Casting sport: handling your rod with tenderness and/or power

If you check the results of the World Casting Sports Championships last weekend in Bychawa, Poland, the names of Czech, Polish and German athletes regularly appear at the top of the various events. In those countries, the casting sport, which stems from fishing sport, is relatively popular. “But we are a niche sport. I never met anyone who already knew what it is, when I told them I was a competitor in casting sport,” says the 30-year old Magda Kuza from Poland, former caster and winner of over 50 international medals in the sport.

It takes one to know one. Kuza comes from a family who practices casting sports for years. Father, mother, brother, all are active in the sport. Casting is fishing, but without fish (and water). It is practiced on fields and in stadiums and there are multiple disciplines, or events as they call them in casting, categorized in accuracy and distance. Accuracy means hitting (multiple) targets with an artificial fly or plug, which is attached to the end of the line on your rod. Distance speaks for itself: get your line as far as you can on the field.

The event fly accuracy at an earlier World Championship in Ronneby, Sweden. (Photo credit: Magda Kuza)

In Poland there are more than twenty clubs where you can practice the casting sport. People do it purely for the fun. “It’s not a job, we can’t live from it. We do it separately from our normal, daily lives. It’s additional and that is part of the fun. During competition you can focus on the sport completely and you can forget about everything for a while.” The sport obviously show some comparison with fishing, but according to Kuza it has got major differences. “Fishing of course, is a sport as well, but you can also do it as a leisure activity: sitting along the waterside. Casting is pure competition. And it’s really precise; the length of the rod, the line, the wind, your own physique. If something changes or you adjust something, it has immediate consequences..”

The Polish casters Kamila Stankiewicz (left, gold medal) and Karolina Kolarz (5th place) after event 5. (Photo credit: Magda Kuza)

Lars-Eric Ericsson is a Swedish caster, being in the sport since the late eighties when he started as a 12-year old kid. He has been to a lot of tournaments and competitions through the years in the sport he describes as ‘very, very small in Sweden’. Ericsson is a member of a club in the north of Stockholm. “For me it’s the thrill of competition, it’s the open character of the sport, the friendship and the variety of the events in the sport. You don’t have to be one type of person. If you’re into the accuracy, you must hold your nerves together. And if you like the distance events, like myself, it comes down to power and strength.”

Ericsson emphasizes everyone can do it, but to be good at it takes a lot of practice. “Like in every other sport, basically. The technique for accuracy is the technique you use for fishing. At the distance events the rods are much stiffer, you don’t fish with them. We are using rotation techniques like discus throwing. And in fly casting it’s more like the javelin. You use your whole body.” The distance depends partly on the wind. Official records are thrown when the strength of the wind is a maximum of 3 meters per second. In the double handed spinning event the world record is more than 120 meters.

World Games

The niche sport of casting once was part of the World Games. From 1981 till 2005 the sport was on the agenda of the ‘Olympic Games for non-Olympic sports’. Ericsson likes to see his sport grow again, becoming bigger and reaching the status of the peak in the eighties and nineties. “The potential is obviously there, because there are a lot of fishermen out there. With the right kind of marketing and involvement it must be possible to become a little bit more known, increase the popularity and find good casters.” But is seems like a lot of work is to bed one to be back on the World Games-stage. Even in Poland the sport is declining. Magda Kuza, who quit the sport for a while due to other interests and living in another city: “The problem is there are not enough coaches, people who really get involved in the sport, who spent there time teaching new generations. Many people who compete, don’t engage themselves in teaching others. That’s what makes the continuity of the sport difficult.”

Dmitri Borovkov from Estonia in the spinning distance single-handed 7,5g event. (Photo credit: Magda Kuza).