Posted by: AAPGAI | November 26, 2015

Do carbon rods slow down with use and age?

Reproduced with kind permission of Ron Holloway


Do carbon rods slow down with use and age? If so, is it significant?

The Long Answer from my friends at SAGE –

Historically this was not an uncommon phenomenon experienced in well-used fiberglass blanks. The initial stiffness eroded due to lower fatigue strengths of the composite materials due to 2 primary factors:

1. The woven fiberglass fabrics inherently have multi-directional fiber orientations which are not aligned straight. In a weave yarns are bent as they cross over and under alternating yarns at various angles. When loaded non-linear fibers tend to straighten and have to move an extra distance compared to a fiber that is positioned straight from the onset. This puts an extra load on the fiber-resin bond.

2. Early pre-finishes (the chemical link between the glass fiber and the pre-preg resin) and resin systems had lower bond strengths compared to the resins used today.

Materials and designs used in Sage blanks have extremely high fatigue strengths and will not “soften” or loose their properties with extended use. This is due to:

1. Selection and use of high performance-high strength quality graphite fibers that have excellent mechanical and resin bonding properties (not all graphite fibers are equal in this area).

2. Sage’s exclusive resin system was developed to optimize the resin-fiber bond with high mechanical strengths. Our resin performance far exceeds typical sport grade resin systems.

3. Blank designs and material lay-up techniques that optimize fiber positioning. The fibers are oriented as straight as possible in the direction of the load. This maximizes strength and reduces strain on the resin-fiber bond.

The Short Answer

Today’s modern carbon epoxy rods have outstanding mechanical and fatigue strengths that far surpass the loads they will experience in a lifetime of use. Because of this their stiffness (action) should be maintained and will not soften over time.

The Shortest Answer


Posted by: AAPGAI | November 20, 2015

Great work AAPGAI members

Kindly reproduced with permission of Clive Mitchelhill

A brief overview of great work done by AAPGAI members


Photos feature AAPGAI members
Clive Mitchelhill, Glyn Freeman & Derek Kelly

AAPGAI Instructors at Borderlines

About Borderlines

Borderlines is a not for profit company formed in 2005 with the aim of removing as many of the barriers to participation in angling as possible for all groups of the population regardless of age, ability, race, religion or social background with particular emphasis on the disadvantaged, disabled and those requiring rehabilitation.

Working with schools in England and Scotland, Borderlines education programmes compliment both national curriculum and curriculum for excellence. AAPGAI instructors have been involved with Borderlines since its inauguration, (and before) in fact as far back as the 1990’s when it was in its infancy, under several different names, before settling on the Borderlines brand. During this time we have introduced more than 15,000 participants (mostly youngsters) to angling and the environment.


As instructors we have witnessed just how angling, (and everything involved with it) can improve the quality of peoples lives, not just those participating either, but also the lives of those around them. Anyone can achieve success in angling and with that success an improvement in both self-confidence and self-esteem. We are not so naive to think that angling is some sort of panacea, a cure for all ills, but over many years we have witnessed the significant individual and social benefits that participation in angling can bring to so many people.


Many people (for whatever reason) never achieve success in life, they may never achieve academic success, sporting success, or success in their every day working activities, but they can achieve success in angling, and with that success comes a whole new attitude towards life. Anyone can catch fish, or even put something back on an environmental level and go home feeling good, and it is that feel good factor, that sense of achievement that is so important, but even more important is the ability to pass that feeling on to others. You might argue that could be true of any sport or hobby, but in what other sport could a relative novice with the most basic of equipment break a national record, which has happened before. Angling is a level playing field, given the vast array of options available within it, and therefore as far as fitness is concerned; you don’t have to be a top athlete to do well, nor do you need to be an academic to take part. Every angler knows the buzz that making a good catch can generate; it can carry you through the days and weeks ahead.

Not only that, we firmly believe that angling has a place to play in reducing stress, anxiety, crime and disorderly behaviour as well as improving educational performance and environmental awareness. Borderlines aims to bring that experience to more people.


