How to cheat (or not)

How to cheat (or not)

Tracy&James | Sunday, 23 May 2021

It rained for three days solid this week here in Wales, as such the river is blown out for the weekend so no fishing to report on from Tracy and myself. Last week I said I wasn’t going to do any casting practice before the first BFCC event of the year due to feeling a ‘tweak’ in my elbow. It was 2019 when I had a full-blown tennis elbow which wasn’t at all pleasant, it very much affected my casting for over 6 months, so obviously I want to avoid a repeat. However, with the lack of fishing to talk about I found myself on a casting field with a #5 outfit in hand to try out a ‘cheat’ that someone told me about – so I put my body on the line for the sake of this FP.
I should start by saying I’ve never known anyone cheat in a casting competition. Sure, I’ve seen people disqualified for minor rule infringements e.g. a competitor whose factory built 9ft hardy rod was actually 9ft 2in, and a certain guy you probably know who used a borrowed line but failed to check how long the attached leader was, however I’ve never seen a deliberate attempt to gain an advantage by purposefully breaking the rules.

To be honest the rules of fly-casting in all the competitions I’ve entered are so vague you could drive a bus through them.  I guess this reflects the inherent honesty in the sport in that we don’t need a complex rule book to regulate things.  For example, there is nothing in the BFCC rules that says I can’t attach a rocket to my leader and fire the fly out to 100m or so, but I doubt anyone is going to turn up with a box of fireworks.  Actually I thought the BFCC rules (which I helped write) had a ‘catch-all’ statement along the lines of ‘the cast must be made in an approved manner’, but I checked and it’s not there, so I guess rockets are legal!

What has been suggested to me is that ‘short’ MED lines go further than full length ones.  The MED #5 that I’m currently using is 121ft long (I’ve measured it), although the length on the box is stated as 120ft.  Today I performed a test where I cast my MED at its full length and then I trimmed 2m off the running line to see if it made a difference.  Taking a pair of scissors to a £80 fly line was painful, even considering the fact the line was at the end of its life in terms of casting – it was starting to darken at my carry point suggesting a high degree of cracking.

My intention was to do 5 casts with the full length line, cut 2m of the end of it and then do 5 casts with the shorter line.  I figured that 10 casts in total would not damage my elbow, however that’s not how things panned out.  Given the recent rain, my casting field had sprouted a huge growth of dandelions, ragwort and buttercups.  As such, I had severe issues with snagging and if I’d have just done 5 casts there would be odd, low results due the running line hanging up on weeds.  Therefore I just cast until I had 5 results that I was happy were not impeded in any way.  At this point I’ll also say it was a good day for distance casting, however I was not casting well myself.  Whether this was because I was conscious of my elbow injury I don’t know – I do know that my BFCC results from 2019 (when I was recovering from a full blown tennis elbow) were not good, in fact I was beaten by Tracy many times.  So, although the distances may appear acceptable, I think I’d of been well down in comparison to a good caster on the day.  My results were as follows:


So as you can see my results showed no real advantage to trimming the MED line short.  That said, I know other casters are seeing different results to this.  If there is an unfair advantage to having a ‘short’ line then this will not be picked up in the scrutineering for the world championship competition where the only line check is to see if the line has the appropriate laser marking.

Incidentally, if I really wanted to cheat I would purchase a #7 MED and cut the laser marking off.  I’d then re-apply the laser marking to read the same as a #5 line.  I think it would take the laser marking guru in work less than an hour to copy the font and work out the power settings in order to mark the PVC line.  The line would then pass scrutineering at the WCs but not at the BFCC, where any lines used to set records are weighed.

Next week I may talk about how to ‘cheat’ in the shooting head events by wrapping the line into a compact mass and then pendulum casting it – I may need to test whether this is feasible first though.

Have a great week, James.