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CCI Burn Out

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Marshall
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:05 am

CCI Burn Out

#1

Post by Marshall » Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:08 pm

Hello all,
It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve posed on SL and I can say I do sincerely miss the community.

I am currently in the process stowing my fly tying station and considerable tackle collection as the space they occupy is at a premium. I have been left to ponder what happened to extinguish the desire to do that which was once held so closely to my own identity. Here is a very personal exploration of what happened written as honestly as possible. I am sharing it here I hopes to spark a touch of introspection in those instructors who are offering guidance to candidates. Maybe consider it a cautionary tale.
Here is some history, as best as I can remember it, to get us up to the pertinent SL bits. I am currently knocking on 50’s door and have been fly fishing since my youth. As I struggled my way through college hampered by some fairly significant and completely unabated learning disabilities (this is important later) I found myself working in a local fly shop. During my tenure there I taught lessons on rod building, fly tying and after a season or two, casting. After graduating from university I continued to teach lessons and guide on a limited basis but became very focused on refining my own casing ability and knowledge.
Back in the dark ages resources were scant by today’s standards. Mel, Joan and the Borgers’ books were among the best of what was available and I spent as much time with them as I could stand. Living in Lefty’s home state afforded me the opportunity to attend several demonstrations where I would watch the Old Salt deliver the same basic demo for beginners laced with the same one-liners. They were fun to watch but really lacked in depth as these sessions were primarily intended to entertain.
As the internet matured so did the resources for fly anglers and so did my own expression the discipline. Paul’s early work and discussions about pulling v pushing opened my mind to a who new level of understanding. As the years progressed and the arguments on the board more esoteric (dolphin nosed loops anyone?) I became more and more focused on my casting skill set. My competency had reached a point where I could execute all of the casts required by the CCI exam and most, if not all of the performance requirements of the MCI exam. Guided by the exercises outlined “Master your Fly Casting!” by Jim C Chapralis I was spending 2 or more hours daily honing my loops and ability to reliably hit targets with minimal false casts. After a couple of seasons of this I managed to scored a casting session with an MCI who also happened to be a sitting member of the board of governors. That session convinced me that I was ready to take the on CCI exam. An exam I registered for with the enthusiasm and naivete of a school boy going off on some adventure involving soft drugs and girls. An exam I would never end up taking.
As stated earlier I was once an enthusiastic poster on the board and even manged to participate in a successful SL fly-swap. I had the chance to meet up with a Looper in one of the must amazing machine shops I have ever seen and chat for a bit about flats fishing and casting. I had great conversations with some really interesting folks from around the world. I was also introduced to a trio of master instructors who’s tutelage drove me away from casting and fishing for a very long time. (I looked around at some recent posts, these particular fellows do not appear to be regular posters these days)
While I genuinely do not believe that driving me away from casting was the intended destination when we began our brief but intense journey together it was, however, what ultimately ended up happening. I was invited to participate in what was essentially a blog that would be directed by the lead MCI with the two others contributing. These gentlemen were frequent contributors to the board. Their reputations for competency as world-class casters and instructors were well established. I was deeply honored to have been asked to participate. I was also entirely unprepared for what was to come. Questions came quick and my answers were instantly met with incredulity, “how could you possibly be so naive” was the message. My embarrassment was palpable, these guys were expecting succinct to the point answers. Mine were more, shall we say, conversational in nature. I was certain my mentors were coming from a place of good will, as the last thing any examiner what’s to hear is a rambling drawn out answer. Though I understood their criticism I took it deeply and personally. The phrase “I took it to heart” had palpable meaning. I broke out in a cold sweat and struggled with a bout of vomiting the likes of which I had only known while in a drunken stupor.
The panic was unlike anything I had ever know before. I had wrapped so much of what I had considered to be who I was, my identity, around my skills as a fly caster, I was utterly unprepared for real detailed criticism. I had aspirations of expanding my teaching and tackle building into something more than a hobby. All of that ended with my inability to connect in a meaningful way to these undoubtedly knowledgeable gate keepers of the art.
I continued for several weeks to answer the questions posed in the most concise language available to me using canonical sources as references. As exam time approached I was persuaded to postpone my date with the inquisitor as my on-line mentors did not deem my answers polished enough to pass muster.
My casting, mind you, was never in question, only my diction and concision. Also all of this with the exception of one Skype session with the ring-leader and video posts of my casting was done in writing. I am fairly certain that the actual exam would take place face-to-face, much like my session with the Master a few months earlier. The difference between having to write painstakingly worded answers versus answering face-to-face questions while having to think on my feet are two fundamentally different skill sets. I do have to ability to coach and teach on my feet, I am at my most comfortable when operating off-the-cuff. Writing,especially very precise writing, has been a profound weakness for most of my life. Even this post has been marinating in my laptop for quite some time before I felt comfortable enough to post it. (Still very uncomfortable but I have an urge to understand this episode in my life). My difficulties processing language are a part of my particular set of magical chromosomes bequeathed to me by generations past and are not easily remediated. The very format of the test preparation proved to be an additional challenge that may have added a layer of complexity that I was ill-equipped to navigate.
My enthusiasm began to wain and I found it easier and easier to find excuses to do anything other than casting or formulating perfectly worded answers. I stopped spending time on the water and the mere sight of a flyrod brought a visceral sense of doom. I wrote one last post for the blog, thanking the gentlemen for their time and copping my extreme anxiety, once posted I never again even pondered certification (read: validation, I suppose).
As a kid with profound learning disables I found it very difficult to focus on one thing for long enough to gain any depth of knowledge or any actual skill. Fly casting was one of the few facets of human existence that I felt a true affinity for, it also seemed to focus my attention in ways I struggled to touch in other arenas in life. Over the years I was lucky enough to have I tested my skills against some of mother nature’s harshest critics on the salt flats of the Eastern United States. At one point I purchased a genuine legend of the Florida Keys in the skiff that once hosted a famous saxophonist during his time away from touring and his (the) Boss. I toted that thing 1000 miles up the coast so I could have an authentic platform to practice casting. I planned to teach casting lessons to would-be flats anglers using a remote control boat as a standing for a cruising or tailing critter. I loved to cast a fly rod, I loved to help other people learn to cast a fly rod, and then it all just seemed to die.
In the years since, I have learned how to play golf to a fair degree. I took swing lessons with the intention of understanding where I might have gone wrong in my quest to become a casting instructor. The PGA has massively higher standard for their instructors than the IFFF (not sure of the proper name these days) or any of the governing alphabets in the UK, so I figured I might get a different perspective on learning difficult kinesthetic skill. My instructor was an ex-touring pro from Ireland. He taught me a complex physical motion without employing complicated language or concepts more suited to an engineering seminar. It was simple, refreshing and, not for nothin’, fun as hell. My journey to understand music was similar, not over complicated or encumbered, but fun.
So, if you’ve read through all of that, thank you. I did not write this to admonish the good folks who wanted nothing more than to prepare me for a difficult test. If it comes across as such please forgive me. I am really just trying to understand what the hell happened all those years ago. Thank you again for your time.
Peace
-Marshall

