2120 kilometres through British Columbia, the scrub land and fruit orchards of Washington and over iconic Oregonian steelhead rivers that fill my books, piling up on my office floor, we arrived in San Francisco, California. Cramped into a pickup loaded down with rods, duffles, gear, cameras, waders, a bag of discounted chocolate mini-eggs and two nervous souls; it was our first time competing in the world championships of two handed casting, Spey o rama.
I had been just starting to experiment with long lines when I was first approached with the notion of competing. I laughed it off, convinced I would never be able to compete at such a level, with other women who have spent years perfecting their casts and making a name for themselves in the industry. I was just a part time guide, part time school teacher with my first 45 foot head. There was no way I was going to step into that pond to make a fool of myself.
Flash forward to April 2016, at the Michael and Young Spey Clave, where I picked up a 15 foot, 10wt CND ISpey. Light with a soft flex, this rod felt forgiving, but powerful. I rolled a right single spey off easily, shooting my 67 foot head, and 10 feet of line. I bought the rod on the spot. I quickly called my fly shop, ordered a new line, a new reel, and a set of lessons from the best guy around. The following fall, I fished left hand high all season, practicing my left snake whenever I had the chance and dedicated 2-3 hours daily of practice time. I felt as if I was at the top of my casting game. I had this, I had been consistently casting 130-140 feet off both hands, and had tight loops. I never felt more confident in my casting; until I arrived at the Golden Gate's Angling and Casting Ponds. I went from feeling top of my game to loosing my cast completely; too much over hand, not enough underhand, too fast, too slow, no anchor placement, sloppy D-loops, too much torque, not enough hip movement. I was warned that there would be a steep learning curve for a first time competitor, but I hadn't realized just how steep that would be. I was hoarded with well intentioned bits of advice, and 'this is how you shoulds'...'. that I completely lost my own style. Succumbing to the pressure of competition and advices, I tried mimicking what people were telling me to do, and what to change. Finally I broke my rod down, tucked it into its sock and then into its tube. I was over tired, overwhelmed and over practiced. I went into San Francisco and took a half a day to explore a new city. I needed a break from the ponds, and I needed a break from my rod.