This was written while studying for the Certified Casting Instructor exam.  It is a great guide toward that goal.

There is one thing that must be learned so that an angler can fish as we think.  By using the word 'think' I am giving you my opinion that a day on the water is a series of puzzles that have to be analyzed to conclusion and then acted upon to get a desired result.  

The perfect fly that is nestled in my vest must be used in the proper way to get that desired result and the perfect way can only be achieved with the perfect cast for that moment.  Making a cast is the mental calculation transformed to physical action.  Knowing what the presentation must be for your target fish will determine the correct cast.

For my progress I request and gained the help and wisdom of Rich Kovars who is a  Fly Fishers International Certified Casting Instructor from New Hampshire. My goal will be to improve my casting ability, pass the FFI Casting Instructor Exam and have the confidence to help improve the casting ability of fellow anglers.

Here is the account of my effort

I have already become a Federation member and have spent a good amount of time studying the materials available from the FFI as well as other reading available on the web and failed a previous attempt.  You will find a wealth of information at www.flyfishersinternational.org.   It is a very humbling experience to think that you have been casting a fly rod for over forty years and are not proficient enough.  Yet what I am learning now is what all of us should have been taught from day one. Getting competent instruction and accepting the assistance of an FFI Mentor will have you bending the learning curve.

Starting at the beginning, learning and knowing casting terms and understanding the concept of casting is very important to be able to move forward.  Far more important, if you have any intention to teach and be good at it.

Rich Kovars is a very thoughtful teacher.  He believes that we all have what it takes so long as a well planned teaching and practice program is implemented. 

Stretch your line before casting or fishing........

What is the basic principal of a cast?
We have all heard the expression tight loops.  This is how one shape of the line is described when being cast both forward and back.  The idea is that the closer the distance between the upper(fly) and lower(rod) leg portions of the line path as they move past each other, then the tighter the loop.  Using the word loop is kind of a misnomer because if you are truly forming a loop, making the line cross over itself, then the cast is what will be called a closed or a tailing loop.  Closed is where the fly leg drops below the rod leg.  Tailing is when the the upper portion of the line dips below the lower with the rod tip moving in a concave path.  For now I will just say tailing loops are not desired.  You will understand with just a bit more reading.  We will also learn that a tight loop cast is not necessarily the perfect cast of the moment.  

Smooth and constant acceleration with a straight tip path to an abrupt stop. 

This statement is the most important group of words in casting possible.  They are the basis for a tight loop cast.

Smooth - Think of using the gas pedal in you car.  You can punch it down or you can start the car moving with even yet added pressure to make the car gain speed.  Casting, for most situations,  is not an abrupt and forceful application of power.  It is the ability to gradually move the rod grip back and forth from a stopped position.
Constant - Now we understand that we are going to move forward and back in our casting stroke with a motion that is constantly increasing in speed during the entire movement.
Acceleration - Simply the conclusion that the stroke is becoming quicker throughout the action.
Abrupt Stop - The end of the casting stroke is immediately stopped.  No deceleration and no extra flick of the wrist.  A dead stop.
Straight Tip Path - Think of your hand as the tip of the rod.  Yes, think about it.  No matter how hard you try you can not make the tip of the rod follow any other path than the path that your hand follows.  Raise your hand and  the tip goes up.  Move your hand out to the side and the tip moves the exact same distance.  So the idea is that the tip of your rod will move in a straight path that is being determined by what path you use with your hand.  I learned last night that I can make very tight loops so long as I keep my wrist firm so that I am not adding an arc(convex) or any abrupt change to my tip path.  Our fly rod was designed in a taper so that the tip will flex and transfer energy.  It needs no added flick at the end of our stroke to perform perfectly.  It needs only an abrupt stop to transfer it's energy in the opposite direction.

A Smooth and constant acceleration with a straight tip path to an abrupt stop 

Let's stop for just a moment and talk about the late and great Mel Kreiger.  Mel is the inspiration and Godfather of the FFF casting instructor program.  He made videos and wrote books like The Essence of the Cast and with the combine efforts of a few others came up with the concept of Essentials in casting.  I mention this now because we need to understand what these essentials are and how important they are to better casting.  The five Essentials are 1.Pause 2.Slack Line 3.Straight Tip Path 4.Size of Casting Arc 5.Power.

Pause - Slack - Straight - Size - Power
P - There must be a Pause at the end of both the forward and back cast.
S - There must be no Slack Line prior to starting a forward or back cast
S - The tip of the rod must move in a Straight Path laterally as well as vertically
S - The Size of the casting arc must increase as the line is lengthened out the tip of the rod.
P - Power is applied in a smooth and constant acceleration.

Using the word arc means the angle between the start and stop of a casting stroke.  Stroke is the action that makes the rod tip travels during a forward or back cast.
Now let's do our best to make bad casts.  This is necessary for a full understanding of what the basic principals means. 

Tailing Loops

A tailing loop is when the upper leg of the of the fly line will dip below the bottom leg during a cast.  We all have this happen and the results are what are politely called dreaded wind knots and when the fly is catching on the line.  How many times a day do we have this happen.  Certainly more than once for me.

The way to throw a tailing loop is to apply a very hard and abrupt push at some part of our casting stroke.  The easiest way would be to make this abrupt action at the very start of the stroke. We void the Essential that power is smooth with constant acceleration and make a violent action to our stroke.  Add to this shortening the forward portion of the stroke and making the rod tip dip in a concave path and you have the formula for disaster.  I have just stepped on three Essentials all in one bad cast.

