It’s traditional to think of fishing guides, or gillies, as a part of the game scene but that is not the case at all. Historically, the Victorians would often hire a professional barbel fisher to prebait and assist on the day, and guiding for carp, predators and barbel has been growing in popularity for a quarter of a century. There is real sense behind this. For many of us money is not an issue, but time and opportunity certainly are. If a busy angler does get a day on the waterside, it makes sense to utilise that time to the full. A guide can offer venues, instruction, tackle and rigs as well as the chance to fish swims baited and ready to go. If the money is available, then surely it is better to fish a lovely water, learn new skills, catch cracking specimens and even be royally entertained, than endure a dull blank on an overcrowded club water? 

Whatever, here at Fishing Magic, when the chance to go out with a fishing guide presents itself, we are going to take it and report back in a strictly unbiased way. We’d love your suggestions for guides we might approach. Guides, we’d like to hear direct from you. And if you have been out with a guide recently, perhaps you could give us a scoring, like the one at the end of this report? It would be good to build up an academy of UK fishing guides, tried and tested by the Fishing Magic family. So, here goes with report number one!

Robbie Northman, Broadland Predator Ace

Robbie is forging a great reputation on social media, and his many friends and followers enjoy reports of his adventures and the stunning pictures of his big fish. He works with Savage Gear and that gives him a further platform to get his knowledge across. Everyone who has met up with Robbie speaks of his passion, his expertise, his teaching abilities and his generosity. He guides in the summer for lure-caught chub and sea bass, but we went out with him on the tidal Bure on a wet December day. 

From the start, everything went well. His directions were good, and when we did go a little wrong, a phone call indicated we were just 400 yards away. We arrived to find his well-equipped boat, packed and ready to go. We put in some gear but in truth we didn’t need to, and Robbie had everything there for a perfect Broadland predator session. We said goodbye to his tame heron and left the boatyard for the open water of the river. The rain was letting up just a shade and there were even streaks of sunlight shafting through the largely unbroken cloud. With little breeze and temperatures around 10 degrees, Robbie raised spirits by announcing conditions as spot on.

The Action

The boat had everything. Big petrol engine to get us to the best grounds fast. An electric motor to ghost us into position. A Humminbird fish finder to pinpoint exact locations. A battery of rods set up for drop-shotting, jigging and fishing endless patterns of crank baits, shads and rubber lures. We were fishing with fifteen minutes of leaving the boatyard, and the morning raced past with perch and smaller pike coming to rubber crayfish, rubber silver fish patterns, small shads and lob worms fished drop-shot style. Robbie set us up and then fished himself – which we insisted on. This was a learning experience and Robbie proved to be the perfect teacher. Above all, this was not dull, no way! Watching the Humminbird screen was a fascination in itself and at least we knew that at every stop we were over fish aplenty. 

If one spot or particular methods weren’t working then it meant a change of lures or a boat ride to the next area. Most of the time, fish were coming our way. We had bumps and bangs many, if not most, casts with fish coming off or coming to the net. We talked a lot, we learned a lot and we caught a lot, and you can’t ask for more. Moreover, this was a perfect introduction to the charms of Broadland with its big skies and endless acres of water. When the sun came fully out mid-afternoon, the colours over the reed beds really did make the day complete.

The Highlights

Around midday we latched into a pike that went mental. We had to pull up the mud weights and actually follow the thing well over a hundred yards… thank the Lord for the boat we thought! In the end, it was netted and once again, Robbie showed just how to deal with a big predator in a confined space. If any of you are just a little less than confident about how to deal with pike, than that is another reason to book a Northman day. 

But we guess it was the perch that made the day. We probably had 30 in all, with many fish between one and two pounds, topped by a beauty of perhaps 2.5 pounds – Robbie doesn’t like to weigh fish unless we are looking at possible PBs or the like. Another good thing about the day was that every fish went back pristine and what gorgeous fish they in fact were. We ought to add we hooked a five pound bream fair and square in the mouth, and it fought deep and heavy like a thirty pound pike… for about thirty seconds. Robbie even unhooked that fish for us as well – very much beyond the call of duty.

Robbie’s Guiding Facts

He is out on the river and Broads pursuing pike and perch between October and mid-March. From June to September, he specialises in lure-caught chub on the upper rivers, where he loves to fish poppers above all. If you have a yearning to see the Norfolk coast, Robbie can take you to some pretty hush-hush bass marks, though in some places it helps if you are physically fit. His boat can take up to two guests and we would rate this a great day out for two mates, or even a father – son/daughter excursion. Robbie is hot on safety so you will be provided with life jackets, but his passion is the fish and nothing but the fish so we’d advise taking your own lunch!
Contact Robbie on 07398 970734 or by email at

The Score

Equipment – we’d say an easy 9/10 here. The boat had top, new, well maintained engines. The fish finder was great and easy to read. There were plenty of nets for every size of fish and the array of rods and lures was staggering. He even provided lobs for live drop-shotting. Comfort might be the only question mark, but the boat is compact, cosy and certainly seaworthy!

Teaching – again 9/10. Robbie is relatively new to guiding and sometimes needs to be drawn out by asking questions. But his replies are awesome in their depth and clarity. If you want to learn lures, then this is the man!

Variety – 10/10. Robbie made sure the 8 hour day went like 8 minutes. There was barely a minute with no action. We guess we fished a score of different swims with action pretty much from the off. If nothing happened after five minutes the lures were changed or it was away to a new area. This could not have been more different to a traditional slow day’s dead-baiting.

Action – obviously 10/10 again. We had over a dozen specimen fish and a score of decent ones. Takes. Dropped fish. Great battles. Heart-stopping head shakers. Bring it on! Of course, it is vital to remember this was OUR day. These are wild fish and our session coincided with great conditions. On natural waters, there can never be complete guarantees. 

A Good Day? Well, what was not to like? 9/10 here simply because we don’t want the score to go to his head. It might be an idea to halt for half an hour at lunch time, perhaps outside one of the riverside pubs – when Covid allows. That would break the day and allow for a comfort break – not everyone relishes peeing in a plastic bottle!