As well as our adult coaching and guiding activities we are committed to introducing youngsters to angling and the environment, and over the duration of our activities (as mentioned earlier) the majority of our 15,000 plus participants have been youngsters. Youngsters are introduced to the environment, taught about the water cycle, plants, invertebrates, the fish themselves, as well as tackle, tactics, watercraft, angling etiquette, fish handling, conservation and how to behave in the countryside. We try to instill both a caring attitude and a respect for the environment so that those youngsters will become good ambassadors for angling in the future. If done properly introduction to angling in this way can bring about a sense of ownership and a caring attitude to those participating in a way that continues away from the angling environment, our objective is not just to teach angling, but also life skills away from angling, thus having tremendous social implications. Young people are very soon going to be the responsible adults that will eventually take over the helm of the future of our beloved sport; so we need to invest in our youth. We believe that this is a message those of us working in angling and its allied trades, must get over to the schools, potential funders and the government. It is not just about catching fish it is the whole package.

Borderlines will continue to remove as many of the barriers to participation in angling as possible, for all groups of the population, however this does not happen on it’s own and we are well aware of the abundance of groups in our area (Cumbria & SW Scotland) that wish to take part in our projects, or simply continue with the particular programme they are already involved in, especially educational facilities. The biggest problem is funding, although this is just another obstacle we are trying to overcome, and will certainly continue to do so. Here’s to the future of Angling!

See some of our projects here:


Posted by: AAPGAI | November 16, 2015

The story of a Tweed boatman Part 1

Neil Truelove

The first in a series of posts which is reproduced with kind permission of Neil Truelove


My name is Neil Truelove and I would like to introduce you to my blog on being head boatman on the Upper Norham Castle beat on the river Tweed.

It has always been a latent dream of mine, at some stage of my life, to work on the river. However the commitments of owning and running a busy restaurant and inn had always curtailed that. Until this year when a friend of mine asked me if I was interested in the position of head boatman on the Upper Norham Castle beat. The timing was right as my son and business partner Tom was able to take up the baton and run the business with my other partner Brian Orme, so I jumped at the offer without hesitation.

I have been very fortunate to be able to fish for salmon for most of my life, and I have had the greatest and respected anglers of our time to learn from. People like Reg Righyni and Arthur Oglesby were a great influence in my early days when we fished on the river Lune together at Newton, but saying that the transformation from angler to boatman has been an eye opener. My disasters came thick and fast, broken oars, snapped sheer pins, and most importantly remembering to get out of the boat on the shallow side. It took me two drenchings to remember this basic rule, and a lesson in how to hide my embarrassment and carry on with my duties with 5 gallons of river Tweed in my waders!!

Joking and mistakes put to one side though, I wanted to give back to my guests, some of what has been given to me over the years. I really wanted to show other methods and techniques, and also to get people “fishing” for salmon not just waiting to catch one.

Ten years ago now a new company burst on to the scene in the UK with what seemed to be new and radical ideas and products – the company was Guideline. Their products were shooting heads and fast action salmon rods, together they made a few old colonels fall off their bar stools with disgust, but they made us start to think more. I was I suppose broken down and surrendered to trying these new items by Stuart & Vicky Hooley at Fly Only, who by the way have become my very good friends and an inspiration to me.

This modern way of Spey casting and fishing was starting to take hold, with the ability to be able to fish areas more thoroughly, cover deeper pools and lies with far more ease. So over the past few years I have always carried with me a good range of Guideline lines and equipment. Earlier this year I was delighted to be asked to join their UK power team by Jim Curry – something I see as an honour not a privilege. Now I can pass on to my guests this advance in our sport and the benefits that come with it.

Already the beat is starting to see some changes with people thinking more about presentation and depth, the returns are rising, plus we are seeing a move to keeping fishing with the fly and less reliance on the spinning rod.

This week we have been putting the beat to bed for the end of the season, lifting the boats out and moving them indoors to paint and prepare them for next year etc.

In my next blog I will cover the depths and speed of the river and relate this into which Guideline shooting head lines that have worked well over the past season and the appropriate flies to use on the beat.