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Graeme H
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Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: CCI Burn Out

#2

Post by Graeme H » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:37 pm

Hi Marshall,

Thanks for your article. As one of those still navigating the journey, I found your tale to be a sobering reminder that the joy of participation can be soured by getting too involved with the sidebars of any activity. I've been through something like it with my photography and need to stay aware of the potential "buzz-kills" in this version of my life.

Stay well,
Graeme
FFi CCI

John Waters
Posts: 687
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:16 pm

Re: CCI Burn Out

#3

Post by John Waters » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:09 pm

Hi Marshall, thanks for your post. I too have struggled with some aspects of accreditation. At the end of the day, it is about following your fishing/casting/whatever dream along whichever path you are most comfortable with. For some it is the accreditation path to teaching, for others it is not; both paths produce some excellent casting instructors. Teaching is about passion, all the other things associated with instruction can be acquired. Reading your post I sensed that passion. Good luck with your projects, whatever they be.

John

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Paul Arden
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Re: CCI Burn Out

#4

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Nov 20, 2019 4:26 am

A fascinating and rather disappointing read there, Marshall. I’ve personally found disappointment in every association in which I’ve been a member - and am currently not a member of any fly casting instructors one.

Recently I took a lifesaving course (rescuing non-swimmers etc) and while I know that there are lots of levels above this, all the way up to instructors’ instructors, I will not be going down this route for fear of getting involved in bullshit organisation politics :D

At the end of the day though for me, fishing has to always come first. If I lose that fire then I have no idea what I would do in life. Nothing else really interests me!

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

Flycasting Definitions

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bartdezwaan
Posts: 366
Joined: Sun May 12, 2013 6:39 pm

Re: CCI Burn Out

#5

Post by bartdezwaan » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:47 am

That is quit a story Marshall. Thanks for sharing it.
You should have walked away from those instructors. They probably had good intentions but it it was not for you.

