Bass Fishing photo

We surveyed 90 of the country’s best bass, trout, and Great Lakes walleye guides to get the straight dope about lures they can’t live without, taboo tactics, the secrets behind hooking trophies on a regular basis, and more. Their answers might change the way you fish.

Guides are a different breed of fishermen. When you log as much fishing time as they do—hundreds of day a year, with clients of varying skill levels—your perspective on the sport becomes shaped by efficiency and reliability. Everything a guide does on the water—from the tackle he carries to the skills he masters to the fishing trends he follows or dismisses as b.s.—is dependent on how much or how little these things help him catch more fish. It’s that kind of determination that separates the professional guides from the part-time pretenders.

With that in mind, we reached out to some of the hardest-working and most successful bass, trout, and walleye guides in the country to learn their trophy secrets and tricks of the trade. Their answers and advice come from years of experience, so take notes and you may just enjoy the best fishing season of your life.

Click the headlines or photographs to read each piece in full.

Part One: Bass

Largemouth bass are america’s favorite gamefish, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to catch. Veteran Florida guide Todd Kersey knows how to hook them whether or not the bite is on.


Part Two: Trout

When you guide in a tourist ­destination like Joe Dilschneider, you learn quickly that presentation and a calm approach mean more than anything when it comes to catching big trout on crowded waters.


Part Three: Walleyes

Guiding on the Great Lakes is not much different from guiding on the ocean. This is big water, and to stay on high-­caliber walleyes, Ross Robertson knows he has to adapt to ever-changing conditions.


The guides: Todd Kersey photographs by Brent Humphreys. Joe Dilschneider _photograph by Brian Grossenbacher_._ Ross Robertson photograph by Jordan Marsh_._ Illustrations by Mikey Burton_