The 2001 show was held at Shuttleworth this past weekend and, in my role as an instructor, I attended on Friday and took part in two two-hour shifts of teaching.

The Salmon and Trout Association take a particular pride in encouraging youngsters: thus it is quite natural that one of the stalls they run at the fair is specifically for young people who fancy trying out the art of fly-casting. In my stints I worked with children from the age of Charles, who was "almost four years old", to Becky who was fifteen.

There were children I taught on the day who thought that they might never get the chance to go trout fishing, but also some who had already been several times and had been helped by dad or granddad. Their enthusiasm was the same despite the difference in experience. All of the would be ‘fishers’ listened and put the skills taught into practice; even young Charles whose father warned me would be difficult and probably wouldn’t listen!

I won’t give you a name, but only one of my pupils really didn’t put into practice what I went through. This youngster had already fished on several occasions and managed to catch quite a few trout. He was a very strong boy and relied entirely on wrist movement for his casting. Whilst I worked with him I hoped that a rather delicate young lady would come along and have some help from one of the other instructors so that I could use her as an example that sheer strength is not the requirement in this sport. I chatted to this lad’s parents for a while and dad admitted that his own casting was based on just the same action! He agreed to have some help in correcting his style!

It was great to wander round the exhibitions when I had a break from the casting. It is amazing how many old friends one meets at such an event and hence progress round the fisherman’s village was certainly slow. The vast array of fly-tying materials was one of the highlights for me. I found it so difficult to resist a few of those feathers or some of that new floss, and as for the new scissors I have been promising myself, well I was spoilt for choice. The bargain capes were really and truly good value and I certainly couldn’t resist stocking up on those!

I was almost tempted by the lovely new reels that Gareth Jones was promoting on the Airflo stall. Like most anglers I could always do with a new reel (why is it that anything new in the tackle field is a serious temptation?) or one of those fancy gadgets. Do they actually help me to catch more fish? Generally not, but it doesn’t hurt to feel good about your gear.

At the end of the day I felt quite sad to leave the show knowing that most of the exhibitors would be either staying on site or in accommodation locally. I wished that I had put aside another day or two for the event. Instead I spent Saturday fighting with the other two million people trying to get into Devon, as I had been booked to teach a couple of beginners in Lifton. A journey that should have taken just over two hours turned into four and a bit! I nearly gave up but was glad that I didn’t. Similar experiences were recounted at the Game Fair! John Wadham who lives in Oakham, not too far up the A1, took over three hours to do the sixty odd miles. I had made good progress on my way to Shuttleworth until I reached Milton Keynes and then it was torturous. I expected to have a leisurely stroll round the site before I got down to instructing, but in the end I had to set straight to work!

However, being at the Game Fair was a very worthwhile experience and I look forward to next year’s event hoping that I can leave a couple of days free to make the best of what’s on offer to see and do.

Martin Cottis