A Smooth and constant acceleration with a straight tip path to an abrupt stop

Now allow me to step on the other two and understand what makes for the opposite of the tailing loop, the open loop.  Without the pause at the end of a cast we are not allowing the weight and inertia of the line to load the rod.  This pause is the key to also making sure that there is no slack in the line prior to making our  next stroke.  I can step on these two essentials very easily by making an opposite stroke too early as well as making a movement with my hand called creep.  Creep is when the rod is slowly moving in the direction of the next stroke before the pause is complete and the slack is out of the line.  It creates a massive lose of power.

The easiest way to understand how to make open loops is to dramatically increase the size of the arc of our casting stroke in a convex tip path.  This is even more enhanced if the stroke is made with all wrist and we keep our arm stationary.  What you will notice is that the cast has no tension and no power.

Rich taught me last night to make a deliberate plan for each practice session.  Do what was planned and end on a positive note.  After the practice is complete, take a few moments to notate the results.

Practice Plan 7-22-11
Plan-15 minutes with 35 feet from reel to felt pick up and false cast 5 times to forward lay down.  Tip Path, Pause, Power, Size of arc.  Keep it simple and watch for tight loops.
Conclusion-Started well with tight loops on the front but problems on the back cast.  The cast was opening and the after about ten minuets I started to get tired.  Took a break.  I then practiced very open loops for a few minutes and went back to concentrate on the back cast.  I decided to try and make the back cast as if I was casting over my opposite shoulder only in the back direction.  For the first time I made a back cast and not making a cast that was only used to set up a forward cast.  Satisfied I went to pick up dinner.  Mussels in red wine garlic sauce with pasta and a Ceasar salad.
Practice Plan 7-23-11
Plan-15 minutes with 35 feet concentrate on back cast loops.  Make the casts as if they are forward casts.  Firm wrist, slow stroke, good balance and feet position.  Transfer weight and think straight tip path.
Conclusion - Felt good and stopped on a positive set of casts.  Worked only on tight loops forward and back.

Sent my writing to Rich.  He corrected my thoughts on how to make a tailing loop and to use the words concave and convex when explaining tip path.   I made the changes above.

Practice Plan 7-25-11
Today, I will make work on two good and two bad.
Only spent 15 minutes.  By the end of the time I was feeling comfortable that I could make tailing and open loops on command.

Practice Plan 7-27-11
Tight Loops-Tight Loops-Tight Loops
In the middle of my practice I thought about how would I show what it means to have a straight tip path.  Even with a brightly colored line it is hard to see the line as it moves in the air.  It is even harder to see the tip of the rod.  I did the exercise in two ways.  First I made my hand on the rod a pivot point and used my off hand as a lever.  It was very easy to them manipulate the rod tip to move erratic as well as perfectly straight.  The second way was to put the butt of the rod on my belly and make the pivot at that point.  This also worked so long as I used enough power in the stroke.  I am gong to practice both ways until I have a conclusion as to the better choice.

During my first lesson we also touched on making a Reach Mend.  It will be required to make reach mends ending on both the normal and off side.  It will also be required to perform with and without shooting line out the guides.  The reach mend is used for the purpose of placing the line up or down stream of the fly.  This technique is used when we want our fly to be traveling drag free through a current that is different between our position in the river and the location of the fly.

The reach mend is made while the line is still in the air on the forward stroke. The action is to move the rod tip extremely to the right or left ending low to the water and falling in harmony with the line itself.

Practice Plan 7-29-11
10 minutes tight loops 5 minutes reach mends 5 minutes 2 good 2 bad tailing and open loops. 5 minutes tip path demo.
Practice felt good tonight.  I was able to make better loops by concentrating on my power.  I tried to make each start as smooth as possible.  Also stopping without breaking my wrist.  Making tailing loops was easy when I forced the start on my forward stroke and made a slight concave motion with my hand.    I was also able to make tailing loops on the back cast.  Not required but nice to be able to do them.  Only needed to make a concave motion and there they were.  I practiced reach mends both with and without extra line to let through the guides.  Need to draw back a bit farther.  Ended with making a series of good quality false casts.

Practice Plan 7-30-11
I think it is time to work on over the opposite shoulder.  5 minutes each practice to gain the strength to keep the tip path straight.  5 minutes perfect loops.  2 minutes reach mends 3 minutes tailing loops and open loops 5 minutes perfect loops.

Casting started off very hard tonight.  I was throwing tail after tail and not able to stop.  I decided that I needed to shorten my line and only pick one up and throw it down.  I was able to then make tight loops.  I am almost certain that I am not keeping the tip path straight side to side.  After moving on to the opposite shoulder I want back to false casting and made sure that I was making my tip path straight.  I kept my wrist firm and concentrated on a smooth acceleration to an abrupt stop.   The loops got a lot better.   I then did the reach mends that were very good and are feeling a lot easier.  I also made some distance casts with a double haul.  96 feet measured.   I ended with a series of false casts that I felt good about and stopped before I could mess it up.

