Tracy&James | Thursday, 13 September 2018
Las weekend Tracy and I attended the Hampshire country sports show where we ran a free to enter fly casting accuracy event on behalf of the BFCC. Due to the space available we were unable to set out the targets to the world championship specification, in fact we were missing one bullseye altogether and I suspect the nearest target was shorter than the minimum of 8 metres. That said, this close target proved the toughest to hit by far; there was a strong side wind blowing which played havoc with the leader – and this cast was mostly leader with maybe a metre and a half, or thereabouts, of fly line out of the tip.
I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the accuracy event. I didn’t enter it in Cumbria and, as such, I haven’t practised it for some time. I did manage a win the last time I cast it at the BFCC in July, however my scoring could definitely be improved upon i.e. turning the 1’s into 3’s and the 3’s into 5’s would be a start (I’d love to get to the point where scoring a 3 was met with a sigh or a tut like some reading this). I do find the event quite tiring on my hand though; for distance casting I usually make 6 casts in the three minutes allowed at the BFCC, these will almost always consist of three casting strokes, with the occasional one that has a fourth added. Therefore I’d estimate that the total number of casting strokes for distance would be in the region of 20, this is in stark contrast to the 80 or so that I use for the 16 casts required for accuracy. The first couple of strokes for each target are used to get the distance, I count the strips between targets if shortening, and then I work the fly down towards the bulls-eye with the next few. In still conditions getting the fly to track through the centre of the target is pretty easy, just a matter of a left or right tweak until the false casts split the rings down the middle (I cast with the rod straight in front of my eyes). Then it’s just a case of nailing the distance – easy (apart from my scoring which suggests otherwise). Incidentally where most people struggle, who aren’t used to the accuracy event, is in shortening the line whilst it’s in the air – I’ve seen some very interesting techniques for this, but the most common is to retrieve the line by performing a figure of eight retrieve with their line hand. As you can imagine this takes a long time and the 80 or so strokes that I take could easily by doubled for some.
Whilst at the show the subject of the Sexyloops essential fly casting skills challenge came up. In particular the overpowered curve cast and the leader design required to get the desired lay-out. I’ve got some interesting slo-mo video showing that, with a straight-through leader, the front of the fly line can be made to kick but the leader and fly do not necessarily follow it. Therefore a well constructed leader is a must for this task – a board topic on leader design has just started so hopefully there will be some tips in there.
To me, the wording of the task also needs refining. Currently I read it as having to bend the fly around a post that is 30ft (directly?) in front of the caster. The minimum bend is to be 2 metres – however does that mean that the centre of the target is 2m to the left/right of the post? If that is the case, and given a 2m target diameter, then the minimum bend can in fact be 1m i.e. just inside the outer edge of the target. Perhaps Paul’s videos will clarify this – I suspect he knows how pedantic some of us can be at times.
I think I’ll have a go at the test when I get an opportunity, it looks like fun. I’ll certainly add it in to my practise schedule along with more accuracy – hopefully the results will be obvious at the next BFCC meeting on the lovely Island of Jersey (or perhaps not).
All the best, James