Fishwest Guided Trips: Gratuity Etiquette

In the service industry it is standard to give a tip (a.k.a, gratuity, douceur, perquisite, cumshaw, etc.). We at Fishwest want to ensure we properly educate on this somewhat confusing topic. The confusion lies with anglers that are unsure if they’re supposed to tip or how much. The confusion grows even more because each guide trips seems to have different suggestions for tipping. As always it never hurts to ask what this expectation is and we hope this guide, Fishwest Guided Trips: Gratuity Etiquette, sheds some light and lessens the confusion.


The Guides Role

You hire a professional guide to ensure your fly fishing experience is all you expect it to be. The guide not only has the equipment required for success, but they also have the knowledge and skill to give you the upper hand, ensuring an even more successful day on the water.

In a single day of fly fishing your guide will tie dozen’s of flies onto your leader, help untangle you from the trees/self. If you’re drifting or on the ocean flats, they will row/poll their heart out in a boat. They will get you to the best spot on the water and explain how to properly present the fly. They will be a support system ensuring your safety and well being through the entirety of your trip. They will net your fish and of course snag photo memories for you to reflect on for years to to come.


How Much to Tip Your Guide

A tip is a universal view of hiring a guide, and the tip is generally not included in the total cost and while it is not necessarily mandatory, it is a great way to thank your guide who worked hard to put you on fish throughout the trip. 

Reward your guide with about 20 percent for good service, more if you’re really happy and can afford it. Bad at math and/or don’t want to mess with it, you can tip about $50 to $100 per day/guide depending on how attentive the guide was, how hard they worked, and whether they were friendly and tried to meet your needs.



Q: What’s the most common tipping mistake?

A: Usually if you know to tip, you’re tipping around 15 – 20 percent so you know you’ve tipped something, and that’s great. But not tipping at all is probably the worst mistake.

Q: If you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received, is it ever okay not to tip, or is there a better way to handle it?

A: No. If you get good service, in addition to leaving a good tip, you would want to thank your fly guide, tour guide, server, bellboy, etc. When it goes the other way, you still should leave the customary 15 percent. If you had horrendous service and it was the service provider’s fault, some people might go as low as 10 percent. But we suggest that you leave 15 percent and then immediately speak to a manager to express your dissatisfaction. Say that you’re unhappy with how you were treated and that you’re reluctant to return after such an experience. That will speak volumes to a manager.

Q: Are there people we shouldn’t tip?

A: Try to avoid tipping those who aren’t in the service industry — doctors, dentists, therapists. You also don’t tip your dry cleaner. You’ve purchased their service and it’s one that traditionally doesn’t have a tip associated with it.

In a foreign country, different rules often apply. We recommend that you visit country-specific websites to find out what the local customs are.

Q: Is there such a thing as overtipping? Could you offend someone by doing so?

A: I don’t think anyone would be too offended by overtipping. If you’re in a position to give more than is customary and the person providing the service exceeded your expectations, it may mean more to tip them more than the average 20 percent.

Q: Local currency or USD?

A: If the choice is that or nothing, then leave the foreign currency. But otherwise, try your best to leave a tip in the currency of that country. Run out and grab some change on your lunch break, or visit an ATM. By leaving a tip in a non-local currency, you’re giving your service person work to do, and they’ll likely have to pay a fee to change it into their own currency. So you should only leave a tip in your own currency if you don’t have time to get something else.

Q: At restaurants, should you base the tip on the total bill (including tax, alcohol, etc.) or just the cost of the meal?

A: You shouldn’t tip on the tax because who wants to tip on what the government gets? But yes, you do tip on the cost of your meal and any alcohol. If I order a bottle of wine from a sommelier, then I would tip him or her directly. But if I order the bottle from my server, that’s the person I tip. And if I have a few cocktails before dinner, I make sure to tip the bartender specifically before I go to my table.

Q: Do different rules apply to tipping at hotels vs. bed and breakfasts? For example, at a small B&B where you’re not sure if there’s a housekeeping staff and you think that the owner may be the person to clean your room, do you still leave a housekeeping tip?

A: If you don’t know, leave a tip on the side of the bed. There very well could be a maid who comes in for a couple of hours a day, an off-site person that does the housekeeping so the owner can handle the bookkeeping or other responsibilities. Even if it is the owner [who does the cleaning], he or she is doing the work — so I don’t think you would be insulting anyone if you did leave a tip.