To take the test there are equipment limitations.  You can use no larger than a nine foot rod that is made for a seven weight line.  The line can be no heavier than a seven weight.  The leader must be no shorter than seven and one half feet.
I have purchased as my testing equipment a Beulah 9' 7wt Guide Series 4 piece fast action rod.  Rio Clouser taper 7 weight line.  Rio Salmon 9' leader.  Redington CD Titanium Reel for balance to the light rod.  I also have a second Clouser line that is exact that I am saving for the week before the test.

Practice Plan 8-2-11
Today I am going to test myself.  The first few requirements of the proficiency test are performing overhead casts with 35 feet of line from the reel.  Tight loops front and back in five false casts.  Then being able to make tailing loops on command while casting tight loops as well as casting open loops.  Next I will make reach mends both right and left with and without added line to shoot.  I think that when I can run through the entire test by heart I will have the confidence to make sure that the first part will be spot on.  I am going to finish with tight loops concentrating on  A Smooth and constant acceleration with a straight tip path to an abrupt stop.

I finally was able to get this practice complete tonight.  I only too about 10 minutes to go through what what I wanted and did very well.  Loops seemed tight and no tails.  reach mends were controlled and the line was straight from tip to fly.  Tomorrow night I meet Rich for lesson 2.

Here is a short video of Mel Kreiger.  The thing that stuck in my head is about the proper wrist information.

Last night was another lesson with Rich Kovars and we started exactly where we left off last time.  Now the Side Cast has been added to the mix.  This is a cast that will keep your line low when wind and over head interference is possible.  The cast still must be performed with a tight loop and no tails with the rod tip no higher than your waist.   There is a natural drop in the line because of gravity.  You must not let the line touch the ground.  I am waiting for a decision if your fly were to touch would it be a fail.  I must say I do feel comfortable with this cast.  I have used it many times in my fishing and don't feel it will be a problem.

The Pile Cast-This cast is used when you are in an up stream position and need to have a dry fly make a drag free presentation below your position.  It is the same cast as we are making when false casting only the tip path and line path is no longer parallel to the water.  The back cast gets lower and the front cast is made high and the plain is what changes.  The cast is then made into the air and the line falls in a pile on the water and your fly will dead drift.  Casting with a changing angle has other advantages as well.  For distance a slight change in the plain by slightly elevating the front leg will add length to the cast.  The Pile Cast is not made by opening up the cast in a convex tip path, it is made with a tight loop cast and ending the direction of the lign high on the forward stroke.

Next is the Roll Cast.  Because the roll cast needs water tension to be performed well it is a difficult cast to make on dry land.  Remember this test is not on water.  It is a test to show you can teach, know how to cast and explain in short and concise groups of words ho a student can perform each cast.  You must also know how to make the casts poorly so you recognize a students flaws.

Back to the roll cast.  Because of my two hand experience I use a 'D' shape to what is the back of the roll cast.  This is not acceptable when showing the cast.  A 'D' or Spey cast is made with a sweep of the line in front of the caster, to then change direction and  throw the 'D' to raise the line and fly make tension then go and kiss.  For now, forget the Spey thing as the Roll cast has a different set of reasons to be used.  Removing slack from your line, staying low in the wind, having no back cast room and raising a sinking line to set up a cast are reasons to use the Roll.   It is performed in two separate segments.  First is the raising and moving of the rod tip over the shoulder forming a D shape loop.  Second is the cast with the rod tip moving in a straight path forward.  If you make the tip of the rod position be far back you will get an open loop.  Too far forward and no power but a very tight and low loop.  You must be able to make this cast over the opposite shoulder as well.  On dry land I over power the stroke to get the leader to lay out straight.

Having the ability to make an Opposite Shoulder Cast has a very strong reason to be used.  The wind can play a big factor in our ability to be safe while casting.  I have hit myself in the head and buried a 1/0 double Green Highlander in my back and in every case it is because I was taking the wind for granted.  Being able to cast in every style allows you to use the wind and keep your fly traveling on the downward wind direction to your body.  You should be practicing these casts as much as on your regular side.  The thing that has helped me with this is by keeping my wrist firm.   There is a great deal of power that can be generated from the off side.

Accuracy-You are on your favorite trout stream and watching a few fish rise in soft dimples and you want to quickly, gently and accurately put your fly in the ring formed by the fish.  You want that fish that was just rewarded with food to make a split second reaction to your presentation.    You must first be able to determine what cast to use and in an instant have it in the ring.  With constant practice and off hand line control we learn to hit the target.  Rings of 36 inches are placed at 15, 25 and 45 feet.  You have three attempts to hit each and the testers will tell you which one to target.  Now all that we are learning about tight loops, casting plain angle, distance and wind control will come into play.  Bad casts with tailing loops hitting the target dead center will not get me a pass.  It becomes very hard to be watching your back cast and pointing at a target.  Practice is the key.

