Someone said it was 94 degrees in the shade,
so it was conceivable that it was more than
100 degrees on the sun-drenched distance-casting
field at Dundee, Michigan. Most of the casters
who competed in the 97th American Casting
Association National Tournament, August 1 -6,
2006, may have grumbled occasionally about the
heat, but their focus was definitely on making
that long cast or hitting a target. After all,
this was the Nationals: The "Super Bowl" of casting.
Well, the most important casting event in North
FLY DISTANCE EVENTS
Most consider the One-Hand Fly Distance Event
the most demanding and challenging of all the
disciplines. You have five minutes to make your
casts and the longest cast determines the winner.
The second longest is also recorded in case of
Rene Gillibert cast 200 feet. Henry Mittel topped
that by one foot. Then Steve Rajeff stepped into
the caster's box. The line folded back and forth
in very narrow loops, gaining speed and elevation,
and then coupled with perfect timing, Steve launched
a 223-foot cast to win the Gold.
In the Senior Division Zack Wilson, Ed Lanser and
Jim Chapralis won the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals
Bobby McGraw and Rob Kolakowski have only
been practicing for a short period of time.
They cast exceptionally well, especially in
the distance events. This was their first
But the real story involves two young casters who
placed 5th and 8th. Bobby McGraw is a tall, lanky
19 year old who has been practicing distance and
accuracy casting only for a few weeks. He threw a
fly 173 feet to capture 5th place in the highly
competitive Men's Division, while Rob Kolakowski's
167-foot cast earned him 8th place. He, too, has
only been practicing only a short period of time.
They, along with Bob Nasby and Vic Mason, recently
started the St. Paul Casting Club in Minnesota. In
fact, right now, this quartet of anglers represents
the club's total membership. But they will grow and
The Angler's Fly Distance event is similar to the
One-Hand Event, except that much lighter tackle
is used here. The shooting head is equivalent to
a No. 10 line. Most casters use mono for the
shooting line (it must be .015" or heavier).
Jay Clark, who has been casting competitively
for only four years made a phenomenal 189-ft
cast to win this event. He topped Rene Gillibert
and Steve Rajeff, co-owners of the present record
of 190 feet. Henry Mittel made an incredible
193-ft. cast, which would have been the new
record, but his leader was ¾ inch short which
disqualified his cast (the leader must be 9 to
12 feet long). Actually, a longer leader than
what Henry used would have been an advantage
because of the breeze.
"Cajun" Bill Clements, casting in the Senior's
Division, said that the Angler's Fly Distance
was his weakest event. Yeah, right. Tom Gong,
the Senior's record holder in this event with
a cast of 164 feet loaned his fly rod to Clements.
Result? Cajun Bill made a cast of 166 feet,
which not only was long enough to win the event
but to set a new record for the Seniors. This
is just another example of the high degree of
sportsmanship that exists in competitive casting.
Simply, casters help each other. Tom Gong came
in second and Tony Yap won the Bronze.
Alice Gillibert (left) won the Angler's Fly Distance
with a cast of 136 feet. To her right is her daughter
Nicole Kozicki who won five Gold medals at the tournament!
In the Ladies Division Alice Gillibert, Pam
Peters and Nicole Kozicki won the Gold, Silver
and Bronze medals.
But what was very impressive is the progress
made by George Revel, his brother Dusty and
Andy Tulgetske (they finished in that order)
in this distance event in the Intermediate
Division (ages 13 through 16). They all cast very
well and George threw a 154-ft. cast. Remarkable!
All three showed excellent casting form, and
will undoubtedly be the champs in the future.
Steve Rajeff is probably the best all-round caster ever.
He knows how to load a rod for a distance event.
The Two-Handed Fly Distance is similar to Spey
casting only the tackle is considerably heavier.
And that's an understatement. Steve Rajeff beat
Henry Mittel by a single foot with his cast of
275 feet. Jay Clark won the Bronze with 257 feet.
Bill Clements won the Gold in the Senior's followed
by Ed Lanser and Zack Willson.
FLY ACCURACY EVENTS:
Steve Rajeff shot a perfect score (100) in the
challenging Bass Bug event. Among the disciplines
one must cast to a 50 ft. target, lift up, make
a single false cast and then deliver the
air-resistant bass bug into a 30-inch target
that's 65 to 70 feet away. To illustrate how
difficult this event is, only three other
casters had shot a perfect score in this event
at a National. Steve Rajeff now is the only man
to have shot a perfect score in all six plug
and fly accuracy games in National competition.
Zack Willson shot a 98 in the difficult Bass
Bug Event to set a new record in the Senior Men's
Division. Zack has been elected on the All-American
Casting Team 35 times!
There was excitement in the Senior's Bass Bug
when the venerable Zack Willson shot a 98 for
a new National record. Previous holder? Zack
Willson with a 97. Young Andy Tulgetske won
the Intermediate Division with a 91.
Bill VanNatter and Charles Judy wait their
turns by watching Ed Lanser cast the Trout Fly
The Trout Fly Event encompasses three types
of casting: Dry Fly, Wet Fly and Roll Casting.
Henry Mittel, David Roberts and Chris Korich
won the Men's Division in that order; Tony Yap,
Ed Lanser and Bill VanNatter won the Senior's;
Pam Peters, Elaine Gong and Nicole Kozicki
earned the medals in the Women's Division.
Randy Olson performs the roll-cast segment
in the Trout Fly Event. Randy is one of the
smoothest roll casters we've seen.
In the Intermediate Division, George Revel
won it, while Andy Tugetske came in second
and Dusty Revel took the Bronze.
In the Dry Fly Event Rene Gillibert tied
Steve Rajeff and won the shoot off for the
Gold. Chris Korich earned the Bronze. In
the Senior Men's Division Tony Yap, Dick
Fujita and Bill Burke placed 1-2-3. In the
Women's Nicole Kozicki, Pam Peters and Elaine
Gong won the Gold, Silver and Bronze. George
and Dusty Revel took the Gold and Silver while
Andy Tulgetske won the Bronze.
Henry Fujita, in his upper 80s, is one of the
smoothest fly casters around. He is patient,
poised and knows the importance of a narrow loop.
The Toledo (Ohio) Casting Club in conjunction
with Cabela's Inc., hosted the National
Tournament. Cabela's 250,000 sq. ft. incredible
outdoor sports emporium is a wonderful place
to visit. Between events, I spent a lot of
time gazing at the huge browns and giant
rainbows that swim freely under the bridge
of an indoor trout stream. A couple of these
trout probably weighed 10 pounds!
Which reminds me that I better go to Wisconsin
and try for that big brown, that sucked a Disco
Trout fly round midnight. The take sounded like
a plumber's plunger. And I know that's trout
Interested in knowing more about these fascinating games?
Fly Anglers Online has considerable background information
on the following events. (Just click on the event name):
~ Jim C. Chapralis
Jim Chapralis is a world traveler, a pioneer in the international fishing
travel business, and author, most recently of Fishing Passion,
reviewed in our Book Review section. He is an avid angler - and caster.
You can reach Jim via his website