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Team Drake Captures TCC Gold

So far I’ve spent most of my flyfishing days chasing new experiences and an outdoor esthetic unattainable from within the confines of a cubicle. The competitive spectacle has long occupied the margins of what I consider important to this equation. That is not to say I don’t compete: racing to the river for first crack at good water, against stingy fish and nasty elements, and dropping the occasional fish score between friends. But I haven’t invested much effort into chasing a prize that resembled anything other than a rainbow, brown, tarpon, or permit.

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That all changed last month when Drake contributor Will Rice and myself teamed against more than 80 sticks at the Teva Mountain Games 2 Fly X-Stream in Vail. Like a couple of weekend duffers tackling Augusta National, we sucked, mostly. But we did it in style, capturing winning performances at the unsanctioned Tequila Cup Challenge the night prior.

The morning following our TCC victory, I was met with a wicked bout of cold sweats at 6 a.m., just in time for the flyfishing preliminaries. I drew a number at the back of the pack. And an hour later, pulse racing and still rather sweaty, I gripped a piece of yarn in one hand, rod in the other. The next five minutes were mostly a blur where, like a bad mushroom trip, the painted black targets proceeded to dance around the grass, happily dodging my shit casts. In brief, I bombed.

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A couple of observations about flyfishing competitions:

—Although it’s supposed to be fun, for me the experience was stressful. I’d prefer to be on a raft in a river, or punching tight loops to tailing bones. [Note: There is a rumored fishing component to the 2 Fly X-Stream, but seeing it entails actually making it through two qualifying rounds.]

—Competition flyfishers are atypical athletes. It was awesome to see a handful of women getting after it, but they were too few. (Still much prettier than the dudes in attendance.) As for the gentleman anglers, they consisted mostly of middle-agers, who stood in stark contrast to the ripped, granola-eating hoards who make up the bulk of the Teva Games experience. There was no spandex at the 2 Fly X-Stream. This was a relief.


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—Immoderate drinking and fishing can be fun, and may actually help sooth nerves. But in actuality the effects on casting accuracy are mostly adverse. Even the day after. Don Julio may be suave, but he clearly wants me to fail.

—Overall, Teva was a worthwhile experience: I gained insights into myself as a flyfisher, made new friends, and was impressed by the high-level skills possessed by those who actually advanced past the lawn course and into subsequent rounds. The guys and girls who are good snipe targets with aplomb and cast full fly lines deep into the backing, all using industry standard 5-weight rods.

Preparations are underway for next year’s comeback. After watching infomercials for weeks, I recently purchased a Shake Weight for Will to help strengthen his puny casting arm. He also plans to ramp things up with a new hot-yoga training regime. As for me, I’ll be on the river focusing on finned targets, which still seems to make the most sense.

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Geoff Mueller is senior editor at The Drake. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. Follow him: @thedrakemagazine, @geoffmonline.

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