‘Why I Compete’

From Jo: I connected with Ray Cianni and Nick Meloy on Reddit, back when I was new to tightline nymphing. They patiently answered my questions, and I was so grateful to them. They’re busy people but took the time. I was eager to learn because they both compete in fly fishing tournaments.

I also am happy to announce that they’ve accepted invitations to write for the blog. They live in Pennsylvania, and, so, cover all sorts of fun waters. Also, comp. anglers know a great deal.

Here’s Ray.

Why I compete.
And, how it all began.

Back in 2014, thanks to the Fly Fishing sub. on Reddit, I was able to connect with an upstate NY competitive angler, Alec Baker.

As he was finishing his degree in Syracuse, and, I was visiting often to see my in-laws, we were able to meet up and fish together on multiple occasions. While he had mentioned competition fly fishing quite a bit (never in a pushy way), we spent more time on the water talking and teaching the idea and methodology of nymph fishing.

While the draw of having a fish take on the surface was a hard one to drift away from, the sensibility of targeting trout where they spend most of their time feeding, was too logical to pass up.

So with my new Cortland Competition Nymph Rod and Dynamic Nymphing by George Daniel ordered, the journey began. As my comfort level grew, so did the fish count.

A little over a year later, on that same sub-Reddit, I became friends with my current team captain and fellow business owner at Trutta Goods, Nick Meloy.

And to be honest, the idea of competitive fly fishing was still a distant thought. While I didn’t have anything against the comp. scene, it wasn’t what brought me to the water. Low stress, time away from the craziness of life, and even solitude at times, was my draw for pursuing trout throughout my home state of Pennsylvania.

Nick didn’t give me much of an option: “I’m starting a competitive squad and you’re on it.” My concerns with my skill level, my time away from two young kids, and the overall comp. scene were fruitless. Team Trutta VP of Operations, here I come.

I wish I could remember when the light switch went on, but, regardless, at one point everything became very clear. In competition, an angler was given 1.5 to 2 hours, a certain stretch of water, and the task of catching and safely releasing as many fish as possible.

With a busy career and young family, time on the water was always my biggest hurdle. And when it hit me, it hit hard. I was already comp. fishing! My recreational sessions were exactly the same thing! I didn’t have a lot of time. I couldn’t explore big stretches of river. And I wanted to catch as many fish as possible!

So the transition was much much more comfortable than I could have imagined.

So, why do it?

For starters, the fellow anglers. They’ve made the experience incredible. No matter if it is teammates or fellow competitors on other squads, everyone is close.

The word “competition” is laughable on the comp. scene. While the competitions are filled with seriously skilled anglers who do “dial in” for their hours on the water, the cloak of “battle” is immediately dropped as soon as time is called. It’s a small and close-knit community (that everyone involved only hopes grows and grows in the near and distant future) filled with genuinely good people.

And, not to be overshadowed by the friendships that I’ve created, is the personal benefit of comp. fishing. There is no plausible chance that my skill level in obtaining solid drifts, reading water, choosing flies (both in type and size), and landing fish are where they are today without the drive that competition fly fishing has given me and the knowledge the community has offered. I’m a better angler and better teacher to family and friends as a direct correlation to my experiences in competition.

So, should everyone compete? Of course not. It’s not a scene for everyone, and, we all know that. But I can tell you from personal experience, while I would’ve been one of the first not to group myself in the above-mentioned crew, how wrong would I have been. Don’t close those doors before you even take a peak what’s behind them.

VP of Operations, Team Trutta
Co-Owner, Trutta Goods
Executive Board Member, National Fly Fishing League

Check out and be sure to sign up for our new league at www.nationalflyfishing.org!


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8 thoughts on “‘Why I Compete’

  1. What a great write-up! I love it and it’s very tempting to learn some of the tactics. Do you think it can be done without buying a whole new rod set up?

    I think tfo sells a bvk conversion kit for euro nymphing but I wonder if it’s worth it’s salt. Does anyone know?

    1. Thank you!

      It absolutely can be done without all the gear! I will tell you though that the rod is at the tip top of the list and is pretty important! There are plenty of great nymph specific rods (light weight, sensitive tip, longer than normal, fighting butt) out there that won’t break the bank.

      For anyone thinking about rigging up to try some nymphing, the least expensive and biggest gift you can give yourself is George Daniel’s Dynamic Nymphing book. It’s a must have!

  2. Awesome post, Ray. Welcome to the Blog Family!

    Also, the post generated 185 page views on Day One, which is a record!

  3. Interesting post! How would someone go about getting involved in competitions in the North East, is this something you can venture into on your own without being a member of a team? Looking for a little more information on this side of the topic.

    1. Absolutely! No team is necessary. Many guys compete as individuals. Let me know where abouts you’re located (general region) and I’ll see if anyone is near by.

      Outside of that, check out the new NFFL site for some new tips and ‘new to the comp scene’ type content coming soon!

      1. I had no idea that you didn’t need a full team. Gotta look into this. Any events in Massachusetts for individuals?

        1. Thanks for the information. Vermont has the Otter Creek Classic on opening day in April which I’m looking into myself. Check out MMVT.com

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