What Fly Fishing Can Teach You About Business

What you do outside of the river doesn’t matter a bit. CEO? Who cares. Once we are on the river it’s just some people out having fun. Barriers are blown away. It’s like when Luke Skywalker heads down the trench sending a torpedo down the exhaust port. Goodbye Death Star.

One of the things I like about being a fly fishing guide are the relationships. I get to be with all different kinds of people on the river. The really great thing about this is people are people. I could have a CEO of a large corporation or a prestigious doctor out for the day. Once you are on the river none of that matters. It’s first names and fun. Take’m!

Relationships are what matter in fly fishing, life and in business.

what fly fishing can teach about business

What fly fishing can teach you about business.

Setting up your tackle

Are you good at knots? Are you able to tie them so they are stronger than the line itself? Can you use any kind of line or string attached to your fly? The right equipment goes a long way in fly fishing. Sure there are some things you don’t need. Reels for example are more like jewelry. At least when you’re fly fishing for trout. Really all they do is hold your line. If you don’t have good equipment or a good infrastructure your business will fail. You have to know how to use it. This stuff has to be reliable. It has to work.

Picking the right fly

You’ve got to have something of value. Trout don’t just eat any old thing that floats by. They are very savvy. If you’ve ever been fly fishing you know what I mean. Sometimes it seems like every trout in the river just went on vacation. If you don’t have what your customers want, they will go somewhere else. There is almost always something that will work to catch some trout. Everybody wants something. You have to find out what that is.

Picking your spot

Trout don’t live everywhere. Location, location, location. Ok, that one was easy.

Presentation is key

Fly fishing isn’t like spin fishing or ice fishing where you put your line in the water and wait. Fly fishing is active. Fly fishing is trial and error. Fly fishing takes the right presentation. Like my new friend Chris says, “You can’t walk up to someone to shake hands and put your tongue in their mouth.”

That’s a bit graphic. Maybe not the best presentation?

You can’t force feed trout. It’s like getting your kid to eat parsnips. Have you ever eaten parsnips? Don’t. Just Don’t. With trout if you have problems with your presentation, you can forget it. Trout are smart. So are your customers. They know what they want. Do you?

If you’re willing to sign up to my newsletter, I’ll gladly provide you with a planning guide for setting up a corporate fly fishing retreat as a free gift. The download link will appear here at the bottom of this page after you sign up.  And if not, no worries. Just wanted to show you how I’m thinking these days.

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What to do when you get caught in a lightning storm while fishing

What to do when you get caught in a lightning storm while fishingYou know that sound when your bones shake and teeth rattle? The bright white light indistinguishable from the loud crack? Man I hate that sound. Right about that time you are thinking, “Where the hell am I gonna go?”. Then you quickly realize, there isn’t anywhere to go. You are on a river in the middle of nowhere.

So, what to do when you get caught in a lightning storm while fishing?

Find Shelter

Well for starters lets examine where we are. There is no shelter on much of the river. If you happen to be near a river access you might find an outhouse. I guess you could take your chances with that one.

Here is an account of some LDS girls on a hike on the east side of the valley that took to the trees for shelter. You can read more about their encounter with lightning.

The girls from the Fifth Ward soon joined us and as we reached the spot where we had left our lunches it started to rain, so we scrambled under the trees for protection from the rain. Our group, Fifth Ward, was under one tree, sitting on the ground and leaning against a fallen tree that was leaning against a standing tree. The rest of the girls were sitting around our group and up the path. Some of the girls were still coming down from the cave and ducked under shelter wherever they could. It rained hard for a few minutes and then it started to hail. About 10 minutes after the storm started, we heard a very loud clap of thunder which sounded like it must have hit above us on the rim. We realized it was too close for comfort, and some suggested that we move. Others said, “No, we’re alright, because all the trees around us are taller than this one”. Some of the girls were frightened and we tried to reassure them and calm their fears. At this time Brother Miller came running down the hill, (he was the last one out of the cave, being certain everyone got out safely) shouting for us to move out into the open space below us. Several started moving. I remember getting up and bending over to pick up my knap sack —- then it hit!!

The next thing I knew I was down the hill about three yards from the group, all drawn up in a knot, unable to move! The thought went through my head, “I’ve had a stroke!” Then I heard girls screaming, and heard one say, “Look! That girl is on fire!”

