Paul writes:So how *was* the exam then??? P.
Nick answers: Hi P,
Thought I would keep you in suspense, ha! Had the Spanish Guide I work
with over for the last few days so getting to the keyboard has been a
little difficult too, since we seem to spend a reasonable amount of time
either fishing or in the pub!
The exam was great. Ron Holloway was first to introduce himself and
explain that he was a newcomer to fly fishing and then Robin Gow
followed with the same spiel. So, I thought "right that's the way to
play it, act like these guys are just regular clients and make damned sure you do a good job!" They help a little though by providing some
leads which I felt was much better than STANIC which I must admit always
felt a little artificial.
So first off it was the safety stuff like diseases from water, buoyancy
aids, the obligatory shades, hat etc., No problem there of course I
must have explained these things a thousand times. Now on the platform
I was asked to demonstrate "how I would get a beginner going". The Roll Cast is my choice, I think it is a nice little cast to give people
the feel of the rod, get a bit of line out and of course it is a great
way of ensuring a reasonably straight line, so important for effective
and safe overhead casts. Then there was into the wind, and minimal drag
which I particularly enjoyed as I love the switch/jump roll. Note I say
"enjoyed", yes, I really was starting to enjoy the experience!
Next we were on to the overhead, normal, open stance, closed, into the
wind and wind from behind. Then came casting off the opposite shoulder
for awkward rod side winds, so I was given chance to practice and
demonstrate a new trick that I have learned through ME where by instead
of bringing the rod to the left eye, which I always find/found
uncomfortable, you actually tilt the thumb on it's side and kick the
butt of the rod outside the wrist. Then by making a regular cast to the
right eye ( for right handers like me ) the tip tracks across the left
shoulder as does the loop. I had practised this loads having been shown
and believe me it seriously works. I also showed the alternative left
eye thing, just to show I could do it.
Every now and again I was asked to stop and answer some questions.
Stuff about Entomology, Sea Trout flies, Safety Precautions on Boats and
such like. No real struggles there, and there shouldn't be as I do this
stuff every day now and so of course I *should* know it.
Here comes the *Advanced Stuff*, as the Spey's started in earnest. The
Gink on the wool trick was working well as it was remaining nicely
visible meaning I could pick up nicely and watch for good turn over.
Spey's are always hard to visualise on a lake, but fortunately as a
confidence booster my platform was seen to be on the right bank with a
down stream wind, thus the Right Hand Double Spey was called for. Cool,
I like this cast and talked through the fact that in essence this very
useful set of casts are no more than Change of Direction Rolls and have
a great many uses within all manner of fishing styles ( in fact last
night I was using the Single Spey on a small brook ) and with that I
began to demonstrate and teach.
No problems there, although half way
through it suddenly struck me that this meant I may get asked to do the
Single Spey off this bank, which meant using the *left* hand, not so
nice! And it happened, except that they bunged a trick in there and
asked for a single off the right bank with a downstream wind, this I
could not visualise and did not attempt. My brain was telling me
something, and it seemed as if I was there for ages pondering, when I
turned to them both and saw them smiling.
Of course I knew that this was
impossible, well bloody dangerous really, and so then they told me that
really we had an upstream wind and away I went. The left hand worked
well and I was quietly praising myself for working hard on this hand in
It was also good Paul that you had drummed in the fly
being down wind of you during our Mon 15th sesh, which I have always
known, but this "revision" helped me immensely when the "trick question"
was thrown in!
Ah, the Snake Roll. My favourite cast! Easy off the right hand as I am
always doing it and another nice boost to the confidence. Showed some
nice big D Loops, got it all timed and watched as the wool hurtled out
to a perfect turnover. The essential practice in the preceding days was
starting to show it's benefits, except that I knew that I was about to be
asked to perform the same cast off my left side, and I guessed this
would be my weakest demo. Even so, got a few out on the water and
although they were far from perfect it was suggested that I speed up
slightly and then it was put to me "what's wrong with that cast!".
