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Tackling the Anchorage casting course

Six years ago, I felt accomplished if I was able to cast a fly past my feet without snagging the brush behind me or creating an impressively complicated bird’s nest. With practice, time, an observing eye, and a tip or two, my cast has come a long way—though I know it still has a way to go.

Thus far I have limited the measure of my cast to the rising fish I hope to entice that I’ve deemed within casting distance, or the far side of the stream bank where I aim to place my streamer while avoiding potential snags. I’ve never actually seen how far I can cast or explored the limitations of my accuracy, or lack thereof, so when FisheWear and Women’s Fly Fishing Alaska went out on a limb and put together a casting course in Anchorage I was curious to discover whether my cast was up to the challenge.

Enter: Taku Tight Lines and Hula Hoops, where nine hula hoops circled an Anchorage lake and a neighboring creek, complete with starting points for casters of various abilities. It’s deceptively challenging—like nine holes of golf, only water is more of a friend than a hazard.

The goal of the event was not only to present a fun and unique challenge to fly anglers, but to continue to grow the Anchorage fly-fishing community, specifically the women’s fly-fishing community. On a wet day, even by Alaskan standards, the event was a clear success. The organizers already have plans to host it again with new holes and fresh ideas.

As a volunteer for the event, most of my time went to helping participants navigate the course and providing casting suggestions when needed, but I still found some time to take my shot at each of the targets. I impressed myself while accurately applying the different casts that each hole called for, spent some time on Hole 4 bombing loops as far as my double haul could send them, and found a favorite challenge at Hole 9 (mostly because I love dishing out backhanded casts).

I share the story about this fun, fishy event because from my experience as a board member of my local Trout Unlimited Chapter, chapters are always looking for fresh events to host in their communities to engage current and potential new members. Hosting a casting course challenge is a winning option in my opinion. If your chapter is interested in hosting a casting course here are some things to consider:

  • Review the Orvis Casting Course Guide Make sure you have plenty of casting room
  • Create challenges for all abilities, being especially friendly to newer casters so they have fun and stay engaged
  • Make it family friendly and stroller accessible
  • Create a scorecard so that participants can easily keep track of their score (A map of the course on the scorecard is also a great idea)
  • Dial up some sunshine (if possible)
  • Ensure there are very visible trail markings between each hole

— Eric Booton