Fly-Casting for Sanity and Excellence

Fly-fishing is my passion as it provides quiet interludes between the press and stress of my other passion, my law practice. I took up fly-fishing on a tactical whim and on a friend’s advice over 30 years ago, yet I remain a student of the sport. One fly-fishing off-shoot is the competitive sport of tournament fly-casting; my focus is accuracy.

Fly-casting is not so obviously the most important fly-fishing task, as I humbly learned the summer of 1998, while flailing away at ever-distant trophy rainbow trout in Millionaire’s Hole on the Henry’s Fork River in Idaho, the Mecca of western fly-fishing.  My fishing mentor, Mr. Bill Browning “suggested” I visit the Oakland Casting Club to learn how to fly-cast, the suggestion was poignant and a story for another time. Off I went, my ideas set, such that I waited until I was studying for the bar in 2007 before taking up tournament casting to conserve sanity.

However, it was not until four years ago, inspired by a precocious 13-year-old young lady who won the National American Casting Tournament in accuracy, that I got serious. I set goals, scheduled practices, balanced tackle and seriously entered competitions. I got good over the ensuing two years. Good is less than average at our club.

The Oakland Casting Club is the hub of U.S tournament casting. My coach is a many-time U.S. National Champion; another competitor has won these competitions since 1980.  We also have three members of the U.S. fly-casting team on board. Thus nothing short of “excellence” makes a caster competitive in the Bay Area. Daunted, yet persistent, I recently scored a 100 in a tournament, despite six fluffy mallard ducklings regally paddling right through my course! During the last 90 years, less than ten casters have achieved that feat. Those little yellow interlopers helped me score the 100, relieving the pressure of my realization that I was ever so close to a perfect score.

Excellence in competition is rewarding, however the joy of perfectly presenting a fly in the most difficult situations, while fishing and tricking the quarry to take your fake offering is really beyond explanation. Fishing provides incentive for me to visit pristine rivers in the rejuvenating outdoors; it’s why I work hard at my law practice.  Fly-fishing, like my law practice, requires a certain knowledge and dedication.  I am very lucky to be in search of excellence in my fly-casting competitions as it takes effort, planning, practice and learning from the best-of-the-best in the sport, and being in such a pursuit is the best reward of all.

Wish me luck at the World Championships in Scotland next year!

Luis M. Montes is a solo practitioner focused on business law for closely-held businesses. When not practicing law or fly-casting, he is on some river attempting to trick a steelhead trout to a fly.

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