World Masters Flyfishing Championships Day 1

by | Feb 12, 2019 | World Masters Fly Fishing Championships | 3 comments

World-Masters-Flyfishing-ChampionshipsThere’s nothing like the first morning of competition in the World Championships of fly fishing.  Every team is tied for Gold.  Team members scramble for their buses and head to their draws.  I drew the Spekboom River for my morning session and Nooitgedacht Dam for my afternoon.  Meanwhile my teammates headed for their beats.


flyfishing-team-usaThe way the scoring works in the Worlds is this:  Each team has four members.  Competition consists of four three hour sessions – this year there are three lakes and one session on the Spekboom River.  Each team member is assigned a letter – A, B, C or D.  I’m D and today I competed in two sessions against all other “D” folks from other teams.  Meanwhile my three team members fished against their matching letters from other teams.


flyfishing-competitionsIn order to score a fish he must be 20 cm long and each fish is measured by the judge.  It’s best to catch lots of fish rather than a couple big ones.  There are eight teams so scores after each session range from 1-8.  One being the best you can score and eight the worst.  The idea is to have the fewest points at the end.  So, if you win your session amongst your group you score a 1.  If you’re second you score a 2 and third scores a 3 and so on.  If you’re the big looser you score a horrible 8!  Or if you don’t catch a single fish, even if half your group doesn’t catch a single fish, you and they score an 8.  The bottom line is you absolutely must not blank in a session because if you score an 8 its hurts the team terribly.


Spekboom-River-South-AfricaThe team with the least amount of points in the end wins and the angler with the least amount of points wins the individual.  This is an Olympic style event so winners receive medals with grand champs receiving gold.  It’s an incredibly challenging yet fun event.  And I can tell you, I competed against many of these competitors back in the day and some are the best anglers in the world.


Jeff-Currier-World-Flyfishing-ChampsOur weather for the day was hot, humid and drizzly.  After a near 2 hour drive cramped in the back of a mini van with the rest of the “D” competitors, I arrived at my Spekboom River beat.  I drew Beat 2 and loved the looks of it immediately.


I didn’t bring my camera to the river.  There’s absolutely no time for photography.  Instead I fished my brains out to get the best score I could.  And I was busier than ever because I caught a ton of fish.  In fact, my first fish was not one, but rather two.  I was prospecting with a caddis dry and nymph dropper.  A nice 13” rainbow ate the dry and during the fight he dragged my nymph to another measuring 14”.


winning-world-flyfishing-sessionObviously, the double was a magnificent start.  And things like this get my adrenalin going.  I went absolutely nuts and in the first 30 minutes landed ten measurable fish.


But things slowed down in a hurry.  After I tired out my first pool, I worked my way upstream.  My beat was about 200 yards long.  Most of it was fast water with tiny pools.  I managed a couple more fish through the shallows but I needed another pool.  Luckily, at the top end of my beat was another which connected with Beat 1.  I pulled a few more fish here and after the first hour I had fifteen.


jeff-currier-world-championships-flyfishingOnce done up top I raced down to the bottom of my beat again to start fishing my entire section over a second time.  The lower pool where I caught ten seemed vacant of fish.  For 20 minutes I ran through a serious of different flies and techniques with nothing.  Then by luck and desperation I fished a black woolly bugger below my caddis.  Don’t ask why I went this route and don’t ask why it worked.  But it did and I nailed five more fish fast.


An hour and 40 minutes in Jerry and Daniel walked up to observe (this is how I got some photos).  Jerry, as manager of Team USA, is the only one allowed to talk to me during the session.  He simply yelled to me, “The Spanish guy has 18”.


Jeff-Currier-wins-river“Yikes”, I thought out loud.  Somehow, I needed to catch a lot more fish from my beat.  Furthermore, this “Spanish guy” happens to be last year’s individual Masters World Champion!  He was indeed a threat to beat me on this session.


During the last hour I fished as well as I may ever have.  I went on to catch yet another double and, in the end, I landed 29 fish.  My judge had to call for an extra score sheet because I filled the page.  I was drenched with sweat and river water but I won the session and the Spanish was second.


Pete-Erickson-flyfishingAfter session 1 we were taken to a nice riverside lodge for lunch.  Pete and his group happened to have lunch here as well and good news, Pete also won his session on Lake Nooitgedacht.  We soon got word that Mike scored a 4 and Lauren got a 2.  Team USA was on top.


Nooitgedacht-Dam-South-AfricaWith my river session behind me it was all lake ahead starting with Nooitgedacht in the afternoon.  The way lake sessions work is you share a boat with a randomly drawn fellow competitor and get in the boat and go head to head.  I drew the Johann, the South African.


lochstyle-flyfishingJohann was super cool.  And it turns out he’s not only competed on Nooitgedacht Dam before, he won the South African Nationals here one time.  I had a lucky draw because in turn I benefit by being in the boat with one of the best.


africa-flyfishingNormally competitors split control of the boat with each other.  Knowing Johann’s experience I told him he could keep charge the entire session.  I simply wanted him to take us to the fish.


africaThat Johann did.  He explained his strategic plan and off we went.  In the first 15 minutes he had me 3 to nothing.  I was scrambling but also wisely watching him close.  He was fishing deeper and stripping slow.  I copied and finally I got the magic touch.  Soon I had 5 to his 3!


We battled back and forth for the entire 3 hour session.  We could see the other competitors around us.  No doubt Johann and I were catching the most and battling for first and second place of the session.  In the end, I caught 14 and Johann caught 13.  I won again.


World-Masters-FlyfishingTwo scores of 1 will help a team.  And we needed them.  The rest of my team didn’t have as much luck.  Pete scored 4 on the river, Lauren the same and unfortunately, Mike blanked on the Dullstroom Dam.  Dullstroom Dam could be a tough one.


fly-fishing-championshipsAt the end of the first two sessions and Day 1, Team USA finds itself in first place and I’m the individual leader by a hair over another South African.  We are tie in placing points but the tie is broken because I’ve caught the most fish.


That’s all for today.  Dinner goes on into the night and now its 1 AM.  Fortunately, in the Masters we get a day off.  Tomorrow will be a relaxation day and a regrouping of our gear so we can finish up on top in sessions 3 and 4 on Thursday.


Feeling good about this!  Stay tuned!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Vern Scharp

    Proud to know you, Jeff!

  2. Nick Hower

    Nice! Well played:)
    Go USA!

  3. Jeff

    Thanks guys! We are stoked!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!