Casting 75 feet might seem easy if you take out the need to make the cast with the proper form.  Tight loops with no tails and a smooth Double Haul Cast is required.  Learning the Single and Double Haul will give you a strong sense of timing.  Now you must make movements that are in opposite directions because the purpose of these casts are to make added loading of the rod as well as accelerating the speed that your line is traveling through the air.  I found that the easiest way to feel the timing was with a short line out the rod tip of about 3o feet.  Because the line is short the stroke is also short.  Remember Short Line = Short Stroke, Long Line = Long Stroke.  As Mel says thing of the haul as downup,  that's right, all one movement with the hand that is holding the line.  It is the ability to haul down and up as one movement that is going to give you the best result.  The Downup rapid motion really works.  This haul movement happens at the same time as the forward or back stroke is made.  The length of the downup pull varies the amount of line speed that you want to generate.  The last haul will be the largest down and the up part is eliminated to shoot the line. When you pull at the same time you start the casting stroke a dramatic power gain is instantly developed.  Now with the 30 feet out the tip you can make false haul casts in as slow and controlled as you can.  It will still seem fast but quickly what feels very awkward will start to feel better and better.   Now let a little more line out of the rod and what seemed very fast and out of control will make the distance cast get slower with a wider arc and stroke.  I will carry about 40 feet of line my rod tip, hold the balance in my off hand a d shoot the final forward cast to make the distance.

Practice 8-5-11
I spent about 15 minutes starting with 40 foot tight loop casts.  This time I extended the amount of casts in each group.  I then went to distance with double hauls.  I concentrated on the back loop as it tends to open on me.  The tighter the loop on the back cast the more power that you will have on the forward shoot.  I find it very important to know how much line I can carry outside the rod.  For the test you are not allowed to mark the line, so all must be done through practice.  I finished with some tight casts and felt good.  This was a spur of the moment practice with no plan.

Practice 8-6-11
I went out to practice and knew what was to be worked on.  My over the opposite shoulder is weak and will need extra work.  First I cast a few wets of false casts on my dominant side and then switched to do six casts per set on my off side.  Lots of tails was the immediate result.  Next set still tails.  Next set I am trying to think about a smooth acceleration to an abrupt stop and still tails.  Then it dawned on me to make the next set with a convex tip path.  What happened was open loops and no tails.  Each set after that I tuned the convex down to a straight tip path to an abrupt stop an was able to throw reasonably tight loops with no tails over my opposite shoulder.  I stopped and went home.

Practice Plan 8-8-11
I am going out tonight with the focus on two aspects.  Opposite shoulder and side cast.  Finish with tight loop six cast sets.

Tonight I had the greatest control yet.  I was able to change the shape of my line at will.  The understanding about convex and concave with a firm wrist is making all the difference.  I have also started to rock my body in coordination to the back and forward casts.  This is especially helping with the back stroke.   Opposite side casts are still weak.  I must work to control the shape and cast on the open and then try to tighten.  My muscle memory is not there yet.  I can use my opposite hand to stabilize the bottom of the rod.  This immediately helps with keeping the rod tip straight.  I also get the correct feel in my grip hand.  Remove the off hand and I can make the cast.  More work is needed here.

Practice 8-9-11
I think I am getting addicted to practicing casting.  It almost feels like fishing.  I can feel my skill level increasing and feel good about it.  Today I am going to continue the opposite side casting.  I am going to do this in sets of six.  I really hope I will get stronger on the off side.  Plain with low front and high back will get attention today as well.  Finish with tight loop casts and do 10 sets of 6.
Practice went well tonight.  I added some roll casts as well.  I received an email from Rich talking about the requirements of the roll cast.  It must be performed with what is a true roll and not with the added Spey style.  The line and fly can not be made airborne but kept as it would be on water.  As the purpose of the cast is for lifting a sunk line as well as casting with no back cast it must have the proper set up.  It also must have a straight tip path stroke and form reasonably tight loops.  The leader should also lay straight out.  This is aided by using a leader that is not too light.  I am using a salmon taper mono  leader.  What I found was that if I slowly made the 'D' the line and yarn would come to a stop a moment after the rod on set up allowing a pause and when my timing was to cast immediately when the yarn stopped the line rolled and the leader was straight.  Try this cast on grass with no water resistance.  You will then understand.

Practice Plan 8-17-11
Today is going to be a very long practice.  I am going to start at the top of the test and perform each task as best I understand.  I will then note my results.  I will do a lot of talking to myself as if I were in the test and being asked to teach and explain.
As I have been away fishing in Quebec, practice was a bit disrupted.  I did use a single hand rod a bit but not as much as my two hand set up.  So, today I will get back to the basics and start with taking the test in full.

I did get a chance to go through a bunch of the testing items.  i am really starting to feel a lot stronger.  Doing four days in Quebec at fourteen hours of casting a day will give you a good upper and lower body workout.  Over the opposite shoulder is still not good on the first few sets.  I then work it out and the loops then look good.  I must work on getting the muscle memory happening from the first set.  My distance casting is getting very tight.  I was having problems with wide open loops on the back cast when the line was extended.  I am concentrating on very smooth and increasing the speed toward the end of the stroke.  The hauls must be sharp downups that are perfectly timed.  The 75 foot distance part is not a problem.  I am working on it looking easy with perfect form.

Practice Plan 8-21-11
Today I am going to work on regular tight loops, over the opposite shoulder and double hauls.  I will end with varying the speed of casting with tight loops.

Practice is going well but I find myself drifting into my routine about how to teach.  This coming Saturday
 I have scheduled a class with six students.  I need to know that I can do the job as well as be able to answer the questions that I will be asked on the test.  For the rest of this week I am going to teach a class every night in my head.  This is going to be the time needed to refine what needs to be said in the least number of effective words.  I will need to perform where needed.

