I am sometimes asked how I got into instruction. Back in 1992, I held a job as a Contracts Administrator for a well-known Norwegian oil company, and I was up at a construction yard in mid-Norway. As part of my job, I had to find courses for our team: fly tying, knife-making etc. I had been to a fly casting instruction course, and I quickly found out that the “instructors” couldn’t communicate what they knew, and also because of the large numbers of participants on the course, they were unable to correct mistakes – assuming they knew how to! That caused me to embark on a very expensive process of visiting instructors in the UK: the cost of travel and taking time off work etc., also partly motivated by the fact that my few few years here were challenging: living here can be a lonely experience! (Motivation for my current day job!)
The first instructor I visited was the late, great Hugh Falkus: I spent two days of 1-1 instruction with him: 8 hours a day punctuated by refreshment (of the malt variety!)
The next instructor was Simon Gawesworth (now at Rio Products.) This was again very useful, and Simon’s style was very different from that of HF. I still regard Simon as one of the best and clearest communicators that I have met in this particular field. It was Simon that recommended that I take an instructor qualification, at that time STANIC (Salmon & Trout Association National Instructor.) As I recall, Simon was a pioneer in the use of trout rods for spey casting: one would have been pretty limited with a 15′ two-handed rod on some of those Devon rivers. I still remember his “Heineken Casts”: the combined casts with the single handed rod that “got to the parts of the river that no other casts did.” (Heineken advertisement: “the beer that reaches the parts of the body that no other beer does.”)
Subsequent trips to Derek Brown (Scotland), the late Rob Horsfall (Lancashire, UK), Ally Gowans (Scotland), Paul Arden (Essex, UK) and (post-qualification) Robert Gillespie (Ireland) and William van der Vorst (Netherlands) were valuable and useful to understand variations in style. In Norway, I spent a day 1-1 with Mathias Lilleheim at the Olympic Centre in Oslo.
Eventually, I was certified as an APGAI instructor (Salmon & Trout) (Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors) http://www.aapgai.co.uk, and I also hold the FFF’s THCI certificate (International Federation of Fly Fishers) (Two-handed Casting Instructor) http://www.fedflyfishers.org/Default.aspx . (The road to the Holy Grail has not ended!)
It must be fantastic to be able to live on one’s earnings as a full-time angling instructor, but this is Norway and we have a relatively short season and a small market, and so I don’t do that. I instruct mainly during the summer months and mainly on this river.
The main demand is for fly-casting instruction, either with a single-handed rod or a double hander. I use both long lines and shooting heads on double-hander rods, and so I can instruct you to cast and fish with either. (Spey cast or Underhand Cast.)
As I am an “independent” instructor, i.e., not linked to a distributor, my instruction is tailor-made. The potential customer tells me what they want to achieve, the number of hours that they would like to spend, and I prepare. I look at what you can do already, and go from there.
Most of my instruction is 1-1 or 1-2. I am focused on customer satisfaction and on the customer receiving as much value and instruction as is possible. I generally prefer not to take groups larger than 3 anglers if the objective is serious instruction: a greater number does compromise the quality of the instruction. Sometimes this may involve repeat visits, after practicing newly-acquired casting skills. Other anglers want a combined casting and fishing experience, and I will construct a package to your specification.
I have taught pupils from well over 25 countries, from the age of 7 to 75, and from all levels and walks of life, including one ambassador, royalty/aristocracy and international military personnel.
In terms of experience, my pupils have ranged from novices to anglers with over 25 years of angling experience. What am I trying to say? Well, I suppose my unusual employment background may mean that I am pretty versatile. Successful tuition is a lot about personal chemistry and focus on communication, and fly fishing instructors are communicators, not brain surgeons!
As I mentioned, the fact that I live by one of Norway’s most prolific salmon rivers means that customers are mainly interested in salmon casting/fishing, but this also involves single handed casting skills that can be used for trout fishing.
One thing to emphasize: both AAPGAI and the FFF are insistent that their instructors are not bound to one particular style, and should be able to demonstrate several. Principles of casting are the bedrock, irrespective of casting style; the latter is simply our personal “application” of the basic principles, based on our differences in physique, strength etc.
I have also been involved in corporate arrangements at other locations and team-buildings. I can supply some items of fishing tackle for instruction and fishing and also make tailor-made packages. Contact me to discuss your wishes and to obtain a fixed price.