Instantly I answered that I do not always land perfectly my D Loop so
that it points at the target. I realised that I was not being put down
but merely tested on my knowledge, but this incident banged home that
this was a cast to work on.
A slight twinge in my mind that this may
have buggered my chances a little I told myself that all the other
casting had been strong and that I knew that I had turned my overhead
loop into something very vertical ( thanks Paul, you should see it now
Paul!:) ) in just a matter of days and therefore this can be fixed too.
Plus of course we all have a natural hand and mine is the right, and the
Snake is no problem for me off this side. So forget it and do the ...
Slack Line Casts. All O.K. here, with Curve Casts, Parachute and whoops
why did my Wiggle keep disappearing!!! I felt this was my only really
sticky moment as several times I showed the cast, wiggled and watched as
the line landed nice and straight!
Then it was put to me that maybe
"shooting all that line wasn't helping matters", which again I knew was
the problem but I think that this last 10 minutes had just a few signs
of "stage nerves" It had been a long slow crawl towards this day and I
was just feeling it a little. But no matter because before I knew it the
call for "Double Haul" was upon me and I told myself to relax.
Having explained how this cast works I was then asked to demonstrate how
I would teach someone "Tarpon Fishing with a 10 weight and a big fly",
nice smooth hauls, widened arc and out it went.
"O.K. Nick, let's
imagine that this fish is a little further than 15 yds away, which had
been my average cast distance through the exam. "How about showing us
what this 5 weight can really do, how about shooting on the back cast
with a drift they said!?" ... as the backing thumped up against the butt
ring and my indicator line strobed to a standstill I knew that this would
be my final stroke for the day.
We left the platform with Robin Gows
closing question being "what does AAPGAI stand for?" and Ron Holloways
suggestion that "he thought he may quite like to take up fly fishing!"
I thought this was a favourable remark but had my slightly rusty Left
Hand Snake and the flustered Wiggle spoilt the whole thing? Quietly I
walked back to the car trying to ponder on the good stuff and telling
myself that at least it was over now, and when I looked at my watch I
realised I had been there a long time, having started at 5.00pm and
finished at 6.45pm!!! It had been a lot of work, but you know I had
really enjoyed being tested and I actually think it lifted my casting.
Right now I feel tremendously confident and have been fishing some real
nasty twiggy bits of river recently, is there some magic in the cap I
came home with that says AAPGAI ?! I cannot explain the feeling when
Michael Evans welcomed me as a member, well I can, IT WAS AWESOME!
The guys within AAPGAI are great. As I relaxed (the first time I had
properly in 24 hours!) during our evening meal with my goal accomplished
and listening / taking part in the fishing / casting banter I realised
that I was now part of a group that can only further my casting because
there is just so much to learn! The whole thing was a nerve racking
but seriously worthwhile experience and I drove home with a real
Cheshire Cat grin, stepping out to teach my first client as an AAPGAI
just 7 hrs after arriving home!
Thank you Paul, you have been a serious inspiration as without you I
don't know if I would have ever got around to pushing myself to do this.
I am so glad I have now and it has been in no small part thanks to your
time and patience. When me next meet, Beers ( and lot's of them!) plus
Curry are on me. So, when are we going to meet up and celebrate?!!!
Finally though I know that I have a lot of work to do yet and that it is
now that the real development starts. This experience will really help
me to go that extra yard to learn more and try and better myself as I
will certainly have to, to keep up with the rest of these guys. In a
nutshell if you play tennis against the same standard or lower, you
never get better, with AAPGAI under my belt I am on the way to Centre
Court at Wimbledon, *BUT* no where near there yet! Oh, and BTW I have
decided I am going to sit my Salmon next year!
Cheers for now mate and keep in touch,
All the Best, Nick.
Paul writes: Well done Nick!!! Next step MANIC and beware the APGAI hat :-) :-)
The next phase is to corner an AAPGAI examiner; this *will* be fun!