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The Build Up

AAPGAI

Introduction
Syllabus
Basics
Initial casts
Why AAPGAI?
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
Success!
Powerful specialist side casting technique
Good luck Nick :-)

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!

You 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 admit that 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 going.

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

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