Posted by: AAPGAI | November 11, 2015

The Fly Dressing Qualification and the Meaning of Life.

Keith Passant Fly Dresser

This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Keith Passant, AAPGAI Advanced Fly Dresser and Provision Single Handed Rod

You can contact Keith on


The Fly Dressing Qualification and the Meaning of Life.

I have been going to AAPGAI assessments weekends for around 5 years now. Eventually I passed my Provisional Single handed in 2012 after a couple of failed attempts. Now don’t get me wrong I really enjoy casting the various types of rods and lines that being at assessments allows but the one thing I have always loved is fly dressing. The spring assessments however are at the wrong end of the year. What I mean is that practice time for the casting assessments is reduced by lack of daylight time and in some cases too much water. Or not enough water! Fly Dressing through the winter however is a perfect way to keep your hand in. So why not take a Fly Dressing assessment?
Most of us can do a fairly good representation of a nymph or a dry that will put fish on the bank. How many of us however are prepared to put our efforts in front of assessors to have them admired or pulled to bits? We do it with our casting so why not the tying disciplines?

In 2013 in an attempt to get people to take the exams there were a few relaxations on how you could take the fly-dressing exams. Previously it had required a pass at provisional in single or double handed rods. I had my provisional single handed pass so with a big deep breath I got hold of the provisional syllabus, read it through thoroughly and decided I would have a pop at it.

Like all the exams in the association this first level is no pushover. It demands a level of knowledge that enables candidates to teach the subject confidently. A capable mentor is an absolute must. Mine was the extremely capable (and nice bloke) Mr Vic Knight. He must have wondered what he was getting into on some occasions. Even more so in the FD tests there is no silly question. If you don’t have any idea ask your mentor. Vic is very good at answering the seemingly silly questions!
Tying the flies is of course part of it but there are sections within the syllabus that really are required for the exam. One of these is the materials identification test. It’s part of the written test but the materials are “in the flesh” i.e. no pictures. You can pick it up and play with it to get an idea or confirm to your- self what it is. Of course there are some very general items in the test, (no I am not telling what) but there is always going to be a curve ball in there somewhere. I must have had a good day as I came out with 100% on this part. Then came the written test with questions on the flies, materials and history. It was OK and again had a few questions that required dragging answers from the bottom of the pit. My pit is very deep and the answers needed a lot of dragging. On reflection the tests were both set at the right level.

The actual practical test was one and a half hours of demonstrating methods and material, explaining the why and wherefore that it was demonstrated in that way and having the usual “why did he ask me that” doubt. More so than with the casting disciplines the fly dressing exams, and moreover the practical part, has more than one way to achieve the desired effect. You must be happy with a couple of ways to do the required technique. Practice is the only way to approach the subject. LOTS of practice.
I must have practised a lot as I passed this exam first time round. Now what?
Well the Advanced level of course!

If the Provisional is a testing subject the advanced is a subject that WILL stretch your knowledge.
There are more flies to tie (10 instead of six) requiring different techniques, more materials to look at, more techniques to tighten up on and like the casting qualification a presentation to do. The written test is a little more difficult as in the casting test too. You want testing though right?

If you have been tying flies for a while and have come down the route of having lessons previously then you will most likely have the knowledge in the ”pit” to get through the tests as tests are what they are. A good understanding of the foundation techniques are simply a must have. If not then get a good mentor and work together to bring your levels of skill up to those required before considering the exams.
Like the casting exams if you don’t know the technique and can’t perform it you can’t teach it.
Read lots and soak up the information. Watch as many videos on You Tube as you want BUT be aware there are some great videos as well as truly awful ones out there. Pick the good techniques out and practice them all, not all the videos have the right techniques in them.
And don’t forget the tools and equipment needed. Vices? Scissors? Whip finish tools, bobbin holders, dubbing needles, dubbing whirls, magic tools and a myriad other items need to be seen and used. So you can answer the question. IF it comes! As Mr Knight delights in saying “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”! See comment at the start of this article ref the spring assessments!
If I could pass on one piece of advice it would be that if you feel your preparation is not at the right level don’t sit the exam. The assessors will appreciate it.

