August 30, 2016
By Jonathan Wright
In 1951, an world championship in outdoor sports was won by a young woman competing as an amateur against an all-male field in an event that to the time had been the almost exclusive province of men. Throwing a 136 foot fly cast to win the overall National Fisherman's Distance Fly Championship, Joan Salvato Wulff made history and launched her career as a professional fly caster. But this was not the limit of Joan's ability.
In competition in 1960, standing in an aircraft hangar -- the only windless, indoor structure large enough to accommodate what was being attempted -- Joan Wulff executed a fly cast of a mind boggling 161 feet, using a specially constructed fly line of her own design. This established an unofficial women's world record, only because there was no women's division at the competition. The record stood for decades.
What Joan did that day proved beyond question that casting a fly is a matter of technique and not brute strength, and provided a conceptual framework for the design and engineering of fly fishing equipment in the over fifty years that have passed.
Fly casting as a sport has evolved since the time of Joan Wulff, with numerous events now being held in internationally sanctioned competition. This years world championships are being held in Estonia, and America has a remarkable competitor that has qualified participate, 12 year old Maxine McCormick.
Three years ago, under the tutelage of coach Chris Korich, then 9-year old Maxine first picked up a fly rod and began her study of the art of casting a fly line. Today, Maxine just won 4th place overall at the US nationals in open competition, outperforming other competitors regardless of age and gender. Even more impressive was Maxine outscoring her coach in the rain in Dry Fly accuracy, and then, outperforming Steve Rajeff -- the greatest all-around caster in history -- in her favorite event, Trout Fly accuracy.
You can read all about Maxine's amazing rise and record setting accomplishments in a SF Gate article here.
Tying for 4th and earning spots on the prestigious All American Team has qualified Maxine and her father to join Korich and fellow casting champion Donna O'Sullivan to represent the U.S. at the upcoming World Championships of Fly Casting in Estonia.
Needless to say, training for and traveling to National and World Championships isn't cheap, but thanks to the support of our SF bay area Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club Foundation, readers can donate to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit via a GoFundMe page that has been established to help defray participation and travel expenses for the U.S. Team traveling to Estonia.
For the record, since there is NO Junior division at the upcoming World Championships, 12 yr-old Maxine will be competing against the best women fly casters in the world and has an unprecedented opportunity to become the youngest World Champion in the sport's history.
Please take a few minutes and watch this video: Maxine McCormick - Little Fish In A Big Sea from Korich Fly Casting.