Rose City Casting Spey Casting Comp!

Was an absolute pleasure to cast at the first anaual Rose City Spey Casting comp.

Was an absolute pleasure to cast at the first anaual Rose City Spey Casting comp.

Well It had to happen sooner or later, a Spey casting comp in our lovely rose city At the West Moreland casting ponds. It has been a vision of mine and still will be, but in the meantime I want to support all those who share the same passion for Spey casting that I do. After much thought and a gut instinct that told me I needed to be there, I was making sandwiches at 3 am and decided, I need to be there, so I went. Long story short I made it to the ponds with 45 mins to spare. Enough time to suck down some strong coffee and get about 25 mins of much needed casting time in, followed by another 6 mins in the casting station, I was as ready as I would be that morning. I readied a cigar and took my spot as a volunteer on one of the angle change makers. Drawing casting position 6 i took off about caster number 4.

Congrats to all the casters of the inaugural event. I hope to see the number 18 grown into 40 or 50 caster, someday.

Congrats to all the casters of the inaugural event. I hope to see the number 18 grown into 40 or 50 caster, someday.

I went off and slowly warmed up only making short casts. thing seemed a little better, we would see. My name was called and on the clock my time had begun. It is always different when the clock is turning. my first 4 cast only one felt good… but the next 4 2 were good and the last round of cast held the last piece of the 4 cast total. I hoped it was enough but with 12 more casters only time would tell.

Now I want to thank all those who put this event together. I have tried to work it out on my own so I know how much work it is. Thanks to big Greg, Erik, Simon, Loc, and Tyler!!!! I hope to cast at another Rose City Event. I was there to support this event to help it grow, if people in our industry want to expand our industry these small things are a gateway. great event put on by good people. I don’t feel to bd sitting here writing this blog looking at my new noise maker, thanks to Saracione for the winning prize of a nice LHW 4″. I hope that all interested come and watch, even better I hope those who are on the fence come cast and get the experience. Maybe they will have a Novice division so that people wont feel as intimidated to be in that spot. Thanks again, was great to see and catch up with you all.



SOR Results and the FN Animal.

The main event
Now sitting at work processing the last 2 weeks. Thing went really fast and I honestly have not thought a lot about what happened. I won SOR… the 6th time I have attempted to do the job, 5 times in the finals and 4th was the closest I had ever been before. I have been to a lot of different cast comps in a few different countries, there is nothing like Spey-O Rama. Nothing!
Looking back now I can tell you how things went. I needed a new rod, so I got a hold of Mr Bruce & Walker USA Gene Oswald. Talk with him about getting a blank from Brian Potter, graphite wizard we will call him. These kind of thing take time, so I was not thinking about competitive spey casting until the last week of January when the blank arrived… and it had some bounce in the bottom end!!!
Still making the world best comp rods!!!
Setting the wrapping and rod finishing up with my boy, Bruce Berry. I met up with him 2 or 3 time to get all the details worked out. Another 7 weeks went by and the rod arrived 8 days before SOR. The rod looked perfect and now I just needed a line to cast on the weapon… I received a new Gaelforce Equalizer in the mail with 6 days to go. Two casting sessions of 30-45 mins and she felt pretty good, tied it off and got 4 more goes with the new set up and off to San Francisco.
Big rod in the drying rack.
Bruce at 2:30 am working on my rod.
Leaving the Portland area at about 10:30 pm Wednesday night with my friend Steve Gomes we were off. He was up first so I took to sleeping. I awoke in Ashland, OR. We got gas and then back on the road. I took over at the wheel. Steve was out and away I went setting the cruise at 72 and in what seemed like no time the sun was up and we were in Vacaville. Steve was awake and the turn to 37 was ahead only an hour now buddy you ready? I asked. Stretching he said yep.
The FN animal!! Finished
We pulled into the parking lot of the Golden Gate Casting and Angling Club at 15 mins after 9. Sliding into my waders and topping off my caffeine intake with a fresh can on Mt Dew… to stabilize the 5 hour energy and 36oz of coffee I had already consumed. Quickly seeing that the odds of getting many go’s in the main pond were out. 2 if you were lucky and waited around all day.


