How to Hold ACA Tournaments
Through the efforts of fishing and casting clubs, outdoor expos and cable TV exposure, there is renewed interest in the sport of tournament casting. The American Casting Association has a 98 year history for sanctioning and holding casting events. This article helps share some of that experience for anyone trying to start a casting event. The larger an event you hold, the more personnel and organization are required, but at small ones, it’s possible for one person to fill a number of positions.
The first thing you need to do is communicate with your group to determine their competitive casting interests. The Two-hand 18 gram Revolving Spool Plug game might not work well for a trout group or Trout Fly Accuracy might not be the best choice for a saltwater fly fishing club. The two most popular and easiest fly events are Dry Fly Accuracy and Angler’s Fly distance. By the time you read this we may also have adopted a 5wt combination accuracy and distance event which will be very popular too. Once you’ve picked the events you can start organizing and even order the trophies.
Your organization should appoint a Tournament Captain whose job is to appoint Judges and oversee the event. The Tournament Captain then appoints Event Captains for each of the main events such as Fly Distance, Plug Distance, Fly Accuracy and Plug Accuracy. These Captains run their events and are responsible for their course and casting order decisions.
TOURNAMENT SITES & CONSTRUCTION
Understand the physical requirements for your events and consider possible locations for casting them. Casting groups can ask for assistance from interested businesses, individuals and communities, and request permission to use the facilities and grounds of “rod & gun clubs”, municipal parks, schools, outdoor superstores, farms and private properties. One consideration whether you rent, own or “borrow” a location, check the insurance liability implications and make sure your organization or owner has adequate coverage. A million dollar liability event coverage is an approximate starting point. Another consideration when starting a new event is its’ legality, and getting permission or local permits. Check with your municipality first.
Ideally, accuracy events should be cast on a freshwater lake or casting pool and distance events should be cast on a level area of mowed lawn. If no bodies of water or pools are available, you can cast all A.C.A. events on lawn. There are also successful casting events held on indoor turf and temporary casting pools. The space needed for each A.C.A. game varies greatly. This also varies with the exact event and it’s specific tackle i.e.: heavier plugs travel farther than lighter ones etc. If you plan to hold accuracy games, the minimum space requirements per casting station on land or water is approximately 20 x 80 feet, plus 70 feet of space behind the casting box for fly casting events. For a start-up club, you could offer the event Angler’s Fly Distance that only requires a square field of about an acre. Plug distance which should be held on grass, requires the most space. There are layouts at the end of this booklet showing the official course dimensions for each A.C.A. event.
Wind direction and space are two important considerations in selecting a site. In all distance events, you should have the option to place your casting box in a spot so casters can cast down wind. Remember back cast space for fly events. In all accuracy events, casting down wind is preferable. In fly accuracy, it is especially important to have the option to switch directions to prevent casting with wind on the casting side of the majority of casters.
Supplies and equipment needed to create a casting course and targets are readily available. You’ll need a 500’ measuring tape reel for the longest distance events. To mark a casting box, use duct tape to mark lines on docks. Slice a six-foot long PVC tube laterally and pin it down in the middle to make a distance starting line you can pivot with the wind direction. Make-up a floating line with markers on it pre-measured for accuracy target spacing. This is a time saver in the long run. To see the average wind direction on the field, make wind flags on rods and install them 25 and 50’ on either side of the casting box. Making Accuracy targets rings are a little more time consuming.
ACA targets are tubing rings measuring not more than 30”across on the outside and not wider than 1 1/2 inch diameter. They are colored red, green, blue, yellow and white. These rings can be constructed of 3/4”ID PVC irrigation tubing or bent and welded 1”OD aluminum tubing. This drainage tubing can be easily cut with special cutting pliers and joined with a double male coupler. The PVC is black, but can be covered by wrapping with colored electric tape. 3M even offers all our required colors in one pack. Welded aluminum targets should be primed and painted. Target rings can be held in place by anchoring with a variety of weights such as bricks and some line. The Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club uses aluminum rings, with three welded spokes and a center ring placed over an anchoring tube. That way it’s stationary but can float up or down with the water level. To place and gather targets in water, a boat and or waders are essential.
SAFETY, SANITATION & COMFORT
In the event of a medical emergency, it’s best to be prepared. Inquire if one of your casting group members has a current American Red Cross First Aid certification so immediate care can be administered and any victim’s condition can be communicated more readily to Police, Fire Rescue, EMS, or hospital.
If you have indoor restrooms at your event, that's great. If not, you’ll need to rent a portable toilet for approximately every fifty attendees. Don’t forget accommodating the handicapped and complying with local ordinances. If garbage cans aren’t provided you, such as in most parks, bring your own and pick-up so the area is left clean after your event.
As the event organizer you should provide comfort, refuge and safety for casters and spectators in extreme summer weather. If no shelter is available, you could rent tents to provide shade from a blistering sun and some dryness in a downpour. To prevent dehydration and keep everyone at his or her physical and mental peak, provide drinking water. Your club may also consider selling food too. Obtain any permits required if you sell anything like food, tackle or other merchandize. One last note: don’t forget to request all casters to rack their rods in the event of lightning.
Once the events are picked, location nailed down, all permissions obtained, next comes scheduling. In order to have a successful casting tournament, careful planning is required so the events flow smoothly and completed in a timely manner. With tournament experience behind you, this process becomes second nature. Use A.C.A. Casting Divisions to create fair competitive classes of casters. Consider the number of casters and the time allocated per caster. Plug games go much faster than fly games. Try to finish either that day’s Accuracy or Distance events before you break for lunch.
