Tracy&James | Sunday, 14 May 2023
I met up with Callum again this weekend for some competition practice. The plan was to do some S55 (double handed, overhead) casting followed by some accuracy rounds. Given the steady wind on my usual distance casting field I was confident that Callum would put a string of casts together that were further than the BFCC under 18 record and I was also expecting a significant improvement on his personal best. It was therefore with great anticipation that we set up the tackle – right up to the point where I realised that I’d forgotten to bring the salmon rod.
As such we started with the accuracy. The first BFCC event of the year, in Dodleston, Cheshire, was the first time that Callum had ever cast the accuracy even to World Championship rules and it’s fair to say that he didn’t actually know what the rules were before stepping up to be marked. However, he now knows what the event is all about and was routinely breaking the junior record when we practiced, including in quite a difficult side wind that meant aiming off to the side.
Now, I know for certain that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to breaking the BFCC records. From personal experience I don’t think personal bests have much to do with competition performance – it’s probably best to look at average performance. This is quite interesting because, as far as I’m aware, in other sports it’s often the case that PB’s come in the event that matters, when the adrenalin is pumping. I can’t speak for other competitors, but for me I don’t think I’ve ever come off the casting tape thinking ‘that was the best I could do on the day’. In fact, more often than not I’m pretty disappointed with the distances I get. Obviously if you practice a lot you get a feel for how far you cast in any given conditions – and it’s a huge disappointment to me when I can’t get anywhere near my expectations. Perhaps it just goes to show how important being totally relaxed is in fly casting sport.
I intend meeting up with Callum before the next BFCC meeting in Kent, towards the end of this month. Hopefully I’ll remember to bring my S55 rod so we can see if we can get his average cast beyond the record – that way he has his best chance of beating it in the comp. One good thing that came out of the practice session was that Callum’s average #7 trout distance cast has stepped up and so has his PB. I made sure I had a ‘legal’ leader this time when Callum fired a beautiful loop out to over 134 feet. He’s a long way from being ‘topped out’ there also.
This morning we visited Steve’s fly line workshop, located in a very scenic spot in North Wales. It’s serious impressive what Steve has done in pretty much building a line manufacturing facility from scratch. I think it’s fair to say that Steve is now in the advanced stage of prototyping lines and he hopes to be in production soon. I believe that he’s decided to stick to the AFFTA specification for selling his lines, so a #5 will be a genuine #5 and a #7 a #7. If you want something heavy (or lighter) then order one up or one down. If you want a brick on a string then buy something else.
One thing that Steve mentioned is just how much line ends up in the bin when prototyping – changes to the chemistry of the coating or trying different profiles produces a lot of waste material. I have, however, come away with a number of lines to try including a distance line (73ft head) that Steve is quite excited about. As you’re reading this on Sunday I’ll probably be out testing this one.
The route from Steve’s place back to mine and Tracy’s passes a number of beats on the River Dee, as such we had the afternoon enjoying some dry fly sport. When we arrived at the river, after eating our lunch where we parked the car, we noticed the occasional rising fish – and that’s all the encouragement we need to fish dries for the rest of the day. After having our usual starting offering of klinks refused we noticed a sporadic hatch of olives. After changing to a close copy pattern we both started getting takes from fish that had previously totally ignored our offerings. The sport for the rest of the day was steady, but not spectacular. I think things are building towards spectacular though – we have a number of days that qualify as that every year; the sort of day where it’s impossible to leave the river until it’s pitch black. This month is my prediction.
Have a great week,