The lightning struck the tree the girls were hiding under. Sadly three of these girls were killed by the strike. In this case the trees were a bad idea.

You can find a clearing and hunker down by squatting low and staying off the ground except for your feet. This will give you less conduction with the ground. If your lucky you may find a nearby cave. Some of the canyon stretches we fish have caves near the water.

Get away from metal

Our boats are made of fiberglass and resin. This does not conduct electricity well. If you are in a metal boat, I suggest getting out until the lightning passes.

Just keep fishing

Honestly I usually just keep fishing because there isn’t much you can do. The lightning usually passes by quickly. By the time you find shelter of any kind the storm has passed. We have taken thousands and thousands of trips in nearly 100 years of outfitting on these rivers.  No one has ever been struck by lightning (knock wood). I haven’t even heard of anyone being struck while out on the rivers around here. We have had some close calls. Ones where the hair on your arms stands up and you hear a little buzzing noise. Thankfully those are pretty darn rare.

Lightning Map

Lightning Map

Click this cool map above for a look at real-time lighting around the country.

About the Teton Valley Lodge [CUSTOMER POST]

Overlooking Teton River from lodge
Overlooking Teton River from lodge

Alma Kunz plaque brown trout

About the Teton Valley Lodge

Our family has been going to the lodge since 1975. My parents enjoyed flyfishing throughout the West, but they settled on TVL as the most special destination of all.

Started by Alma Kunz in 1919, the lodge has a colorful history as the first fishing lodge west of the Mississippi, attracting fishermen from the East Coast and then eventually from across the country. In the 1970s, young guides Randy Berry and John Pehrson were able to take over the operation from Alma… and now it’s Randy’s sons Matt and Brian who are in charge.

Randy Berry… rightfully often called The Trout Whisperer
Randy Berry… rightfully often called The Trout Whisperer

The Teton Valley is a stunning area on the western side of the Grand Tetons. There are two small towns, Driggs and Victor. The more posh town of Jackson is on the eastern side of the Tetons, about an hour away (over the dramatic Teton Pass.)


Airports in Jackson and Idaho Falls are an hour from the lodge. You can arrange for airport pick up (an extra fee.) I suggest the Jackson airport for a more spectacular welcome to the Wild West. While staying at the TVL, there isn’t much need for a car since the days are packed with fishing. Dinner typically is served around 8 to 8:30 pm. I fly on Delta from Oakland to Salt Lake City to Jackson (or Idaho Falls.) You can also fly United to Denver to Jackson… a bit longer in travel time.

Meals at the Lodge

Breakfast lunch and dinner are included. The food is great and plentiful. There’s a free keg of a terrific local microbrew beer in the dining hall. Wine is available for purchase.


The setting is along the spring-fed slow moving Teton River. Potato fields surround the lodge. Across the river are wetlands that are part of the migratory path for the majestic sand hill cranes. Cabins are very cozy and clustered around the main dining hall.

Fishing Gear

The lodge can set you up with fishing licenses and (rental) fly rods. A small tackle shop carries items for sale or rent…. fishing stuff as well sunglasses, jackets, hats, etc. While fishing, your guide will set up your fishing lines with the appropriate flies to “match the hatch”. Be sure to bring a good hat, sunscreen, sunglasses (preferably polarized to reduce glare on the water.) Sneakers or teva sandals are fine for the boat. It can rain or snow in July, although typically the weather is very comfortable. The elevation at the lodge is about 6,000 feet.

South Fork drift boat


TVL has a cast of characters who are seasoned guides. You will spend the day with the guide on a stretch of either the South Fork of the Snake River, Teton River, or Henry’s Fork. These are beautiful areas with diverse habitat and incredible scenery. You might see moose, bald eagles, osprey, or river otters. You’ll be fishing for several types of trout: rainbow, brown, and native cutthroat. Generally it’s all catch and release, but you can keep a few fish for breakfast. So many variables influence how active the fish are feeding. Some days require a lot of patience. Other days, your arm will be sore from pulling in so many trout. Your guides will provide ongoing coaching about your cast and timing. When it all syncs up, fly fishing is an elegant and graceful sport in the timeless event of man versus nature. (Bearing in mind, that nature always bats last.)

moose while hiking


If you enjoy hiking, from Teton Valley, there’s a great trail to the Wind Caves. Just a few miles with a climb, but a great reward. The main cave has a river flowing from deep within. From Jackson, the Grand Teton National Park is right there. I recommend taking the water taxi across Jenny Lake and hiking up into Cascade Canyon which runs in between the Teton peaks. One of the most beautiful trails I know.

cascade canyon

Side Trips

If you have time to poke around Jackson, it has an historical feel with some fun shops. The National Museum of Wildlife Art is just a few minutes from town. Well worth it. There’s an amazing indoor community pool with a kids’ water slide. In Teton Valley, there’s the Teton History Museum, full of interesting oddities that reflect the challenging daily life of early trappers, explorers, and farmers.

