The EFFF Masters Test result

Well have I had a lot of mail recently! Thanks and yes I agree; life goes on. Following yesterday's newsletter stating that I ffffailed (whilst curiously inferring that it was all part of the “Big Scheme” and therefore beyond all comprehension) I've had lots of mail asking me for – well you know – the seedy details. After all, I know that there are many instructors – especially in the UK, but also the US and in fact all over the place – who have followed this closely. So here goes:

The test was outdoors on a marked out section of grass. Rudy van Duijhoven, Sepp Fuchs and Jupp Verstraten examined me. The air was heavy. There were two of us taking the Masters Test. The 30-metre marking tape was laid out. The air was still. You can see where this is going right? I tied on a hookless Soldier Palmer. Some distant thunder rolled across the sky – it was an omen. There may have been Mugwai present.

My first cast went wild; some fancy trick cast I invented on the spur of the moment. I thought I'd do this as a surprise manoeuvre – you know to keep the examiners on their toes. The air had a muggy and thick feel to it – was damp-like. My second cast was smooth. The loop was long, tight and sexy – and unrolled to 27 metres. I flattened the drift on the third cast and hauled quicker. It reached 28 metres. That was my three attempts.

That's tough right?

But it's not quite that tough, because if you pass everything else you can redo one thing. But next on the list of non-hitters was the 25 metres backcast. Close but no cigar.

Now I'm out of the running and so go through the motions – I wanted to see what was required exactly. Because I didn't beat the inch-tape they didn't ask me any questions – such as what is it that flyfishing is all about, which is a shame because I was especially looking forward to that one.

So there is not really much I can say about it. It's not like I was casting badly or that I cocked up. I wasn't nervous or worried or anything like that – it just didn't happen. My casting was clean, the loops were nice and let's face it if you hook the loops up you should get the distance. Under different circumstances I think I would have passed. So I'm not sure what that all says really.

Even after the exam and in full flow I wasn't hitting 30 metres.

Although the inch tape has it's good sides, it's also a bit restrictive as well. Had I taken the exam with the air stirred up a bit, had a front not been coming through, I'm pretty sure I'd have got through the casting part. That's a little bit damning right? Maybe I'm really not good enough but I didn't get that impression – although Sepp Fuchs (nice caster incidentally) did tell me that he thought I wasn't ready – but he didn't elaborate on this, so I'm not really sure he meant by it. Rudy van Duijhoven said very little about the test – so I don't know what he thought. Jupp Verstraten and I got on well and spent time casting together and told each other that we had great loops – you know the cool flycasting stuff that normally goes on at these fairs.

That's it – well not quite because left like that it all sounds very downbeat and negative and the Netherlands was not a bit like that for me. I had a great time meeting new people including some really nice casters and tyers who regularly visit Sexyloops (you know on a daily basis) but had either not been in touch before or else I simply hadn't met. It seems that through Sexyloops I get to meet genuinely nice people with whom I automatically have an affinity. This may well be why I do it – we'll all get together one day and put the world to rights. It's not about money or ego or women or any of that bollocks. It's so I can meet people a bit like me. Hang on – no I was wrong; it's about the women.

The demonstrations were good – although there was a bit of a problem with the microphone on the Saturday (that no one told me about, until afterwards) – you don't hear it when you are talking. On the Sunday it was much better and I really enjoyed myself. I'm starting to teach the Dirty Harry stuff and getting a real buzz from this.

And my casting is really on form. I haven't been casting this well, ever I think. I guess that's not too surprising since I've been casting for between three and five hours a day and for the last three weeks. Of course it's gonna be good. The best compliment I had was from a German who said I handled my rod like he handled his dick.

At least I think it was a compliment :-)

So where to go from here? Well the EFFF is on hold for now. I'm going to destroy my stroke to take into account the Alexander Technique teaching that Steve's wife does. I can see how it is going to straighten up my loops (and my back). I'm going to master the left hand, for although there is a debate on the bulletin board suggesting that the backhand cast makes more sense biomechanically – I want to be completely ambidextrous; I think it will make me a better angler and better instructor – for one thing I'm learning all sorts of stuff about my right hand through teaching my left. I'm also going to take videos of loops in the air and different shaped loops forming off the tip of the rod. Basically I'm going to shift the whole site up a gear.

That's it – we'll kick this section back into life again when it's appropriate...

Further note: I returned one year later, passed, came to the conclusion that it wasn't really for me after all, and left. Life, huh?

*this* picture actually clearly shows exactly how I can improve :-)

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