Posted by: AAPGAI | May 3, 2016

SGAIC Assessment weekend

SGAIC Assessment weekend, Fishponds, River Tay

April 9th-10th 2016

AAPGAI instructors: Clive Mitchelhill, Glyn Freeman and Paul Little


The annual SGAIC spring assessment weekend held on the Fishponds beat of the river Tay was once again a great success. The candidates over the weekend were relatively young, which was great to see, and included some experienced gillies with a refreshing approach to their casting.

With six assessments, one trout Master class and various workshops taking place over the two days, it was going to be busy, although the weather was certainly set fair for a good weekend with very little wind, which helped to put the candidates at ease.

As usual, all assessments were conducted with one AAPGAI and one SGAIC instructor. SGAIC instructors present were Stevie Reid, Will Shaw, Ben Dixon, Al Pyke and Iain Kirk, most of whom are also members of AAPGAI. Representing AAPGAI were Paul Little, Glyn Freeman and Clive Mitchelhill.

It was Stevie Reid’s first casting assessment as a SGAIC assessor and his knowledge of teaching, casting and fishing was invaluable. The high standard of the candidates was apparent from the outset, which was credit to the way in which SGAIC approach their assessment process with a period of both theoretical and practical coaching on six compulsory workshop days during the preceding October.

These annual assessment events are also a great opportunity for both organisations to meet up, swap ideas, and learn from each other, which was certainly the case. It’s a pleasure to see how far the SGAIC team has evolved since we all got our heads together back in 2007 at the Kenmore hotel to set up this joint assessing venture for SANA (SGAIC) candidates, who once successful, also have the option (should they so wish) to apply to take the AAPGAI advanced qualifications via the associations equivalence scheme.

The weekend produced four successful candidates from the six assessments, three gillies from the River Dee and one from the River Tay. Their display of casting and knowledge really came to the fore once the initial nerves were overcome, making the assessor’s task much easier.

Huge thanks must be given to the SGAIC boys mentioned above for their hospitality and friendly banter, the ladies who provided lovely food on the day and for the self-defence course given by none other than Stevie Reid who has now made all our travels abroad as safe as they could possibly be; we were all in tears before, during and after this treat from Stevie. Last but not least, a big thanks to Iain Kirk for providing the facilities for the assessments and the many fishing stories over the two days, well done to all from SGAIC and AAPGAI for making the weekend a great success.


Posted by: AAPGAI | April 29, 2016


AAPGAI Autumn Assessment Meeting

The AAPGAI Autumn Assessment and Members Meeting will be held at Caer Beris Hotel, Builth Wells, from 13-16 October 2016.

For new assessment candidates: On 13 & 14 October we will be conducting assessments for all our qualifications: Provisional, Advanced and Master levels in our single-hand and double-hand disciplines as well as fly dressing.

We are now taking applications. For Provisional assessments complete an application form, available at along with a syllabus. Please pay via the Payments page of our website or by contacting AAPGAI Treasurer, Trevor Hayman

Existing members can obtain a syllabus and application via the AAPGAI ‘Members Area’

If you would like more information about AAPGAI qualifications and how to prepare, contact Bob Sherwood, AAPGAI secretary.

Now is the time to start practicing! And we’ll look forward to seeing candidates old and new at Caer Beris.

For existing members: On 15 October we’ll be holding our Members Day, all assessment candidates are welcome to attend,  and on the morning of 16th we’ll hold the AGM

If you need accommodation at the hotel details are available on the application form.

Posted by: AAPGAI | March 1, 2016

The need for good instructors.

W05_2188An article by Glyn Freeman



The need for good game angling instructors is many faceted as there is for any other profession. Some of the attributes needed to be able to function effectively are often overlooked in many cases by many instructors and guides, for instance; does the instructor inspire, communicate well, enthuse and empathise with their pupils or students? If it is not fun and interesting there will be very little learning achieved.

How does the instructor present him/herself? First impressions are always important and usually set the tone for the rest of the session. Is the instructor confident without seemingly arrogant, there is a fine line there. People under tutelage need to feel safe and in good hands but not intimidated or humiliated, nobody likes a show off.