Practice 8-23-11
I went out yesterday before dinner and worked on my presentation as a teacher.  This is the part of this that is the most important.  I can understand everything myself but if I can not convey the information to a beginner then there is little reason to be a teacher.  I feel that I have a good approach right now.  I have an easy way using my hand as the rod and the ground to show shape and technique.   I went through the entire routine and it went well.  I then worked on what I feel are my weakest casts.  Over the opposite shoulder is getting better and I am making sure that my wrist is firm.  I am also concentrating on the tip path.  Over the shoulder casts can have a rounding shape by too much forward stroke.  You are using the other side of your body and the natural motion is for your arm to want to return to that side.  I also did 10 sets of double haul distance casts as well as a series of short casts for accuracy.   The short cast must be made by changing the plane angle of the line.  High in the back, low in the front yet with tight loops with no tails.

I thought it would be a good idea and a great learning experience if I could teach a class.  I then posted a "Fly Casters Wanted" thread on the local chat forum.  I chose a venue that was close to being able to fish after the class, had some grass to work on and has a clean bathroom.  Here is the result.

For the week before the class, I was in a constant mode of going over how I thought it best to be able to convey the basics in a short and concise format
that would offer someone immediate results.  I decided that just sticking with the basic principals and essentials was the only way.  My Class Plan by this time was so ingrained in my head that I needed no hand written info to keep me on track.
1.  Meet and Greet
2.  What is my goal
3.  What is each students goal
4.  Show my grip and explain style versus technique
5.  Use the ground to show what tip path is.
6.  Use my hand to show the correlation between tip path and grip
7.  Start all on the ground using Mel Kerigers smooth acceleration to abrupt stop WAMP was very effective.  It was a theme through the entire class.
8.  Have all cast and watch each.  Have a clear understanding of each student and where they could improve before changing anything.
9.  Work individually with each to be specific.
10.  Work from a far and continue to get better and better loops.  Have all make open loops on purpose.  Explain open to tight.  Make sure all have improved before moving on.
11.  Explain Plane by using a short target
12.  Explain Plane with a pile cast
In itself, if I could get a group of five in a two hour period to do nothing but understand how the physics of the cast worked I would be happy, but the group stayed with it and took only minor breaks.  I felt the space between was important because of physical fatigue and a time to think.  Each person is different.  We went further.
13.  Side casts and why we use them were discussed and performed.
14.  The concept of line acceleration with the haul and distance casts were performed
I let one of the members down because when he was having trouble with the timing of the haul I was not able to make the fix.  Now having thought about what I could have done I should have gone to the ground.  Forward haul and cast, stop.  Back haul and cast, stop.  Start slow and stop after each cast.  Shorten the stop period when it feels like the muscles are understanding the timing.  I will do a better job the next time that happens.
15.  The very last sets of casts were done going all the way back to the beginning and having all students make tight loops.  I was amazed at the difference.  What was not there in such a short period was happening before my eyes.  I think that all had a better understanding of what makes a cast and I felt great and very proud.

When we were finished I noticed that the students continued for a while.  Two were most interested in distance and the other three were still thinking about loop shape.  What I know is true is that I improved and I am very thankful to "The Fly Casters Wanted Group".   I hope they feel the same.........

Practice Plan 9-3-11

Today I am going to set up the entire test.  I will have a print out and follow right along exactly how the test is given.  I will also talk the entire process through.  If I feel I have been able to do all correctly I will make the phone call on Tuesday to set up a time and place for the test.

Worked through the items on the test.  Got really hung up on the distance.  My practice was a real problem and I had to work on making the distance look easy.  I found myself pushing too hard and causing the start of my final stroke to be too fast and causing a tail every time.  My solution was to have less line out the rod, slow down and make the final stroke smooth and steady.  I was shooting a bit more line but the haul was easier and more line was cast with a tighter loop.

Practice Plan 9-6-11

Start short and tight and end long and tight.

The wind was a real test today.  I sure hope that on test day I get a slight tail wind.  I made the distance easily today.  Even with having to haul back casts into the wind I changed the plane slightly downward to the back and the wind pushed the line out straight.

I know I haven't been posting much for the last week, but I have been practicing almost every day.  I feel like I am in a refining mode and working on smooth pick up and distance hauling.  I have worked out how to explain and demonstrate so many components of what i think will be expected.

Tomorrow night I will have my last session with Rich.  On Thursday I will be contacting the Federation as well as coordinating a test date.  So, I will leave this page as complete except for what happens in the end.
For Reference here is the test as is required.
Fly Casting Instructor Performance Test:
Evaluation Form (download complete test below)
    Rod: 9 ft. maximum 9' Beulah 
    Line: #7 floating maximum  7 weight floating RIO Clouser
    Leader: 7 ½ ft. minimum with yarn fl y  Salmon leader at 9 feet

In all cases the candidate must demonstrate the good, relaxed form that would be expected in an FFF Certified Instructor, and which would instill confidence in students. The tasks should be accomplished quickly and easily.  Dress the part of instructor, look comfortable, never rush or force a cast, must look easy
This is not a matter of taking many trials in order to accomplish the task once.

    Indicate successful completion with a check mark
    _____  Attended a workshop on teaching and casting  Attended workshop in Michigan at Great Lakes Counsel
    _____  Passed written exam Passed written exam but must re take as time of 1 year has almost elapsed.

