AAPGAI blog.

An eight part series on taking people out on the water.

Part five.

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.