Keeping things simple yet effective is another attribute, over complicating simple task will soon lose an audience very quickly. The use of jargon and technical terms can be a big turn off to any novice or relative beginner.

Being calm and well mannered even when there is much frustration evident is difficult; but coming from a different angle often works and trying to associate everyday things that people are familiar with to get the point across. Knowing when to have a break, change or get away from a subject to return to it later with a fresh mind is a good skill for an instructor to possess.

To promote and educate people about what we do, who we are and why we do it. The more people know about how the rivers, lakes and other waterways work and how important they are for many other things beside for our own enjoyment as anglers the less anti they tend to be.

How much experience does the instructor have? I have seen many “good fly casters” that have learnt to cast very quickly and set themselves up as instructors and guides with no foundations of the sport at all. Good quality instruction is not cheap, if someone comes with a particular casting problem they would like it sorted in short order if they are paying by the hour. Does the instructor have a good understanding of how it all works, have good diagnostics and can they spot the problem early?

There is no short cut for experience; how can you advise, teach or relate to a subject that you have had little or no experience of? Can the instructor or guide keep people safe in or on water, have they done first aid, have they the experience of that water, do they know the clients state and do they posses the right equipment and skills to minimise risk and overt a potential disaster?

In a world where people’s spare time is increasingly limited, where children need to be lured away from the internet and computer games and where tackle manufacturers produce a baffling array of products, it is vital that we have good instructors who have excellent technical knowledge but can also communicate and teach effectively so that our wonderful sport continues to thrive.

It is well qualified, experienced instructors who push our sport forward, increasing our knowledge base and keeping it alive and fresh by testing and questioning established thinking.

AAPGAI qualifications are challenging but they are the surest guarantee of excellence in fly fishing tuition. Our members are passionate about their sport and abilities and for many their AAPGAI qualification is the greatest achievement of their lives.

Posted by: AAPGAI | February 7, 2016


An article written by Ron Holloway.


Changes for the good in fly fishing are welcome, however changes for the worse

should be challenged by all who really care for our sport. The problem is however,

who, other than the individual, can arbitrate on what is good and what is not? One

thing for certain is fly-fishing has progressed through the years and tackle and

methods of use have developed exponentially with the introduction and use of

sophisticated manufacturing technology and space age materials.

Experience also teaches us “old stagers” of fly fishing that fly fishing today is

now somewhat different to fly fishing as we knew it in 1958. Whether all the

changes these tackle improvements have spawned have been for the good is open

for debate. There appear to be signs that the historic attitudes and ethics within

angling and present day fly fishing in particular, have changed or are coming under

threat. Maybe it is that fly-fishing has been inevitably led to change since those

halcyon days of pre 1958, and that these are due more to environmental and human

social changes beyond our control? What ever it may be, there is a growing

realisation within the ranks of us “old stagers” that fly fishing as known in earlier

times has lost or is in danger of losing contact with its historic traditions, sporting

ethics and philosophies. All of which have been handed down from generation to

generation. On the other hand today’s “old stagers” are not advocating returning to the

tunnel visioned, dogmatic Halfordian attitudes that shackled dry fly fishing in bygone


It has, in many cases, been the traditions and sporting ethics set down in the writings

of the recognised influential doyens of the early days of fly fishing that have

influenced and attracted so many people into a life long love of our sport once they

have been introduced to its beauties and complexities. This wonderful sport of ours

has, through absorbing its rich literature and in its practical participation with a rod in

hand, afforded so many thought provoking natural challenges, endless enjoyment,

peaceful relaxation and personal satisfaction to so many human beings. It has been

that way for many generations of fly fishers, and above all it has greatly enriched so

many human lives along the way.

The great technical advances in modern tackle design and manufacture has

encouraged the development and use of some new and very ingenious methods for

catching game fish, some of which, it is feared, now bare little resemblance to fly

fishing as it was known in 1958! As these new methods have evolved and are

developed and used under the heading of fly fishing then it is surely for the individual

angler to voluntarily impose upon himself any arbitrary regulations he sees fit that

maintains their sporting use. The criteria for setting these arbitrary conditions should

be to maintain a code of sporting practice that respects the prey and contributes to

the maintenance of the written and unwritten voluntarily accepted ethics and sporting

traditions of the art of fly fishing.