Fly Dressing is a MASSIVE subject and one which, like any of the casting tests, should not be under estimated. If you enjoy being put through your paces and stretched to the max then why not consider the Fly Dressing tests. You may find you know more than you think.

Oh and yes I passed the Advanced level first time too. So where to now then?

Yupp that one. Gulp.

Walker's Mayfly Nymph: Keith Nymph

Posted by: AAPGAI | November 5, 2015

Message to AAPGAI members

As most of you are aware, our autumn assessments this year were held at a new venue, on the River Test at Broadlands. This proved to be an excellent location that we will return to in the future and I owe a big thank you to Ron Holloway for his assistance in arranging and to Neil Freeman and John Hall who run the fishery, they couldn’t have been more accommodating.

We had a 50% Pass rate as well as having 4 trainee assessors start their ACWE qualification.

The format of our weekends has now changed slightly in so much as there is no longer an open day, the Saturday is now reserved for members only, although we will invite candidates who took a provisional assessment but were unsuccessful.

At the AGM, our Chairman and former secretary Illtyd Griffiths stepped down, and will be much missed. Without Illtyd’s foresight and input from the formation of AAPGAI, we would not be in the position that we are today and we all owe him a great deal of thanks. I will attempt to hold the reins until we have an EGM at Cockermouth in the spring where we will elect a new Chairman.

Thank you to all of the assessors and members who came to Broadlands, it was great to see some of the members that we haven’t seen for some time and to have the opportunity to fish on the Test. I look forward to a return visit probably in 2017.

Kind regards

Gary Champion

Acting chairman

Posted by: AAPGAI | November 4, 2015

Fly Fishing Russia

Aleksandr Chernysh

AAPGAI (Advanced, Single Handed Rod) member Aleksandr Chernysh lives in ST. Petersburg, Russia and lives for his fishing. He founded St Peterburg Fly Club and organises fly fishing festivals and competitions around Russia.

To keep himself busy when he’s not fishing Aleksandr holds regular fly fishing classes during the warmer months (April-October) and weekly fly tying classes during the rest of the year.

In the spring Aleksandr  fishes the Baltic sea for sea trout, pike and salmon and also travels to the Koala Peninsula to fish for salmon. In summer and autumn he spends his time with fishing tours around Russia, Europe and even Mongolia! He says his main fishing is for salmon, trout, graying and pike but he’s caught almost 40 different species on the fly.

Notably, Aleksandr  is involved with a winter ice fishing competition when the air temperature can drop to -20c. However the festival is held on a nuclear power plant cooling lake so fortunately the water temperatures are a good deal warmer! 2015 will be the 3rd year the event has been run and the previous two have been hugely successful. Check out last years event on YouTube. it’s well worth a look!

Thanks go to Ron Holloway for allowing the reproduction if the following article.



Ron Holloway's profile photo

Ron Holloway

There are records of the use of floating flies being used to catch fish as far back as 2000 years ago in ancient Macedonia. One of the earliest documented records of the use of artificial floating flies here in UK was by Robert Venables a soldier in Cromwell’s army back in 1642. He tied a hackled fly, turned it upside down so the hook pointed upwards so the hackle would give an impression of it being the wings of the insect. What’s new!!!

In those days the flies tied then were not called dry flies but “floaters”. Chemical floatants had not been invented or any dressings used, so a fly could only float for a very short time before it became water logged and sank. Whisking the line and fly to and fro did shed some of the water from the sodden fly allowing a couple more casts, hence the evolution of “false casting”. However, a sodden fly would be changed to a different fly that floated for a few more casts before it too sank below the surface and had to be replaced by another floating fly.

Through the 1600’s and 1700’s several thinking fishermen, like John Tavener, William Lawson, Charles Cotton, Thomas Barker, and James Cheetam designed floating flies that floated a little longer. It is interesting to note that many of the developments in fly and tackle design in those days came not from the chalk streams of the South but from the provinces, the Midlands, the limestone rivers of Derbyshire and the spate rivers of the Scottish Borders. Both W.C. Stewart and James Baillie of the Borders were emphatic about the need to fish the fly upstream. Stewart states in his book “The Practical Angler” published in 1857 that the greatest error of fly fishing as generally practiced at that time was that the angler fishes downstream whereas he should fish up stream.

