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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Women Of SOR 2013

             Spey-O-Rama, (SOR) is being held this coming weekend, April 19-21, at the Golden Gate Casting Ponds in San Francisco, California where some of the world’s top competitive casters converge to challenge their abilities. And as we found out in interviews with the Women of SOR last year, (LINK HERE), Spey-o-Rama consists of deep dedication to improving two handed casting, striving for personal achievement, and is in essence, a lifestyle.  The Women of SOR are few, but definitely intriguing.  And while the women participant numbers grow slowly, the casting soars.   Join me as we explore this year's Women of SOR!

for full bio's on these Women of SOR, please see the interview last year:HERE
 The original woman of SOR, you’ll find Donna O’Sullivan back again this year casting a 15ft LTS Across 10/11/12 weight.  “This rod is very light but powerful, perfect for someone petite like me”, she says.  Donna will be throwing a Nextcast Champ competition line that Simon Hsieh cut to the right length for her.  “It is light, has great turnover and shoots very well.”

Anita Strand will be back for a second year casting a Bruce and Walker Powerlite 15 ft. 11 weight. “I tried a B&W Norway rod at the same time that I tried the Powerlite, because I was looking for a rod that I could “grow with” on my casting. There is no doubt I could evolve with my casting using the Powerlite."
As a member of Team Ballistic (Snake River Outfitters), Anita will be casting a Vector Magnum Competition line that is 63 ft. long.

Also in for her second year at SOR, Marcy Stone will be casting a brand new setup; both rod and line.  She has been very mum on what she is casting, so we will have to wait until SOR to see exactly what she has up her sleeve!

New on the SOR scene, is Kara Knight. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Kara spent most of her adult years exploring British Columbia.  During the winter she lives in Revelstoke, BC and manages a remote heli-skiing lodge in the Selkirk Mountains.  This summer Kara is excited to be taking on the role of Lodge Manager at BC West located on the Dean River.  Kara was introduced to fly fishing 6 years ago and very quickly developed a healthy obsession with steelhead.  In the spring and fall she can be found exploring rivers throughout BC on the hunt for these magnificent fish. 

Thanks to friends of Kara’s in Calgary who own the Pieroway Rod Company, she was inspired to participate.  “I was relatively unfamiliar with SOR until Geoff Pieroway asked if I'd be interested in joining the team he had heading to SOR this year.  I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of an event like this.  Beyond that I figured it would be a really great experience to come rub shoulders with some of the best casters in the world.  I've learned so much already and I think it's just the beginning.”  She will be casting a Pieroway 15' competition rod developed for SOR with a Next Cast 80' Line matched for the rod.

Photos courtesy of Mia Sheppard Mia Sheppard will also be participating in SOR for her fifth year.  She was unavailable for comments this year due to her busy schedule with work and family.  Here is a link to a great video as to what Mia has been pursuing lately:

         According to the SOR website, casters can use whatever cast they choose in four different situations. Line from the right, over the right shoulder then over the left and Line from the left, over the right shoulder then over the left. You set your line up behind a marker then use a change of direction cast such as a single spey to drop the anchor in front of you, then cast straight out landing on the side of a distance marker. You are allowed three casts for each of the four required casts and the score is the total of best distances for each of the required four casts. Casters are given a two minute warm-up and then six minutes to complete the 12 required casts.

Do you practice with the same line you will use in the competition?
Anita: Yes, I've been practicing with this line the last 6 months. I never cast in a competition with a rod or a line I don’t know well.

Marcy: I am practicing with a similar type line.  For me, however, it is more about getting the casts down correctly, consistently.  Distance in my practice, honestly, comes last on my list at this point, as it is only my second year at SOR.  I consider my first year at SOR a reconnaissance mission.  I had never competed in anything physical in my life and I only had a small idea of what it was all about.  When the cast is done correctly, distance comes easily.  (k8's note: To understand Marcy's background, see last year's funny interview with her HERE)
Kara: Yes.

How often do you practice?
Donna: Most weekends

Anita: In the summertime, I practice every day in the weeks leading up to competitions. Now we just had winter here in Norway and it can go months between our practices. We had a few weekends this winter where it was open sea, but it's tough conditions because of the wind, waves, and really cold water. The last few weeks we have gotten better weather and open water, so I have practiced a couple hours mostly every day.  On the dark winter days when there is no possibility to practice, I train with weights two days a week.

Marcy: This year, I tried to not over-train, which is really easy to do, especially for my personality and drive.  I am a natural born perfectionist, so last year I would spend over 4 hours at a time in the pond practicing my casts. A kind of "Never say die!" method.   This year, I didn't do that.  It was torture to reel up and leave after 30 minutes!
Kara: I've been practicing as much as possible over the past few months but it's been difficult because everything up at the lodge is frozen and covered with snow.  During my week off in Revelstoke I tried to get out for a few hours each day.  It can be challenging here too though, spring is a stormy time and the wind is hard to escape.

