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.

Posted by: AAPGAI | January 3, 2016

Thoughts on teaching and guiding

W05_2188Part four of a series by Glyn Freeman


Part 4.

It can be an anxious moment being on a blind date, for that is what it can be like for some people which you have never met. Most I have found, have no idea of what to expect from that point even though there has been previous conversation and they have fished before. To some it is the great unknown, we have all been there at some time, a smile and friendly handshake with a warm welcome is so vital. First impressions are so important at the first meet and greet and you should: arrive fifteen minutes early, have a pleasant demeanour, not appear intimidating, yet demonstrate your confidence and have dressed in such a way that is smart, practicable and fits in with where you are about to take your client fishing. Turning up disheveled, late and with the remnants of a hangover will not bode well at any time.


If due to access problems you may have to take only your car to the water, assuming that you have permission to do that. Make sure that the client has parked their car in a safe and legal place and that all their baggage and necessities have been transferred and checked in to yours. That conversation during the short drive to the venue is a great ice breaker and can lower a few barriers. On arrival, offer the client a beverage and get to know them a little better, find out what makes them tick. Talk about the water and where they will be fishing shortly, what the intended plan for the day is, do ask what the client actually wants from the day as this can often change.

Does one size fit all?

You are about to put your lesson plan into action, I presume you have one? Will the one you used yesterday on that experienced person and the day before that with the beginner work with the person you have today?

Lesson plans are great in one respect, you will have an ordered list of items and tasks to get through, a routine almost. But the truth is, that lesson plan has to be so flexible to be able to work in all situations.

I have seen on many occasions, guides, instructors and demonstrators referring to notes from their pocket while giving pointers. That is definitely bad practice, it shows that you are unsure, you do not know your business, you will also lose any confidence your client may have had and they will not feel safe in your hands.

Posted by: AAPGAI | December 28, 2015

Thoughts on teaching and guiding

W05_2188Part three of a series
Reproduced with kind permission of Glyn Freeman


Part 3.

What are the clients aspirations for that day? You cannot promise someone that they will be casting like a dream and hooking a fish every cast, (some do unfortunately!), be honest and set realistic goals that can be easily achieved by both parties.

When do they wish to attend the day and for how long? Ascertain when and where you meet, give clear, concise easily found directions and agreeable times, exchange mobile phone numbers. Ask what car they drive so they can be identified at the meeting point and tell them what car you will be in. Will they need food and drink, can you supply either or do they bring their own? I have experienced clients who have just had a “massive breakfast” and say there is no need of food for the rest of the day, by noon they are into your lunch box!

Should the conditions on the day be out of sorts. Nowadays, weather reports and levels up and down the river can be easily accessed from the internet, these should have been studied twenty four hours prior to the day to give you an idea of what conditions to expect. Do you have a contingency plan for another venue or can you reschedule the day at a mutual diary date? All this needs to be organised the day before with the client.


Does the client have any medical/dietary problems, can you get a mobile signal at the venue, a GPS, nearest hospital, do you know exactly where you will be fishing and from what time to when? This is something you will need to know in case of emergency, at least if the worst does happen you will have a good idea what that problem may be and be able to either deal with it or get some help quickly.

Who is going to organise the fishing permit/s and access, is it within the cost you advertised? Be very precise how many people are actually coming, sometimes that one client can bring the wife/husband, children, dog and the odd friend which can lead to an awkward situation when they all want to have a go and the dog is chasing sheep in the field!


Environment Agency rod licenses apart from Scotland have to be paid for by the client due to personal details required either on-line or through a post office, send them the appropriate links to do that. Is your venue risk assessment up to date along with all your insurance, CRB checks, first aid and guiding qualifications. Do you know your venue well, have you permission to guide on there, what are the rules? Most people are easily intimidated by others watching, this can cause huge problems, will there be others on the fishery at that time and the venue looking something like washing day on the Ganges?

Can you supply all the necessary equipment you will need for the day and is it all in your vehicle? Besides the waders, clothing, permits and safety equipment, have you got or the facilities to make hot water and drinks, spare rods/outfits, is your vehicle suitable to carry all the equipment and passengers over rough/soft ground?

If the day is set for salmon fishing, it might be slow and you may need the tackle for trout fishing also. Fly boxes with spares for all species, disposables like leader material, nets, forceps, items for repairs (needles, braided loops, tape, super glue etc) and camera to record some moments. A check list is a great idea!

All this so far and we have not yet met the client!

