The BFCC had a competition last weekend and I was lucky enough to come first in the #5 event with a winning margin of 8 inches (we’re still using imperial units at the BFCC, 120ft sounds so much better than 36.6m). Marked properly, casting on grass should be accurate to a couple of inches or so, assuming the fluff lands relatively close to the tape. Obviously marking over water presents a different challenge, one that at the moment is rather crudely met by trying to judge the distance against a marker buoy rope (usually by referees who are sat in a boat or float tube). This is how the game fair competitions, that Tracy wrote about a few FPs back, were measured to an accuracy of ~0.5m. Technology is available to precisely measure distances over water but it comes at a high price. Previously a theodolite has been used in the finals at the game fair but this was a flawed system. If the line of sight to the fluff was blocked by a marker buoy then the equipmentdidn’t register the cast. This did not inspire confidence amongst those competing, and when titles and prizes are up for grabs that’s not good. A much better system is the ‘Hawk-eye’ type technology whereby an array of high definition cameras are viewing the action from different angles, but here we are already into serious money that currently fly-casting doesn’t have the budget for. (Although I should add that technology gets cheaper as it ages, so what is ‘state of the art’and expensive now may well be ‘run of the mill’ and inexpensive in a few years. For example who’d have thought that amateurs would be able to produce the kind of videos, using equipment bought on the high-street, which would have taken a professional film crew equipped with a helicopter to get previously?).
The marking system that we’re current stuck with pretty much dictates that only two casting lanes can be judged simultaneously. This then means that a competition with a high number of entries will take a long time and, as such, is at the mercy of weather changes. I think all casters accept that you can get lucky or unlucky on any given day with the wind, certainly this was very evident at this year’s game fair where the results from both the trout and ST27 finals were turned on their head when compared to qualifying (I was unlucky in the trout but lucky in the ST27 J). However it does make you think whether there’s a better, maybe fairer, way. I know this has been debated on the board many times previously and there is a strong desire amongst many to keep the casting over water in order to keep the link to fly-fishing. However, in my opinion, casting from the platform at the game fair felt no more like fly-fishing than casting in last weekend’s field (I will admit I’ve had many ‘takes’ to my fluff when practicing at another lake though). If you abandon the water, then it’s possible to have many lanes set up on grass. Casters can then compete in heats, where they’ll all experience the same conditions, with the best progressing through to a final (or semi etc.). This is fair and it is fast, but it’s not fly fishing. Alternatively we wait for affordable ‘Hawk-eye’ or something similar.
For those competing this weekend I hope you all have a great time and produce some long and accurate casts.