Loops—Using Rod Hand Only

1. Demonstrate a minimum of six false casts with controlled narrow loops on both the forward and backcasts at 35-40'.  For me this is the most important part of the test.  Mess this up and call it a day.  Make sure there is no slack in the line before the first pick up. I must remember to start the first back cast slow with increasing power to an abrupt stop.  This back movement must be as if it is a cast with as tight a loop as possible.  Extra power with control on the pick up is important.  Too much abrupt power on the pick up will cause a bad loop.  Pause is needed to make sure slack is not present.   Then on the first forward stroke I will make sure that my wrist will be firm and the cast will be made with the correct size stroke and arc for line length with increasing power to an abrupt stop.  If I will do this exactly like I am saying it now I will be OK.  Think Slow....
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____
Comments: (tailing loops, loop size (3ft), parallel loops, consistent speed on casts)

2. Demonstrate very wide loops on the forward cast on command.   Repeat the start of #1, Make a dramatically open cast by changing the tip path to convex.  Also make the casting arc too wide for the length of line outside the rod.  Slowing down the stroke will also accentuate the open loop.  Break the rules and understanding why is the key to success.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: ( non-loop, open loops)

3. Demonstrate tailing loops on the forward cast on command.  The caster is informed on which cast the tailing loop is to occur Saying…”after two good loops want you to cast a tailing loop.”    Repeat the start of #1.  For making and understanding what and how a tailing loop forms is critical to understanding what a straight tip path is.  I can make a tailing loop by adding abrupt power during the early stages of the stroke and dipping the rod tip slightly in a concave tip path.  I can exaggerate the tail if I also make my tip path have a little movement in a circle(weak wrist) away from my body.                                
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (loops that cross bottom line, loop size)

Line Control

4. Reach mend left at 35-40'
Repeat the start of #1 This cast is performed while the line is in the air. I now understand why it is called a reach mend.  This is because the cast comes first and the mend portion is a second action.  The purpose of a reach mend is when fishing in a river that has a the same or different rates of speed between your position and the rate of speed of your fly will.  You want your fly to have a drag free drift and need to manage the rate of distance traveled by the line and the fly.  The reach mend will also lengthen the distance that your fly can travel drag free. I do find it easier to shoot a bit of line through the guides when making this cast.  This is because of the movement of the tip is far to the side and pulls on the line.  Having a bit of line for me is a variable that allows me to control the accuracy of  my presentation.  For the purpose of my answer I will keep it short and say "Line Control"  If I am asked to explain then I know that I can.  I must remember that this is a test to show I can teach as well as cast and giving a beginner a whole lot of technical explanation will only get blank stares.  Make sure that the rod reach is fully 90 degrees to the side.
Rich Commented
The reach mend - this truly is a mend and not a cast.  The mend happens after the casting stroke has completed.  You can think of it this way:  After the forward stop you follow the line down to the water with a normal cast.  The act of following the line down is also a mend of sorts.  The reach mend is a mend because the movement of the rod to achieve the mend is done after the forward stop.  Anything done before the forward stop is a cast.  Think about how you would create a curve cast.  Then I think it will be clear.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (explain purpose, straight line, shoot line, without shooting line, rod reach)

5. Reach mend right at 35-40'  All is the same as above on the opposite side.  Talk about wind direction as well as this cast can be performed using side casts.  Remember the action of making the mend so the line is straight comes after the forward stroke is stopped.  Make sure on both sides that you stop the forward cast high enough to complete the sideways mend as the line falls to the water.  The tension of the forward cast is what allows you to keep the line straight from tip top to fly.  Start the mend too early and you will have a curve in the line.  Start the mend too late and you will have a curve in the line.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (explain purpose, straight line, shoot line, without shooting line, rod reach.)

6. Side arm cast at 35-40' (at an angle of 45 degrees from the vertical or greater. Using rod hand only.  It is the same cast as a standard cast and should have no open or tailing loops.  My timing is everything and I find a bit more even power helps keep the line from falling too low.
Rich thought that the best way to deal with this cast is to start with tight overhead casts and move down below the 45 degree requirement.  
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (side arm angle, tailing loop, loop size)

7. Pile cast at 35-40' or greater (high trajectory forward cast, with slack line presentation). Using rod hand only.  Same start as #1.  Change the plain so that a high front and low back cast is made and shoot the line high enough so the leader falls softly to the water.  The legs of the cast front and back will still have tight loops only the plain(angle in relation to the water) will change to a high front and a low back.  Up stream position to create a drag free drift away from the angler position.  This is not the same as throwing an open loop.  You must shoot the cast high and llet it fall gently.  This cast is used when the caster is in an up stream position and wants a dead drift below.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (high fwd cast, loop size, leader piles, explain purpose)

8. Demonstrate slow, medium and fast false casting at 35-40' on command. Using rod hand only.  Timing and stroke length is everything.   I must make sure that my wrist is firm and the pause is complete.  This is a regulation of power while remembering that the power is still constant to an abrupt stop.  The greater the speed the greater the power the greater the arc.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

(tailing loops, effective speed change, loop size)

Roll Cast—Using Rod Hand Only
Considerations may be given if casts are not performed on water. In all cases, caster must demonstrate the correct form.

