FFF THCI Certification - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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FFF THCI Certification

I'm hoping we can start a little list here of anyone on the Spey Clave who has their FFF Two-Handed Casting Instructor (THCI) certification or is studying for it. I'd like to use this forum as a place where we can discuss the test, how we went about preparing for it, what resources we found useful, helpful hints for anyone wanting to take the test, etc--to create a "study guide" of sorts.

So anyways, Hi I'm Dana ("Hi Dana") and I took my THCI test and was certified in June 2004. I kept a little online journal of how I prepared for the test on my website the speypages that you might find helpful if you are planning to take the test.



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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 09:25 PM
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Great idea Dana. I will prepare a post on my prep process, which I have to say was the most educational period of time since I started casting, period. I hope the notes will be of value to anyone else taking the test... or even those who are not interested in getting tested but are working on their practice procedure, etc.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 11:55 PM
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Study Guide Thanks

There has been a shroud of secrecy to the THCI. I wish to thank both of you, and anyone else, for your efforts to clear-up the THCT information. The prepartation is most of the battle in becoming certified. The more individuals that pass THCI, the broader the base of information that is available to those of us wishing to take the test. Now we can go to battle wish a clear idea of what tactic to use. Thank you for cheerfully offering your knowledge so we can be prepared with confidents. Your "Study Guide" will focus my energy. My first question is: What was the differents in your dominate hand (top hand) cast and your non-dominate (top hand) cast final loops? Where your delivery loops very equal or a little larger or noticeable larger? Klem

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-06-2004, 04:15 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Klem!

I really worked on my non-dominant hand casting. That and my overhead casting were what I considered to be my biggest "problems." In the end I would say that the loops were pretty close off both shoulders, with the tighter loops going to my dominant hand up. I chose not to reverse cast (off shoulder with dominant hand up--you are allowed to if you wish) except on my overhead cast. My reasoning for this choice was that I have had several students who are lefties and it makes sense to me as an instructor to be able to demonstate and teach with the same hand up that they will use, rather than say"do it like this, only with your left hand up."

I think you should be prepared to cast both reverse and non-dominant. I can do both so I did a few times (for example, doing my dominant hand single spey and then switching to non-dominant, I would reverse snake roll to throw the line upstream so I could demonstrate the left handed cast). If I was an examiner I would ask a candidate to show me both, for the same reason mentioned above.

During my test my examiners (Al Buhr and Denise Maxwell) were very particular about everything I was doing. Early on I made a few good casts but they kept saying "again please." I finally said "ok, but why do you keep wanting me to make two casts when the first one was fine?" To paraphrase the answer, the first one might have been a fluke, so get used to making at least two casts for every task whether or not you nail the first one. The point to my mentioning this is that I really don't think that I would have passed if my non-dominant hand casting was less than very good. You make a few casts off your dominant side and the examiners can see how well you cast, which is a good thing because then you think "ok, they can see that I can handle this stuff" but also a not so good thing if your off-shoulder casting sucks because then they have something to compare. I believe there was a point during my test when they asked me to cast off my dominant shoulder and then do the same cast off my non-dominant side. Fortunately that's how I had prepared so it was "easy" to switch back and forth like that. The difficult thing for me was that I generally cast a very tight loop off my dominant side, so I knew that I would have to get close off my left side in order to make the grade. This is especially problematic with the distance cast because the tendency of course is to use power to compensate for poor technique. Anyways I'm kinda rambling here and doing the stream of consciousnes thing a little but I think that if a candidate casts big rolling loops off their non-dominant side or if they tail off their non-dominant side they probably won't pass.

The interesting thing about non-dominant hand casting is that it really reminds me of how many things I just kinda now do without thinking with my dominant hand up. In a way, it is like learning how to spey cast all over again, and I found it enlightening to teach myself how to cast cleanly with my left hand up. I'd make a cast, then analyse it (loop shape, power, turnover, ease, etc) and then make a few corrections over the next couple of casts, then practice what I'd learned several times to get it started into muscle memory, then make a few notes (sometimes mental, sometimes written) on what I learned so that I could practice it next day.

The "shroud of secrecy"

Interesting observation. I think the oral section certainly has this feel to it, as there are a series of mandatory questions that the examiner must cover and I can understand the concern about revealing them. I won't reveal them, but I personally don't share this concern. As an educator I've found that either a student knows their stuff or they don't, and those who prepare and study will do well whether or not you reveal the questions on the test. In my career in the classroom I've done this many times--given a complete outline of an exam, even the actual questions, and haven't noticed a huge difference in student achievement.

