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Ronan's report

Friday April 18th, 2014

I had fly fished for 15 years, 200 days/year, before I became a flyfishing instructor! Actually that's not quite true, it was 15 years, but for the first couple of years I only fly fished a few times but after the age of 13 I was fly fishing every weekend, and all my school holidays and skiving off Wednesday afternoons. By the age of 16 I was fishing every day, without fail, from the last weekend in March through to the end of October. I first went to NZ at the age of 21 and from then on fished, near as damn it, every day of the year - around 330 or 340 days! So when I became an instructor at the age of 25 we can call it an average of 200 days/year - although it was more.)

My background is Stillwater Trout. I was competing a little in my early 20s too - you get roped in - and could generally hold my own on other waters - I was consistently the most successful angler on my own local water - as one would hope, fishing it every day, year in year out! And since my job was working on a fishery, and I was helping people fish, it made sense to become qualified.

To date there are only two areas I have this sort of depth of experience, one is Stillwater Trout, the other is NZ Backcountry. In everything else I consider myself somewhere between rank beginner and intermediate, and mostly beginner! But in these two areas, I'm lucky that I can hold my own with the very best of them, and regularly do! And I'm going to tell you a secret here, the best angler is not the one who enjoys it the most, he is actually the one who consistently catches the most fish!

Anyway, somewhere along the line I think flyfishing instructor associations have fallen into a trap of emphasising casting instruction over the importance of fishing instruction, consequently we appear to have an element of comparative novice anglers using the certification process as a method of testing or improving their casting skills. Not everyone using the certification process in this way is a novice angler of course, just as not every instructor who's taken the exams to teach is the local expert. I have always believed that a fishing instructor should be the local expert - and many are, no question - I've been lucky to fish with many hundreds of instructors who are outstanding anglers. To me that's just normal and how it should be! I don't think there's anything controversial about that, after all it's the passion for flyfishing, not just flycasting, that life is all about, and the one common attribute between great teaching and great fishing, is... confidence!

Cheers, Paul

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