2019 Fall League | Final Results | Interview with Champion JB Liessmann

Before we get into the results and numbers of the 2019 Fall League. I wanted to extend my thanks to all of the anglers that were involved throughout the season. We tried our best to provide consistent conditions across the board and to keep the spirit of competition both healthy and fun. The anglers did their part in spades. They showed up on time and ready to go for six Saturdays in a row. They got to experience the highs and lows of competition and the ups and downs of fly fishing the Truckee River on a weekly basis. So, again I want to thank all of the fisherman that made the 2019 Fall League a ton of fun.

After 6 weeks there was a very tight leader board in the top 4 spots. Only 10.5 inches separated the top four anglers with the champion, JB, winning by a scant 2.5 inches. The following table doesn’t tell the whole story. Not all anglers competed all 6 weeks and we will never be able to represent the amount of laughing, trash talking or donuts consumed.

2019 Fall League Final Results
AnglerTotal Inches
Matt H.284
Dave K.269.5
Scott E.148.25

Jason with the top weekly finish – 25 fish in 45 minutes totaling 280.25 inches

JB Liessmann is the 2019 Fall League Overall Champion. The following is an interview we put together to give you some insight into how JB approached the League and how winning the 2019 Fall League has changed his life with sponsorship deals, media exposure demands and constantly being followed by paparazzi. As many of you might know. JB also works here in the Reno Fly Shop and in his spare time he is a Chemical Engineering student in his third year at the University of Nevada. 

First off, congratulations JB on winning the 2019 Reno Fly Shop Fall League. Let’s go through a few questions to help readers understand how you approached the season and each heat to make it to the top of the table on the last day of competition.

JB putting fish into the air and into the net

What did you think of the RFS Fall League overall and what were the biggest surprises for you?

The RFS Fall League was a wonderful experience, in both the competition and the educational aspects. One of the biggest surprises for me was how much I learned from fishing with other random people. You can pick up on so many subtleties of someone’s fishing style by just watching them for 45 minutes. Another huge bonus was the astounding number of fish that you can actually put to the net in 45 minutes. In the previous Summer League, an 88” day was the biggest of the season, however this time around 100” just got you a good job, which was a paradigm shift in how I approached the league week to week. 

JB in an early heat

What was your chosen style of fly fishing and did it ever change with conditions over the 6 week season?

I chose to fish an ESN style for the league, and that did not change over the duration of the tournament. I chose this style because I am the most confident in my ability to catch fish, and catch fish quickly, utilizing this style. This made it fairly difficult on the few windy mornings we had, but I was still more confident with ESN than anything else. I contemplated using an indicator setup a couple times, but I just found myself continually going back to the ESN setup. 

How did you approach the 45 minute heats and approximately 1,000 meter beats? Did you go in with a plan and stuck to the plan or did you ever have to modify your approach and “wing-it” to put fish in the net?

Having a plan for this tournament I think was extremely important, however if the plan was so rigid that it couldn’t be adapted, you would probably struggle due to the randomness of the draw. My approach to the beats changed between each beat, so my plan at Beat 1 (Rock Park) would vary drastically with my plan at Beat 5 (Crissie Caughlin). I typically came up with a rough outline for each beat the night before, based on flows, temperatures, and turbidity. For some beats, I knew I’d only need 2 spots within the 1000 meters to have a good showing, while other beats I knew would be more pocket picking and moving quickly. All of these plans were also subject to if I went first or second, and what water had already been touched. Some days, I had to completely wing it because of a variable I couldn’t account for, like where a partner decided to fish. My general approach was consistent however, which consisted of knowing my spots, and trying to be as efficient as possible through each spot. To me, that meant making as few casts as possible per fish caught. 

You were lower in the standings for most of the 6 weeks before making a move on the last day to win overall by 2.5”. Did you do something different? Or did you stick to a preformed plan?

I came in with a single seasonal goal; Catch 50” of fish average per week. I figured if I could be that consistent, I would be really happy with myself. As the weeks went by, I realized 50” a week was not going to be enough to get me into the podium. Even with this knowledge, it didn’t change my seasonal goal, but I was alright with that. It was by a lot of luck along with some good efficiency that I was able to just edge out the top spot this tournament. 

Was the RFS League the first time you have competed in fly fishing? If so, what do you think of it and what words of advice would you give someone reading this interview that might be on the fence to getting involved in followup leagues?

The summer league was my first ever competition, placing 2nd in that one. The fall league was my second time competing, and I managed a 1st place this time. I love competition, and I think the atmosphere in the RFS league is one of healthy competition and learning. If you are on the fence about competing, there is nothing to be worried about. While it is competitive, the sheer amount of fun and learning to be had should alone should be enough to join. We have a bunch of great people competing, and everyone is willing to help advance your fly fishing skills, even if that means you just watch them for 45 minutes. Any information is helpful. If you can’t commit to 6 weeks, don’t worry about that either. Just do a drop in or even come spectate! There is so much opportunity to learn, it’s well worth coming along for the ride. 


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