Tracy&James | Sunday, 6 August 2023

I've now sobered up enough after the game fair to write down some of my reflections on the weekend's fly casting competitions. Actually, I've got two game fairs to write about as I'm not sure I've said much about the one in Scotland yet. The weather conditions for both competitions was strangely identical – a strong wind pushing into the shoulder of the right handed casters. How the inexperienced competition casters coped with this was interesting – they almost all ignored it and pushed on with their normal fly cast regardless of how many times they wrapped the line around their heads.

I think over the course of two weekends I probably counted less than five casters who attempted a back-cast or an off-the-shoulder cast.  Actually, I'd favour back-casting over off-the-shoulder as, for me anyway, it's much better for distance.  Sure, I can do a comfortable 90-100ft fishing cast taking my hand across my body, but I don't think I could do a consistent 120ft plus that is required for competition success, or not with a #5 weight anyway.  That said, last weekend's Ragley game fair was won with 34.5m (just over 113 feet) so not exactly a huge distance.  Funnily enough, the evening's informal, drunken #5 competition was won with 41m (134 feet), but we were casting directly downwind for this, albeit slightly uphill.  I think I've mentioned previously that casting, for many, has an optimum state of inebriation, a bit like pool and table tennis.

At both events I was half expecting a left handed caster to rock up and wipe the floor with us, however this never happened.  The closest we got to this was Stewart, a BFCC and UK team member and also a Spey competitor who is used to having to make left-hand up casts.  He produced the longest S55 cast of the Ragley weekend by some margin, casting left handed.  I thought I'd have a go at this in a practice session yesterday – my results weren't brilliant, but not too bad.  I'd have to do a lot of work to straighten out my tracking, so the current best option for me is to deliver the salmon outfit on the backcast, something that I didn't see anyone attempt at either game fair.  In practice this worked pretty well so long as I used a lot of overhang to combat a bit of over-rotation in the final stroke.

The final game fair of the year is next month, in north Wales, so not far from where we live.  We did not go to this one last year due to being otherwise engaged, however we did hear that the prevailing wind was into the casting arm of the right handed casters – so there's the potential for a hat-trick of tough competition conditions.  As such, I'd suggest that the qualifiers for the final (which is being held in Wales) sharpen up their tactics for dealing with an adverse wind – I know I'll be putting in some practice beforehand.  Either that or I'll try and work out the perfect alcohol amount – I'm not sure which approach will be more successful though.

Have a great week,