The world's best flyfishing site.



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

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 my practice.

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!

Return to whence you came