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I is a School of Hi Grad
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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering how many hours its takes to become a true full master spey caster and then I did some research ....

I know a couple of THCI, and knew them before they ever first picked up a spey rod and I know approximately how many days per week and how many hours per day they practiced/trained to pass the THCI test.

Similarly I was just reading a competitive spey casters web site where the caster says he trained for 10 hours per week for two years to become decent and then trained for a further few years after that to get really proficient.

If you work out the hours for these two or three cases it works out that these individuals trained in the range of around 1500-2000 hours give or take.

That is a crap load of time, but these guys are masters and it shows in their casting.

If you compare that amount of time to becoming a master at guitar lets say or some of the theories proposed in the book "Outliers: The Story of Success" where the author states that to truly master something it takes 10,000 hours of practice; then becoming a spey jedi in 1500-2000 hours seems short.

Whatever the amount of time it takes; there is huge difference in being able to get by and cast well enough with a short Scandi or Skagit line to catch fish now and then; verses truly being a casting master with longer lines.

1500-2000 hours is a heck of lot more time than I ever thought it would be; but the numbers are not lying I don't think.
Has anyone else here done any calculations or research into the amount of practice time it takes to become a master caster? Was wondering what your thoughts on this are?
Does the 1500-2000 hours seem right?
 

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btree
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There's a big difference between being a master caster and a master fisher...

I like to cast well, but I'd rather catch fish more than cast a perfect line with a long belly...

To master both would certainly take at least the 10,000 hours you suggest. But really does it matter?
 

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Scandit sublima virtus
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I'll bet 1500-2000 hours is a significant underestimate.
 

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2,080 hours worth of work in a years time working 40 hours a week, so 10,000 hours of practice would take several years. I'm sure it depends on how much talent and aptitude a person has. Thats a ton of casting!
 
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I'd suggest go fishing and don't worry about numbers of anything unless you want to make a name for yourself. If you're in the PNW and want to catch steelhead just go fishing. Steelhead are easy to catch but they gotta be there before you can catch them. It's about covering water, learning water and learning steelhead, it's easy once you understand it. It can also be easy when you don't understand it and it can be almost impossible once you think you understand it. Just go fishing, casting will come.
 

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I is a School of Hi Grad
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I understand the idea of "just going fishing"; but for some the pursuit of mastering spey casting is almost as much fun as fishing. Mastering fishing with a spey rod is something else.

Hoping this thread continues about the time commitment for mastering spey casting....
 

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Internet Scientist
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I agree, this is speypages, not fishingpages, after all. The THCI is the current measure of mastery, I think info from/about those folks is the most relevant to your question.
 

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I is a School of Hi Grad
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Discussion Starter #9
I think you might have something there middlecalf.

What are the measures of mastery and how long did it take? I can think of two measures.

...Obtaining THCI
...Making the finals at SOR
 

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To me this discussion is akin to guys I know who are obsessed with fly tying. To the point where they spend their hard earned money and time off to go to fly tying expos.

Fly tying is cool (no I don't tie nor do I care to).

Spey casting is cool (I think because I just had my first lesson).

But I am ONLY in it to use as another great tool for catching a fish. Tournament casting? Fine, knock yourself out. But when guys are doing fly tying and/or casting at the expense of missing out on fishing I just fail to get that.

But for those who do please carry on. Attend every tying expo and casting show on the planet.....or go golfing.....just less guys on the water.:D
 

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To me this discussion is akin to guys I know who are obsessed with fly tying. To the point where they spend their hard earned money and time off to go to fly tying expos.

Fly tying is cool (no I don't tie nor do I care to).

Spey casting is cool (I think because I just had my first lesson).

But I am ONLY in it to use as another great tool for catching a fish. Tournament casting? Fine, knock yourself out. But when guys are doing fly tying and/or casting at the expense of missing out on fishing I just fail to get that.

But for those who do please carry on. Attend every tying expo and casting show on the planet.....or go golfing.....just less guys on the water.:D
Casting is a therapeutic and rewarding way to improve ones skill set, get exercise and spend time on the water. Its fun and satisfying and can make you a better fisherperson. I fish with guys who dont work on their casting and after a couple days, or even hours they are sore and whooped.

I'm hoping to hear from instructors and tournament casters, not because I haven't heard it before but because its a good topic for a spey casting message board. Besides, the better I get the more fun I have fishing, and more fishing opportunities present themselves. Another board member here that I have dealt with has shared some of his experiences while in pursuit of his certification. The input he has received from some of the certified instructors has been very technical and nuanced and nothing short of amazing. Plenty to geek out on if your into the cast.
 
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It's is all about the choice of hobby. Some people enjoy the whole experience, and find pleasure in the fly tying, the casting, the building of bamboo rods, the catching, the traveling to exotic locales, and even the beauty of the place they are fishing. For others, fishing is about putting meat in the freezer, and nothing else. Those that enjoy the challenge of laying out a 200 foot spey cast to the exclusion of actually fishing are no different than the bench-rest shooters who strive for a perfect three shot group to the exclusion of hunting, or those who spend hours tending beautiful flower gardens rather than the more practical vegetable gardens.

