We had the chance to sit down with world renowned fly fishing expert and guide, and now guide school instructor, Hank Patterson, and talk about his latest film debuting in the Fly Fishing Film Tour.
FlyLords: What has Hank been up to since last year’s film?
Hank: Since last year, I launched a podcast called Hank Patterson’s Outdoor Misadventures because I discovered how much easier it is to make a podcast than videos, and how much lower the bar is in recording a podcast than making videos. My entire life, I just gravitate towards low bars and podcasting seemed like a natural fit. So I’ve been doing a lot of podcasting, I’ve been doing a lot of fishing. I’ve been really trying to branch out and try new beer. So that’s something. I’ve felt like I was really stuck in a rut of drinking three or four different kinds of beer. And so I decided, Oh, I should branch out and try new beers. So I’ve been doing that, really putting an effort into that and just that’s about it. I think that’s all I’ve been up to that I can think of. I’m still unemployed and unemployable.
FlyLords: So I asked you this last year too, how many beers were consumed during the making of this film?
Hank: Well, that’s tricky. So this year, most of the people involved in the film are under the legal drinking age, so less beer overall because of the fact that most of the people working on it can’t drink. That being said, it left more beer for me. So during the shoot, maybe a case and a half of beer because I was the only one allowed to drink, but the beauty of that is nine cases of beer came back home with me so it’s sort of a bonus. I’m really thinking that from here forward I’m going to try to continue to include younger people on the shoots who, you know, so that they don’t drink my beer.
FlyLords: What made you want to become a guide school instructor?
Hank: Money. 100% money. I realize that it’s a lot easier to teach somebody how to guide than it is to actually guide, and that you can charge more money to the person who wants to learn to guide than you can charge the person who’s being guided. It’s a fantastic gig because people don’t realize that they don’t want to be a guide until they’re guiding and then it’s just too late, they’ve already paid to go to my guide school. It’s unfortunate that they’re going to actually start guiding and realize, “Oh shit, guiding isn’t fishing. It’s teaching and it’s taking care of people and it’s having to be polite to the general public.” It’s really, it’s terrible. I realized there’s nobody out there that’s more qualified to teach somebody how to guide than me. So I felt like I owed it to the fly fishing industry as a whole to start my school. And then on top of that, I realized the way that I guide, my methodologies ,i.e., trying to be as hands off and as possible is polar opposite to what other guides are teaching. A lot of times, honestly, on a guide trip I’ll take off and leave my client on their own midway through the trip. I won’t even be there for half of the day. I just realized that somebody has to teach the younger generation that “Hey, this is how you should be guiding and this is how you shouldn’t be guiding”. You’re not there to hold their hand, you’re not there to be a river butler, you’re not there to bring them lunch, you’re not there to tie their fly on. You’re literally just there to put them in a position to catch fish, not to catch the fish, not to net the fish, not to even get out of your chair. If you don’t have time to take a nap during a guide trip, you’re not doing it right. So long story short, I felt like making money and I felt an obligation to the fly fishing community as a whole to impart my knowledge to a younger generation.
FlyLords: So what’s one piece of advice you’d give to a new fishing guide?
Hank: The advice I would give to any new guide is, get your tip in advance. Set expectations with your client high prior to getting your tip. Tell them “The fishing has been really good. Yesterday we caught nothing under 36 inches all on dries. It was popping. Epic day.”, at that point, GET YOUR TIP! Now, once you have said tip in hand, you set the expectations low, you bring them back to reality. You tell ’em “Of course, yesterday is a whole different story. It’s cloudy today, water’s off color… Probably gonna be fishing bobbers all day.” You tell them the truth. You set the expectations where they need to be, which is that you probably ain’t going to catch shit. But make sure to do that after you have your tip.
FlyLords: So how does one get accepted into your guide school?
Hank: Send a check, or Venmo, or credit cards, or cash. Check, cash. Venmo, PayPal, credit card, and you’re in. We don’t discriminate. We’ll take any form of money.
FlyLords: Is there any fishing in this guide school or is it just instruction?
Hank: Yeah, no, yeah, tons of fishing. We go out fishing every single day. There’s very little instruction. We’re really focused on the fishing, eating lunch, drinking beer, hanging out. That’s the focus of the guide school. The instructional part is very, very, very minimal. No class time, no grades, no need to bring a pencil. Fly rod, money, beer, and food, that’s all you need.
FlyLords: Last question, what’s next for Hank Patterson?
Hank: Oh, man. Retirement? That should be the answer. It’s like, dude, quit making videos, you’ve peaked. I think that often, Conner. What’s next for Hank Patterson? You know, we’re going to keep podcasting, going to keep fishing, going to put out a few more videos this year. I hope to be a part of the F3T in 2021 and that’s about it.
This interview was conducted by FlyLords team member Conner Grimes (@doublehaulmedia).