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Posts Tagged ‘lessons’

After plenty of training and studying, Tex Moore and I passed our Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) Casting Instructor Certification test(s) this past weekend. We were in Lake Charles, LA at the Gulf Coast FFF Conclave, and completed the written and practical (always the most difficult) parts of the test on Saturday, between the crazy thunderstorms. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way, especially Al Crise of Hawk Ridge Fly Fishing School – our mentor through this whole endeavor!

CCItn

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This past weekend, Tex and I scooted down to Athens for the annual Fly Fish Texas event at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center to give our (in)famous gear seminar. After a small start (5 folks), our class grew to close to 25 or so, but I’m still unsure as to whether they came for us, or to watch the huge aquarium teeming with giant bass, catfish, gar and bowfin swimming around to the side of our projector screen. Talk about distracting when you are trying to stay on point!

Overall the event was great, with folks from all over participating -the Temple Fork Fly Rod boys were there, the House of Hardy crew, and a plethora of local fly tiers. Prior to and after our talk, Al Crise sought us out to help give free casting lessons which despite the wind was a great time, and hopefully hooked some newbies!

Another highlight was meeting Kevin Hutchinson, author of the revised Fly Fishing the Texas Hill Country – a “cult” classic, and one of Tex’s personal favorites, published by Fishhead Press. The new edition includes all of Bud Priddy’s original quips and descriptions, updated with current access info, and most notedly: GPS coordinates for every bridge crossing/access point! We were able to procure a few for the shop, and two have already made their way out the door. Now I just need to find the time to put it to use!

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That acronym is the mantra of anyone attempting to become a Certified Casting Instructor (CCI) with the Federation of Fly Fishers. It relates to the path of the tip of the rod during the casting stroke – no SLP, no tight loops.

This past weekend, Tex Moore and I headed to the Hawk Ridge Fly Casting School for a weekend clinic to prep us for our CCI test in May. Al Crise (FFF Master Casting Instructor) put together a school that included one day of instruction (where we were the instructors along with full CCIs Bill Hoot & Diane Blair), and one day of test prep.

One of our goals for the weekend (aside from prepping for our test) was to standardize our teaching techniques and terminologies. This will ensure  every Tailwaters student taking a lesson or going through our schools leaves with the same knowledge and skill set, regardless of instructor – be it one of us, or any of our future instructors.

Saturday, we had over 20 students and had to teach them in 30 – 40 MPH winds, with gusts over 60. Absolutely crazy – and did I mention it never got above 50 degrees? We were able to slightly shelter the beginners near a grove of trees, but it was still brutality for them. Tex and I worked with the larger group of intermediate casters, who were not so lucky. The silver lining is that they all are now ready to fish on the Jetties on the coast with NO problems at all! They are certainly proficient at casting into a headwind. Tex and I (along with the other CCI candidates) were packing 7-wt rods (he a Winston BIImX, myself a Sage Xi2), which let us punch through the wind a bit. One of the biggest debates among CCI candidates is what rod/line combo should you use. The rules state that you can use any rod up to 9′ long and 7-wt or under. As such, we’re using the big guns. Part of the weekend for us was testing which lines we will be using. I opted to test the Royal Wulff Triangle 7-wt, while Tex prefers the WF7F Expert Distance (the old XXD) line from Sci Anglers. Some of the students only had 5-wts, and amazingly were able to get some great casts into the wind. They were serious troopers, and never let the conditions get them down.That night we visited the Loco Coyote in Glen Rose for a group dinner. Let’s just say this place has character, and you definitely get what you pay for. Their “regular”burger covers an entire dinner plate. Overall, a fun evening with most everyone from the day!

My kind of place - sawdust on the floor!!

My kind of place - sawdust on the floor!! Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Yes folks - that is a 'plate' of ribs - or, two plates if you count the second one that all the sides come on. One word: Awesomeness.

Yes folks - that is a 'plate' of ribs - or, two plates if you count the second one that all the sides come on. One word: Awesomeness. Photo by: Tex Moore

Sunday, we moved on to the preparation portion of the weekend, and with a great amount of class time, along with a full run-through of the practical portion of our test. Even though the wind had dropped (to 20MPH gusts), the temperature barely went above 40 throughout the day. Ouch. At every turn we were reminded of all the various vocabulary that the FFF uses in its education programs, along with the proper ways to approach your students with information. I can honestly say that this was a fantastic learning experience for me, and I came away not only with great little tidbits of information and great little techniques that will make me a better instructor, but also a much better ‘feel’ for what the CCI test will entail.

Rex Walker demonstrates to the CCI candidates. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Rex Walker demonstrates to the CCI candidates. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Both Tex and I talked over the school on the drive home, and agreed that not only was it a great experience with the folks we met and the new things that we have learned, but our level of confidence regarding the test had been seriously bolstered. Speaking for myself, this was a much needed shot in the arm, and I look forward to not only the test itself, but all the training to come! I feel very lucky to have such a fine compatriot and resource in Tex, and also feel that we have a great advantage in being able to prepare together for our test. Only 74 days left to train! I’d better get rolling…..

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Or, more correctly – carbon fibre (I like the British spelling). This morning I gave a lesson to Dick Murtland, a golf-club guru with Adams Golf, who has done more with the manufacturing carbon fibre and shaft making than anyone I know (or have heard of).

First and foremost, our clubs (rods) are NOT made of graphite – graphite is merely the powder or powdery solid form of pure carbon (atomic #12 for those chem geeks out there like me). The material they are constructed of is carbon fibre in sheet form. What drives the costs up is the type used – mainly its tensile strength. The higher the tensile strength, typically the greater the modulus (number of fibers per square inch on the sheet), the lower the weight, and the higer the cost. Your higher end rods will be made with these types of material, which gives us the cool strength-to-weight ratio we all love.

Another interesting tidbit I garnered was how the thickness of the fibre is supposed to be uniform throughout the length of the rod, butt to tip.  “But Bart, that doesn’t make sense – the tip is much smaller than the butt.” That statement is true, but the THICKNESS of the fibre is the same – it is just rolled over a smaller area at the top. The thickness of the rod decreases, but the fibre sheet does not. This is why rod makers must be careful with sanding – you can end up with flat spots where the fibre is thinner than in the rest of the rod, resulting in a weak spot.

I have a few other questions for Dick the next time I see him, about things like Boron and the like,  and I will be sure to post the answers once I do – a great lesson for me, and he will be double hauling by his trip to Argentina!

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