I think a real issue is not the questions themselves, but how well you can answer them, first in a concise fashion and then with additional info if required. Also, your delivery is really important. If you rattle off an answer that sounds like you memorized it from a text book watch out because you can be certain they will ask you for more detail and if you don't have it you're toast.

Anyways, if you think about it the Mandatory Questions should be fairly obvious to anyone who has studied Spey casting in any detail, which is kinda the point of the certification I guess. All of the recommended videos cover these questions one way or the other, and if you think about the questions students are likely to ask or the information you'd want a class to know about Spey casting you'll be well on your way to having the Mandatory Orals. There are also a bunch of optional questions that you could be asked, and I think this is the area where a candidate really needs to understand two-handed casting. Down the raod as more people take the test and the Mandatory Questions get out there I can see the optional questions becoming more like the Mandatory Questions, meaning that if you can't nail the optionals you're dead.

As far as the practical test, as you know it is published on the website so that you can review it. It seems simple to some but it is deceptively so. I know a few very good-to-excellent Spey casters who have not passed, so it is not enough to be a good caster. You need to be well-prepared, and above all clean and consistent. If you cast pointy loops at 80ft you'd better be casting pointy loops at 100ft too. You know that little downwards jump (it's a tail) that happens at the end of a cast? Get rid of it because the examiners are looking for that, which might seem like a little thing and not noticed by most people but the examiners will pick it up. Stuff like that will make all the difference.



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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-06-2004, 02:04 PM
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Dana, great info, thank you.

Juro, very cool to see you on the river mid test. Great job ace'n it.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-07-2004, 10:28 PM
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Thumbs up Study guide

dana;
Great idea & thanks for sharing it!

I knew(know) for a fact that I wouldn't be able to accomplish the test requirements with my 12.5' 8wt. rod, so I picked up a 14' for 9/10, & a multi-tip line that will give a reasonable chance- IF I get enough time to practice.

One of the problems I see for myself & maybe others in the Great Lakes region, is that a fishing cast is around 80'-90'. It's tough to learn a clean 100'+ cast when the rivers are only 100' wide

My options are either driving 35 miles to the Mississippi River(left bank only), or 55 miles to the Wisconsin River(either bank available IF levels drop).

Be responsible;have all your steelhead speyed
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-09-2004, 08:53 PM
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Loop criteria

I quess my hang-up on the THCI is: what is the loop criteria of the tester? Part One - As I stand behind the loop, when I cast, I see what I believe to be parallel top and bottom legs without a hint of a tailing or side twist movement on my swicth and single spey casts. I'm guessing my switch and single spey are 10"-12" loops at 80' and about 12"-14" at 105' for both dominant and non-dominate cast, but my double spey and snake rolls are 18"-20" from both sides and have a hint of tail and/or side twist. My question is: should ALL cast be very equal or is there some tolerances given? Did either of you (Dana or Juro) see a difference in the loop criteria?
Part Two - When a person stands to the side to judge loops, do they see the side twist? (Rod tip not traveling in perfect straight line?). I see it when I cast but don't notice it when others cast and I'm standing to the side. When I stand directly behind, the side twist is noticable. Finally, how do I cure the last little bit of side twist? Should I turn the upper wrist inward slightly at the positive stop? OR??? Klem
ps. you shouldn't of opened this thread, I'm afraid I will abuse my privilege. In any case, many thanks.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-09-2004, 11:14 PM
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12-14" loop at 105' change of direction single spey?? YOU'RE DOOMED!

Seriously now... if you are getting a satisfyingly "tight" loop at the full distance requirements with good form - a smooth lift and sweep to backcast, a full d-loop with good tension, and a smooth acceleration to a proper stop to conjure up a loop that comes off the rod as it should and makes it's way to the target with zeal, then whether the loop gap measurement is 2" or 20" is not a pass or fail criteria.

Does the tester see side twist? Guys like Simon, Al see even the things that we do not in our own casts.

BTW - turn the wrist slightly outward, not inward. Inward often causes the side twist.

Here's an exercise I recommend, inspired by advice I received from Tak Shimosawa - place your upper hand against the wall in the firing position (no rod). Make a forward casting motion. Does your knuckle pull away from the wall? Does your lower hand stay with the upper hand or does it pull away to the other side of the body? If so, the rod could be tracking out of the plane of the angle of aim, which is the exact plane that the top half of the d-loop should be tracking in before you start the forward cast. Stay in that plane and there should be no such side-twist.

The test is equally about instruction, equally about casting ability. As you prepare make sure you put equal priority into both aspects of an instructors skill.

Best of luck!
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