Russ Miller

Team USA member and Sage employee Russ Miller wanted give us an update on the Americas Cup Fly Fishing Tournament that happened this past weekend in Vail Valley, CO. Have a look below.

Having a fishing competition during one of the biggest water events that Colorado has seen was a bit of a surreal experience. As rivers were reaching upwards of 10,000 cfs a group of 75 anglers were gathered to compete on some of Colorado’s best fishing venues. Watching the news made me wonder why we would be fishing in flood stage conditions, but the waters around the Vail Valley were in great shape and the massive flooding was isolated to the Northern Front Range. In fact the lower blue river flows dropped to half of what they were before the competition started, we were fishing low water about 225 cfs to be exact.

Since Vail announced that they are going to host the 2016 World Fly Fishing Championships the group of international anglers has increased. This year there was a Czech team, a Polish Team, and a dream team of ex-world Champions from around the globe. They were all there to do get a feel for what the 2016 Worlds are going to look like. These great teams are in addition to the top teams from around the country and also extending up into Canada. Needless to say that the competition in attendance was fierce.

This year there would be two river venues both on the Blue River, two loch style venues, one on Dillon Reservoir and one on Sylvan Lake, and to round things off there was a bank session on Black lake at the top of Vail Pass. Between the variety of water types and fisheries it would test anglers in a number of different situations and require top anglers to be well versed in a variety of techniques.

After five 3 hour sessions of pounding the rivers and lakes with everything from dries on 6x to streamers on sinking lines all who attended were totally exhausted from performing at peak performance. I know that I was. Why would one ever want to put themselves through the ringer instead of enjoying a day on the water? Its different for everyone, but for me its all about learning new ways to catch fish and innovating on the go. Plus its way to much fun, especially when you look back on it all.

I was lucky enough to be packing the best gear on the planet. The ESN rods in the 10ft 3wt and 4wt make the perfect river dry dropper rods and nymphing rods for the wild browns and bows on the Blue. I used my 5100-4 ONE with the In-Touch type 3 as my streamer rod on the rivers and predominately used the 5100-4 ONE in the lakes as well. Most fish were between 28 cm and 42 cm. The lighter rod helps protect smaller tippet and prevents me from losing smaller fish when fishing barbless flies. For the bank venue I brought along the 7100-4 ONE for more distance in an effort to cover more water, but found myself on the 5100-4 ONE, as I was using ultra-light tippet. This decision would eventually lead to my demise. As for reels, I have transitioned over to the new 2200 reels for all my RIO lake lines and they are proving to be a perfect solution for a great lake fishing reel. I can carry all the lake lines I need to target feeding fish in all the different water columns at an unbeatable price.

In the end, one fish on Black lake kept me out of the top 4 or maybe 3 and kept our team from getting a team Gold medal. I had her buttoned up with a dry on 6x and was bringing her in, after some aerial acrobatics, she was calm, under control and heading toward the bag when she surged one last time 6” from me. I decided to hold my ground and try to land her, the 17 in bow was stronger than my tippet. Sigh… Instead Team USA finished 3rd and we brought home bronze. Devin Olsen from Team USA got to take home the Cup this year and Team USA Youth continued their domination on the water and earned Gold. The international Naranja Dream Team tied Team USA in placing points, but edged us out on fish points . When all the dust had settled all the competitors shared many laughs, exchanged secret flies and techniques and cheered each other on waters well fished.

Team Finishes

Team USA Youth – Gold

Team Naranja Fly Fishing Academy – Silver

Team USA – Bronze

Individual Scores:

Devin Olsen – Team USA – Gold

Yann Caleri – France – Silver

Pat Wiess – Team Freestone – Bronze

What an amazing experience and a BIG congrats goes out to all of the Medal earners that attended and made this a ultra-competitive memorable event . A full list of top finishers can be found at

Until the next comp….

Russ Miller