A bout of the flu during one of Europe’s casting courses reinforced my thinking that, in order to move forward, I need to have more people trained in my particular style of both teaching fly fishing and casting.
The past ten years has seen the number of customers steadily increasing, with both fishing/casting courses and hosted fishing becoming ever more popular. Like any other business, people want to be involved/associated with those seen as being “the best” and due to the nature of this business, the most trustworthy and reliable.
Trust, and providing genuine information is one of the ingredients require for continuing success, which is why I’m very choosy as to whom I work with. High standards across the board is the criteria required for anyone wishing to work with me as part of my team. But high standards in what? Well, when people come to a casting course for instance, they want to be coached by someone with good teaching skills and a good hold of each different style of casting. However, although important, this is not the only requirement. They must also have another, equally important attribute, personality and people skills. What makes an exceptional teacher/host? Well, the answer to this is, knowing when to impart information, and when to keep quiet. Knowing when a client requires moral support or when they need to laugh. The other great attribute of an expert in this field is, the ability to create harmony within the “group”. This is the Criteria required.
One of the worst things for the customer, but best thing for me, when it comes to hosted fishing is, for the most, its run by amateurs, more interested in fishing themselves than providing an unforgettable experience for their customers. If hosting fishing my people know that their remit is to ensure, irrespective of fishing being good or bad, the customer has a great time. They also know that fishing themselves is most definitely not part of this remit.
When it comes to casting tuition, I believe 100% in my tried and tested system developed by me over the past 20 years. It's for this reason I have only the best people associated with me, as I have said, high standards, not only in fishing, casting and people skills, but integrity too, are so important too. Whether it be fishing, casting or tackle, or general information, we strive to bring, or point our customers to, what we "know" to be the best Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing "experience" possible.
Over the past 10 years, my assistant, Tom Brown has been a massive help in me growing my business, a real professional in every sense of the word and someone who fits exactly "all" the criteria above. Without Tom's help it would be impossible for me to expand my business whilst, importantly, keeping standards high.
Tom Brown and guest with a lovely fish from the beautiful Aunan Beat on the Orkla river in Norway.
At a more local level, I've worked closely with and have very good working relationships with a few ghillies here on the River Spey. In a business sense a great many of Scotland's "best ghillies", generally, remain undervalued/underutilised by their employers or, to be fair to the employer, their agents, with many estates not really having a grasp of what their true value. People like John Anderson, ghillie at Tulchan A Beat, has so much experience, is an "amazing character" and with so much fishing/fly-tying knowledge, as well as an amazing wealth of knowledge on nature. A day spent in his company is always one to remember.
John Anderson with a lovely May fish on Tulchan A beat.
Roddy Stronoch at Tulchan B Beat has helped me with most of my casting courses over the past few years and is himself not only a great teacher, but with his cheery, up beat nature, also a superb host for any fishing party.
Roddy Stronach doing a fantastic job looking after a team of students from Norway.
Robert Mitchell at Macallan is another; someone whom, If I wanted my guests properly looked after in the traditional Scottish sense, I'd be happy to have look after the best of my clients. A great casting instructor and people person, he is one who's qualities are properly utilised by his employers. The fact that the beat is let from start to finish and has a waiting list tells you all you need to know about working properly as a team in the world of Salmon Fishing in the 21st century. Those are my go to people here on the river Spey.
Robert Mitchell with the first spring salmon of 2017 at Macallan
The last few days saw me spend time with Chris Alexander Backlund. One of our Hardy Pro's in Norway, Chris is about the most enthusiastic guys I've every came across with regard salmon fishing and casting, and, unlike a great many, can actually walk the walk. To have a total pro, with bags of energy around me was not only helpful, but uplifting. A native Norwegian, Chris will host a trip for me this summer on his home river in Norway, and given what I've seen, I know my guests are in for a real fishing treat up there. I'll also look forward to developing more casting schools here in Scotland and elsewhere.
Chris Alexander Bucklund casting on his home river in Norway.
I also have plans to add another face on the Spey, a guy with an big personality, a great ghillie and host. We will look at hosting some Sea Trout fishing on his beat during July 2019. Having talked with him about this on the opening day of the season this year and listening to his passion for this fishing, I thought, this is something we simply must cover.
Moving forward, our team will host more trips to other Norwegian rivers, with one or two amazing places in the north of the country, providing people with a fantastic opportunity of catching that fish of a lifetime. All in all, exciting times ahead and I'm very much looking forward to working with the growing team of the best people and proper team players in the business...