The 3rd Annual PHW Fly Casting Competition was a Success!

This years PHW National Fly Casting Competition was the third time this annual competition had been completed. The purpose of this program and competition is to improve the fly casting skills of our disabled veteran participants through practicing fly casting and competing in a fly casting game: The PHWFF 5-Weight Combination.

The PHW 5-Weight Combination game consists of three rounds. Round 1 focuses on casting accuracy; Round 2 focuses on accuracy and casting around an obstacle; Round 3 focuses on the distance cast. A judge scores each round and adds the results of all three rounds to get the final score.  The casting course consists of a 4’ x 4’ casting box and five 36” hula hoops and five 9” aluminum pie plates.  The hula hoops are set up at various distances from the casters box and the aluminum pie plates centered within the hula hoops.  The fly casters tie on a bright colored piece of yarn, with no hook, at the end of their line to simulate a fly.  When competing in the competition, the fly caster stands in the casting box and casts at the hula hoop and pie targets in accordance with each round.  The goal is to have their fly land inside the hula hoop or pie plate, with more points being awarded for flies that land in the smaller fly plate.

This years National Fly Casting Competition had participation from 14 PHW Regions.  Casting competitions were first held at the PHW program level within those regions to determine the casting champion at the program level. The program level champions then competed at the regional casting competition to determine the regional casting champion.  The regional champions were then invited to attend the National Casting Competition finals that took place in Bozeman, MT July 26 – 30 at Montana State University. 

The Regional Casting Champions that competed in the 2022 National Casting Competition are as follows:

1. Alaska Region:  Rick Knight – Wasilla, AK program

2. Heartland Region: Byron DeSerisy – Northwest Arkansas program

3. Florida Region: Dan Randazzo – 

4. Midwest Region: Josh Franklin – Indianapolis, IN program

5. New England Region: Joe Young – Leominster, MA program

6. North Carolina Region: Caleb Thole – Fayetteville, NC program

7. Rocky Mountain North Region: Harley Harrison – Bozeman, MT program

8. Rocky Mountain South Region: Jacob Valdez – Grand Junction, CO program

9. South Central Region: Rob Wilson – Dallas, TX program

10. Southeast Region: Mike Evans – Atlanta, GA program

11. Southwest Region: Joe Hiney – San Francisco, CA program

12. Tennessee Valley Region:  Andrew Mann – Johnson City, TN program

13. Virginia Region: Tom Lucas – Tidewater, VA program

14. West Virginia: Christopher Enoch – Parkersburg, WV program

On Tuesday July 26, the regional casting champions arrived in Bozeman, MT for the National Fly Casting Competition. After checking into their lodging they were treated to a welcome reception dinner. During the dinner the competitors got to meet and greet each other and the PHW volunteers and staff that were involved in supporting the National Fly Casting Competition.  

On Wednesday July 27 the regional casting champions took part in a casting practice session in the morning on athletic fields at Montana State University. This provided them the opportunity to not only get casting practice in for the competition but to also ask the volunteer competition judges any questions they had about competition rules, scoring or anything they needed clarification on for competing in the PHW 5-Weight Combination Game.  

During casting practice, PHW received coverage of the casting competition by multiple local Bozeman news and media outlets to include the Bozeman Daily ChronicleMontanarightnow.com, and KULR8 NBC news.

In the afternoon the regional casting champions enjoyed trout fishing at local farm ponds 15 minutes outside of Bozeman, MT.  It was the perfect opportunity to continue to work on their casting and enjoy fly fishing at the same time. 

The National Fly Casting Competition finals took place on Thursday morning July 28 at the athletic fields at Montana State University. All 14 regional champions competed in the preliminary round. After the preliminary round was completed, the competitors with the top 5 scores moved onto the finals round to determine 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and 4th and 5th runner-up.

Here are the 2022 National Fly Casting Competition final results:

1st Place: Rob Wilson | Dallas, TX Program | South Central Region

2nd Place: Joe Hiney | San Francisco, CA Program | Southwest Region

3rd Place: Harley Harrison | Bozeman, MT Program | Rocky Mountain North Region

4th Runner up: Caleb Thole | Fayetteville, NC Program | North Carolina Region

5th Runner up: Tom Lucas | Tidewater, VA Program | Virginia Region

Photo courtesy of The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

In the afternoon after the completion of the competition the regional casting champions were able to enjoy tours of Tom Morgan Rodsmiths and SIMMS headquarters in Bozeman, MT. At Tom Morgan Rodsmiths they learned about how they make custom bamboo fly rods and graphite fly rods.  At SIMMS headquarters they got to learn about the process of how they make their waders.

The awards ceremony and dinner was held in the evening were all the regional casting champions received an award certificate for being regional champions and those that placed in the top 5 in 2022 National Fly Casting Competition received their awards certificates.  The 1st place winner will also receive a $600 Orvis gift card. 2nd place winner will receive a $300 Orvis gift card. 3rd place winner will receive a $150 Orvis gift card.

On Friday July 29, the regional casting champions enjoyed a day of drift boat fly fishing on the Yellowstone River with fly fishing guides provided by Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited.  It was the perfect way to close out their time in Montana by enjoying time on the water in one the most beautiful locations in the world.

When everyone returned home on Saturday July 30 they were able to look back on the incredible time they had experienced in Montana for the 2022 National Fly Casting Competition finals.  The memories of fellowship and shared experiences with their fellow veterans was something they could cherish and carry with them going forward.

Volunteers and Staff that make it all possible

This years National Fly Casting Competition would not have been possible without the support of many PHW staff and volunteers.  We want to personally recognize the following individuals.

PHW Staff

Assistant Operations Officer Amy Milne & Program Manager Adam Hick.  Amy played a big part in assisting with the planning, preparation and execution of this years competition.  Adam was a huge help with assisting with the competition in Bozeman, MT.

PHW Volunteers   

  • Ross Schweinforth, the Program Lead for the Chattanooga, TN program played an instrumental role in the updates to the 2022 National Fly Casting Competition rules and instructions.  He was also the head judge in the National Fly Casting Competition finals in Bozeman, MT. 
  • Russ Ambrose, the Regional Coordinator for the Tennessee Valley Region was also instrumental in assisting with the updates to the National Fly Casting Competition rules and instructions. 
  • Jim Wenger, the Program Lead for the Bozeman, MT program played a critical role in supporting the on the ground logistics and execution of the National Fly Casting Competition in Bozeman, MT. 
  • Bubba Holt, the Regional Coordinator for the West Virginia region and Mike Swanson the Regional Coordinator for the Heartland region both played a critical role in helping support the casting competition finals in Bozeman, MT.
  • Dave Kumlien and other volunteers from Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited helped make this years casting competition finals in Bozeman, MT an incredible experience by providing guides for a day of fishing on the Yellowstone River. 

Also, PHW would like to recognize TLC Septic Services of Belgrade, MT for the donation of a portable toilet that was used during the National Fly Casting Competition finals in Bozeman, MT.

Photo courtesy of The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

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