AAPGAI blog.

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

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.

Heidi’s first salmon!

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.


A very happy ending!