Waiting my turn in the pond with my new weapon.
My first goal was to get my bearings in the pond and not worry to much about distance. Being acquainted with the surroundings is an important thing. Feeling comfortable where you are is a big part of casting well. Next since I had a lack of practice I was intent on feeling how the line released off the water. If the line feels like it jumping off the water and cleanly touches down and lifts off, the cast will go far if those things don’t happen, not good distance.
Setting up for the big day.
What seemed like the mere hours went by and it was Saturday. Standing on the lawn in front of the club house drawing straws to chose casting order. 26, damn…Not first and not last. I do hate to wait. At first I was just sitting back watching the other casting and taking the event in. Soon that changed I noticed that some of the casters were rushing and making poor cast choices…Not going to be me. I started watching all the subtle keys to my surroundings and noticing when they were good and when they were saying not to cast. My number drawing closer….I had to take walk, take my mine off casting. I just don’t want to over think the casting, I have done this in the past. So I took a walk and cleared my head… The park is a beautiful place easy to get lost and clear your head. Also walking in your waders helps keep your muscles lose and warm even with all the odd looks I got from the local joggers.
Returning to the ponds…number 23 was in the pond. Getting real close now. I grabbed my rod and went and checked in at the equipment check. Measuring the rod and leader, plus testing the line to make sure it actually floats. Then and only then can you receive your special fly. I told the man to pick me a winner. He said he does not take the kinda responsibility, I cant blame him. I looked in to the secret Altoids can spotted one that had one fiber longer than the rest….that one should be easy to spot again. Looping it on to the end of my leader I stepped into the pond and started to warm up. No big stuff just make the casts smooth and clean. Feel the line leave the water clean!!!
That is perfect hand and anchor position!!


15 total casts and then to the left side…25 was half way through his time. I better get to the edge and be ready. Congratulating the man in front of me. Tossed my line from the west pond into the main pond. the time starts when you step into the pond. Being ready before hand is a big deal, keeps your head straight. I thought I would tense up once out there but to my surprise I was really calm. Getting my shooting head straight and then making sure I had all my running line out and in order. I made two short warm up casts. I took a good look at my keys…. “I am READY,” I said to the time keeper. Started with a left snake roll. 168 the judges called out. Not a bad way to start…Not what I was after but a good start. Then a right snake roll…178 that’s more like it… Then the wind changed… checking my keys I notice all were in the unlikely position… So I waited, and waited for what seemed like a month… So I tried to get off a left single. The wind grow worse during my lift and rotation… 119 damn, wasted a cast. No more of that. So I set back up for the left snake roll and told myself to just start over at the beginning of my casting sequence. I set up my line and waited some more. the third time I set my line the conditions started to change. I was ready and with a slow lift and perfect anchor I sent the cast away… 176!!!! That’s the stuff. Right Snake next, setting the line twice and feeling the line through the rod tip the entire cast and load fully against the water, felt good. I just tapped the cast away, felt like I barely hit it. Cast came off the water at what seemed like a thousand mile per hour. looking down I noticed the 130 foot mark on my running line was headed out through the guides… I quick let go with my top hand extending my arm and leaning over the bar as far as I could the running line clicked out fully… Felt super good. I over heard the judge calling the score into the announcer….198. That can’t be right, I thought to myself …178,188 that’s what he said… The loud speaker announcement came 198!!!! The crowd screamed. I had made big casts in practice but even I was almost in disbelief. A New World Record!!!! My mind snapped back to reality. I only have 3 scored casts and a total of around 500. That’s not going to even qualify me. Next was the left single…. this was the cast I was most concerned with. easy lift rod tip good and high, smooth sweep and away. I watched as the line clear the wall 173, was called out that is more like it defiantly better than 119. All I need was one more good cast, a right single spey. Historically the worst of my competition casts, why I have no idea, nut I have never scored very well on my right single. Not thinking about it to much I just set it down and Boom right into the cast. The anchor landed perfect…I leaned into it followed with the hands. Away it went…Felt good, it seem to be in the air forever…. Over the wall. Watching the judge get back in to the far pond, I knew my work was done for Saturday. 174 was called out, I did the other casts knowing I was going to advance to Sunday, you cant win SOR on Saturday!!
Can’t load a rod much deeper with out busting it.


Leting a big cast fly.
That’s the new mark 198!


Walking out of the pond, I still was in a haze and was confronted by the other competitors and spectators. Big hugs and high fives, cheers and heads nods followed. I still did not even know my total…I almost did not even go look the the screen to see. The walk to the teleprompter was long…maybe I should just wait, I thought to my self. A crowd surrounded the screen…I peeked over the shoulders of a couple folks. 721 damn that’s a good total, and another world record… I should have been happier, but my thought were stuck on Sunday and all that is for not if I could not finish strong.
Qualifying round scores
I walked back to my pile of stuff and got out of my waders and grabbed some lunch and sat down and watch the other casters finish the qualifier. My mind was in a cloud, to be honest all I could think about was the next day. Another walk that’s what I need!!!! While I was walking not thinking about spey casting (yeah right)…I asked my self why I thought I cast so well and did not fall prey to rushing or making poor decisions. I was calm and patient, never crossed my mind to fail, I had no doubt….that’s what I needed. I should not dwell on that days score but the approach I had that caused me to cast so well.
Another casting session in the big pond and a few goes in the west pond and I felt a lot better. Weather it was true or not, I had this odd feeling that all the other competitors were watching my every move and they seemed to know I was going to win. Tomorrow would tell I told myself. After a great dinner and a beer at my host families house, Thanks Mike! In bed by 8:45 was right to sleep too. But became restless around 2 am… forced myself to keep my focus and was in and out of sleep for the next few hours. In the shower at 5:45, fresh and headed to the Java by 6:30. Steve and I grabbed a bite and my normal Americano. I set eyes on the pond that morning, mist and a cloudy sky…not a puff of wind. Perfect I told myself, and it was. I got in the pond for a go before the Casters meeting started, no big casts. In fact I only had 150 feet of line out. I just wanted to stay smooth and clean a feel the line release off the water. Felt great all the casts jumped off the water and hit the reel. I was as ready as I was ever going to be. I then took my morning walk and stayed warm and loose.


