Posted by: AAPGAI | September 28, 2016

Patagonia Fly Fishing Trips.


A new operation has recently opened in Patagonia by the name of El Rincon. The lodge was recently opened by myself (Paul Becher) and my long term friend Diego Peralta, who some of you may know/remember as head guide/manager from our neighbouring lodge down the road at Las Buitreras on the Rio Gallegos.


We opened El Rincon last year, not knowing what really to expect in the first season. However, as it turned out it all went way better than we could have expected particularly given the unusually low water conditions that all of Patagonia suffered from for most of last season. What we are offering (apart from the comfortable lodge itself) is 20 kilometres of private access to the Rio Gallegos, which some members will already be familiar with, and also a further 32 kilometres of its major tributary, but lesser known, the Rio Penitente.


When we took the decision to open this operation, the focus was always on the main river and its runs of large sea-trout, but as the weeks passed, it started to dawn on us just what we had accidentally stumbled onto by way of the Penitente River. It is simply amazing, totally pristine, and pretty much unfished and forgotten in a quiet and beautiful corner of Patagonia. It is the homing river to many of the migrating sea-trout travelling up the Gallegos, and permanent home to a large population of big brown trout (and I mean big). Most of the details for anyone wishing to view the lodge and rivers are on our website:

For anyone interested in trying out this new location please contact me (Paul Becher) direct on 07860 203770 or email me at and remember, a substantial discount is offered to AAPGAI members, details of which have already been distributed via email (for this coming season only).


The idea of this promotion is simple that we want to get this place on the map, and it is my hope that if you like it, you may wish to come back the following year with a small group, or at the least, just give us, and some of the anglers that you all come into contact with on a daily basis, a bit of favourable feedback (if you like it..)


If anybody should have a small party they are prepared to bring along this season then please call me to discuss further pricing. Bookings are already going pretty well after the success of last season, so please don’t delay too long before stating an interest.

Best wishes

Paul Becher.

Tel: 07860 203770


Posted by: AAPGAI | September 22, 2016

A day in the life – Sue Macniven

The following article featuring Sue is reproduced with kind permission of Dumfries and Galloway Life


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Posted by: AAPGAI | August 27, 2016

AAPGAI at the Galloway Show

An article written by Clive Mitchelhill (AAPGAI Membership Secretary)


The Galloway Show is another popular show that AAPGAI members have attended on a regular basis for several years now. A little smaller than the Lowther Show, but certainly increasing in size year by year. This show takes place in the Scottish Borders at Drumlanrig Castle, a formidable venue adjacent to the river Nith, which offers some good Salmon, Sea trout, trout and Grayling fishing. This year’s show was held over the weekend of the 20th and 21st August.


Derek Kelly teaching the roll cast

In previous years only two AAPGAI members have attended the show to deliver the demonstrations in both the main arena and on the small loch, however this year, with permission from the organisers, we managed to double our demonstrator team to four members, which allowed us to organise a better program for the public, affording us the opportunity once again to project the association’s presence at the show.


Accuracy competition in action

At the show we shared a large tent with Borderlines, The Nith Catchment Fisheries Trust and The Annan Trust, and although Saturday crowds were down, due to heavy rain, Sunday saw a much bigger footfall at the show affording us a larger number of people passing through the tent for tuition, and for the accuracy competitions we were running.


One of our demonstrators, Bert Schaaf grabbing a well earned cuppa

The prize giving at the end of the show for winners of the various competitions was one of the highlights, as a wide variety of entrants took part from individuals to family teams, which was good to see. We also ran a raffle with various prizes donated to Borderlines specifically for the show. Thanks to all who donated!


Competition prize giving ceremony

Another successful event for AAPGAI in the Borders! Thanks again to all involved and we are already looking forward to next years show!

Posted by: AAPGAI | August 27, 2016

AAPGAI at Lowther show

An article written by Clive Mitchelhill (AAPGAI Membership Secretary)


The Lowther Show was definitely the place to go over the weekend of the 13th and 14th August with plenty of AAPGAI members attending and demonstrating on the casting platform. In addition to this we had our very own director of fly dressing Paul Little demonstrating the art of fly dressing on the fishing island, which always draws in the crowds.

