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!

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.

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…..