This has been an interesting week. JC and I were involved
with the Seattle International Sportsmen's Show. JC did a couple of programs
on casting, and was asked to manage the Best of the West Casting
Championships. Not a tough job, just sign folks up, make sure they are
using one of the rods provided, have a line judge to watch to see the cast
crosses the line to qualify. JC has a background in radio and TV so doing the
announcements and getting folks to sign up worked out very well.
We got to meet some new folks, and visited with some of the contestants who
didn't know if they should give it a try or not. I encouraged everyone I could to
give it a shot. For several reasons. It is a great learning experience, even if you
don't qualify. The requirements were pretty simple - you had to use one of the six
rods provided, all 5 wt, 9 ft rods with a weight-forward line. One practice cast with
as many false casts as necessary to get the feel of the rod. Then, three shots at the
distance. Eighty-five feet to qualify for men, sixty feet for women.
The fly casting pond was eighty-one feet long, about 15 feet wide, with a
platform a foot or so high on one end. The area for
the backcast was also about eighty feet long. The contestant stood
on the platform, alone, the center of attention. That was enough to unnerve some men
who couldn't make the sixty-foot ladies distance requirement.
Also interesting was the number of 'experts' who also couldn't qualify. Several of
the company reps from rod companies couldn't make the minimum distance either.
A couple of guys who weren't associated with any company or lodge made it easily.
Their secret? Very smooth, consistant loops with perfect timing.
One of the neatest contestants who really is a fine caster, sat on the edge of the platform
and winged his "practice" cast out the end of the pond and well beyond the required
distance. Yes, sitting down. The competition isn't over as I write this, and I have already
qualified - but I've been thinking about the sitting down part. This just might not
be a joke. And when we go back to the show tomorrow, I'm going to give it a
One of the things one has to do in distance casting is to cast a very tight loop,
we call it a wedge. For years we have taught folks to tighten up their loops on a
roll cast by squating or kneeling down. The tendency to throw a big open loop disappears
when in that position. The 'sitting-down cast' may just be under rated!
Most who didn't qualify had the same problems. Elbow and arms held above their
head, big open loops, and trying to carry too much line in the air. After a while
I didn't have to look down the end of the pond to see if a person qualified. I could
hear it in the sound of the cast and the pile of line left on the platform.
It would have been grand to have any of the Andros Island bonefish guides in the
contest. I think most of them can unload the whole line and 20 feet of backing in
one or two backcasts. We all could have learned something from them.
As a student of what makes casting work, it was great fun to be a part of the competition.
I would like to see more gals get involved - it's not as hard as one might imagine once
you get past the initial stage fright. Everyone watching is very supportive, especially
those who know they just couldn't do it themselves. (That included a lot of guys!)
If you ever have the opportunity to get involved in one of these competitions, even one
at the your local fly club, give it a try - and be observant - it won't take long to see
what works and what doesn't. You will be a better caster for trying!
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!