A brief history of the Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors
In the days just before and just after the Great War, fly fishing was, perhaps, something of a rarefied sport, an art followed by comparatively few. Most people were taught to cast by a relation or friend who fished, or by a ghillie – standards varied considerably.
The many reservoirs built after the '39 – '45 war threw trout fishing open to ever more people and the number of unqualified instructors multiplied, producing much poor casting and unhappiness for the would-be anglers.
At this stage, some notable casters decided to form an association of accredited instructors, working to a syllabus. The Association of Professional Game Angling Instructors was founded by such men as Lt Col Esmond Drury who had cast bait from the Savoy Hotel roof into the River Thames, and Jack Martin, who was four times a World Fly Casting Champion. Fly Dressing was overseen by that Master fly dresser, John Veniard. These men set the standards and examined entrants, Jack Martin being the Secretary, writing the syllabus and being the focal point for all persons requiring tuition.
Bob Crosby, Jim Crewdson, Arthur Oglesby and Dick Swift numbered among the early members, along with Ken Smith, the present Chairman, they were joined by, Peter Mackenzie-Philps, Ray Sugg, Howard Tonkin and Barrie Welham to name a few. Examinations were held each December at the Chase Hotel in York.
For many years Jack Martin was to be seen giving casting demonstrations at the Game Fair while John Veniard demonstrated Fly Dressing on the ACA Stand. On Jack's death, Arthur Oglesby took over the Game Fair Casting while Donald Downs became Secretary of AAPGAI. He rationalised Examinations and moved the exam venue to Grafham Water. Michael Evans followed Donald as Secretary and Donald is now President.
The Game Angling Instructors Association (GAIA), as it is now known goes on apace, with such greats as Michael Evans and Charles Jardine demonstrating at Game Fairs, its members staff tuition clinics and run demonstrations up and down the country.
Numbered among the members now, to name a few are such excellent instructors as, Gary Coxon, Ollie Edwards, Alistair Gowans, Ron Holloway, Eddie Hopkins, Henry Lowe, Vic Knight, Peter O'Reilly, Paul Arden, Gary Champion, Eion Fairgrieve and Ken Smith plus many more from all over the UK.
In Spring of 2003 the AAPGAI members formed the AAPGAI (Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors) which is independent association for all AAPGAI qualified instructors. AAPGAI is under the umbrella of GAIA.