Vail Village
Vail, Colorado - Site of the 2011 America Cup.

The 2011 America Cup of fly fishing came to a close this week. This year's event was held in the posh mountain town of Vail, CO and showcased the nearby waters of the Colorado River, the Blue River, Sylvan Lake and Lake Nottingham. Almost 2200 fish were caught and released by a mere 70 anglers in 3 days of competition. The competition followed FIPS Mouche rules, which does not allow the use of strike indicators or split shot.

This year's first place prize went to multinational Team Emerger, comprising of Sandro Soldarini (from Italy), Todd Oishi (from Canada), Michale Drinan (from Ireland), Marek Walczek (from Poland), and Rob Kolanda (from the USA).

This year marks the fourth year of the America Cup of fly fishing, and the tournament is largely considered by sponsors and organizers to be a big success. The event features a number of major sponsors, including Ross Reels, Smith Optics, Scientific Anglers, Trout Unlimited, Hardy and more.

Despite sponsor acceptance, the debate over whether competitive events have their place in fly fishing continues. Proponents feel it brings much needed attention to the sport and that such events are boons for tourism, conservation efforts and international good will. Detractors make the argument that competition flies in the face of the spirit of fly fishing, to the point of making "competitive fly fishing" an oxymoron.

With sponsor support for events such as the America Cup growing, competitive fly fishing isn't likely going away in the next few years. It remains to be seen, however, whether these events become mainstream or persist as ancillary events outside of core (or some would say "heart") of the sport.

Where do you stand on competitive fly fishing? Is it good or bad for the sport? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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Anyone who says these fly fishing contests are good for fishing has lost it. Why would we want to stoop to the level of BASS? It cheapens the sport and turns us all into a bunch of rubes.