Is it little wonder many “put & take” fishermen eventually tire of regular predictable

angling experiences? Some either give up fly fishing altogether or as their skills

improve some acquire the urge to move on to seek further challenges to their fly

fishing skills by becoming an AAPGAI instructor or by hunting genuine wild species

of fish either in the sea or fresh water. It does not take much time for these true

sporting fly fisherman to appreciate the new challenges that nature offers. The

measure of the quality of the fishing experience, allied with the appreciation of the

natural beauty of the surroundings are both inversely proportional to their artificiality.

Could it be the lack of fly life that is responsible for stimulating some of the observed

changes in fly fishing attitudes? Or could it be the methods now employed by some

anglers, which, in turn, may indirectly be compromising our sports historic traditions

and ethics? Changes that now see people fishing the hallowed dry fly chalk stream

beats for trout “across and down” with brightly coloured weighted lures because there

is little or no active fly life these days to bring trout up to the surface to feed. Except

maybe when the May Fly are up.

New tactics have evolved to catch trout and grayling. These fishing methods are

quite legal and there is little doubt at times that these methods are very successful at

fish catching but can some of these methods really be classified under the heading of

fly-fishing? Where can a line be drawn, or in fact and more importantly whether such

a line should be drawn?

This being the case should we as fly fishermen even care? Just as the

“upstream dry fly only to a rising fish” code of practice developed a hundred plus

years or so ago, should then similar arbitrary decisions be made by fishery managers,

fishery owners as well as the individual fly fisherman of today. The question is who

determines if, how, when and where the use of these modern techniques are

acceptable or not. To date no one appears to be willing to come out and take a

definitive position one way or the other.

If we really think about it, have things changed all that much during the last fifty

years? It is a matter of personal choice whether a fly fisherman adopts or adapts to

these modern changes. The most important thing is that today’s fly fishers continue to

happily fish legally in the manner that suits them, abide by the local rules and in

doing so maintain and protect the historic values and philosophies and sporting

guidelines all of which have underpinned the evolution of our wonderful sport.

One of our greatest privileges as fly fishermen is to be in a position to release some of

our catch of genuine native and wild trout if we want to. This is not out of a

sentimental avoidance of the act of killing a wild or native trout. It is the awareness

that on many waters of this country which are still able to carry self sustaining stocks

of wild and or native brown trout from season to season, that wild and native trout are

now far more valuable as sport, or the promise of sport than they are as food for the

belly, or sops to the vanity.

So where does all this leave us today?

One of the most influential pieces of angling writing on this subject is

encapsulated in an essay by the late fly fisherman, writer and conservationist,

Ed Zern which appeared in the “Field and Stream”some forty or more years ago

entitled “The Ethics of Fly Fishing”. In essence that essay, at the time sowed the

seeds from which have grown my present heartfelt feelings concerning the wonderful

sport which has been such an integral part of my life for the past fifty years or more.

Thirty years of which were spent as a river keeper on the Upper River Itchen in

Hampshire. When given some thought, it seems that all the problems of life are

ethical problems and so to attempt to separate out the ethics of fly-fishing is found to

be rather difficult.

The essence of our sport of fly-fishing and dry fly fishing in particular, is skill, and

the voluntary imposition or acceptance of arbitrary conditions demanding these skills.

Fly fishing usually requires more skills than fishing with metal spinners or heavy

spoons, fly casting generally requires more skill than spinner casting or bait casting.

Fly fishing encourages the development of collateral senses and skills as in the

powers of observation and ability of identification of insects and the dexterity of

tying accurate imitations of the same. Dry fly fishing hones the skills in adept field

craft it encourages a stealthy stream approach and delicate fly presentation. Dry fly

fishing can in my opinion be a more sporting and exciting way of catching trout we

see feeding off the surface of the water. If, at times the spin and bait and the Czech

style nymph fisherman catches more fish than the fly fisherman is irrelevant because

it could just be the other way around, but then who really cares?

