this is a topic that has come up a few times in the past, when we discussed the FFF which is a casting certification programme, however the AAPGAI is different and is a professional game angling instructors' association. Now in the case of the FFF I see no problems with the candidate being an enthusiastic beginner who understands how to teach Flycasting and can get people going and motivated. However this is a very different situation in AAPGAI where it expected that the candidate can teach flyfishing to a high level and not only casting. For me, this absolutely means that the candidate must be a fishing expert in his locality.
Now I realise that our single handed exam is Trout, Sea Trout and Saltwater. I wouldn't expect a genuine expert in all three, but I would certainly expect the candidate to be an expert in at least one discipline with knowledge of the other two. Even if only an expert in one branch of one discipline. ie the one he teaches. For example if my instructor is teaching Sea Trout fishing then I expect him to have VAST experience in this field. If my instructor is teaching Stillwater trouting then I expect him to have VAST experience in this field. He should be the recognised local expert, maybe he's the local guide (and the best one), maybe he competes, or is connected to the fishery - this type of fishing is his life.
As a Stillwater trout fisherman myself, I would expect at a minimum at least 10-15 years of experience. Having gone through the process of learning Stillwater trouting, I cannot imagine anyone doing this in less that ten years - the now Late Steve Parton suggested 10 years but maybe he was a fast learner For most it may take decades. For me it took 15 years of fishing every day of the season - only then did I decide to become an instructor. (I first joined the Association of Professional Game Angling Instructors after 17 years experience).
Not everyone is going to agree with me And it's a perhaps a touchy subject. Skues considered an expert Chalkstream angler to have caught 15,000 trout - and he didn't count the small ones. It's not a bad number. On Stillwaters you'd be very hard pushed to do this in 15 years, certainly with the 8-fish limit I grew up with! With C&R it's certainly attainable now.
Following Chris' comments in the App thread, I asked for a few other opinions, because I am not AAPGAI, just one of its members and I know that there are alternative opinions. Ron writes:
Illtyd Griffiths writes:Hi Paul
What qualification? APGAI, SGAIC, FFF, AAPGAI Provisional, Advanced or Masters?
How many years experience? How long is a piece of string? In my opinion it does not matter as long as the candidate can do all that is in the syllabus to convince the assessors that he can clearly communicate and demonstrate his knowledge and expertise in casting and can teach and fault find and put things right all in a professional manner.
We can only get some measure of a candidates fishing experience and knowledge of the biology of the fish itself, its habitat, food requirements etc etc and its environment etc by his answers in his written exam and asking pertinent verbal questions in his interview and debrief sessions. As we all know most fisherman tell fibs or have a tendency to exaggerate at times !!!!! The written exam I find is the best way of measuring a candidates fishing experience.
I know some excellent casters who also are good instructors of casting, yet are not experienced or even successful fish catchers.
AAPGAI is about "game angling instructors" not just casting. It means all aspects of practical fishing with a fly rod., so we do expect a candidate to exhibit a good all round knowledge of practical game angling with a fly rod. It is Impossible to set a definitive number of years of fishing experience to take a qualification.. Each individual angler is different some fly fish for fifty years or more and still are still crap fish catchers (like me!!!) and some who have only been fly fishing for a couple of years can be excellent successful fly fishers.
I am sure AAPGAI would never make the number of years of fishing experience a critical requirement of any assessment.
Best as ever
What I have proposed to a few members and will officially propose at the next AGM is that we ask candidates to bring their flyboxes to the interview and that we select half a dozen flies from the selection and ask them how and when to fish them.Dear Paul,
This is a problem. Experience is difficult to measure in time, as a full time guide/ghillie might become competent reasonably quickly with good tutelage whilst another person who fishes sparodically but is under little pressure to improve might take a lifetime without reaching even a competent level.
As you quite rightly say it is difficult to have a deep understanding of many areas of fly fishing. This is why I look upon AAPGAI as a tree. The core knowledge necessary by all instructors is the stem of the tree and the areas of special expertise the major branches. The majority of instructors, will in a lifetime, probably only achieve the stem and at most two branches where they would consider themselves to be "expert". I must admit, I think this alone is good going!
Quite rightly core knowledge is itself quite vast and has to be mastered to become a competent instructor.
I hope this helps,
Anyway, just my thoughts on the matter. I'm sure that most people will disagree with me, but that's what makes life interesting