A key to identifying common members of the genus Dux (guide)
1 – The Head guide – Dux primis
Identification of Head guides is easy; they usually introduce themselves as such. Other tell-tale signs include ‘Guide #1’ stickers plastering their to-go cups, and a general air of godliness. Their angling skills are exceeded only by their charisma, and, if pressed, most clients would freely admit that while they enjoy catching fish, the main reason for their trip is simply to spend time in the presence of the Head guide. Their commanding scientific understanding of all things fishing-related and an infallible intuition on the water combine to form a seamless whole that invites supernatural explanation. Commonly delegates menial tasks (cooler cleaning, etc.) to Newbie guides because wasted talent is a tragedy. To them, the concept of a ‘beat’ on a river is a vague and purely theoretical construct, and their behaviour has sparked deep philosophical discussion about absolute free will as an inalienable human right.
A Head guide immortalized in a beautiful painting while demonstrating perfect swinging technique
2 – The Hard on Gear guide – Dux exitium
For the guide who can’t make it home from the grocery store without ripping the handles on their plastic bags, fishing lodges offer a cornucopia of gear, machinery, and electronics just waiting to have their limits tested. Lodge owners agonize over the decision of whether to assign the ‘Hard on Gear’ guide the junkiest jon boat in the fleet, or the expensive inboard jet that happens to have a full bottom of 5/8″ teflon. Some ‘Hard on Gear’ guides have sworn to lodge owners to have sighted gremlins scurrying around in their wake, all busy removing gas caps and boat plugs, undoing trailer hitch pins, pulling “really solid” anchor holds, etc. They’re the main reason no one ever retires well-off from the lodge business, but the local mechanics are always happy to hear they’re back for another season. While all guides are subject to simple accidents, ‘Hard on Gear’ guides commonly produce 2nd- and 3rd-order compound accidents, ie. “I got a flat tire, and then…”
To be fair, no one ever told them to be careful around thorns with inflatable rafts during the float trip.
This is what happens when a Hard on Gear guide gets a flat tire!
3 – The Closet Gear Angler – Dux fallacia
Identification of Closet Gear Angler guides is confounded by their tendency to adopt camouflage when occupying fly-fishing lodge habitat. The most definitive indicators, although rare, are Freudian slips where the individual inadvertently replaces the word ‘fly’ with words or terms such as ‘jam’, ‘ghost shrimp’, or ‘Koho 55’. More typically, multiple traits are required for positive identification, and may include lack of visible rod in fish pictures, tendency to fish alone, long leaders, and a spoon rod present in the back of the boat boat under the guise of “finding out quickly whether the fish are there or not so we don’t waste time when exploring new water”. Once out of the closet, the Gear Angler actually believes the other guides are joking (they’re not) when they ask if it is even fun to catch fish on gear, and that he is the only one with the guts to openly fish the way everyone else secretly wants to (they don’t). May insist that they get first pass down a run because they are ‘short-floating’ while you’re swinging a 15ft Type 6. In any case, if the water was just a touch warmer, they’d be on the spey right away, for sure, definitely, probably dry flies too.
That’s some awfully thin running line you’ve got there.
4 – The Newbie – Dux iuvenus
Easily confused with the Hard on Gear guide. The practice of spending their entire season’s paycheck on fishing gear is offset by the fact that they still live with their parents. Recounting their fishing day, they’ll have you reaching for either an urban dictionary (“We swanged’em, they banged’em, brah”), or a bottle of Glenfiddich to kill the pain of a story that feels as long as Homer’s ‘Odyssey’.
The Newbie is the only guide type who talks more about the ‘old days’ than the Veteran, and the only one who enjoys actually putting on their waders in the morning (he thinks he’ll try the G4s next year).
I think this might be his very first steelhead!
5 – The Veteran – Dux veteranus
The Veteran is classified as having over 30 years guiding experience. Grizzled and non-grizzled sub-types are known to exist, and both reliably wear clothing at least a decade old. As the age of the individual increases, so does specialization in angling methods and water-type preferences, with a general trend towards purism. Under no circumstances will the Veteran rig up tippet stronger than 15lb. Compared to all other guide types, the Veteran displays the rare behaviour of referring to angling parties encountered on the water by their proper names rather than ‘assholes’, ‘chumps’, ‘gorbs’, or something along those lines. Prone to regale clients with tales about the ‘old days’. While extant specimens are readily identified by these traits, fossilized specimens are indicated by damage to the lower edge of the central incisor teeth caused by a lifetime of cutting tippet…if they have any teeth left!