While I applaud and even envy those that have elevated certain aspects of the larger hobby we call fly fishing to an art form (those that tie salmon flies in hand, and the guys that can chuck a spey cast 150 feet or more), I recognize that I do not have the discipline or desire to become a Master at anything, but instead take great pleasure in the possessing a modest proficiency in most aspects of the hobby.

Each to their own!

Jim
 

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It's is all about the choice of hobby. Some people enjoy the whole experience, and find pleasure in the fly tying, the casting, the building of bamboo rods, the catching, the traveling to exotic locales, and even the beauty of the place they are fishing. For others, fishing is about putting meat in the freezer, and nothing else. Those that enjoy the challenge of laying out a 200 foot spey cast to the exclusion of actually fishing are no different than the bench-rest shooters who strive for a perfect three shot group to the exclusion of hunting, or those who spend hours tending beautiful flower gardens rather than the more practical vegetable gardens.

While I applaud and even envy those that have elevated certain aspects of the larger hobby we call fly fishing to an art form (those that tie salmon flies in hand, and the guys that can chuck a spey cast 150 feet or more), I recognize that I do not have the discipline or desire to become a Master at anything, but instead take great pleasure in the possessing a modest proficiency in most aspects of the hobby.

Each to their own!

Jim
Wow! Excellently stated.
 

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Casting is a therapeutic and rewarding way to improve ones skill set, get exercise and spend time on the water. Its fun and satisfying and can make you a better fisherperson. I fish with guys who dont work on their casting and after a couple days, or even hours they are sore and whooped.
I'm hoping to hear from instructors and tournament casters, not because I haven't heard it before but because its a good topic for a spey casting message board. Besides, the better I get the more fun I have fishing, and more fishing opportunities present themselves. Another board member here that I have dealt with has shared some of his experiences while in pursuit of his certification. The input he has received from some of the certified instructors has been very technical and nuanced and nothing short of amazing. Plenty to geek out on if your into the cast.
Totally agree with what you are saying...No problem for guys who do casting or any other hobby for itself. I practice casting to get better for fishing. If and when I can't go fishing anymore I will likely not cast anymore either.
 

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Dedicated Fisherman
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It's is all about the choice of hobby. Some people enjoy the whole experience, and find pleasure in the fly tying, the casting, the building of bamboo rods, the catching, the traveling to exotic locales, and even the beauty of the place they are fishing. For others, fishing is about putting meat in the freezer, and nothing else. Those that enjoy the challenge of laying out a 200 foot spey cast to the exclusion of actually fishing are no different than the bench-rest shooters who strive for a perfect three shot group to the exclusion of hunting, or those who spend hours tending beautiful flower gardens rather than the more practical vegetable gardens.

While I applaud and even envy those that have elevated certain aspects of the larger hobby we call fly fishing to an art form (those that tie salmon flies in hand, and the guys that can chuck a spey cast 150 feet or more), I recognize that I do not have the discipline or desire to become a Master at anything, but instead take great pleasure in the possessing a modest proficiency in most aspects of the hobby.

Each to their own!

Jim
I haven't been saying much lately but I do browse threads to see what the discussions are about. I'm not real big on quoting a post but this one needed to be kept to the forefront

Jim has said something so well that there is nothing to add.

Ard
 

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PiscatorNonSolumPiscatur
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Things change for people too. Now that I'm getting into my later years I find it's not as much about catching as it is the overall experience. While once obsessed with catching these fish and also obsessed about mastering the art of the cast I now have a different goal. I am more selective about where and when I fish. I'm looking for a quality outing that includes many things.
I'd say the amount of time needed to master the cast is directly proportional to the passion you have to do it. Could be as short as 1500 hours, but likely much, much more. Most fishermen work to improve so they can reach and fish waters they could not previously fish--not just so they can cast 150+ feet. It becomes a fun challenge that can take many years for the average guy who can't practice on a daily basis.
 

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Green Butt - well said - if someone told me I would never hook another steelhead in my lifetime, I don't think I would stop trying - to me it is far more than just hooking and catching an amazing fish - it is the whole package. I have friends that are not very good casters and thought they seem to have fun generally, frustration often sets in and I hear them swearing and cussing. Getting proficient enough at casting so that it becomes almost second nature I think will go along way to allow you the ability to enjoy the entire adventure
 

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All Tangled Up
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Really interesting question. A few thoughts, mostly from the perspective of competition casting:

1. In my estimation it depends greatly on what you mean by 'master'. Within the ranks of THCIs and tournament casters there is still a big differential in performance. If you look at the SOR (spey-o-rama) open-division results from the past few years you'll find there's usually a bottom tail of a few people averaging casts in the 120-130s, a big mass spread out in the 140s-150s, and only a true elite few that can consistently reach into the 160s and up. There are THCIs spread through that whole range. From what I can tell just being able to cast consistently in the 140s under tournament conditions is pretty hard. It is certainly a lot harder than it looks. Consistent 160s seem to me otherworldly.