9. Demonstrate a normal roll cast at 40' with leader straightening completely.  All principals of straight tip path, increasing power and abrupt stop apply.   By changing the size of the arc I can vary an open or closed loop in the cast.  The larger the arc the more open the loop. Plane is also important as for a narrow loop the stroke can be started over head and have a slight downward line.  Start the stroke well behind your head and you have the open loop.   On land I use a bit more line so I have some weight to cast as the tension is not enough to load the rod. Over power the stroke to get the line to roll out.  I can then get the leader to land straight.  The cast is used as a cast itself, a way to pick up and get out the slack, a way to get a sunk line to the surface to set up a second roll cast. I have now figured out this cast with the help of Rich.  It can be made with confidence when I let the line sit for a brief moment on the back stroke.  You can not be shy with the cast and a short firm stroke is needed.  It must look easy even on grass.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (loop shape, straight leader, rod stops, power application, purpose)

10. Demonstrate a normal roll at 40' with leader straightening completely over the opposite shoulder.  All the same as above.  The reason that we must be able to make the same cast over both shoulders is for safety sake and the wind direction.  If a strong wind is blowing into your dominant hand side then switching to the off side makes the cast effective and safe.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

(loop shape, straight leader, rod stops, power application,explain purpose of cast)       

11. Demonstrate a wide loop roll cast to 40' Open the casting arc to the back and have the rod tip path be a bit convex.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (loop shape, straight leader, rod stop, power application)

12. Demonstrate a narrow loop roll cast to 40' Close the arc by starting the cast directly over you head and stop the cast low.  All that is happening is a change in the tip path to be a high back, low front plain.  Good for casting into the wind.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (loop shape, straight leader, rod stop, power application)

Present the fly within 18 inches of marker or within a 30 inch ring.
Complete three Target sequences using a maximum of six casts. Complete the task in 3 attempts
For all accuracy tests it is important to put the fly down firmly.  This is a very important part of the test because it brings into play the ability to judge power and distance.  Tight casts are mandatory and hitting the target firmly will get the job done.  All styles of casts in these tests will be performed as perfectly as possible and watching the first two casts then the target is a must.
 Line control and the ability to shorten and lengthen the line with as few false casts is needed to do well.  Practice bringing line in while casting and you will understand that this is not easy and that timing and drawing line is needed.
13. False cast 5-6 times using rod hand only (no doublehauling). Present the fly accurately to targets at 20',30' and 45'
I can not assume that I will be asked to hit targets short to long.  This is easy as adding line to a cast can be done by slipping line with the cast.  Drawing line with a false cast must be practiced to do well.  Remember you are doing this while the line is in the air.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____
Notice that all the correct loop sizing, plain, arc as well as accuracy are in play.
Comments: (accurate, # of false casts, consistent loop, size, parallel loops)

14. Same as above over opposite shoulder.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (accurate, # of false casts, consistent loop, size, parallel loops)

15 Roll cast to a target at 45-50' (Must land close within 3 rollcasts)
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____
Make sure that the cast is make deliberate and with smooth power. 
Comments: (straight leader, loop shape, rod stop, power application)

DISTANCE CASTS:16. Demonstrate continuous double haul casting. Make 6-8 false casts at 45-50'.
Distance casting is made easier by using a line that will shoot.  The conditions at the time of the test may not be perfect and it is advisable to have as much ease of power as possible.  I treat the haul portion in the Mel Kreiger style of a smooth snapping motion he calls 'downupThe idea is that the haul is all one motion of pulling and return.  The haul length should have a direct relationship to the amount of line out the tip.  The greater the line the longer the haul.  The haul needs to be a continuous motion through the stroke.  The principal of smooth acceleration is still needed.  Open the arc, lengthen the stroke and keep the wrist firm.  Do not let out too much line and have more than can be handled easily in the air.  Remember, all line distances for the test are from the reel and not the tip top.  This must look easy and the timing and loop shape must be made slightly tighter with each cast.  Fine adjustments are possible so long as the amount of line carried is not a problem.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (no tailing loops, haul timing, haul smoothness, loop shape)

17. Demonstrate a distance cast to a minimum of 75'.
This is nothing more that the ability to carry the same 50 feet as on the double haul and shoot the rest.  When you see that perfect back cast you can make the final hard haul and let it fly.  My line is 100 feet long.  I take all the line off the reel, measure by my arm width and put twenty feet back on the reel.  This lets me make the test on the first attempt.  Make sure that your line is stretched before attempting the distance cast.  Tight loops, double haul, body rock and fire away.  This is nopt a long distance and can be made while looking smooth and easy.  I clean my line before each and every session.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (required distance, tailing loops, front, back, loop size loop shape)                                                               
Always keep it light and positive, never say you know they can, have patients and humility and never give up... Is the student a sight, sound or doing learner?  Put the rod in their hands and ask to see them cast.  Say very good...I am here to help....
18. Explain and demonstrate how to cast narrow to wide loops. Straight tip path to convex tip path.
The easiest way to demonstrate this would be to exaggerate what a convex  tip path looks like.  Make the arc as wide as possible for two casts, then shorten the stroke and lessen the convex shape of the tip path.  Now have the student do the same, not all the way to straight but to get a student able to practice so they can feel accomplished.  This would make for a feeling of success.This is where being able to cast correctly in a very slow speed is important for the student to be able to see what is happening.  I use my hand to explain what convex, straight and concave looks like.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (communication effectiveness, straight path or rod tip, teaching fundamentals, cause of changes in loop size analogies, student involvement, line, rod, body)

19. Explain and demonstrate the cause and correction of tailing loops  Concave tip path with sudden acceleration.  Because this is the opposite of the open loop, I would continue from that explanation and now show what happens if the tip of the rod is moving in a downward or concave path.  Now the student can try a complete convex to concave to convex to concave to the middle to find a straight tip path and feel what it is like.  The student would then have the understanding of what is needed and an understanding of the language. If a student has an issue with tailing loops I would take each portion of the cast and correct one at a time.  