After the schedule of events is agreed upon, publicize your event. The A.C.A can help via their website www.americancastingassoc.org and connections within the angling media. At your local and state level, send a press release to your local TV station, newspaper, outdoor radio show and outdoor e-zines. In addition, don’t forget to make posters and flyers. As a good host and thorough organizer, post direction signs at intersections as needed so everyone can find your event.
PROCEDURE, SCOREKEEPING & JUDGING
Have your casters pre-register so you can better plan, but for smaller events, registration the morning of the competition should be sufficient. Close registration fifteen minutes before the event starts. Provide time for your caster to warm-up before a tournament on the actual tournament course or practice area. Have a bulletin board ready to post the casting order with casting station locations indicated. Place enough rod racks nearby so all casters can store rods while gathering or waiting for events. The Tournament Captain should have a copy of the casting order on a clipboard. A bullhorn or public address system is helpful for the Tournament Captain to announce participants, Judges and workers. He or she should call a meeting prior to competition and assign judges to their posts. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Judges can start calling casters to start. Just like baseball batters, casters are either up, on-deck, or in the hole. It reduces call up time to place a chair within proximity of the casting box for the on-deck caster.
When you hold a casting tournament, all people involved should be familiar with the A.C.A Rules and Regulations in its By-Laws. You can learn tournament procedure, scoring judging and rules concerning protest by studying that document. Print a copy and have it at the event in case you need to make a ruling. The Tournament Captain must also appoint Judges for each casting station and event if you have enough personnel. Judges must know the game well, have good vision and off course, have good judgment. In all events, they must position themselves where they can see the casting box for line violations. In Accuracy events, they must watch both the box and the target where the fly lands or ticks the water. In distance events, Judges should watch the box and run the stop clock. A digital countdown timer is recommended.
Distance Event Judges have assistants called Peggers. Peggers are two athletically able people who must stand just beyond harms way down field and watch for the fly or plug to land, find it and insert a special peg next to it. Peggers should be given two-way radios to communicate scores with the distance judges at each station. If there aren’t enough people available to have both Distance Event Judges and Peggers, then Peggers can simultaneously peg and score.
All results should be delivered back to the official Scorekeepers who record and tally the scores and post the final results at the end of each event.
TACKLE RULES & VERIFICATION
To insure fairness to all your casters, there have to be rules governing the course, procedure and tackle. Since competitors don’t always follow the rules, (you know who you are) tackle must be verified through measurement and inspection. Check tackle in a manner that seems practical for your event. For example, everyone over a certain score gets checked, or everyone gets checked in certain events. You can perform a tackle check before or after an event. In timed events like the distance events, the judges must have countdown timer to give everyone equal time in compliance with the rules. The specifics for each event are stated in the A.C.A Rules, and the description and definitions for tackle and courses are laid out in the Regulations section. You will need to obtain the instruments to measure and weigh contestants’ tackle. Have a sturdy table to work on, hopefully in a tent or shelter.
You’ll need a scale readable in grams, grains, and ounces. Beam balances, although accurate where there is little air movement are inaccurate in even a light breeze. You could make a clear Lucite box for a beam balance if you wished. For the most part, we recommend a digital scale. The scale should have a platform or dish capable of holding a fly line. The heaviest component you’ll need to weigh is the Two-Hand Distance Fly-line that must not exceed 120g. Besides fly-line heads, you will also have to weigh plugs. The heaviest plug is 18g or 5/8oz. You will also have to measure rod, line and leader length and line diameter. A 50’ steel or vinyl tape is needed for measuring line and rod length, while a micrometer in inches is ideal for line diameters and a caliper for guide dimensions.
All the data from the results of all your casters has to be recorded as it occurs, then tabulated, and posted. Competitors appreciate knowing their results and place! Here two, you’ll need a picnic table and chairs to work on. Have a couple of calculators for this task. The first forms you’ll need tournament morning are registration sheets, and roster. When completed, post the roster on starter boards so contestants know where to go. Distribute scorecards to the Judges for each event. You will need tabulation sheets to accumulate those scores. When you’re done tabulating, list all the contestants’ names and results starting on top with first place on down and post the results sheet conspicuously on a board or wall. If you have the tools, it’s nice to printout or photocopy result booklets on the spot to distribute to all competitors before they go home. Of course, you could also post them on a website, or email them later.
Once you’ve quickly dismantled the tents and cleaned-up, it’s time to honor the competitors with any trophies, prizes or awards your club deems worthy. This ceremony can be held immediately as an informal outdoor gathering, or later at the club or rental hall.
The American Casting Association has a reputation for having members and leaders who share and teach all those who have a passion for casting, and a thirst to learn. We hope this manual has been helpful. We wish you success in your endeavors and look forward to meeting you and your members. Whether you select one, or all of our events for your tournament, you’ll feel it ended too soon, and wish you could cast it over again. You can’t, but maybe you can cast in another competition somewhere next week!
Equipment & Supplies list:
- 500’ tape reel & optional laser w/ 2 reflector cards on posts – distance events and course layout
- 100’marked rope for laying out accuracy rings
- Duct tape
- PVC tubing- casting box marking
- Distance pegs and carrying case
- 4' tall colored wind flags
- ACA target rings
- Digital scales
- 50’ tape measure and calipers and micrometer
- Countdown timers- distance event
- Picnic tables and chairs for tabulation/accounting
- Forms & Signs-Registration sheets
- Starter boards (roster), Scorecards, Tabulation sheets, Result sheets to post
- Calculators- for combining scores
- Printer if you want results handouts
- Two-way radios- distance results
- Public Address or bull horn
- Free standing rod racks
- Boat or waders for setting-up targets