How much should I tip my guide or captain?
The truth about tipping on fishing charters in Cancun
Many clients ask us what the appropriate tip would be on their charter and although tipping is always optional it will be highly appreciated. Most of the offshore crew and fly fishing guides do not own the boat but are employees. Offshore crew make their money of the fish they catch, fish mounts and tips. Light Tackle and Fly fishing guides in Cancun or around Mexico usually don’t kill the fish but rely on gratuities of their clients. As any other services in the US and Canada (restaurants, bars or tours) an average tip range from 15 to 20% of the price.
On Offshore Charters it’s all about the service they provide, not about the amount of fish you catch. If you go on a deep sea fishing charter in Cancun and the crew works hard all day (changing baits, different tactics and move to different spots) and making sure you have a good time then that should be rewarded no matter how many fish you do or do not catch. Also important is that there are usually 2 to 3 crew members on the boat and they share their tips.
On a Cancun fishing charter boat there are a few thing that are important to me that will make me determine how much I am going to tip the crew:
- Being introduced to the crew and asked what type of fishing (trolling, bottom fishing) I want to do.
- Cleanness of the boat (no blood or guts from yesterday’s trip) and general condition of the gear you’ll be fishing with.
- Being offered drinks or food (If provided) on a regular base and being asked if everything is ok.
- Letting me know what’s going on, for example when moving to a different spot, or when changing tactics or baits.
- I don’t expect to be entertained throughout a trip but I also don’t like to be ignored (when the crew just sits on the top of the boat with the captain and don’t speak to you).
- When getting back to the dock it’s always nice being asked if I want to take back some fish, have them fillet it and bag it for me. If you caught a bunch of fish….don’t take it all but leave some for the crew too as they can sell it on the fish market.
When all the above mentioned requirements are met I’m usually more than happy to leave $100 to $150 US tip on a private charter no matter how many fish I caught.
If you’re paying 700, 800 or 1000 US for a private charter boat I think you should be able to take care of your captain and crew too.
Tipping Inshore/ Fly Fishing Guides is different than when fishing in Cancun on an offshore charter. When in Cancun fly fishing or inshore fishing you’re on an 18ft skiff with your guide for 4, 6 or 8 hour. Some of the guides don’t speak fluent English but they make up for that by working hard to find you fish. It is also important to let your guide know up front what type of fishing you would like to do. If you don’t care too much about what you catch and just want to have a good time then he will probably take you to different areas to try and catch Jacks, Barracudas and Snappers. But If you’re fly fishing and want to catch a Tarpon or Permit he will need to pole the boat and try to find these fish so you can sight fish for them.
Here is a guideline for things to keep in mind when tipping your guide:
- Overall state of the equipment you’ll be fishing with.
- Willingness to help you when needed (casting tips, hook setting, retrieve)
- Communication on where to cast and when.
- When sight fishing your guide should be poling the boat to find the fish.
- Helping landing the fish and take pictures.
- Is my guide still passionate about his job and excited when you catch a fish rather than a burned out grumpy guide.
When sight fishing for the big 4 (Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit and Snook) it’s all about how may shots you got. Many times clients got 20 shots at Tarpon, 4 shots at Permit but didn’t land any of them due to poor casting (getting hooked up in the mangroves, casting way off target or casting right on top of the fish and spook them. This should not affect the tip of your guide. His primary job is to find you the fish, when he does……it’s all in your hands. They can give you some hints on how to improve your casting but they are not there to teach you how to fly fish as this will take more than just one day out on the water.
When fishing multiple days and you are planning on tipping your guide at the end of your last day, make sure he knows that rather than shaking his hand and say; “See you tomorrow amigo”. He might think that he won’t get any tip and needless to say he probably won’t be very animated on your next few trips.
Here’s guideline to what a standard tip would be:
4 hour inshore trip: $30 to $50 US
6 hour inshore trip: $40 to $60 US
8 hour inshore trip: $50 US and up
Last but not least, tipping is always optional and although highly appreciated it should be earned!