Posted by: AAPGAI | December 24, 2015

AAPGAI Workshop Weekend

Are you are interested in becoming a fly fishing instructor?

AAPGAI will be holding the next workshop weekend on the river Eden at Lazonby, near Penrith, Cumbria on Saturday 5th March and Sunday 6th March 2016.

The Workshop costs £250 per person and an application form can be found on the AAPGAI website

For further details please contact:

Clive –

Glyn –

More dates and locations will be announced soon so.

Posted by: AAPGAI | December 20, 2015

Thoughts on teaching and guiding

W05_2188Part two of a series
Reproduced with kind permission of Glyn Freeman



Part 2.


The experience for the client begins long before the actual day out with you, it starts with the very first point of contact. This may be by word of mouth, your advertisement, reputation, an email or a phone call, they say that first impressions count, well this is it!

Be polite, it costs absolutely nothing, reply in a timely manner and answer all their questions and concerns. Tell them everything they will need to know and what to expect. There is no such thing as a daft question, but there are many daft answers, be careful! It is important that your potential client knows the total cost of that day and what is included or not included in that cost before there is a commitment, nobody likes surprises. It is your responsibility to ask them a few pertinent questions also.

Have they fished before? If so, what experience have they, at what stage are they at right now and what do they hope to achieve during their visit?

Do they posses the correct equipment for the type of fishing they want to try? I often have novices wanting to buy tackle etc before they arrive, this can often be a big mistake when they have been sold unsuitable tackle for the type of fishing intended. I have always advised my clients to wait until after they have had a day on the water first, they can then make an educated decision on a purchase. If they are happy with their new-found sport, send them to a retailer that you trust.

It is not advisable to instruct young people without a guardian or disadvantaged people without qualified help.

If there are more than three people, for safety you should employ another guide for that day and arrange the extra permits which may add to the cost.


Generally, beginners may not have any suitable equipment for the first time out and may not want to spend much money on a pursuit that might not be for them. You will need to know what shoe size/build they are if it is you that intend to supply waders etc. This is also important because often people may turn up with either waders that are not suitable or waders that leak which can potentially ruin the day. If you know their size and build , you can have a spare pair along with a waterproof jacket and extra clothing for each person.


Wading staff, life jacket and eye protection to cover all client/s are a must have in the vehicle, along with peripherals like a spare hat, insect repellent, sun block, water, phone, camera, 15m throw rope and first aid kit.

Posted by: AAPGAI | December 13, 2015

Thoughts on teaching and guiding


Part one of a series

Reproduced with kind permission of Glyn Freeman


Part 1


I have been fortunate to be an active member of AAPGAI and full time fly fishing guide/instructor now for many years. I am frequently asked many questions about taking people out on the water, especially novices and how to avoid some of the potential pitfalls that can occur during a typical day (if there is such a thing).

As professional instructors we have a duty of care to uphold , not just to give your charge a great day out, but that they have a safe day, a positive experience and an enjoyable time.

At first glance, guiding people for a living on a river that is in good condition, set amongst beautiful surroundings along with great weather would seem an ideal, glamorous, sublime way of life, and often it is. Your client turns up on time, fully equipped, experienced and with a cheery demeanour, the fish are “on the fin” and he/she has a fantastic day out, just perfect! Unfortunately in reality, the above scenario is seldom the case. More often than not, human nature, fish behaviour or adverse weather, can cause the exact opposite to happen or anything in between that and the perfect scenario.

As professional game angling instructors, a title that will often cover several categories such as guiding, teaching, fly fishing enthusiast, demonstrator, wild life expert, social worker, weather controller, confidant, entertainer, friend, psychologist and even on occasions marriage guidance councillor, we sometimes have to be equipped and well prepared for just about anything and everything! I have many times over the years wished that I had started out in this wonderful business when I was much younger, as I have made many true friends though the sport and have had a great deal of fun during my time on the water.

Hindsight they say is 20/20. But on hindsight though, it would have, in my case been probably the wrong thing to do. Being young, I would not have had the maturity or much experience of life, I would not have had the long apprenticeship needed to have the confidence of dealing with the days that sometimes inevitably head in the wrong direction. Besides that, there was a young family to raise, bills to pay and a mortgage to contend with, the things that guiding just could not subsidise at that particular time.

So, here I am now, many years on with a little more experience, grey hair and hopefully a little wiser. Guiding and instruction, the two titles are more often than not inextricably linked, it is a vast subject. I have broken this article down into several weekly parts and hope there is something in the content that you might find of use.

Part1 (2)

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