The land of Gierach and Gordon, Lefty Kreh and Lee Wulff, used to be a perennial also-ran in the world of competition fly-fishing.
The U.S. adult fly fishing team went decades without so much as a bronze medal, while European countries – in particular the Czech Republic – took gold after gold.
That’s all changed in recent years. The men’s team finally medaled this year at the World Championship, winning the silver. Last summer in Colorado, Fly Fishing Team USA won the America Cup, an international tournament very much like the world championship.
The grown-up American anglers have now finished in the Top 5 three years in a row. And the 2016 world championship will be in Vail.
But while the men have steadily worked their way toward respectability, the U.S. Youth Fly Fishing Team has become the world’s best by a mile. The younger anglers won the FIPS-Mouche Youth World Championship over the weekend – the team’s third gold in a row and fourth in five years. Hunter Hoffler of Moreland, Georgia, who at 18 is aging out of the youth team, won the individual gold medal.
Hoffler is the host of “In The Loop: Modern tactics on the Fly,” a comp-fishing inspired show that has aired on cable outdoor sports networks.
Fellow Georgian Mason Sims took the individual silver medal. Cam Chioffi of Massachusetts finished sixth and Hunter Enloe of North Carolina finished seventh.
The youth team beat out Poland and the Czech Republic, the silver and bronze medalists respectively, in what was described as a tough, close contest on the Eagle and Colorado rivers, Sylvan Lake and Dillon Reservoir.
John Gierach and and Lefty Kreh may or may not care for comp fishing. Wulff didn’t have much to say about it, as far as I know (though his wife, Joan Salvato Wulff, was a world champion competition caster), and Gordon flat-out didn’t like it.
Even so, with the U.S. men finding their groove and a dominant youth team aging out of the junior circuit and into the senior ranks, the American anglers’ days as also-rans seem to be over.