Thu Mar 2nd, 2017
Special to the Drum
I don’t know about other people, but I find travel for fly-fishing can be a real hassle. Not just getting from point-A to point-B, but trying to find lodges, quality guides, and edible food. And, if you throw in international travel all the fun for a trip can go by the wayside, right quick. However, for those of us who hate spending hours searching the internet for the perfect trip, there is an alternative. That alternative is the Fly Fishing Trips Specialist (FFTS). Some people refer to them as travel agents. I like the term FFTS; it sounds more rugged.
So, just what does a FFTS company do? A good FFTS company has the experience to discover the type of trip you want and not just push the trip of the week. They will go to great lengths to meet your wants and desires. As in all businesses, FFTS companies come in all degrees of competence. I suggest you work with a FFTS company that has been in business for a long time and will happily provide you with references. To find these FFTS companies you can spend some time on the internet, or go to an outdoor show.
Once you have decided on a FFTS company, being truthful with them is extremely important. If you tell an FFTS you can fly fish anytime, anywhere, in any condition, when in fact you’ve only just started fly fishing, you’re going to end up with the wrong trip. Then you’re going to be unhappy with me for suggesting you use a FFTS company. Start your conversation with a FFTS by letting her know your skill level, what type of fish you want to catch, are non-fly fishers going with you, any time constraints, and your budget. This conversation will lay the groundwork in finding the right destination for you.
Many FFTS companies have specialists in certain destinations, such as Alaska, the Bahamas, or the Western United States. Once a destination has been identified, you want to work with the person, in that office, that has been to that area, been in those lodges, and can speak with authority and knowledge about them.
The question of saving money now comes up. You ask, “Why spend extra money on a FFTS company when I can just book the trip directly with the lodge?” That’s a good question. The truth is that reputable lodges will quote the same rate to you that a FFTS company quotes. The lodge pays the FFTS Company, and knows the FFTS Company won’t book business with them if there are two rate schedules. I have investigated this and find that reputable lodges charge the same rate, with or without a FFTS company being involved. It’s just good business.
Once the date, destination, and travel arrangements have been made the question of trip and medical evacuation insurance will come up. The travel insurance question is a balancing act. I have booked trips with and without travel insurance. And, I have had to use the travel insurance twice. Based on having used that insurance on two separate occasions, I always buy it. However, there are different types of policies that cost different amounts. Again, use a FFTS company that has someone whose job is to work with the insurance companies
The other coverage that can be purchased is medical evacuation insurance. If I am going to a country where English is not the language of choice, I have crossed several time zones, and am in a remote location, I buy it. What this policy does is get you out of the backcountry and into a hospital, in a country of your choice. Buy this one. I have never had to use it, but I know a fly fisherman who would have lost an eye if he had not had a medical evacuation policy that got him out of a jungle and into a hospital.
Using a FFTS company is good for my mental health and the safety of the computers I hate. Plus, I can fly fishing her while the FFTS company works on my next trip.