The Fly Casting Fair is returning to Ballinger Park on May 4 and we’re looking forward to seeing you there. What began as a simple outdoor event to engage with FFI members as the pandemic ended, has become a popular way for fishers to engage with FFI’s skilled casting and fly tying instructors and get together with friends after a long winter.

In addition, the Washington State Council is proud to announce a second Fly Casting Fair in Vancouver, Washington on Sept. 21 on the campus of Clark College in downtown Vancouver. Fly tying and other indoor activities will take place inside the college student union. All casting classes and demonstrations will take place on the lawns just outside the student union.

Both events will feature our roster of classes from beginner to advanced led by FFI Certified Instructors. Besides that, both the May and September events will focus on the Fly Casting Skills Development Course, or FCSD as many call it. The purpose of the course is exactly what the name says: skills development. It begins with a simple practice course made up of two measuring tapes laid parallel, about 8 feet apart. Centered between the tapes are four targets at 25, 35, 40 and 50 feet. The caster stands at the bottom of the course and works to perfect a cast to each of the targets. It sounds simple, and it is. But perfection at each distance with various casting styles from overhead cast, to roll cast, to side arm cast, to off shoulder cast takes practice and that’s the whole point.

I caught a Portland Trailblazers game recently and arrived at the arena early enough to catch the team’s 19 year-old phenom Scoot Henderson running the court at full speed, catch a pass and pull up in the deep corner for a three-point shot. Again and again he ran the drill. Many shots fell in the hoop, most didn’t, but there was no mistaking that he was getting better.

Wish that we were all 19 again but fly casters can get better with practice and the FCSD is the way to do it. I’ve laid out the course and worked on it several times during dry winter days and I found it relaxing. To be sure, there is lots more to the process when you are led through the skills by an FFI Certified Instructor, but the concept is the same. Practice adds precision to your cast and enjoyment to the sport.

The Northern California Council of FFI had a well attended Skills Development event in February. The Oregon Council offered something similar at its Albany Expo in March. Now the Washington State Council is joining the campaign with a focus on FCSD at the May 4 Fly Casting Fair. A recent edition of the FFI Insider email asked readers to “Level Up Your Casting Skills” with FCSD. Molly Semenik, a Master Casting Instructor and Washington Council member shared the email an endorsement: “I like Level Up.” I do too.

By “level up,” people mean they want to improve something they already know, learn new skills, enjoy something more. That’s what FCSD is all about.

President Steve Jones