The sport of fly-fishing is surely not a game or a competition between fishermen, it is

an end in itself. If we look at those great figures in the historical tradition of fly-

fishing, they are not the men who caught the largest fish or hold an array of cups and

shields and medals for the greatest numbers caught. They are those men who like

Ronalds, Francis, Mottram, Sheringham, Halford, Marryat, Skues, Lord Gray of

Falloden, Dermot Wilson, Theodore Gordon, Lee Wulff, Frank Sawyer Vincent

Marinaro, John Goddard and Peter Lapsley and many others who have given to our

sport, lasting contributions of thought and knowledge, of the fish themselves, of fly

fishing and fishing philosophy. All of which is set down in their writings and

illustrated above all by their good sportsmanship.

There have always been those fishermen who could accumulate more fish in their

catch returns than anyone else. They belong to a fraternity who have that over

whelming desire to be seen to have caught the most fish. Why is this? Because it is so

important to them, but fortunately no one seems to remember who they were. If our

precious rights to pursue our sport are to survive unmolested into the future and our

angling waters protected and well maintained for the benefit and use by our children

and our children’s children to fish, then maybe a good start in this direction would be

a movement away from today’s media driven statistics angling culture where, “must

be seen to catch”, size, weight and numbers appear to be paramount.

The time is rapidly approaching for us all to pause and seriously reflect on how our

sport has evolved in our lifetime and envisage how we wish it to progress in the

future. Finally and more importantly we should question in what state we leave our

beloved sport of fly fishing to future generations.

Posted by: AAPGAI | February 1, 2016

Thoughts on teaching and guiding

W05_2188Part eight of a series of eight by Glyn Freeman


Part 8.

How does the day end?

To conclude, I have to admit, that some of the day’s on theriver during the early years were certainly a challenge for me. Some clients that were very difficult initially, turned out to be real nice people. It was a case of not looking at the clock and hoping the day would end soon, but to try and get on the “good side” of that person and enjoy the whole experience. Some of those people have duly turned out to be good friends, it was an important lesson in life to be more affable, empathetic and understanding. Return business is a great indicator that you may be doing something right, word of mouth another. New business is also important to give balance, that comes from honest advertising, putting yourself out there in many forms, reputation and referrals.

Billy 005

Going back to part one, we had some targets that were set to be achieved, from both parties. It is vital that those targets are met and the clients aspirations are fulfilled. I have a personal policy to not only achieve that, but to give people far more than they expected without them realising at the time. It is important that the day also ends on a high note! There will be a time usually around the halfway point in the day, that there is a dip in performance, it is common, it happens in all aspects of work we do. To finish at that point will be a disaster, do not get frustrated, trust me it is normal and soon rectified with a coffee and a chat.


A high note finish could be, catching a decent fish, learning a cast that was not in the programme for the day, seeing some unusual wild life or just having a pleasant day on the water. After packing up, going through some of the salient points of the day, the client is dropped back at the meeting point hopefully still alive, happy and dry. Pleasantries are exchanged, a couple of flies, snips or whatever is appropriate offered, any questions, relative information and a sincere thank you are given.

beverleySuzanne 056

To complete the day in its entirety, when you get home, send the client a pleasant email with a series of photos of the day out, possibly with a video of that nice cast or fish being played and landed usually seal the deal!

Posted by: AAPGAI | January 23, 2016

Thoughts on teaching and guiding

W05_2188Part seven of a series by Glyn Freeman


Part 7.

Body language, knowing when to step in and knowing when to back off.

Some clients like their “hand to be held” throughout the duration of the outing, others will need very little attention. It is also important that you are not on your clients shoulder offering endless advice, critique and making corrections incessantly. Reading body language is something as guides and instructors we should all aspire to master. People need their own space and time to put into practise what has been learned and for them to develop.

