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The Syllabus (Prospectus)


Initial casts
Knowledge 1
Knowledge 2
Knowledge 3
Knowledge 4
Knowledge 5
Penny drops
Will Nick pass?
The roll cast
Thank you!
The build up
The exam!

The Experience

Nick lands a brown trout
Nick and a pike
Nick saltwater flyfishing
Nick is in!
Nick... again
Saltwater surf action
Nick checks his backcast
Powerful specialist side casting technique
Good luck Nick :-)
Nick lands a brown trout
Nick and a pike
Nick saltwater flyfishing
Nick is in!
Nick... again
Saltwater surf action

Nick writes

Hi Paul,

I am about to open it, here goes... Right so we have the forms about money, except I have already applied and paid so let us see what else is here. Here it is, the TEST SYLLABUS (I knew it wasn't a prospectus) O.K. so I am being examined on my ability as an Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructor, that's a good start, no mention of having to possess a bushy moustache or war medals.

I need to provide my normal teaching aids, that's O.K., got a few of those. Yarn rod to demonstrate timing, line on the end of a rod tip to demonstrate the catapult/unload effect, handle section to show grip. At the very least I need a river rod, reel and leader with a tag. Plus a distance rod kitted out as above. (Any suggestions here or should I just go for the tackle I regularly use? For distance I could take along a variety of rods inc. my treasured 8 weight T&T. I have a load of river rods, plus some in the 6 bracket)

(I just took a 9ft aftm6 since that is all I use anyway - Paul)

I need decent weather proof kit, (i.e. waders etc.) No worries there.

So to the TEST.

During my examination I should be prepared to answer questions regarding my choice of tackle and it's suitability for practical fishing and/or teaching purposes.

(OK what's the yarn for? - Paul)

So, in my view, I am not going to want just fast actioned rods but something with a little more middle to tip. In my opinion, easier for the beginner to get to grips with. WF line of course, but with knowledge of DT properties.

I've come to the conclusion that a good rod is a good rod in anyone's hands and that there is no such thing as formula 1 rod that only the very best casters can handle. I don't equate speed with action either and will show this on site in the next month or so. Why DT btw? - Paul)

I need to be able to demonstrate and teach the following :-

a) basic safety measures.

My thoughts:
So things which, spring to my mind immediately are of course quite obvious to an experienced angler/instructor. But for the benefits of a novice .... Wind on opposite side of casting arm or on back (no casting in gales when a novice). Ensure people stand to opposite side of casting arm, and watch out for people walking behind. Sunglasses (very important). Cap (possibly with Mugwai logo for extra protection :-) ). Wading, never in too deep, wading staff, felt soles and all that jazz. Life saver including knowledge of difference between a BUOYANCY AID and LIFE JACKET.

(no hooks spring to mind - Paul)

b) Assembling the tackle.

My thoughts:

Be able to explain backing, line and how to work out reel capacity. Plus demonstrate relevant knots. Make a point about winding side (i.e. in my opinion left for a right hander, right for a left hander). Explain parts of reel, inc. drag, reel foot. Set up rod, detailing points about matching lines and reels to rods, plus detail the butt, blank (cane, fibre glass, carbon and actions), rings (snakes, lined, inc. the keeper which many novices thread!) and reel seat. How to thread correctly without breaking tip off! Where to put rod when not in use and various ways of transporting.

(I doubt you will get asked this, you will arrive and depending on who examines you they will probably say - "go to it" - as I will when I see you :-) - Paul)

c) Description of rod, reel and line and the AFTM system.

My thoughts:
Whoops hadn't read this far, so see above for most of it. The AFTM system, what a crap system! Stands for American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers or Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers.

The idea behind this is to provide a rating for each fly line in grams, or as is commonly stated, grains. The grains came from the fact that the system was based on the weight in grains of wheat! This was then applied for line numbers 1 - 15 although in recent years lines 0, 16, 17 have also come into production. To work out the weight for each line the first 10 yds or 30 ft of line is weighed and then matched to a scale to determine weight. The lower the number, the lighter the line. Worth considering very carefully depending on size of flies to be cast, distance required and presentation needed. It is true to say that it is easier to cast an 8 weight further than a 4 BUT this very much depends on technique. Light lines do go a long way.

Incorrectly many believe that the perfect moment to "shoot" line is when this first 10 yds of line is aerialised, thus providing the perfect "load" for a given rod so long as it has been matched to it's "perfect" line. Of course this cannot be true to the infinite amount of different rod/individual casting actions!