What is your practice routine?  Or what do you focus on during your practice?
Donna:I practice all 4 casts as if in competition. I work on improving my casting technique and consistency.
Anita: I always start with a warm up. Then I focus on my technique. It is the small details that make the difference. Even a few inches with my arms in the wrong position can destroy my cast. I really need to focus on each cast. When the technique is good, I start to try to get length on my cast. I do some casting exactly like I would do in SOR (three casts on each type). 
Marcy: I don't have a routine.  It all depends on what I need to work on for that day.  The casts come and go.  This is normal.  You'll hear any one of us say something like, "I lost my right hand single today!".  It happens, and you just have to work through it.  I've seen people lose their best casts--only to find it again in time for the comp.  It can be a little stressful and frustrating, yet exciting!
I focus on being as consistent as I can.  Take away the variables and you are more in control.
Kara: Up until about a month ago I had only ever cast skagit lines.  I had never done a snake roll before and didn't know how to cast with my left hand.  So I've been learning from scratch and trying to focus on the mechanics of the cast.  I can be a bit of a perfectionist and I want it to feel like second nature, so at times I find it really frustrating.  Hopefully it will come together with time & repetition.  (k8's note:  You are brave Kara!  What an inspiration to anyone interested in participating at SOR)

What do you hope to achieve in this year’s SOR?
Donna: Cast my best and hopefully win the competition!
Anita: I better have some other perspective this year than last year when my goal was just not to throw up in the pool (because I was nervous). ;) This year I hope to achieve more experience and I have a goal to be among the top three!  (k8's note: Ha Ha Anita!  See Anita's interview last year for more explanation on not throwing up in the pool! HERE)

Marcy: I am hoping to show myself how much better I am than I was at last year's competition.  I can feel myself improving and I know that I'm not even close to hitting a plateau...  It will be fun to see what other variables affect this year's finals--weather?  Running line knots?  Nerves?  Barking dogs?  Much of the excitement is that you never know what can, and will, happen!
Kara: I think my goal for this year is mainly to learn & have fun; completing the competition will be an achievement in itself.  This all came about on very short notice, just in the past two months really, so I feel rather underprepared.  Whatever happens though I think it will be a great experience and will start me on the path to being better prepared for next year!

How can other women become involved in SOR?

Donna: Other women can learn by joining a casting club, or select a good spey casting instructor to help them. It is best to learn the correct casting technique from someone qualified to teach them. All too often, I see some friend who doesn't know how to cast, teach his girl friend their same bad habits or technique. Starting wrong and then having to correct that is the worst thing to do.

Anita: I have tried to get more women from Scandinavia to participate, but it is actually on the other side of the world, so it is a bit difficult. I believe that any women who are interested in participating at SOR could just contact the Golden Gate Casting Club or anyone of the casters-we're all very friendly!

Marcy: Where you begin all depends on what setup you come from.The easiest way to become involved in SOR is to put a 15' (or longer) rod, and a line longer than 65', in your hands, and try to cast the thing.  If you are already a Spey casting fisherman, it will be easier with a friend who already has experience with this type of setup. It's like anything new--you just have to understand the physics of the cast and the small variations from your short head casting.  If you already fish with long belly lines, it won't be much of a stretch. 
Practice with a rod that you feel comfortable with and keep practicing.  Learn the rules of Spey-O-Rama, sign up, and "Whack it!"  You don't have to be in a special club or know anyone specific in order to compete. And you don't need to be breaking records to be "good enough" to compete.  I think that's what bothers me most about people and how most think about competition.  SOR tests more than your physical prowess of Spey casting.  It's also a test of a person's mettle--their true character. 
I believe we all can use some of that in our life!
Kara: I'd have to say don't be afraid!  Whether it's asking someone you know to help you spend time working on your cast or taking the plunge and signing up for the competition.  Be brave & know that you're going to have fun & learn a lot in the process!  That's what life is about, enjoy the ride!

k8's note: Thank you ladies for your participation and best of luck to you this weekend.  You all are admirable, brave, and extremely talented.  Thank you for representing women in spey casting at the upcoming competition.  I hope you all cast your best and have fun!  

For more information on SOR and the Golden Gate Casting Club click HEREAnd check out their facebook page HERE.

Kara Knight with a beautiful Steelhead.

Anita Strand casting.
Marcy with a nice buck!
Donna Casting at the Golden Gate Casting ponds the other day by Lee Davidson