They should sponsor me!!!
The time to draw straws had come. Number 5…That sounded better than 1 or 10. I when a strung my new weapon. jumped into the west pond and made 3 of all the casts, felt great. The minutes were flying by, I would be up real quick. Over to equipment check….time to pick my fly. taking a good look…OH yeah there was my guy, the fly with the one long fiber. Number 3 was already up, damn it is flying by. In the blink of an eye I was on deck. My line laid out straight in the west pond ready for the flip into the main pond. I made the toss and stepped in. Yeah back out for the introduction, the time tells me. I was so lost in my mind that I had not even been awarer of the caster introductions. I noticed a knot in my line so I stripped it in and fixed it. I never hear a single thing they had to say. I jumped in the pond and marched to the station. focused on staying calm. Made to warm up casts and shot zero running line. Setup my line and announced I was ready, “Start the clock”. Right off the first cast was 172… great start!! My right snake lift smooth… good anchor….Damn the running line slipped!!! 146, not bad considering. Left single was next, 178 that was the cast I was worried about. I noticed while retrieving the line that there was a slight change in the conditions. Now was the time to make good choices. So again began the waiting game…. Again it seems like forever when the timer is running but with 3 scored casts and around 4 mins left I stayed calm. The wind shifted and was coming off my right shoulder, back to my lefts. Left single was already 172, so I did not put much thought to adding to that casts score. 176 was announced, 4 more feet cant hurt in the toughest comp in the world. I will take every inch i can get on Sunday!!! The breeze from the right died down. I knew i need a right single to have a score on all 4 cast. Rolled it out to the left and made sure the line judge gave me the go ahead it was in bounds. the lift seemed like a fishing cast and the anchor perfect, out in front and fully loaded. Over the wall it flew, 176!!! That’s the stuff Travis!!! Now I had 4 on the board. But around 670 was not going to be enough I thought but my right snake was still to come… Checked my keys and seemed fine. Let it fly felt great coming off the water but the line flight changed out over the water. then I felt it… Damn head wind. I awaited the score…168. Trying to do some quick math, I knew I was around 700. The rest of my casts I tried to make the best with the time and conditions I had. Never got the chance for another really big cast.
Scores from the finals!!


Back to the waiting game…It is amazing how your internal clock can change when the situation changes. The fast mental pace I was in had now slowed to a crawl. I made my way to see the scores. before I could even get a look my phone was buzzing. I had about 10 txt messages. Marty Sheppard was the first I read. That score will do brother!!!! I hoped it would hold!!! But what was my score?? How did he know so fast?? 698 I read on the monitor, That will do it I told myself. I walked into the club house and grabbed a bottle of water… I need to take another walk a get away from here!! Now there were only 4 casters left, the wait and watching would kill me. So a short walk took. Never doubting now becoming more and more confident I had done the biz. I had walked about 1/3 of a mile when I have finally believe that yes I was going to win the Spey -O-Rama. The biggest casting title in the world!!! All the trips down and all the hours of casting and time spent with lines and rods. money spent…Every second and dollar worth it, this was the moment that all my Spey casting had come together.
I walked back and slid out of my waders. 2 casters remained and one of them was in the pond half way through their set. I walked up to the club house and noticed they had my drink of choice, My Dew. I popped the top and sat back. The minutes seemed to be crawling past but I found comfort in my performance and my Mt Dew was one of the most satisfying one I can remember drinking. The last cast of the men’s final was made and inside I was spinning!!! I stayed as calm as I could, did a good job too. I thought about my family, I would have loved my wife and daughter to have been there. I knew they were as excited as I was.
Never has the Champagne tasted so good!!
Not came the hugs and high 5’s…big congrats!! I want to thank everyone who ever believed in me!! I want to thank all the competitors for pushing each other and pushing the limits of the casting!! I want to thank the GGACC, for putting on the greatest casting event in the world!!! All my friends and clients that sent me emails and txts with congrats. I now finally realized what I have accomplished and for what it is worth I on top of the world. I tip my hat to Mr Grant as the first and only to surpass the 195 foot mark with a 15 foot rod. I will continue casting because all I can think about now is…
200 FN feet! I can’t wait for 2015

There is NO place like it!

