Fly-Fishing: Casting still a reach for inclusion in Olympics

Another summer Olympic Games is upon us, and once again, fly-casting won’t even be a demonstration s

Another summer Olympic Games is upon us, and once again, fly-casting won’t even be a demonstration sport.

There will be a world casting championship, fly and otherwise, at the end of August in Estonia, but it probably won’t be on TV. I always feel a little slighted when the Olympics roll around.

Fly-casting, and all casting for that matter, is clearly an athletic activity that a few people pursue with as much dedication as any Olympic archer or sailor. But a sport only makes the Olympics if it’s practiced in 50 countries, and casting is only practiced in 31, said John Field, president of the American Casting Assoc­iation.

“There is a long history of attempts to bring casting to the Olympics, but they failed to gain traction,” Field said. “If you ask me, sure I wish casting was more popular and it could be in the Olympics, but it isn’t. Water seeks its own level, and we have to accept the current state of our sport. The ACA, which is a 501(c)3 organiz­ation, needs more public support, or even the most powerful nation on the planet will have the fewest competitors at the next ICSF World Championship of Casting.”

As we fly-fishers know, learning how to control a rod and line takes some doing. Most of us are happy if we can cast a single-handed rod 70 feet. But to even compete in the American Casting Association’s men’s championship category, you have to be able to cast at least 150 feet.

And to break the current record, held by Steve Rajeff, you’ll need to toss a fly more than 243 feet. In the two-handed category, the record is 293 feet, held by Rajeff’s rival, Henry Mittel, who advises prospective competition casters to “Live casting — do it all the time, talk about it all the time, think about it all the time.”

Of course, fly casting isn’t just about distance. There are accuracy events, too, for men and women, single-handed and double-handed. The American Casting Association has been holding national tournaments since 1907.

Meanwhile, the world fly-fishing champ­ionships were held in Slovenia last week, and the U.S. team came in 11th out of 26 teams. The Czech team came out on top. Rounding out the top five were Italy, Spain, France and Slovakia.

The top individual U.S. angler was Norman Maktima of New Mexico, who finished in sixth place out of 138 anglers and caught 70 fish.

I suppose if we can’t even get casting in the Olympics, we can forget about fishing. After all, the outcome requires the cooperation of the trout. It would be like playing basketball with a ball that could fly away under its own power, which would be fun to watch but probably too unpredictable for network TV.


The Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold its monthly meeting Monday at a new location, the Albany Ramada Plaza Hotel on Watervliet Avenue. Mike Walchko will give a talk on fishing in Argentina. Heath Clayson will demonstrate fly-tying at 6:30 p.m. The meeting begins at 7:30. There is no admission fee and the public is invited. Visit for more information.

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at [email protected].

Categories: -Sports-

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