I hate to say it here, but a long time ago Paul said something very wise to me. Right there and then it changed the way I could deal with strange people. Or just people I don't feel connected with. :D
I don't think Paul is aware of this.

It was the first time I attended a BFCC meeting (over 10 years ago) and a bunch of casters where sleeping at Paul's place the day before. We were talking about the discussions on the Board and live in general. I mentioned I found there are quit some strange people around. At the time I was practicing for my FFFE (now EFFA) exam and ran into people who didn't want me there. Probably because I was young and a bit to overenthusiastic with distance casting.
Paul said to me "It is all these different people that make live interesting". There was more, but I don't remember everything. We where also drunk :p
At that exact moment I realized that I should not be frustrated about the people who act strange or do something a don't like (to a certain extend).
If I now meet someone who says something I don't like or something that is really stupid in my opinion, I have no extreme emotions about that. I take a good look at him, laugh inside and think "we need this people to to make live interesting".
This enriched my life.
The moral of the story. Do never let other people get under you skin.

I don't know why I am telling this now, but it came up after reading your story :D

Cheers, Bart

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Paul Arden
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Re: CCI Burn Out

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:13 am

:laugh:
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

Flycasting Definitions

Limpe Iven
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:22 am

Re: CCI Burn Out

#7

Post by Limpe Iven » Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:21 pm

Marshall. What a brave story!
My reply is not about teaching.
i have absolutely no history with this board and/or interactions with famous flycasters, flycasting teaching skills nor the desire or drive to become anything licensed, certified or anything that has anything to do that even has the slightest wiff of mandates.

Kicked open that 50 door some time ago and picked up flyfishing again and it's awesome.
It's intenser than ever and for the first time time and i can truly say that i honestly enjoy it, more than ever.
i'll try to explain why.

When i started it was a discovery and i hit a very steep learning curve, driven by a local famous flyfisher (who's name i shall i never mention but who has given me the drive) who, six months after i started told me that bonefishing was out of my league.
So 2 montsh later,here i was, i was drilling bonefish, chuckling, made an article on it as well, got published, ordered that issue and send it to the critic.
My point at that time was to prove him-and some general opinions- wrong.
That has always been my biggest drive and on many occasions and has helped me grow in skills on many levels, photography, wildwatercanoeing, motorcycle building, flytying, bicycling, in almost anything i did i tried to prove something, especailly when some one told me it wasn't for me, or it cant be done, or it was way to difficult. (same with photography, my ex told me i didn't have the "eye", worked for several magazines in the years after).

For some time i'm doing what i do for myself, not to prove anything, not seeking validation (and it's either group or collection of like-minded that sets the bar or determines the goals), not an easy task; in my opinion everybody needs and searches for a tap on the shoulder, getting validated. wanting to be seen.

Now, mostly doing stuff on my own i benefit from the levels i reached (thank you. all who have been a critic!), it contributes to whatever i'm doing, so, i might not know who you are but i truly wish that anyone can enjoy the levels that they aimed for (or has teached), but mostly can determine a comment/critic and placing it in in the right perspective/context.

Keep your gear. Enjoy your skills. Encourage.

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Paul Arden
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Re: CCI Burn Out

#8

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:40 pm

Limpe Iven, you’ll never be a competition fly caster :cool: And you’ll never come Snakehead fishing in Malaysia :laugh:

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

Flycasting Definitions

Limpe Iven
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:22 am

Re: CCI Burn Out

#9

Post by Limpe Iven » Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:57 pm

:pirate:

Mangrove Cuckoo
Posts: 236
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:51 am

Re: CCI Burn Out

#10

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:30 pm

Marshall

I have read through your post numerous times now. And I have read between the lines too. We both appear to have been on similar tracks at similar time.

I hope you reconsider stowing your gear. It is so much more about your passion in your heart than that card in your wallet.

I have moved on from attempting certification. It was a fun challenge, but by continuing I have learned so much more. Sexyloops, teaching, and fishing a lot has added much more to my education than the FFF program.

I still monitor what is going on at FFi. And I can offer my perspective. Pendulums swing! At one time anyone could be FFF certified. Many at first were grandfathered in simply by asking. That was not good. Things changed, and maybe a bit too far. Egos, pedants, and dogma took over. Not good either. I think you may have run into some of that. Things have moderated back a bit, I think.

But the main thing is that a certification is meaningless. It is just a step that can be used or simply jumped over.

If flyfishing was once important to you, it still is. Don't let a few other people's inability to see things your way deter you from your path. They were simply wrong.
“Very simple man. Catching fish makes me happy. Scaringly simple.”

Håvard Stubø

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