An Introduction to The Game Anglers Instructors’ Association

From earliest recorded times the fly fisher has striven for the perfect cast.  The casting of a fly, using a rod with weighted line, appears to the uninitiated a thing of magic. To the half competent fly fisher, once mastered, the casting of the fly into or onto lake or stream is a thing of ease, beauty and personal satisfaction.   Most beginners gain their first instruction of the fly rod and line via family or friends and told to practice the art on the back lawn.   Many times, on our back lawn I managed to catch and land a record rose bloom much to the consternation of my mom.  Then with experience gained I moved on to the Cricket pitch and finally at the tender age of fifteen the River Monnow, where I managed to strip the leaves off trees, the banks of flowers and almost an armful of fluff from my dad’s ‘woolly pully’ which my mom had insisted I wear as a wind jammer “as the rivers in Wales could be cold places“. The fact it was mid June and half way through a heat wave cut no ice with her.  Needless to say I caught zilch but I was bitten by the bug and have fly fished ever since.

So what is all this leading up to?  It’s leading up to a professional organisation internationally known as The Game Anglers Instructors Association GAIA, the UK’s premier teaching organisation of game fishing; unknown to many and in need of more representation in the Central Midlands and UK generally. GAIA was formed in 2002 from the original APGAI (founded 1969) and became the umbrella organisation for STANIC (Salmon and Trout national instructors certificate), SGAIC (Scottish game angling instructors certificate) etc.

For years and years game fishing has been seen by many as an elitist sport.  This could not be further from the truth.  GAIA, as with many of their qualified instructors, has sought to dispel this myth and with The Angling Trust, Fishing4Schools and other organisations is chipping away at this out dated elitist attitude.

However, there is a problem with the sport; and the problem is age. The average age of a fly fisher is mid fifties and the sport needs new participation from all ages and abilities.  That is why Target Fly will be encouraging new members into the sport by hold teaching sessions on their land and rivers at Alcester, Warwickshire.  You will be able to meet GAIA instructors, talk about and practice fly casting.  For the new member, weekend taster courses will be organised with food laid on and normal facilities available.

Experienced fly fishers will be encouraged to Join GAIA and eventually become qualified instructors.

Since my initial concept of Target Fly I have relied on the wealth of experience and sound advice from Rob Doyle – Regional Co-Ordinator GAIA –   Rob has become a good friend and with our planned instruction courses all participants will be in safe hands.

So over to you Rob:


Hi, My name is Rob Doyle and I’ve been passionate about angling since I can remember.  I started coarse fishing with my dad when I was 5 catching minnows and assorted tiddlers on the Wey Navigation Canal or River Wey. This led to sea fishing when on family holidays and the total love of all things fishing.  I learned to appreciate and respect the friendship of other anglers and the unbeatable beauty of the countryside and the sea.

Following a move from Surrey to Poole in Dorset several years ago I took up fly fishing which quickly became an all consuming passion.  My passion was heightened when I joined the Wimborne Angling Club.  I became a committee member and for over twelve years took on the responsibility of minding the Club’s game fishing waters.   While in the roll of warden I realised I wanted to teach and help others.  But to do this competently I realised I would have to teach correctly therefore my technique needed improvement.  I contacted a number of people and was advised to take the new (at the time) Level 2 certificate in coaching angling. This included a technical assessment which allowed me to join GAIA as a full member. I have since gone on to pass my Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors Certificate in single handed techniques.

I am now Regional Co-Ordinator for GAIA and have been for the last three years helping with the organisation of GAIA’s presence at the Game Fair.  I also organise regional events in the South with a regular get together at Holbury Lakes, Nr Romsey Hants.

I am an instructor with Fishing4Schools and instruct youngsters how to cast correctly,  the art of Watercraft and not to ignore their own Safety or the safety of others.   Being able to swim is a must, but can be excused if the correct buoyancy aides are worn.  Non swimmers should always be in the company of others always wearing a buoyancy aid.

Many people see fly fishing as Trout or Salmon only – a two fish sport.  To some purists it probably still is, but to me all fish can be caught on a dry or wet fly.  Over the years I have caught my fair share of Carp, Pike, Roach and Rudd and ventured into sea fly fishing catching Mackerel and Garfish Pollock and Bass.

Since becoming a qualified instructor I have established my own business – Dorset On The Fly – which in itself has allowed me to meet many people and earn extra cash.  My Email address is

So in conclusion what am I leading up to?  As Neil has pointed out we need more people taking up fly fishing and GAIA needs more instructors to teach them.

So if you are interested in becoming an instructor please visit our web site –  or for more detailed information contact  GAIA Admin at –

I look forward to meeting you as a new GAIA member and if you are ever in Dorset and want a days organised fly fishing on sea, river or lake please contact me.


Neil Johnson & Rob Doyle 2017.

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