Yesterday our new Orvis Endorsed hats and stickers came in and it always makes me reminisce a bit. The first guide hat that I got to wear and first sticker that went on my truck was 9 years ago in 2004. Since then a lot of memories have been made, sponsorships have been added, articles written, guide rendezvous attended, fish caught, and most importantly one of a kind outdoor experiences have been had.
On the surface, an Orvis Endorsement reads as an advertisement for guides, lodges, and outfitters. Next to my relationship with Bay Street Outfitters, from new guide to head guide, the Orvis Endorsement has been the other strong constant in my nine years of guiding, so I have good reason to believe that the endorsement runs deeper than just advertising.
Often I am asked the question, "how do you become an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide?" Most often this question stems from my endorsement sticker inside my Maverick flats boat being in view while we are cruising from spot to spot. I always give a pretty detailed description of how I came to be an Orvis Guide. I also give a description of the continued relationship, and how the most important function of the endorsement is that there are some checks and balances on us as guides. I hold a close relationship directly with Orvis and often fish with employees, board members, and other Orvis representatives.
When looking for a guide, I refer to a friend that I know has fished where I'm going and see what type of experience they had with their guide, before I even look to websites. A strong reference from a friend is powerful in choosing a guide. If I don't have someone as a reference for an area, I am left with two options; one would be to go to google and search the area for whatever website pops up, the other would be to find a way to verify the guide or lodge has creditability through a reputable source. The first option won't tell me very much, for certain, because there are plenty of good website designers out there. The second option is difficult to pinpoint; over the last few years more and more attempts at 'endorsement' type websites have popped up, where people pay a fee to have their advertisement slapped online, though they have never met each other. An Orvis Endorsement holds more credibility than that.