Demeanour of your client is something to watch very closely. Are they cold, wet, hot, dehydrated, hungry, are they concentrating on the task? Many people are embarrassed to tell you that they are in some discomfort or have forgotten some key elements.

Watching someone going through a pool from a distance can give you many clues on the state of play. If their focus is totally on what they are doing, they are talking instructions to themselves and casting nicely, then they are happy and in no need at that particular moment for any intervention. When the negative head shaking after each cast starts, they then start looking back at you and the expletives begin, it is time to either initially fix the problem quickly to rebuild confidence and then to get them out for a rest, regroup and possibly change the subject.

I have been stood with the client in the water on many occasions when they have hooked their first fish, it sometimes can be an emotional moment. This can have two effects, the first response is that they were happy to be put in a place where it was possible to catch that fish and are delighted. The other response is that they felt that they did not actually catch that fish themselves as somehow you were a part of that process.

Part7a (2)

It can be difficult to get the balance right, you will need to be close at hand to give guidance, take photos of the experience and maybe help land the fish, yet far enough away to let them feel that it was all their doing. I will guarantee that if a good fish is lost, inevitably it will be the netsman fault. A typical scenario is when a fish is hooked and being played, all the client wants to do is wrench it to the surface, clamping up on the reel and giving no line to see what size it is. This heavy handedness will more often than not end in tears, stay calm and talk the client through the process. “Give the fish line, a little more side strain, follow me to a more suitable landing area” along with chosen words of encouragement is needed.

Part7a (1)

Posted by: AAPGAI | January 19, 2016

Thoughts on teaching and guiding

W05_2188Part six of a series by Glyn Freeman


Part 6.

Basics and styles.

I remember when I was first shown a computer and how to go about the task of trying to make the damn thing work! The demonstration was just a stream of technical jargon in sequences that meant absolutely nothing to me at all! Looking back at that experience after several years, the jargon I was fed then now makes sense, but it did not at the time. As guides and instructors, we are all guilty of this as we use the “jargon” everyday, “five weight”, “T14”, “WF”, “pools”, “loading”, “anchor points”, the list goes on, it is a part of our life as it is with any profession. The old adage “keep it simple” is a definite must, if you are going to use jargon, as some is necessary, explain it as you say it to the client, otherwise confusion sets in and you have lost them.


No matter what tasks we do in life, the basics are fundamental and crucial to achieve any success. Get the basics wrong and the end game soon deteriorates. It is paramount when working with your student, especially if they are a novice, to give them solid foundations and a good understanding to work off, from that they will eventually develop their own “style”. I often find that even with “experienced anglers”, there are many of the basics missing. This can sometimes pose a problem as some people are reluctant to go back one step in order to be able to take two steps forward, making further development difficult unless it is reasoned and persuaded to do otherwise.

Style is unique to each and every person, I have never seen two people ever cast the same, we are all built and wired differently. On most occasions we have to work with that persons own particular style and build, as long as the mechanics are sound there should not be a problem. I have seen many times, the instructor trying to impose their own style on to a student which does not suit them, it soon ends in frustration. Good teachers will see what is needed and adapt their technique to achieve the desired outcome. I have found that the most effective way of “cementing” a point with someone, is to not give them the absolute answer but to first sow some seeds. Give them a clue and see if they can work it out, (self discovery), once this is achieved there is a “Eureka” moment, it tends to stick and often I have had people say “have you ever tried this, it seems to work very well?”.

Words of encouragement are necessary, but too many false words of encouragement can often be meaningless, especially when the moment comes when it is actually called for arises.

Part6 (2)

Posted by: AAPGAI | January 11, 2016

Thoughts on teaching and guiding

W05_2188Part five of a series by Glyn Freeman


Part 5.

After the initial beverage and chat, the fishing attire is donned and after making sure that the client is comfortable with all of this, it is now time for the compulsory health and safety section. If these sessions carry on too long they can be mind numbing and the client may soon lose enthusiasm. Start with the obvious surroundings and the possible threats they may pose, then take the client for a wade through the pool they are about to fish/cast on. During that wade, it is possible to talk a little more on the subject and a little about etiquette whilst getting that person used to actually being in and moving around in the water and using the staff. For the more unsure and unsteady wader, it is a good idea to attach your 15m throw rope to their waist belt, if things go wrong at least you will have hold of your client, it saves an incredible amount of paperwork! Guides often take for granted that everyone can wade, not so, some people are extremely nervous and unstable on their first time out and need a little time to adjust.


