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
5 replies
  1. Karl V Leaverton
    Karl V Leaverton says:

    Thx for a great 2 days Travis! Fun write up but you cod use an editor for spelling😊! Pls save the pics of my first spey rod steelhead, Clarke actually deleted them before he sent them to me. Please use my email address below. Tight lines and update the website for your other WC competition wins!


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