There are also a number of different names used to describe lines including taper (the profile of the line, and sections which decrease in diameter both forward and rear), head (the front portion of the line which is physically cast), belly (the majority of the line which is physically cast) and running line (only present in certain profiles)

So what are profiles ? This is how the line looks from the side (I have diagrams and can draw them freehand, of course!). For example a weight forward has the majority of it's weight at the front, i.e. it has a larger diameter. This thick "head and belly" section is on average 10 yds in length before running into a rear taper and finally running line which has very small diameter when compared to the belly section. These lines are ideal for beginners who can use the short belly section to load the rod before "shooting" the thin running line which has little drag back effect on the rings. In complete contrast the double taper has a forward and rear taper, no running line and a very long, thick belly section. Ideal for presentation due to drag back on the rod rings, but difficult for a beginner to get to grips with, and certainly more difficult to obtain distance using this line. Other lines include the Long Belly (long belly section, of which over 15 yds can be aerialised, so bang goes the AFTM system! Ideal for experienced casters. The triangle taper is based around this line), Shooting head (around 10-14 yds of thick fly line connected to ultra thin running line. Excellent distance, poor presentation) and Level Line (cheap, crap, no use!)

The AFTM system codes lines as WF (weight forward) or DT (double taper). Add the weight of the line and you end up with WF7 for example. But there is one more thing to remember when looking at the AFTM system and that is line density. Lines can float, sink slowly and super fast. A floater is therefore coded F, a slow sinker, commonly refereed to as an Intermediate, is coded I and a fast sinker FS. To conclude therefore a Weight Forward, # 7 line in an intermediate density would look like this : WF7I. This is the basis of the AFTM system.

(I would say it is much simpler than this and that the AFTM system is simply a means of measuring the first ten yards of the flyline and sticking it in a table. The problem with the AFTM is not the concept, only that it's implementation is by nature subjective - Paul)

d) Stance and Grip

My thoughts:
This is very much a personal thing, and I would always advise that an angler chooses a stance which is comfortable to him/her. However it is widely recognised that there are 2 main stances, refereed to as OPEN and CLOSED.

The open stance is probably the most common and comfortable. Ideally stand with your rod in the preferred hand. If the rod is in your right hand then an open stance would be created by having your left foot leading forward, and vice versa. This stance is ideal for distance casting where accuracy is not the most important consideration as it allows the angler to open up his/her body and gives a longer casting stroke.

The closed stance is more traditional, and is superb for accurate casting. When using this stance the foot on the rod side is placed forward. Excellent for river fishing but not so comfortable for long periods standing still. It is still possible to obtain good distance with this stance so long as techniques such as "drifting" are employed.

Grip. Again, quite personally. However there are important points to remember. Firstly the grip should ALWAYS be relaxed, in fact everything about casting should be so. Rods have a balance point once a reel has been attached, this is commonly just in front of the forward section of the cork handle. For this reason it is best to cast with the thumb on top of the rod facing forward towards the tip.

(I don't understand the connection - can you explain please :-) - Paul)

If one imagines a loose hand shake and picks up the rod with thumb on top, as far up the cork as possible, this is a reasonable grip. When casting like this the line will touch the blank a certain amount. To eliminate this some anglers use a grip refereed to as Chinese Style. This requires the rod to be rotated in ones hand by 90 degrees, so that the reel is parallel to the ground (face down). When casting like this the line only touches the rings and is therefore excellent for distance. The common statement that where the "the thumb goes, the line follows" is pure fallacy.

There is another grip with the first finger up the rod. Personally I find this uncomfortable and impractical. It is more tiring as the first finger is not so strong as the thumb, however some anglers believe it aids accuracy. The name of this grip escapes me!!!

("Finger pointing grip"? One thing it does acheive is a good stop position on the backcast. If you have a pupil who continually takes the rod tip too far backwards, this grip sorts it out - Paul)

e) Methods for initially working out line.

My thoughts.
Not talked about enough. Basically the rod requires a certain amount of line to begin the loading / casting process. Once the line has been threaded there are a couple of ways of working out line. Firstly a length in the region of 2 rod lengths can be pulled through the tip and thrown on the water, this is then rolled cast out to provide a straight line which is very important when commencing a cast. Alternatively a short section of line can be placed on the water from the rod tip. Then by moving the rod tip backwards and forwards in horizontal movements loose line can be pulled from the hand using the anchoring properties of the water. This is commonly called "line stick" Having worked out a couple of rod lengths of line, perform a roll cast to straighten everything.

(or gripping the fly in the free hand and flicking the line out - Paul)

The next part is the casting. But, let's deal with this stuff above first of all! Basically what I have done is jotted down straight off the top of my head the knowledge I already possess. I am sure I have missed a few bits which are already there, but from "My Thoughts" above you can analyse the extent of my knowledge and pick out any gaping holes you may notice.

(No gaping holes. And you will probably find that they don't ask this stuff since they assume (quite correctly) that you already know it :-) Bring on the casting :-) - Paul)

Look forward to hearing from you. This is starting to be fun already,

All the Best,

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