Audrey Wilson, founder of At First Cast, is a Championship Caster, Leadership Performance Coach, and Fly Fishing Experience Creator.
She intertwines her passions for leadership, and fly fishing by providing unparalleled fly fishing experiences, and champion level programs. Audrey uses her creative vision and passion for Fly Fishing to challenge clients to break through barriers.
Among her list of achievements, Audrey is a multiple tournament casting champion and known as one of the best in the nation. She’s also a certified casting instructor with Fly Fishers International.
Flylords: Tell us a little more about yourself and what you do.
Wilson: “I started to fly fish about 16 years ago, and it has been an immediate passion ever since then. Three years later, almost every weekend I spent in Dutch John on the Green River in Utah, I came across a local casting competition when I started. Then at that same time, I met some casting instructors participating in this competition. I grew up playing sports, and I have always had some competitiveness. I wanted to try it and wanted to improve my casting as well as my skills while I was on the water. I started participating in competitions and eventually got involved in the American Casting Association about three years ago. Then, I competed in a national event where I qualified for the World Championships, which had been delayed a few years because of covid. The world championships are happening this year. Back to the casting instruction, I have worked with a mentor and eventually tested and became a casting instructor and then started teaching more. I started my cast instructing business called “At First Cast,” where I provide casting instruction in a program where we work with different people to improve their casting and offer them resources within this program. So, I’m very passionate about this and love to see people break through barriers and progress with their abilities casting a fly rod. Also, I started to get involved with a non-profit called casting for recovery about ten years ago, and for the last few years, we have had a western Utah program that is a fly fishing retreat once a year for women with breast cancer. I volunteer for this retreat and help out with the fundraising for this incredible program.”
Flylords: How did you get into fly fishing, and what does it mean to you?
Wilson: “I grew up fishing with my small family, not fly fishing, but admittedly fell in love with the movie “A River Runs Through It” at eight and have watched it hundreds of times. I never had the opportunity to fly fish until my twenties, when one of my friends that was a guide introduced this sport and passion to me. I have had the chance to learn so much and was immediately hooked on this sport. I wanted to be good at fly fishing and always give 110% in anything I’m passionate about. Fly fishing, to me, is about life and leadership, and leadership takes many different forms throughout people’s lives. However, In fly fishing, we always have room for improvement. We learn to adapt to changing conditions anywhere in the world. All of these things that evolve around leadership and strengthening ourselves provide us with a disconnect to our everyday lives. Fly fishing has taught me a lot. I also am a United States Air Force leader in the civilian business operations and finance team. I’ve learned patience while teaching people and the community through fly fishing.”
Flylords: Explain the World Championship of Fly Casting, and how you have grown to this level.
Wilson: “I got involved with the American Casting Association and they have provided the unity for the team to go to these championships that is being held in Norway this August. This will be my first World Championships I am competing in and earlier I’ve always been the person that wants to excel in everything i’m passionate for. I always try to push myself, I never would have thought that I wanted to pursue this route and try out for this team. I really put my mind to this and wanted to make an impact for other women out there that fly fish and for the women trying to pursue their dreams. I wanted to provide inspiration to the ones around me. In order to go to the world championships you qualify through a competition through the ACA.”
Flylords: What does it take to get to the world championship?
Wilson: “In a typical ACA regional or national event, there are different events that you can participate in. Some revolve around casting accuracy when you’re casting at particular objects and targets or the distance measured casting where you’re counted for your longest distance casting a fly rod. So, at the world championships, they don’t follow everything the ACA does for their competitions, where I have been successful with my accuracy, and distance casting is what I’ve been training for. At the world championships, there’s a trout accuracy event, precisely casting at four different targets that you get one cast at each target four times around within five minutes. It’s definitely about how accurate you can be. But, it comes down to the mental side of trying to use my skills and put them into fortuity. It’s tough, your nerves can build up, and reaching these targets can be very challenging, especially within the 5-minute window. I have focused and trained the fundamentals, great casting strokes, and let the line roll out entirely so I can see if I’m in line with the target. Many factors add up to having a very accurate cast, and one wrong move could depreciate your score in the ranks. The mental part about it is a lot of positive affirmations, and the training helps with the confidence when you go to a big competition. There’s a lot of pressure. You can hopefully be prepared to believe in yourself and make it happen with the skills acquired. It’s taking all these steps to build self-confidence, listening to different sports psychology resources, and especially a Lebron James podcast to positively put my mind into a place where I can accomplish all these steps. When you’re already good at casting, you have to focus on the mental management part, and then the same with distance casting, just working on making those long casts, whether hot, cold, humid, or windy. I’m out in any weather trying to improve my casting in any weather mother nature throws at us. Over the last three years, I have been working with a coach out of California in the bay area. I have flown out there numerous times, and training with him and a coach that can help dial skillsets in has been an incredible process and has helped me practice to get to this level.”
You can support Audrey’s Journey to the World Championships here.