Likewise there are different types of expertise. Competition casting, while it does improve skills generally, more on this below, does require a fair degree of focus and some niche skills. Possible to be a great tournament caster and fail the THCI. Conversely, it's possible to be a very good instructor and a middling tournament caster. I don't know what it takes to become a THCI. I don't have the teaching experience, and I don't have first-hand experience with the examination standards. I do know it has different and more diverse requirements than tournament casting. My impression of the THCI exam, in a nutshell, is : manage a longbelly to make any cast, at any angle, over 100ft, cleanly (tight loops, good straight clean anchors, full turnover) and effortlessly, then explain how you did it in a way a novice can understand. That's very difference from the tournament goal of, huck it as far as you can, and if your leader lands in a pile, so be it.


2. Based on personal experience, 1500-2000hrs to get to a basic level of proficiency at tournament-level casting sounds about right.

I've been spey casting for around six years now. About two or so years ago I started to make an attempt to pick up and fish with long lines. About a year ago I started to get seriously interested in competition casting. I would guess I've put in a little under 1500hrs in casting practice when you add up everything, so I'm edging up on that number. More if you count unfocused fishing time. However, by no stretch am I a 'true master spey caster'. I was in the mix at SOR last month, and I was solidly in that bottom tier. I do not see getting beyond that, if it is even possible for me to do so, without a lot more practice. Extrapolate that, you get 1500-2000 hrs as something of a lower bound on the time to get to basic proficiency. Doubtless someone younger and/or of greater natural ability could shorten that considerably but that was my experience.

As far as comparing that time allocation to masters in other areas....I'm not sure we really know where the true master level in this sport is yet. Looking again at the scores at SOR the past few years, they are still trending up at a fairly good clip. You want to chase the top guys, you better plan to chase a moving target. By definition only a very small fraction of casters will ever quality for the finals at SOR. A more fixed standard might be, being able to reach consistently to the 150-160ft range under tournament conditions.

To get into those top ranks, I have no clue. 5000hrs does not sound unreasonable.

3. One thing I learned....practice and focused practice are not at all the same things. An intense weekend with a really good instructor will get you further than a year flopping around aimlessly on the river. Past a point, fishing time translates only very slowly into casting improvement. [Casting improvement doesn't necessarily translate at all into fishing improvement, though it can, but that's another discussion entirely.] 1500hrs means 1500 hard, focused, intense, goal-driven hours. Without the right focus "practice" is really just grinding in bad habits.


4. Lest this sound too discouraging....all those hours were totally worth it. Training the past year for SOR was really really hard, but I'd absolutely do it again. It was tremendously personally rewarding to claw my way up. And it was fun. And I met some really nice and interesting people. I think a lot of people would enjoy and benefit from competition casting if they tried it. There was a thread on this a year or so back I believe, worth digging up. I am an awful lot better caster than I was two years ago, even a year ago. And I don't mean just distance, it is every aspect. My mechanics are better, my casting is more relaxed, and with the lower effort I can fish a lot longer without tiring. Casts lay out straighter, where I want them to, I don't flub as much, so my swinging coverage is better, faster, and more uniform. Loops are tighter and cut through the wind, I have tremendously greater control over loop shape and anchor placement. Most importantly, the whole experience of fishing and casting is more fun now. I have found that it is really hard to communicate this aspect of the experience. There are a fair amount of people who have toxic reactions to the whole idea of distance casting and it can be nearly impossible to move them off whatever preconceived notion is at the root of that hostility. I've never gonna make a 200ft cast. That's not a realistic goal for me. Tournament casting is, definitely, partly about seeing how far I can cast. But only partly. Even if I never compete again, the experience so far will pay dividends for the rest of my fishing life. But, yes, to get to where I want to be, it is going to take around 2000 hours. At least.

And I totally get it that a lot of people either don't want to, or just can't, devote that level of time to anything, much less speycasting.
 

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Interesting thread. Troutless really liked your response, and actually all the others. I have just under a year to get fishing proficient with the two handed rod and hopefully going about it the correct way.

Reading and watching lots of videos but going to start with lessons from a THCI. Buddy of mine is a really good guy and just happened to win the senior division down at SOR. So I will be taking a series of lessons from him and since I have no preconceived bad habits (well two handed casting bad habits) hopefully I will learn it correctly from the ground up. And I plan to practice as much as I can so I am ready for the Rio Grande next march.

Now I most certainly will not get in anywhere near 1000 hours practicing between now and then. For one thing I have fish to catch and ducks to whack. But I should be able to get enough time on the water to be fishing proficient.
 

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Troutless

Great post. You have my respect.
 
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