Breaking the day up into bite-sized chunks is the key, short informative sessions are far more effective than extended long lessons, it is the twenty minute attention span.

First session over, it is now time to ascertain at what stage the client is currently at in their fishing career. Some people say they are quite adequate at fly fishing, but sometimes left wanting with some essential basics missing to proceed further. Do they need to be shown how to put their kit together, do they understand how it all works? Watching this process and asking a few questions without humiliation can give you quite a bit of useful information on just where you as a guide/instructor will need to start the day.

It is so important that you as the guide are relaxed and in full control, this inspires confidence and your client feels safe. Losing composure, getting frustrated and raising the volume when things go wrong will only compound problems further.

I can empathise with that scenario, many years ago, I received some “help” from a quite well-known fishing person at that time as I had a problem with a certain brand full sunk line. The “very thorough and informative” instructions from his lips went something like the following, “it goes like this”, “then like that” and “then like this”! I did mention that the statements made little or no sense to me and were not at all helpful. He then replied but in a louder voice the same series of statements in the exact same words. This ridiculous situation went on until he was actually screaming those same words and was blue in the face! I can laugh at that now, but back then one of us was going for an unplanned swim!

If your client does not understand what the point is you are trying to make at first, come at it from a different angle. Getting your student to initially mime movements with just the unstrung rod at first works very well, (the fly line can be a big distraction). Making the correct noise of that mimed cast and using simple angles that anyone can understand is helpful. Explain and demonstrate how important a correct stance is, how to hold the rod and how the arms and hands are supposed to move. Explain where to look and when to put the effort in the right places, everything is an acceleration to a definite stop. Is there something that your client does everyday at work for instance that they can relate to the task you are asking them to do, (knocking a nail with a hammer for instance)?

Never take a rod off a client who is not performing well to demonstrate “how it should be done” unless asked to do so. This can destroy any confidence previously built, make the student feel small, inadequate and highlights your lack of teaching ability.

Posted by: AAPGAI | January 7, 2016

Spring Assessment Meeting Cancelled

Spring Meeting Cancelled

I am very sorry to announce that we have been forced to cancel our Spring assessment meeting following the flooding in Cumbria. Our regular venue, The Trout Hotel in Cockermouth, was badly damaged in the floods and will almost certainly not be available. The committee is also aware that the severe weather conditions have badly disrupted candidates’ preparations for our assessments.

We are already making plans for an extended meeting (12-15 Oct with AGM on Sunday 16th) at Caer Beris Hotel, Builth Wells, in the autumn where we will ensure assessment slots for all candidates. We are also planning a very special members’ day with interactive workshops and top demonstrators so we are confident it will be a great event for all our members.

The AAPGAI committee has expressed our support for our friends at The Trout Hotel and we will look forward to returning to the refurbished hotel in 2017.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish all our members a happy new year and a great fishing season in 2016.

Gary Champion

Acting Chairman

Posted by: AAPGAI | January 5, 2016

BFFI 2016

10.30 – Bob Sherwood – Going the Distance.
11.00 – John Walker – Different strokes for different folks.
11.30 – Brian Warrington – The single spey.
12.00 – Illtyd Griffiths – Common faults of the double hander.
12.30 – Vic Knight – Presentation roll casts for different fishing situations.
13.00 – Trevor Hayman – Spey casting faults with a single hander.
13.30 – Karl Humphries – The Haul
14.00 – Massimo Magliocco – Italian Fly Casting Style
14.30 – Clive Michellhill – Casting Styles.
15.00 – Derrick Kelly – Faults in the basic overhead cast and how to correct them.
15.30 – Brian Towers – Catching a Yorkshire salmon.
16.00 – The AAPGAI Team – Question and Answers session.

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