Every four years the entire world comes together to experience the magic and pageantry of Nike, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola commercials. In between these delightfully repetitious advertisements, the Olympics are on.
Some sports are awe inspiring. The things that swimmers, gymnasts, and sprinters do are uncanny. Air riflers, table tennisers, and speed walkers unite their countrymen in a collective “that’s a sport?”
Which leads us, as fly fishers, to ponder the question: what if fly fishing were in the Olympics?
Wonder no longer. Because I have inside information on what is coming down the line. Maybe to Tokyo in 2020. Maybe it is even happening right now, underground. Not just one fly fishing event, but five. So here it is, your very first look at the events that will feature athletic heroes the caliber of a Michael Phelps, an Usain Bolt, or an Erick Barrondo.
Split Shot Throw
Feats of strength impress anyone and everyone. Launching three or four BB-sized shot on a five weight without a tailing loop is a feat. Plus, this is what you want to stay tuned to if you’re all about the nasty crashes and exploding graphite.
Perfect for fans of: Shot Put / Hammer Throw
The favorite: Great Lakes tributary steelheaders have this one locked down. But there is an inner-team rivalry between NY, PA, OH, and MI.
Synchronized Spey Casting
This is the event your mom will want to watch. There is real artistry and grace in the spey cast. A snap-T is a thing of beauty. Here, two casters swing and roll bright fly lines in delicate yet powerful routines.
Perfect for fans of: Gymnastics Rythmic (the ribbon one)
The favorite: The Scottish dominated for years, but the Pacific Northwest contingent has come on strong in recent decades.
Sure, it might not get the most airtime. But this is where the almost average Joes compete. The event is judged from cumulative scores in separate competitions. Athletes (?) vie against each other in:
- Putting on waders & boots
- Assembling a four-piece rod & stringing line through the guides
- Tying a size 28 midge on 7x tippet
- Taking off the vest and waders, discreetly using the restroom, and then getting put back together
- Remembering to roll up all windows, lock all doors, and remember keys
Perfect for fans of: Modern Pentathlon
The favorite: East Coast anglers have a distinct advantage, as they are used to quickly getting out of the car and into the water before someone else inevitably shows up at the same spot on the tiny creek.
Jumping into sand is a breeze. Attempting to leap from algae-covered rock to algae-covered rock while wearing waders and carrying a rod is a different story all together. Add a swinging net to the mix and there is a significant chance for a nasty spill. The thrill of getting to the next spot, the agony of soggy fleece pants.
Perfect for fans of: Triple Jump
The favorite: This one belongs to the under-30 crowd from the Rocky Mountain region. Their M.O. is hiking long distances at altitude before skipping across boulder-strewn streams.
26.2 miles is a measure of endurance. So is staring at a strike indicator all day. After a few hours, eye fatigue begins to set in. After being jaded from setting the hook on rocks for hours on end, you begin to ignore taps and jerks. This isn’t for the average fly fisher. This is for the man or woman who will eschew a dry fly in a blizzard hatch to lean over like a heron and mend, and mend, and mend…
Perfect for fans of: Marathon
The favorite: That old guy who catches more fish than you, who is always on the stream before everyone else. And the Czechs.
Other events being considered for the Fly Fishing Olympics:
- 4X100 Bamboo/Fiberglass/Graphite/Tenkara Relay
- 25M Tailing Permit
- Drift Boat Slalom
- Fly Boxing
- Sling Pack Dressage