In Celebration of Crustiness


Simms Pro Fishing Guide, Rachel Finn, Embraces a Male-Dominated Notion in Fishing


1. Giving an effect of surly incivility in address or disposition.
2. (of a substance) Acting as a hard outer layer.

example: a crusty old man
Synonyms : abrupt, bluff, brusque, blunt, curt, downright, short, snippy, unceremonious.

We can all picture it. We arrive at the fly shop for our dream trip. We have carefully arranged said trip on the phone and online months ago. Carefully picking our time to coincide with the big hatch. We are also excited because we are getting the “Head Guide” not some green newbie .

We get to the shop early and anxiously await his arrival.  Suddenly an old silver Toyota Tacoma pulls in at Mach 4. The back bumper of the pickup is barely there and very rusty. There are a few token fishing company decals on the truck, and there is a store-bought hasp locking the cab to the bed–the perfect image in our fly fishing fairy tale.

We approach the vehicle. We hear music…we are unsure of its type, and as we get closer our brains are in a state of disbelief. No, it can’t be.  But wait, is that what I think I hear and
see? Holy shit. It’s an ” Older” woman in the driver’s seat with a cigar in her mouth, singing to some kind of show tune that we vaguely recognize because our wives have dragged us to see that show.  Oh yeah, it was that Wizard of Oz number with the green-faced chick.  Wicked!

We collectively sigh as the woman slowly gets out of the truck. There goes our day, we think.  We got stuck with the girl–and an old one to boot.  $%^&*#@ !!!!!

Well, I am here to say that I am an old crusty guide, and I happen to be a woman. There aren’t that many of us around, because we are the first generation of this family. But if you look closely all over the country you will find us. We are a small family, but there are many more to come. I know it’s hard to imagine, but all of the “it” girls we see on TV and
Facebook will someday be old crusty guides. That is, if they have what it takes.

What it takes is the same thing that a man has to have–PASSION . Well, passion and a good chiropractor. You see, there is really no difference here, except maybe a little less testosterone and a few hot flashes.  Older guides are not all crusty either, but we have the right to be if we feel so inclined.

We know the best time to hit that spot in the current water level, and we don’t panic when the river is busy.  We don’t rush anywhere, and make sure we really take the time to place you for the right drift.  We have a relaxed way about us because we’ve been doing it so long. We know when to push you, and when to hold your hand.

Sure you can piss us off, and we will let you know it when you do, but that’s what we should expect from old crusty guides. But don’t always assume that you will be doomed
to the geriatric trip with the crusty guide. There are those of us who still have the drive and the right meds and knee braces to kick your ass and tire you out.

So don’t bum out the next time you go to meet your guide and they are not what you expected…and especially don’t bum out if it’s an old broad like me. Crusty people know
more than young shiny people, and we have sweaters with burn holes older than them to prove it.

Remember that inside that crust is often a sweet interior…who likes double maduro cigars.

Rachel Finn has a Masters Degree from Yale School of Art and has been guiding for 20 years at The Hungry Trout in Wilmington, NY.  She also spent 10 years guiding float trips in Bristol Bay, Alaska and is on the Pro Staff of numerous fly fishing companies. She also has 4 English Setters and bad knees. 

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Established in 1980, Simms Fishing Products is the recognized leader in guide-quality fishing waders, outerwear, footwear and apparel. Their full line of gear is available at specialty and large format retailers nationwide.
  • Jim Slade

    Rachel is without question the best guide in the East!

  • kiki

    What a great article. I have had the pleasure over the years of seeing the many sides of Rachel. She is gracious, funny, kind and her talents abound. I am lucky to be able to call her friend. Crusty is good! Oh yeh and fish everywhere should be scared, very, very scared. Rachel and Simms thanks for sharing.

  • Steve DeLong


  • Matthew Richardson

    If you have met and or fished with Rachel you understand the plethora of knowledge and enthusiasm she brings to the sport. I know every time we fish together we have a great time and I leave the river with a little more knowledge. She has also had a great impact on me as a guide at the shop and for that I will forever be indebted. I’m glad to call her a friend!! Thanks for everything Rachel.

  • Jen Ripple

    This is such an awesome article! What a great woman! I wish I lived closer so I had the opportunity to fish with her :-).