Sunday, February 7, 2016
Study Materials

Certified Casting

Two-Handed Casting Instructor




IFFF Master Casting Instructor Study Materials 



The IFFF Casting Instructor Certification Board of Governors wishes to call attention to the fact that many people participated in the preparation of this study guide. The document is based on a workshop given by Master Instructor Dusty Sprague at the Denver Fly Show on January 4, 2002. The advice of several board members and other master instructors has been incorporated into that workshop to produce this final product.


This study guide is designed to assist candidates preparing for certification as International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) Master Casting Instructors. It is based on the experience of individuals who have successfully prepared for the exam and insights from members of the IFFF Casting Instructor Certification Board of Governors.

It is important to note that the Board of Governors does not advocate any casting style as superior to the rest. Each is valid, as long as it allows the rod to move in a way that results in a good cast. The choice of style is your own. The board's only concern is that you cast well and teach well.
          Do I Need A Mentor to Pass the MCI Exam? (PDF)
          Master Casting Instructor Test Preparation Guide (PDF)
          Appendices A-F (PDF)
          Master Casting Performance Test (PDF)
          Master Study Guide Articles

          MCI Study Guide (Purchase Required)

Do I Need A Mentor to Pass the MCI Exam?

Passing the MCI exam on the first attempt is a challenge. However, there are several opportunities available that can improve a candidate’s chances for a first-time pass.
The first opportunity is using a mentor: “I'd guess that maybe 10% pass without (a mentor); 50-60% pass on the first attempt with one.” This comment comes from an effective mentor. We followed up to see why the improvement wasn’t greater. He said: “I've had students fail and I think I'm pretty good at mentoring. But, they DID NOT follow my advice and I predicted they would fail. Those that I've felt comfortable would pass, did so.“

The second opportunity is obvious: heed your mentor’s input. Good mentors tell their candidates when their skills and knowledge are at Master’s level.

Mock exams provide the third opportunity for candidates to improve their prospects for passing. The MCI exam format, a combined performance and comprehensive oral exam, is an extremely rigorous and often “discombobulating” experience in and of itself. A realistic mock exam offered by qualified MCIs provides an independent assessment of the candidate’s readiness, as well as an exam experience in a learning environment where the candidate can receive needed coaching. Passing a mock exam is an important late-stage stepping stone for candidates.

These are three of the suggestions made by an international group of 16 successful MCI mentors. To read more of their ideas for passing your MCI exam on the first attempt, Click Here (PDF).
What's Expected of a Master Instructor?

The ideal Master Instructor is a person with superb teaching ability and experience, excellent casting skills and outstanding knowledge of fly casting and fly fishing.

The distinction between a Certified Instructor and a Master Instructor is that the Board of Governors entrusts a Master to be a full steward of the Casting Instructor Certification program. Master Instructors are exceptional teachers, able to see casting through the eyes of the untrained caster and able to teach others how to teach.

Two Masters may test and certify applicants for the Certified Instructor designation. Furthermore, it is from the group of committed Masters that future members of the board will be chosen. And that requires the highest standard in granting Master status. The examination is intentionally rigorous and demanding in order to uphold the integrity of the entire certification process.

Why Pursue Master Certification

The most important benefit in pursuing Master certification is the knowledge and proficiency you will gain in preparing for the test. As you study and practice, you will learn a great deal and become a better instructor. Additionally, you will be recognized and respected in your community of fly fishers as a Master Instructor and have more opportunities to teach and become more involved in the fly casting community and the fly fishing industry.

The Tests

The certification process consists of two parts: an oral exam and a casting performance test. Two members of the Board of Governors will administer the tests.

Oral Examination

The oral portion of the exam consists of questions covering five areas: teaching, equipment, fly fishing, casting, and etiquette. Orals generally take place in a quiet classroom or small conference room. Orals may precede or follow the casting portion depending on the wishes of the examiners or the availability of the classroom or casting area.

Typically, only you and the two members of the Board of Governors are present. Occasionally, an observer may request permission to attend. With permission from the examiners and you, the observer, most likely another member of the Board of Governors or a Master Instructor, will sit quietly and listen. In the limited time available, the examiners must pose questions they believe will adequately test your depth of knowledge in these five broad areas.

At the conclusion of the orals the examiners must make a judgement regarding your knowledge level and whether or not it is sufficient to justify a passing grade. They want to give you ample opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge level and they must make certain they uphold the standards of a Master Instructor. This is a difficult task for both you and the examiners, especially considering that they hope to see you pass the test almost as much as you want to pass it.

There is no standard list of questions. Each member of the Board of Governors develops questions he or she believes will test your knowledge and experience. With the diversity of backgrounds and the depth of experience of the members of the Board of Governors, potential questions could number into the hundreds. Yet, they have only a brief time to question you. Predicting precisely the questions you will get is impossible. You simply must be as knowledgeable and experienced as possible in these five areas.

Appendices A-E at the end of this document represent the types of questions you might be asked during the orals. These examples are intended as thought-provoking questions, to stimulate your thinking about the depth and breadth of knowledge expected. You may or may not encounter these same questions again. However, if you can handle these, you are well on your way.

Some questions are straightforward. These can be addressed with a simple word or short sentence. Others will require an answer containing several points. And some do not have a single commonly accepted answer, but can be correctly approached in several acceptable ways, provided logic and common sense support your response. Then there is the odd question you may get just to determine how you might respond, similar to a student asking some strange question. Listen carefully and think before you respond to any question.

Casting Performance Test and Instructing Ability

The casting portion of the test is straightforward. You can either make the casts or you can't. The key here is frequent practice. You should thoroughly study the requirements for Master certification located on this web site.
If your examiner asks you to do something you didn't anticipate, don't argue. Find out exactly what he or she wants and then do your best to meet their expectations. Sometimes examiners might ask for something not on the regular test to confirm or dispel a perceived weakness. Again, don't argue, just do it.
The casting portion could take place on a lawn, pond or lake, or a casting pool at one of the fly fishing shows. You will be given allowances for roll casting if casting on grass. And, some allowances may be given for other circumstances, such as unusually high wind. The examiners will be fair about casting conditions and they won't measure down to the inch on distance or accuracy. However, you must demonstrate, with comfort and ease, the casts you are asked to execute.
Your responses to the "explain and demonstrate" elements of the Instructing Ability portion of the test should be straightforward. When you know the main points about each cast to be made, it's a matter of organizing those into a clear and concise explanation that must match your demonstration. Practice or rehearse to the point that it becomes very easy, an almost "automatic" response. In your first rehearsals you will likely use far too many words. It may help to write out your explanation, and then edit to reduce the number of words. Rehearsing with a knowledgeable friend can help.

The test is rigorous. In 1999-2001, for example, the Master test was administered 44 times. Less than half the applicants passed the test on the first attempt. However, a significant percentage who retested passed on their second or third attempt. This suggests they were not well prepared initially. However, they returned for the retest better prepared and were successful. Initial preparation was lacking, but persistence paid off. 


The Board of Governors congratulates you on your decision to pursue certification as a Master Instructor. As a Certified Instructor, you have already made an important contribution to our sport. Now, you have expressed your desire to make an even greater commitment, to become the best of the best. That is more than significant; it is impressive. We wish you the best of luck and hope this document has helped.

Like any good instructor, we offer this study guide with the realization that there is always room to improve. The Board of Governors welcomes your comments on how we might make this study guide better. Indeed, we are always looking for ways to improve the FFF Casting Instructor Certification Program. If you have ideas you wish to share, feel free to approach members of the Board of Governors at any opportunity.  

If you need assistance please contact the IFFF Casting Coordinator.


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