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Casting History

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Listen to Cliff Netherton Interview with Tripp Diedrichs- May 4th 1991:

Tournament casting started in America in the 1860s with England following in 1881.  Fly-casting was the first tackle involved in this sport.  Dr. James A. Henshall, the “apostle of the black bass fame,” offered the first plug-casting tournament in 1884 in New York.  Pioneers in fish management and conservation, Seth Green, Robert Barnswell Roosevelt, Dr. James Henshall and several others were great casters and promoted tournament casting. In 1907, the NASAC (National Association of Scientific Angling Clubs) was formed. The NASAC later changed their name to NAACC (National Association of Angling and Casting Clubs) and its precursor to the existing organization theACA (American Casting Association).  The rods then were made split cane and steel and all casting was done on water in New York, Chicago and Kalamazoo, MI.

The National Casting Club held casting contests on the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC.  Their favorite game in 1939 was Fish-O, a simulation of real angling presentations.  The rules of Fish-O evolved and with an updated name became Skish in 1940.  The logic behind the name was that it was a companion sport to Skeet, and it honed skills of fishing. Skish.

In the 1940s and 1950s, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, D.C., Miami and other towns had very active casting clubs with large tournaments.  They used to compete in New York in Madison Square Garden!  In the mid-west, there were eight casting clubs in Chicago with a half dozen other clubs a short drive away.  In Milwaukee, there was an “industrial league” in which the huge corporations (e.g., Allis Chambers) sponsored casting teams.   On the west coast, San Francisco had the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club.  It’s clubhouse and pools still open to the public.

From the late 1800s to about 1940, tackle manufacturers and outdoor writers promoted tournament casting. They helped increase participation while perfecting tackle and technique and made a living. A list of these men would include owners of split-bamboo rod companies, Hardy, Leonard, Hawes, etc., as well as bait-casting outfit manufacturers such as, the Pfluegers, Ivan Harrings of South Bend Tackle Company, John T. Welch reel designer for B.F. Meek and Sons, and Heddon.  Tackle businessmen Tony Acceta, Fred Arbogast, Bill Jamison, Dave Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch also competed in various events and left their contributions to angling and casting too.  Cliff Netherton chronicles casting history in a series of books titled, History of the Sport of Casting- Early Times, History of the Sport of Casting- Golden Years and History of the Sport of Casting, The N.A.A.C.C. Years, (1939-1960). These are available through the American Casting Association on Amazon. We hope someone picks up where Cliff left off and writes Vol. IV.

Marvin Hedge introduced the double-haul casting technique at an ACA tournament in St. Louis, Missouri in 1934. Myron Gregory one of the greatest tournament casters of all time and Art Agnew of Sunset Line and Twine, developed the line and rod weight system, adopted by the tackle manufacturers.- (fact check)

Tournament caster Jim Chapralis says he and Clare Bryan, a superb tournament casters and angler of decades past, innovated a more accurate way to cast spinning reels than shown in printed manufacturers’ instructions. They held the line against the spool flange with their forefinger, and after releasing line to cast; they feathered the outgoing line against the flange with that finger.  This enabled them to stop the plug on the target, instead of holding and releasing the line from the fore-grip and trying to stop the plug by engaging the bail.

In the 1950s, tournament casters replaced the heavy metal spools that caused backlashes in bait-casting reels with aluminum.  Some covered the aluminum with balsa wood and cork arbors. The first bait-casters were geared “knuckle busters”.  Later manufacturers involved in tournament casting replaced them with free-spool reels. Having ones products win tournaments wasn’t bad for advertising either.  Later in the 1950s, Myron Gregory of Scientific Anglers, Joan Salvato (later Wulff) and Johnny Dieckman of Garcia, and others tested functionality and technique in at the casting pools.  At the same time advances were happening with fly gear.

One example was when Jon Tarantino worked with R.L. Winston, Scientific Anglers and Hardy Brothers of England to develop new rod tapers. Another was (Milton) Jim Green who introduced the first graphite rods on the market through Fenwick in1973.  He also invented, patented and marketed the Feralite Ferrule, the first fiberglass ferrule, which started Fenwick rolling. Jimmy Green and his casting partner Phil Miravalle introduced nylon monofilament as a running line for shooting heads.  That really popped the cork on fly distance casting!

While at Sunset Line and Twine, Jim Green invented tapered lead core shooting heads and began experimenting with vinyl coatings as a replacement for the oil finish used till then.  The core, instead of the coating was tapered in the first tapered lines. That was both expensive and not very buoyant.  Jim conceived a mechanical process to taper a buoyant plastic coating, but never produced it. Leon Martuch of Scientific Anglers later patented both the plastic tapering technique and the use of glass spheres.

Although the equipment has evolved, today casting games are still conducted through public casting clubs in city parts, and others at private clubs. In America, most of these are though the auspices of the American Casting Association.  They provide the leadership to create uniform rules, maintain National records and organize the annual National championship.

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During the first two decades of the twentieth century casters in many European countries organized into national federations and Casting Tournaments started to be held regularly.  After World War II, many U.S. servicemen stationed in Europe competed regularly.  This helped increase international interest in the sport and lead to the unification of rules on an international basis. In 1953 the NAACC invited numerous national casting associations to join the proposed International Casting Sport Federation, ICSF.  Belgium, Finland, England, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, were amongst the national associations who accepted and joined in the ISCF Original memberships.

The ICSF elected American Myron C. Gregory as their first President in January1954.  Three years later the first World Casting Tournament Championships were held in Kiel, Germany. In 1970, tournament sites changed from ponds to sporting grounds. Since 1978, the World Championships have been held biannually.  In 1981, ICSF became one of the founding organizers of the first World Games.  Since then ICSF has attended four World Games.

Sources: History of the Sport of Casting- Golden Years, Cliff Netherton, Jim Chapralis, Chris Korich, the American Casting Association, and the International Casting Sport Federation

You may obtain three books on the history of the sport of casting from the ACA on Amazon:

  • History of the Sport of Casting, Early Times (1860 to 1946) by Cliff Netherton
  • History of the Sport of Casting, Golden Years, (1900 to 1950) by Cliff Netherton
  • History of the Sport of Casting, The N.A.A.C.C. Years, (1939-1960) by Cliff Netherton