Paul writes: Well how was it then????
Nick answers: Here's the story, things couldn't have got off to a worse start!
As you know I am a pretty busy guy these days and in the run up to my
APGAI examination I was sorting a million and one things associated withn
running a full time fly fishing business, anyway this meant that there
was much tyre smoke as I squealed off up the hill out of my home town,
late as usual! Mind you as you found out on Monday last Paul a Golf Gti
can do some serious shit in the right hands and so it was that in no
time I was going over the Severn Bridge heading for the land of rarebit.
Got to the toll booth, handed over my plastic, got it chucked back at me
and asked for cash since Wales hasn't got around to credit card
technology yet. Problem was I was banking on picking up my cash from an
ATM in Wales, should have known better I guess. So there I am at 6pm
with a shed load of seriously pissed off drivers behind me. They send
out a Land Rover, open the barrier and then escort me back across the M4
( In front of everyone!) towards Blighty! Now I am bombing back down
the M5 to a service station for cash just so I can get into Wales!
should have seen the power slides going on and at one point my pocket
rocket was nudging 115 mph. Yes I was on the AAPGAI trail and there was
no damn way that some Toll Booth operator was going to stop me!
With a nice crisp 20 in my wallet it was back over the bridge and this
time they let me in. The rest of the journey was really cool and I must
Wales as it is actually a damn pretty place. Around 7.45 pm I rolled up
in the hotel car park ready for the evening meal scheduled for 8.30pm.
Having scoffed my face silly it was into the lounge to bite nails, along
with everyone else. Even so the guys running the show did their very
best to relax us by getting the likes of Ken Smith doing some excellent
jokes and Gary Champion taking off our favourite West Country comedian,
Jethro to a T. Even so the fidgeting going on was very noticeable and
most headed for the sack. Not me of course as I enjoy late nights and
of course the odd jar and as Gwilym Hughes had opened a nice LBV Port it
seemed a shame to let it go to waste! Plus there was some really good
cheese to go with it.
Finally I hit the hay and suprisingly went out like a light, until
around 3.30am, when I woke up going through pile casts, snake rolls and
visualising vertical loops. This really helped actually, but more on
that later. Up at 7am, down for Brekky and then .... well nothing. You
see the exams started at 9.00 am, with Lunch at 12.45pm and then exams
continuing until 6pm. I was due on at 4.45pm! So now there I was with
7hrs to kill!!! There was only one thing for it, practice! So as a
rather nervous looking lot headed off for their "torture" I pulled on my
boots, strung up the 9ft T&T Vector ( seriously getting to like this rod
now BTW ) for a 5 line and headed towards the River Irfon.
With me was a very nice guy called Jackie Coyne who had come over from
Ireland. 1/2 an hour we spent enjoying the Welsh scenery, flicking the
rods, thinking through the questions we were going to be asked and
generally enjoying life. Then JC got on to the Snake Roll and asked me
for a little help as this is one of my favourite casts, and so I did.
Except for one small problem, my rather overpriced and totally
impractical Hunter Wellies decided that they were NOT going to remain
stuck to the Welsh terra firma and promptly gave me a better view of the
Irfon than I would have liked!
My boots were filled, my trousers
completely soaked, as was my neatly pressed shirt etc., which I had
carefully prepared and transported up to Builth Wells on a hanger! This
was not good and so sheepishly I left Jackie to practice, feeling very
sorry for myself as I was just starting to get into the practice session
Arriving back at the hotel I did my best to look dry and crept past
the receptionist in my water filled Hunters ( taking them off would have
been a dead give away ) and up to my room where I changed into dry kit.
My pride repaired I decided I needed to get back to the practice and
this time swapped my poncy Hunters for a rather better set of Simms
breathables and felt sole boots. Mind you while I was doing this the
first sombre faces were arriving back with all sorts of comments
regarding their performances and examiners! But, I put it to the back
of my mind and made a 2nd sortie to the River.
The next couple of hours
were cool and I really got the wrist lined up, the rolls coming off both
sides and with the river as an aid got right back into my Speys, these
are seriously helpful casts and I intend to spend a lot more time
practising them. The most important thing was that I was loosening and
things were starting to flow, and my loop was going out vertical. I was
feeling good, which was supprising since there was now about 4hrs to go.
And so it went on. Lunch was fine except many people were feeling down
about their performance and explaining that hey had frozen during the
exam. Better get looser I thought, so down to the river again. I
carried on playing with all the casts, snakes, single and double Speys,
overheads, double haul, switch, curve, pile, wiggle, aerial mends, reach
and my leader length.
I didn't want too much leader as let's face it we
want superb turn over all the time, but especially for an exam, and wool
which was my substitute fly is quite air resistant. Having experimented
I arrived at a 6ft Knotless Tapered Leader as ideal, with peach wool
tied on the end with a blood knot. This I then greased heavily with
Gink along with the wool so that it would not absorb too much water and
pull under. For the exam I put together a brand new leader set up.
And then it was 4pm, just 45 minutes to go and I was on! I could not
believe how quickly the time had gone and now here I was. Final
preparation was checking all my joining knots to ensure they were ultra
small, well ginked leader and wool and a good dose of line cleaner and
slick. My Rio Indicator Line and T&T was now ready for business and so
was I. Platform A, here I come.
I was feeling quite relaxed until I
walked through the gate, and spotted Platform A. Suddenly my throat was
dry and I realise that I was about to find out first hand what AAPGAI is
all about ....
To be continued... !!! :D :D :D Nick