Nate Sipple is a Wisconsin-based guide out of Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company out of De Pere. A Sage Elite Pro as well as a pro for Adipose Boatworks, Sipple recently took the time to interview with The Venturing Angler:
Why do you guide where you do?
Diversity. Hands-down. I’ve been fortunate to fish quite a few really neat places, and I still maintain that none of them can compare to the Midwest when it comes to diversity. To have world-class musky, smallmouth, trout, steelhead, carp on the flats… All within an hour drive?!? It keeps me sharp as a guide (switching from one species to another) and gives my clients a bunch of really solid options throughout the year.
What is your favorite fish species?
I’d probably have to say smallmouth bass. They do things that other freshwater game fish cannot. Their willingness to eat on the surface is amazing. The way they fight and their will to live is unrivaled. Their general meanness is just shocking sometimes. I have guys with exclusive saltwater backgrounds that come up and are blown away that we’re using 7 and 8 weight fly rods on these fish. When I tell them how big the fish are (length), they always look at me like I’m nuts. Once they hook into a few, they quickly realize why we use heavier rods. They just do everything a gamefish should.
What is your favorite thing about guiding?
I’d probably have to say not knowing what each day is going to bring. I’m fortunate enough to be at a point in my guiding career where most of my clients are regulars of mine. It’s humbling and really satisfying to see the same faces year after year. That’s the most “in stone” part of my season. Beyond that, I have no clue what the weather is going to do, what the fish are going to do, etc. I love that. Some days we have to work our tails off for a dozen fish. Other days it comes easy and we all feel like heroes. Taking it in stride and enjoying the journey is key, because most of the time, we’re not in control. Getting clients to realize that and take it in stride (with a smile on their face) is as good as it gets.
What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?
There are a lot of trips that come to mind, for both good and bad reasons. I’d probably have to say the most memorable, for a good reason, was guiding Lefty. People asked if I was nervous and I was like, “hell no, he’s just a normal guy who likes to fish”. And he was. He asked me questions about techniques, the fish, the river … He just wanted to soak in all the info he could. The man was truly a sponge. He could still cast very well, but what really impressed the hell out of me was how he could manipulate the fly. He “sold” the fly to the fish better than anyone I’d ever seen. And, he had more sayings and one-liners than anyone I’d ever met. I’ll never forget when he saw another angler, practicing his fly casting before getting on the water. He shook his head, looked at me, and said “that boy’s got more problems than a pregnant nun.” Priceless.
What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
That’s another tough one… The general bewilderment that hits anglers from time to time is always hilarious to me. That “what the f&%k just happened” look always yields a good belly laugh. Whether it’s wondering where their fly went, where the fish went or whatever, it’s a raw moment that we can all relate to. One particularly funny moment occurred when a total city slicker that I was guiding tried to go all Steve Irwin on his buddy and me. We saw a Northern Water Snake swimming across this section of the river we were on. Now, these snakes are intimidating… Big-bodied, ill-tempered and very quick. We slid near the snake and he takes out his new $1200 iPhone and gets right down on his knees to hold the camera down near the snake. He’s kind of narrating the encounter and the snake twitches. It didn’t jump, strike or dart, it simply twitched. He screamed like a 5 year old girl and dropped the phone in the river. I swear to this day that I saw that snake grin as it swam away.
What makes your guide service great?
Again, I think the diversity of what we offer is simply unparalleled. We’ve also accumulated the best group of guys that a guide could hope to work with. When I can comfortably say that I’d leave my kids with any of our guides for the day, that’s saying a heck of a lot. We’re all on board with the concept that what we do is for the client and not for ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s our 2nd day on the water or our 29th day in a row, that client has been looking forward to this trip for over a year and it’s their day. Everything that will happen that day on the water funnels through us, from the overall attitude and enthusiasm to the successes and failures. We owe it to everyone that fishes with us to provide them the experience they’re due.
If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?
Either Campeche baby tarpon or the Seychelles. As much as I love where I guide and the fish I guide for, there’s always something alluring about the unfamiliar.
What are your favorite three flies
1) The Murdich Minnow – It simply catches anything that preys on baitfish… Period.
2) The Crease Fly – Super fun to fish and really exciting strikes.
3) The Napster – A baitfish pattern that I developed… Simple to tie and has awesome movement in the water.
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
I’m going to exclude things like my rod, reel and waders on this and assume that those are in the truck. That said, I’d probably say some kind of camera. Whether it’s a drone, a DSLR or even just my phone, I love being able to photograph what I’m enjoying. I really dig trying to capture the vibe of the day and then share that with my family or clients.
Do you have any other passions?
I love bowhunting. It’s another “quiet” sport that really puts you in touch with the world around you. Most of the time is spent just sitting there, waiting. I’ve seen things sitting in a tree stand or in a blind that, if I wasn’t hunting, I’d probably never get a chance to witness. Once you get into a spot and let the woods settle down around you, it’s amazing all that’s going on. The birds, the mice and squirrels, the reptiles and amphibians… All of it. As humans, we’re a very disruptive and unnatural force in the wild. If we can blend in and observe, there’s a lot of fascinating stuff going on.
To learn more about Nate Sipple and Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company, please click here.