Valerio Santi Amantini holding up two medals around his neck

Q&A with Double Gold Medalist Valerio Santi Amantini

The 2024 Masters World Championship took place at Vyssi Brod in the Czech Republic from 19th May to 25th May. Valerio Santi Amantini, who is part of the Cortland pro team, was representing his home nation of Italy and it was to be another Masterclass from the multiple World Champion. The Championship was held on Lake Lipno from a boat and Lake Kvetenov from the bank and 3 sections of the River Vlatava, at Devils Stones, Vyssi Brod and Rozmberk. 

Valerio was the model of consistency over the 5 days finishing 2nd on each of his first 4 sectors and then 5th on his last sector.  He caught 103 fish over the 5 days which was 13 more than his nearest competitor and he not only won the Individual Gold but helped Italy to the Team Gold too.

Valerio Santi Amantini holding up two medals around his neck

We caught up with Valerio after the event to ask him some questions:

1. Congratulations on a superb double gold medal performance Valerio.  How does it feel to be the first person to win 20 World Fly fishing medals and how much practice did you do prior to the event?

“Incredible! I still don't realize that I've reached such a milestone. I'm very happy and if I look at the path I've made in these years of international competitions, I didn't imagine I could reach these goals (considering that my first international competition was the European Championship in Tignes, France in 2001). Winning in a country like the Czech Republic that I have always admired and considered the strongest, full of great champions with an incredible amount of fans makes this even more special.

 I am lucky enough to have a job in my small village of Pont Saint Martin that allows me to train.  I have a large river and three streams within two km, as well as having more than 200 alpine lakes in my region. This allows me to wear the waders every day possible after work and go fishing, choosing from time to time the fishing techniques to practice: from dry, to nymph, streamer or submerged. In winter, when the river is closed due to fish spawning I train in the lake from the bank or from the boat. This has allowed me to become a well-rounded angler”.

Valerio is standing in flowing water and is casting his fly line
 2. The first day of the competition you were drawn at Lake Lipno from the boat where you managed to catch an incredible 35 fish. Tell us about the tactics and set up that you used?

“When I saw the lake draw, I thought I'd look for the fresh stocked fish as it was the first session of the week. My starting setup was Cortland MKII 10#7 rod, the 444 intermediate clear line, with leader and tippet was Cortland Ultra-Premium fluorocarbon and two streamers, one orange and one black. From the inspections I had seen an excellent movement of fish on 3/4 of the lake on the opposite side of the dam. In agreement with my competitor in the boat, we chose to go near the water entrance while all the other boats concentrated in front of the dam. When I started fishing, I realized that the fast intermediate line was too light, so I quickly changed to a sinking sweep 3 and redid the tip with two streamers and a booby. This tactic helped me to catch the 35 fish which resulted in 2nd place for the sector”.

Valerio is climbing back onto the bank of a river
3. The next 3 days you were on the river Vlatava. How did the 3 different sections vary and how did you have to adapt to the conditions?

"The second session was Devil Stone, a small river but with great difficulty in standing due to round and slippery stones with deep holes. The tactics in this section was to keep moving upstream, with two particularly light nymphs, a size 16 nymph with a tungsten head of 2.5mm on the point and a size 18 nymph with a tungsten head of the 2.1mm on the dropper. I was in the middle of the river and fished left and right, using a tip of 0.10mm and Cortland MKII rod 10.5 #3. This very delicate fishing allowed me to catch 35 fish, finishing 2nd.

The third session was the Vltava Alta, a medium-flow river where there was a good presence of natural and stocked trout. My choice in this case was to start with the Cortland MKII 10#6 rod, fast intermediate clear line and three streamers. Almost immediately I caught trout and I was convinced that it was the right technique so I had no reason to change. This allowed me to catch 21 trout and finish 2nd again in the sector.

Valerio Santi Amantini is standing in ankle high water with a fishing net and reel

The fourth session was in the lower Vtlava, where there was a good presence of white fish and some trout. My beat was number 15, the last in the sector. It started with a good current and then widened and slowed down. I rigged 5 rods, two nymph rods with different setups, two streamer rods and one dry rod. During the inspection before start of the session, I noticed fish rising in the currents, so I decided to start with the dry fly, which proved correct as after two minutes I already had two trout. I continued to go downstream, fishing on dry but I noticed that the fish were no longer moving so I changed to the streamers and beat my sector for about twenty minutes, but without any contact with fish. I decided to try the nymph rod, starting from where I had caught the trout on dry fly, and in two casts I lost two trout.  Although disappointing I realized that I had found the right tactics. Fishing very close to the other bank I caught the first white fish, and as these fish are usually in schools a few minutes later I had 6 more to the net. I then tried to fish downstream as close to the bank as possible and this produced three more fish. With half an hour left I switched again to fish with the dry fly in the currents, catching another trout that was rising but after not seeing any more rising fish I tried the last few minutes with the nymphs near a tree immersed in the water, which resulted in  my 13th fish – a 30cm Chub.

Valerio Santi Amantini holding onto a plaque and with his hand over his heart
4. The final day was at Lake Kvetenov from the bank. Judging by the catch returns that must have been a tough place to fish on the last day and I guess you had to work hard for your 4 fish?  Tell us how you keep so focused when conditions are so tough?

Fishing a last session in a lake where there is the presence of stocked trout is more complicated. The session included 3 beats and the duration of the rounds of 1 hour each. For this session I prepared 8 rods to fish both overhead and froller style and I started with an intermediate line and 3 streamers.  I started by searching various depths to try to find where the fish were. In the first hour I caught a 53.5 cm rainbow which proved very difficult for me to bring to the landing net. The second hour I changed technique and looked for the fish more towards the surface, and this proved successful catching 3 this way.

The last hour of the last session of the world championship I couldn't find any fish even though I tried various tactics. 

At the end of the session, I had worked extremely hard for 4 fish and my ranking was 5th. This result plus the 8 points from the previous sessions gave me an overall total of 13 and enough for the Gold medal followed by two representatives of the Czech Republic with 16 points. All my teammates also did very well, and the team won the team world title with a 22-point difference from the runners-up.

5. Will you be taking things easy now or can we expect to see you competing again in 2025?

As long as I have the passion and enjoy doing these competitions and I feel physically okay I would like to continue. I also want to leave a mark in the history of competitive fly fishing. The rules of our national federation are that if you win an individual title, you are already in the national team next year to defend the title won. The life of an athlete is not eternal, and I know that sooner or later I will have to leave and who knows, new possibilities will open. I would like to thank the whole Cortland group and John Wilson, who ten years ago believed in me and now Cortland has the most titled person in the world (2nd in the senior ranking and 1st in the master ranking) for a total of 20 international medals - thank you John, thank you Simon and all the Cortland staff.

Closeup shot of an Italy jersey and various fishing medals

Valerio and his competitive adventures can be followed here on Facebook or Instagram

Products Mentioned in this article:

Competition MKII Series Fly Rod- Euro Style Nymphing
Ultra Premium Fluorocarbon Tippet

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