On far-flung trips or those with many connections along the way I like to arrive a day early to help absorb any delays. And, if I do arrive on time as scheduled, it’s nice to have a “down day” in a new city to explore and rest before heading on to the destination (these down days have become a personal favorite, in fact).

I always travel with some kind of emergency evacuation insurance (Global Rescue has worked well for me) just in case something dire happens while I’m outside the country. A fairly well-stocked medical kit is always in my bag (and goes into my backpack every fishing day), including basic meds, wound care, and a tourniquet. I’ve yet to go on a single trip where I haven’t reached into it for either myself or a guest.

Destination Fly Fishing Colombia

Basic Location Safety 101

I’m almost always a solo female traveling with a bunch of camera gear… potentially an easy target for robberies and other issues. While I make a point not to dress to draw attention or wear big jewelry, the camera gear is still an attention-getter. Most of my work is in third-world countries, and so over the years I’ve developed a few tips and tricks to stay secure.

I always divide my cash and credit cards into three stashes. One goes in the actual wallet, another is hidden in my backpack, and a smaller stash of cash is in one of my other bags. In case one goes missing, I still have enough funds to continue on with the trip. In high-theft areas I also always carry a small secondary wallet with various expired cards (no bank cards; no cards with personal information) and a bit of cash. If I get robbed, I can hand it over and the robber will feel like they “got it all.”

In your pre-trip research, make note of transportation options. Is public transport safe and reliable? Can you safely walk the streets at night in the area in which you’re staying? Is Uber or another rideshare in the country? Again, a bit of homework goes far, and can help put your mind at east when you’re in a busy new location where you may not understand the language.

Fishing in Colombia with an Epic Fly Rod

Working With Destination Guides

I love working with guides in different fisheries. Typically they have a genuine care and appreciation for their waters and genuinely want anglers to get into fish. I’m very grateful to have worked with some of the best guides on the planet, and to now call many of them friends. (The fly-fishing world is a strange, wonderful global network, isn’t it?) I’ve also seen guests be downright assholes to some really nice guides over the years, which doesn’t help anyone.

Here are a few thoughts to help you form a smooth working team with a guide you’ve likely never met before. 

  1. Remember that they know their waters. With the exception of new guides in a new place, most guides are working where they are because they enjoy it and have a genuine love for the fishery. I don’t care where else you’ve fished around the world; this is their water. Listen to their plans and suggestions, and be willing to try new things.
  2. Form a team with your guide. The more your guide can buy into the experience, into the team both angler and guide make, the better off everyone will be. Share rods (guides don’t get to fish much, and a few stints on the rod are a rare and appreciated treat), tell stories, and make it fun for them, too. These guys work hard—be the easy guest.
  3. Tip your guide! Most lodges will provide a recommended tipping range for both the guide and the household / lodge staff (and if they don’t provide it, don’t be afraid to ask). Consider this a minimum; if your guide goes above and beyond, a bit more will be appreciated. I always like to bring along some fly-tying material, sunglasses, or something to leave behind. Having worked in remote destinations for months on end, I know full well what a mental boost something from “the outside world” can be. (I once had a guest in Russia leave me with a pack of wine gums midseason… I still remember it fondly. I rationed them out one-a-day for the next several weeks.)
Saltwater Fly Fishing Colombia

Above all, fishing should be fun. Sure, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and get frustrated if conditions are tough. But you and the guide are in it together and if you’re frustrated the chances are high that they’re just as frustrated. Don’t throw a tantrum, don’t amp up the drama, and don’t be a dick to the guide (all actions I’ve observed on recent trips). Keep it positive, come in prepared, and be ready to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. Go forth and have fun.

Want to fish with Jess? 

Argentina Hosted Trip With Photographer / Angler Jess McGlothlin
Dreamed of catching golden dorado, or chasing massive rainbow trout in a wild place? Photographer / writer / angler Jess McGlothlin is hosting a combo trip to Argentina’s Estancia Laguna Verde (on Lago Strobel, aka Jurassic Lake) and then on the Golden Dorado River Cruiser. She’ll be offering optional photo instruction throughout the trip for those interested.
Jess has put together a combined itinerary that offers a full week of fishing at Estancia Laguna Verde from January 25 - February 1, and then five nights on the Golden Dorado River Cruiser from February 2 - 7th, 2025. This is a great chance to see the breadth of Argentine fishing, and working with some solid guide teams and lodge crew along the way. There are options to do just one of the two destinations, but it’s highly recommend to join for both. 

January 25 - February 1, 2025
Estancia Laguna Verde, Lago Strobel, Argentina
$7,500 (7 nights / 6.5 days fishing)
Private room / shared guide

February 2 - 7, 2025
Golden Dorado River Cruiser, Paraná River, Argentina
$4,200 (5 nights / 4.5 days fishing)
Shared room and guide

Fly Fishing Houseboat Fly Fishing For Beautiful Golden Dorado

Get Notified:

Darien Lodge, Colombia, Hosted Trip for Inshore and Pelagics on the Fly With Jess McGlothlin

Jess also just returned from fishing and photographing inshore and pelagics with Fish Colombia at Darien Lodge, and is putting together a group to return in the future. Dates are TBD (likely early fall 2024 or late spring 2025), but if you have interest (this trip is limited to four guest anglers only!), please reach out to Jess for more information. This one is going to fill quickly.

Want to learn more? Send Jess  note at or message her on her Instagram account.


Jess McGlothlin Fly Fishing


Jess McGlothlin, a freelance photographer and writer in the outdoor industry, lives to tell stories. She's learned to thrown spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, and stand-up paddleboard down Peruvian Amazon tributaries. Her work, vibrant and honest, spans from Western rodeos to fly fishing above the Arctic Circle. Jess is based in Missoula, Montana.


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