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Paul Little at the fly tying vice

Throughout the weekend we had a full timetable of casting demonstrations and casting clinics taking place on the fishing island, all coordinated by AAPGAI member Glyn Freeman who took on the job (a few years ago) of organising AAPGAI’s presence at the show, as well as taking on the difficult task of convincing a range of angling stands to attend along fisherman’s row in a bid to help draw in bigger crowds for the shows organisers, and with record crowds attending the show this year I think he is getting it right and the show looks set for a healthy future as Cumbria’s showcase event.

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AAPGAI’s Clive Mitchelhill demonstrating

At the show AAPGAI members worked closely with REDFA (River Eden and District Fisheries Association) and PAA (Penrith Anglers Association) to offer the public a variety of tuition sessions and fishing competitions, which included both accuracy and distance. This facilitated a good flow of people through the fishing island over the two days and a good time was had by all.


Junior casting competition

A big thank you must also go out to Sue Towers and Dot and Jenna Freeman, wives and daughters of our members participating at the show, for all their hard work taking in the bookings for the tuition sessions and many other chores involved over the duration of the weekend.

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Brian Towers on the platform

These events are very important to our association as it gives us the opportunity to showcase what AAPGAI is all about and to advertise the fact that we are happy to embrace people from all walks of life. These are the foundations upon which we have worked very hard to build our association on over the past decade, so once again a very big thank you to all who took part over the weekend and we look forward to seeing you all again next year for another good show!

If members are keen to get involved in AAPGAI shows around the country please contact our Shows Officer Brian Towers at:

Posted by: AAPGAI | July 15, 2016

AAPGAI at Irish International Fly Fair

An article written by Clive Mitchelhill (AAPGAI Membership Secretary)


AAPGAI has been represented at the IIFF since 2008 and this year was no exception.


Fly Fair Entrance

Since its inception in 2007 the Irish International Fly Fair has evolved into a great institution that brings people together from all around the world and also strengthens the community spirit within the village of Killyleagh, County Down, Northern Ireland where the event is held. If you have ever attended this event you will certainly perceive this strong bond from the very outset.


Killyleagh castle

The fly fair is held within the grounds of Killyleagh castle, a formidable venue which is kindly offered up to the Dibney River Conservation Trust, (who instigated the fly fair) for the duration of the event, by its owner and staunch supporter of the Trust for many years, Gawn Rowan Hamilton. Gawn always makes you feel very welcome and is most definitely a hands on pillar of the community; we would therefore like to thank him once again for his hospitality towards the AAPGAI contingent and for accommodating our instructors within the castle grounds.


AAPGAI instructors

The fly fair is host to many fly dressers; several trade stands and plenty of casting instructors. It offers a great opportunity for AAPGAI instructors to work closely with fellow instructors from APGAI Ireland, many of whom are also members of AAPGAI. However it is not just a fly fair, it is also a place for good friends to get together and enjoy one another’s company.

This year’s event was a little unique, with the opportunity for those who were prepared to arrive a day early to attend some very interesting workshops regarding The Role & Formation of River Trusts in Ireland. Chairing the workshops was Dr Ken Whelan (also an AAPGAI instructor) in his role as Director of Research for the Atlantic Salmon Trust.


AAPGAI at the workshops

The workshops offered up some very prominent speakers throughout the day, and Ken also very kindly managed to find a slot for a small group of AAPGAI instructors to address the Trusts with regard to their work with Borderlines, a not for profit organisation that introduces people from all backgrounds to angling and the Environment, and at this moment in time have introduced around 16,000 youngsters to this arena. This also gave our association the opportunity to showcase another string to our bow. Excellent!

The weather for the fly fair itself stayed relatively fine over the weekend, although very
windy at times, but this didn’t deter any of the guys getting out there with the fly rods and doing a spot of teaching, in fact if anything it made them even more determined to do so. However, regardless of whether you were inside or outside, the Craic, as they say in Ireland, was very entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining, the speeches at the conclusion of the fly fair were just that, and some very special presentations were made, including an honorary certificate presented to Dr Ken Whelan by AAPGAI for all his exceptional work in the piscatorial world, not to mention all his voluntary work too. “Well Done Ken”.


Finally, it wouldn’t be the Irish International Fly Fair if we didn’t mention Dibney the Rooster, fast becoming a very well known Cockerel (stuffed of course) that is presented to: “the fly tyer of the show”. This year the prize went to Long Nguyen from Norway.


Dibney the Rooster

So as you can see; a fantastic event and a great opportunity for AAPGAI to work with many local and international colleagues. We look forward to attending the Fly Fair again next year and would like to thank everyone involved for all their hard work which makes this event possible.

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.

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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!

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