Moving swiftly on through the 1800’s the likes of James Ogden of Gloucester and David Foster of the Derbyshire Dove claimed to have tied the first true dry flies. So, somewhere around the 1840’s to the 1860’s, long before Frederick Halford’s time the dry fly as we have come to know it was invented and recorded in angling literature. The use of the dry fly spread throughout the fly fishing fraternity of UK via the country and fishing magazines of the time. It was only from these sources that Halford and his good friend Marryat picked up the idea on the chalk streams of Hampshire. Halford then proceded to create and establish a dogmatic rigid code of dry fly fishing practice and claimed their belief that they alone had discovered the acme of unchanging perfection in designing and fishing only upstream the exact imitation of a natural insect. A code of practice that rapidly spread to all the chalk streams of the South.

The rigid practice that Halford promoted and instilled very successfully throughout the chalk streams in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s was adopted by all the beats on the Test and Itchen and it still exists today on many of the chalk stream beats. The main Halfordian ethic to survive today is the “upstream without drag” casting ethic , because once learnt it is still the easiest way of catching trout who are feeding on insects floating down on or in the water surface. Over time the artificial flies and nymphs that are now used have changed dramatically from the exact over dressed imitations of natural insects that Halford designed, tied, and the use of which he vigorously promoted very successfully. That is until George E.M. Skues came on the scene with his subsurface nymphs which stimulated an extended period of contentious debate between Skues and Halford and his disciples regarding the use of the artificial nymph on the chalk streams. This confrontation was carried out in a gentlemanly Victorian manner through various heated meetings and prolonged interchanges of correspondence between and within the chalk stream members of the “Fly Fishers Club” in London and the Houghton Club in Stockbridge.. Most this correspondence and meeting minutes are faithfully recorded in the archives of the “Fly Fishers Club.”

Now in the 21st century the quality of rods, lines and reels have moved on rapidly utilising space age materials, so has the design and use of the flies and nymphs and emergers we now use moved on dramatically. The practice of fishing upstream nymphs and emergers has become an accepted invaluable addition to the chalk stream fishers repertoire thanks to G.E.M. Skues, Frank Sawyer, John Goddard and to a lesser extent Oliver Kite et al.

Halford tied all his flies from copying closely as possible the shape and colours of the natural insect. This is because he thought that as he observed closely the natural insect on the water surface and bankside vegetation, so would the trout under the surface see that same insect in exactly the same way as he did from the river bank. This belief did not last, a revolutionary change in dry fly design was on its way. It all stemmed from a book by E.W.Harding (The Fly Fisher and the Trout’s Point of View). Harding discovered to his astonishment that a trout looking up to the surface from below did not see the floating fly at all, whether natural or artificial.

Harding conclusively demonstrated that the fish from below only sees the floating natural insects and or artificial dry fly’s imprints it makes in and on the surface film. Depending on the intensity of the day light at the time and or angle of the sun the fish only sees the sparkles of reflected light emanating from these mirror distorted imprints. These findings have since been conclusively confirmed by underwater photography by the late John Goddard and by Vince Marinaro in America who fished on the river Le Tort in Pennsylvania back in the 1960’s & 70’s and 80’s. What the trout sees from below is all to do with the distorting mirror effect of the underside of the surface film and the refracted light reflections of the imprints that the natural insect or artificial dry fly makes on the underside of the water surface film.

Although personally I do not even try to tie exact imitations of natural insects all my small flies are basically “impressionistic” which also may include an exaggerated trigger factor of some kind, for example, overlong tails on spent flies. The colour of an artificial fly is not all that important in my opinion, but the size and shape does have some significance. Not forgetting delicate, accurate presentation is an important part of the equation!!!