Smooth acceleration with a straight tip path to an abrupt stop...... 
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (communication effectiveness, cause, correction, teaching, fundamentals, loop size, analogies, student involvement, line, rod, body, concave, path of rod tip, ways achieved)

20. Explain rod-loading Rod loading is any action that makes the rod bend for the purpose of moving the line.  This is a purposeful action and involves making a stroke as well as using pause.  Conversely we must understand that when the stop occurs we are transferring the energy of the load to the line and are then unloading the rod.  As the line moves in the opposite direction it then will start to load the rod again before the next stroke.  A bent rod is a loaded rod.   Things that help load the rod are the items of resistance like water on pick up, the line and fly itself and the wind that might be blowing in the opposite direction.  This is an easy concept to demonstrate by using the ground.  I can slowly be making a stroke saying load(just like Braveheart said hold, hold...), load,  then at the stop I can change to unload and back to load during the pause.  
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (communication effectiveness, error recognition, teaching fundamentals, analogies, student involvement, line weight, air/water resistance, bending of rod)

21. Explain and demonstrate the casting stroke as it relates to changes in distance.  Short Cast-Short Stroke, Long Cast-Long Stroke  This is all about feel, timing and power.  I must incorporate what each of these elements do to each other.  Show what a spread finger grip and power grip look like.  Give the feeling that this exercise will add distance.  Everyone wants more distance.  Move the student forward.
Speed of stroke, length of pause for loading rod, tip path to loop size, line management and shooting line.  Make sure the basic relationship between the size of stroke and the amount of line out the tip have to each other.  For long cast you might want to make the plane slightly higher in the front.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (communication effectiveness, movement analysis, changes in stroke, error recognition, teaching fundamentals, loop size, casting angle, analogies, student involvement, line, rod, body, stroke length to line length)

22. Explain and demonstrate good timing when false casting.  Slack - pause - power - path - stroke.  These basic essentials are the necessary elements to a well timed cast.  A Smooth and constant acceleration with a straight tip path to an abrupt stop.  Use the ground if needed.  A well timed cast will have nice loops and have a look of relaxed effort.  As the length of line increases then the stroke gets longer and the pause gets longer.  The transition between load and unload to load feels stronger.  This is a good place to explain body movement in relation to forward and backward inertia.  Rocking can add distance as well as ease of casting.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (communication effectiveness, error recognition, teaching fundamentals, loop size, analogies, student involvement, line, rod, body, long verses short stroke)

23. Explain and demonstrate casting into a head wind.  Change plain(angle) of line so that the back cast is higher than the forward cast.  The tip path is still straight and the forward cast is with the tightest loop possible.  The line is going to load in the back well because you are getting a wind assist and forward power will be determined on length of cast.  Use a haul on the forward cast if needed.  Stay low and tight is accomplished by changing the angle and making sure the tip path is straight.
I practice this by having a small amount of line out of the rod.  Try making a straight tip path with the back cast almost straight up in the air.  As you take more line out you will be lowering the angle of the tip plain so the indicator does not hit the ground.  The more line the lower the angle.  Continue until you have all the line out the rod that you can handle in the air.  You will understand straight tip path at all casting angles after going through this exercise a few times.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (communication effectiveness, analysis, error recognition, teaching fundamentals, loop size, line speed, power, analogies, student involvement, line, rod, body, double haul, rod position other casts, casting angle)

24. Explain and demonstrate casting with a crosswind blowing into the casting side.
There are three ways that this safety issue can be accomplished.  First is that you can use a side cast on your dominant side.  This will keep the line low and the path of the fly well away from you.  The other will be an opposite side cast from very low to the water to over the shoulder.  The third option would be to turn your body so that the forward cast is toward the shore and throw a backward cast to the target.  Safety first.
Rich Commented
Another way to answer Task 24 (the crosswind) - You can also turn around and fish the backcast.  You perform a normal cast but present the fly on the backcast and turn back around.  Your other answers are correct.  This is just one more way to skin the cat.
        Pass ____
        Fail  ____

Comments: (communication effectiveness, analysis, error recognition,  teaching  fundamentals, loop size, analogies, student involvement, line, rod, body, other casts, casting angle)

I have now completed the learning process and it is time to move forward.  Today I will contact a Master Casting Instructor to give me a practice test.  I will also set up the schedule for my test itself.  Now is the time to have complete practice sessions going over each item in the test.  This can be done in 20 minutes by moving through each item.  I have now created a notebook with print outs to follow.  Practice is the key to muscle memory that will instill the confidence needed to be a good teacher.

I practice casting every day possible.  Sometimes twice in the same day.  I fish as much as possible but the two are very different.  The feeling we get while fishing has now the same feeling I get when casting.  It takes me away and lost in time for part of my day.  I hope that this page will get you to go out and try some of these techniques.  I also hope that you will consider becoming a Federation Of Fly Fishers member and use the great resource of people found in this highly regarded organization.  I have and will continue to be grateful to all those who have helped me.

Very good news to report today.  I passed the total exam and am now a Federation Of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor.  I am very happy and very proud.