Curling contraption (or torture device?) at the Teton History Museum
Curling contraption (or torture device?) at the Teton History Museum

Huntsman Springs = a new development in Driggs created by Jon Huntsman, Sr., a super enthusiast about the Teton Valley. You know of Jon Huntsman, Jr. who was a more mavericky Republican presidential candidate in 2012 (and also served as governor of Utah and Ambassador to China.) Golf isn’t my game, but the development has an award winning course.

Yellowstone National Park is about two hours from Jackson (about three hours from TVL.) I spend a week on my own (off the grid) in Yellowstone each year… and can provide tons of info about visiting the park… a great, great national treasure.

Yellowstone National Park

Should I take my family fly fishing?

take your family fly fishingThis is a question we get all the time. I guess sometimes the perception is that only old guys can go fly fishing. Heck yes you can bring your family fly fishing to the lodge! We have children that love to fly fish. The ladies in our lives love to fly fish too. Really there is nothing better to do as a family together. You will be in a cabin together, eat meals together and fish together every day. We recently figured out that kids would rather spend time with you than get stuff from you (we have always been a bit slow).

Take your family fly fishing

Kids won’t remember what you gave them for their birthday or what they got for Christmas as much as they will remember spending time with you out on the river. Do yourself and your family a favor and take them fly fishing.

But what do I pack?

You could say I am neurotic about packing for trips. I will start weeks in advance. I used to WAY overpack for my trips. Now I love the challenge of packing everything I need in just my carry-on. My family recently went to Hawaii for a week. All six of us packed all we needed in our carry-on luggage.

I made up a packing list to give you some ideas. For example, you don’t need waders. Just fill out the form and I will send it your way.

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So how long do anglers hold trout out of water anyway?

hold trout out of water
How long do you hold trout out of water? Researchers with binoculars and stopwatches observed nearly 300 anglers catch and release trout. The goal was to determine how long anglers keep trout exposed to air. This study was conducted by Idaho Fish and Game biologists.

New study shows how long people hold trout out of water.

How long Idaho anglers hold trout out of water: 26 seconds on average.

Researchers found anglers really don’t put anymore stress on fish than hooking and landing them does. The majority of studies show there is no substantial mortality to fish exposed to air for less than 30 seconds.

Some good ways to land trout quickly and return them to the river:

  • Use good high quality leaders and tippets. We suggest RIO Fluoroflex Plus tippet. This stuff is the bomb, you will lose less flies and trout. Landing trout quickly is a breeze with this material.
  • Only use a net when you need it. For instance, smaller trout don’t require a net. It is much faster to lift the smaller fish in the boat by the leader. If you need your net, make sure you use a rubber basket that doesn’t tangle. Also have it ready to go. I like to have my net sitting right next to me without anything resting on it.
  • Leave the trout in the net and in the water while removing the hook. Keep the net and trout in the water until you are ready to hold it up.
  • Have your camera or phone ready. In the boat you can have your partner set down their rod and grab the camera set to go.


Illicit Streamer Sales Are on the Rise

streamer junkie

Underworld streamer dealers are turning peaceful dry fly towns into hot beds of streamer activity. It’s not getting any better. Streamer pushers like 7-WT have been dealing since they were 10 years old. These addicts start out with one or two streamers a day, turning into 30 to 40 bucks a day. It’s really sad. At the local fly shops the impact of underground streamer sales is making its impact.

Pushers like 7-WT are tying streamers 24 hours a day.

Flies like the Water Moccasin keep the streamer junkies coming back for more. 7-WT is in this game to make as much money as fast as he can. “They are all after my flash” says 7-WT. “I want all these cats out here fishing my streamers. Once you start catching fish on these, you ain’t going back.”

Totally black market streamers can hide in retail fly boxes at common drop sites. The bite is starting to kick in and the streamer junkie will stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t get caught in the middle of shady streamer deal.

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