Vail Valley Anglers Float Certification Course is being offered two times in May of 2024. This course will train and certify you to become a fly fishing float guide in Colorado. All training will occur on the Eagle River, Colorado River and Roaring Fork River. One thing that sets our course apart from others, is that we maintain a 2-to-1 student to instructor ratio. Additionally, it provides the minimum of 50 hours of on-river instruction as required by the state of Colorado in order to legally guide float trips.

2024 Scheduled Courses:

  • Evening Orientation #1: May 5th
  • Oar Certification Course #1: May 6-10
  • Evening Orientation #2: May 12th
  • Oar Certification Course #2: May 13-17

Lodging is not included but we do have lodging discounts available for students. There are also opportunities for camping close by and we do have a shower facility we can offer to students.

Additional Information

Rowing and running rapids can be both physically and mentally challenging. Being prepared, getting a good night’s rest and staying hydrated are all important factors to becoming a successful float guide. We ask that you please take care of yourself throughout this course. The weather and river flows are unpredictable this time of year. Be prepared for worst case scenarios (severe weather). Our primary concern is your safety and everyone participating in this course should be physically and mentally ready to be challenged.

The Colorado State Oar Certification course includes five days of on river instruction from our team of world class fly fishing guides. Our guides have decades of combined guiding and rowing experience with over 20,000 commercial river miles so you can be sure that you are getting the best instruction. Students will need to supply a fishing license, equipment and lunch. It is recommended that you book in advance to ensure your spot.There is a 50% non-refundable deposit required. Within 30 days 100% payment is required and is non-refundable. Credit cards are accepted

In addition to the Oar Certification Course we are offering a Guide School for one session beginning May 20-24, 2024. No make-up sessions will be offered.

What to Bring

Water flows vary so bring a variety of clothes and dress with layers. We recommend fleece, wool and polypropylene (no cotton which traps sweat and water versus wicking it away.) Bring a hat, gloves, rain jacket, sunscreen, a change of clothes, polarized sunglasses, snacks, water bottle and a dry bag. Everything should be packed into your dry bag, which is crucial to keeping your gear dry on the river.  Personal flotation devices (PFD’s) will be provided by Vail Valley Anglers.



We do not provide lodging but there are several options available for our students. Just outside the doors of the Vail Valley Anglers fly shop is the Inn at Riverwalk where students will receive a discounted rate of 10% off. Other hotel options in Vail and Beaver Creek are endless at this time of year since it is after ski season and before the busy summer season. Additionally, there are several campgrounds in the area where students may wish to stay. For students who are looking to share lodging costs please contact the shop to get in touch with other students.

State of Colorado Parks & Outdoor Recreation Minimum Qualifications

The Division of Parks and Wildlife regulates outfitter licensing and commercial boating on public rivers throughout the state of Colorado. All students must successfully complete the following required training elements to obtain river guide qualification.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Rigging & Maneuvering the Vessel
  • River Currents, Eddies, and Waves
  • River Hazards
  • Types & Causes of River Rapids
  • Scouting & Running Rapids
  • River Rescue & Emergency Procedures
  • Minimizing Outdoor Recreation Resource Impacts
  • Proper Fit, Wearing & Use of Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

First Aid and CPR Training

All fly fishing guides in the state of Colorado Must complete First Aid CPR training. Vail Valley Anglers does not provide this certification and must be obtained elsewhere.

Employment Opportunities

If you are interested in becoming a guide with Vail Valley Anglers, this course is an excellent way to jumpstart your career as a guide. This course will provide at least the minimum of 50 hours of on-river instruction as required by the state of Colorado. Students will be qualified to guide only with certified trip leaders present on the same trip. An additional 250 commercial miles and 250 miles of recreational boating are required in order to achieve trip leader status. These additional hours of training must occur on equal or greater classification water to the types of rivers you will be guiding upon. After successful completion of the course, you may be offered a job with Vail Valley Anglers as a guide. Our instructors will evaluate each participant individually.

Meet Your Instructors:

Our professional instructors have been teaching the Colorado rowing certification course on local rivers for many years.

Bryant Compton

Rob Waters