Great crowd and good people!!

Arriving to the ponds always seems to bring a sense of excitement and wonder. the warm California air and sun shinning down on the ponds already at 7:30am. The quiet whisper of the eucalyptus meeting the soft morning ocean air just adds to the geographic wonder and experience of the Golden Gate Ponds.  The greenish-blue color of the ponds makes even the water there seem magical. In this place time stands still and worldly matters seem to vanish, only fly casting hold validity here.

A Club we should all support

Pulling your waders and rigging your rod it hits you. All the people that have cast and been apart of the spot you are standing on. World Champions, and World record made and broken. The birth place of some of the most influential ideas in our sport. It has as much fame in the fly fishing world as any of the most fabled rivers of our time.

So many flags
So many Great Casters!!!
Every May, at the Golden Gates Casting ponds. Gather the worlds best two handed fly casters. Now not only to add to the ambiance of a place seated in fly fishing greatness, you add the best Spey casters know to man. This is what the SOR(Spey-O-Rama) is all about!! For people that have never been or just watch from a far. I am sure it does not seem to have have any connection to fishing or the future of the sport of Spey fishing. I am going to tell you that for the people that over the years i have told to go watch or even to compete, it has changed their live and the perceptions of the application of what they thought was even possible with a two-handed rod.

Caster Left side Right single

              Left Snake, Left Single,  Right Snake,  Right Single, Total , Longest Cast

Gerard Downey 178 148 176 184 686 184

Geir Hansen 140 168 153 191 652 191

Ruairi Costello 163 136 170  181  650 181

James Chalmers 158 174 162 156 650 174

Travis Johnson 171 152 156 160 639 171

Gregory Bencivenga 146 155 172 158 631 172

Tommy Aarkvisla 149 154 168 149 620 168

Sergey Kluev 149 147 163 152 611 163

Brian Styskal 170 149 151 126 596 170

Shinobu Inoue 133 161 149 144 587 161

Simon Hsie 152 167 158 477 167

Every year I make this same pilgrimage to stand a cast with the worlds best Spey casters. Test myself to some extent, but more for the feeling I get when I get to cast in the ponds. Standing in the spot buoys out and ready, nothing I have ever done with Spey casting compares. That’s when I know I am alive. Every year history is made in those ponds and 2013 was no different. The place was wild with memorable moments. World records broken that right more than once, new high scores set and I feel there is more in the tank!!! We have further to go, I will do my part to make what ever contribution I can to push the envelope but what I ask is so does everyone else who wants the sport to grow. Maybe you compete, maybe you can come down take one of the offered clinics, or maybe just become a member of the GGACC. Donate something to the auction. Giving something to this event will come back in Spades with your fishing or casting or both. The things gained from this are advancement in lines and better cleaner teaching techniques.

Keep your eyes open for this!!!

Ask anyone of the competitors and you will hear the same thing I am telling you now. Ask any of the spectators and you will understand better what watching the best Spey casters in the World is like. I see the same faces year after year, but this year I was witness to a greater awareness of the SOR. New people and fresh faces and that leads to new competitors. Which in the end makes the competition better and the scores raise and pushed the next group to make better rods and lines, so that someday you can fish with the best product and smoothest line that any manufacture can make. Just like stock car racing, this is the driving force in how new things are designed.

The best Spey Caster any of us will ever know!!!

I would also like to introduce the greatest Spey caster known to man. Some of you know him other have heard of him. Gerard Downey is the greatest spey caster I or anybody else has ever of will ever see in my life time. The smoothest and most powerful caster out there. His passion for casting is only out shined by his modest and genuine domineer. He is quiet and helpful to anyone who asks. As a champion he is every bit as great as any other champion in any other sport. He has become not a target for other casters but the pinnacle of what spey casting can be. I know how much he as pushed and helped me. He is impressive to watch with his simple economy of motion style of casting and  appareled application of power that it seems almost hidden in the process. Somewhere in his style he produces unsurpassed line speed that would leave most NASCAR drivers in the dust.

Morning Casting Session.

I would also like to say thanks you and congratulate every single caster, man or women who entered that pond on game day. It takes courage to walk out on the the worlds stage and cast. I still feel the rush every time I wade out in the ponds. For you first times I also hope you can take away positive things from you time spent in San Fran. We all started somewhere in this game, it is where you end your time with this that counts. It is always the journey we are after. Hope to see more of you next year. PS Join the GGACC so they know we are here to support it!!! best 50 dollars you can spend right now to help get some things done. We all need this event to happen.

Travis Johnson