Having been born on the Test and having worked for 34 years as a full time river keeper on the Upper Itchen I am very proud of the wonderful angling history of these beautiful rivers upon which I have had the privilege to work. More importantly my learning and understanding of, which at times has been a very contentious evolution and ongoing development of the chalk stream dry fly fishing code of practice as we know it today has for me even in my lifetime been a fascinating journey.

We all know that trout can be caught with a worm, or a maggot, by spinning, or by one of the various forms of modern weighted nymph fishing techniques, and we know that at times either one of these methods will catch more fish than any other. Many river keepers on the chalk streams have little or no objection whatsoever to anglers practising these methods to their hearts content on other fisheries, but certainly not on many of their wonderful dry fly beats of the chalk streams. Many fly fishers today do not enjoy killing trout particularly wild trout, except may be the odd one to eat. What has held the intense lifetimes interest of so many of us who fish these placid flowing chalk streams is the catching of trout by a method we call the upstream dry fly. This is a method that is so intriguingly challenging, so full of perplexities and uncertainties, that the actual landing of a trout fades into insignificance compared to the intense mental stimulation and thrills experienced prior to the release of a trout taken on a upstream dry fly.

The up stream dry fly code of practice of the chalk streams has evolved over time. It is a method that works once the fly fisher has learnt the necessary skills of adept river and field craft needed for a stealthy approach and he has acquired the physical rod handling skills and learnt the art and subtleties’ of delicate accurate presentation of dry flies and or nymphs upstream without a vestige of drag to a known or marked feeding fish. Long may this code of practice be protected for our children and their children to learn and enjoy.

The strict upstream only ethic is not 100% sacrosanct as even Halford himself said that a downstream cast of a dry fly to a rising fish was acceptable as long as the angler was capable of presenting his dry fly to a rising trout naturally without drag by using a reach cast, slack line cast, or by walking downstream parallel with his drifting fly. What we do and how we fish on the chalk streams is certainly not an elitist, purist or a ultra-purist sport as some people seem to think. Expensive it may be in places, yes, but it is a finite resource as there is little quality chalk stream dry fly fishing for wild trout left these days. We are indeed indebted to the generations of fly fishers who over the years have contributed to the evolution and development of these methods of fishing and the subsequent continued adherence to this accepted voluntary code of practice on the chalk streams. . Upstream dry fishing only is not a statutory law, it is merely an arbitrary regulation set down by almost every individual owner of a chalk stream fishery to which every angler who fishes the water has to abide by. IMO It is still the easiest and most satisfying, exciting , challenging and sporting way of catching trout on the chalk streams.

Posted by: AAPGAI | October 24, 2015

Autumn 2015 Members Day

The weekend of 17/18 October saw a great turn out from AAPGAI members on the river Test at Broadlands to see presentations and demonstrations, and to fish for grayling on this wonderful chalk stream.

The day started with a presentation by Ron Holloway on the history, topography, and maintenance of chalk streams. This was followed by a riverbank talk on nymph fishing a chalk stream by Martyn Armstrong.

There was then a series on demonstrations on ‘fishing the hitch’ – Bob Sherwood; casting with double tapered lines – Martyn Armstrong; and how body mechanics affects a cast   – Gary Champion.

After lunch members took to the water for an afternoon of grayling fishing or spent the time testing new tackle and equipment from various manufacturers.


Martyn Armstrong – casting a double tapered line


Gary Champion – body mechanics


Martyn Armstrong, Ron Holloway – chalk stream fishing


Bob Sherwood – fishing the hitch

Posted by: AAPGAI | October 23, 2015

Help Wanted

In an attempt to keep this blog vibrant and up to date I’d like volunteers to be regular contributors. If you have stories to tell and want to get involved please let me know

Posted by: AAPGAI | October 23, 2015

Autumn 2015 Assessments

The Autumn assessments saw a new member join our ranks and 3 existing members achieved additional awards.

The assessments saw a change of venue this year to the river Test at Broadlands, Romsey.

Well done to all those who were successful. For those who were not commiserations and wish you well for next time.


Derek Kelly – Provisional Single Handed Rod to add to his Provisional Double Handed Rod award


Graeme Simpson – Master Double Handed Rod


Craig Evans – Advanced Single Handed Rod

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