joduff what JohninPa used would be exactly what I would recommend. Sure gel is a bit more expensive than some of the other binder but it does the best job (in my mind) and for your first time it’s probably the best choice. Willies is an awesome all around snack stick seasoning so you can’t go wrong with that. I’d consider adding hi-temp cheese, for willies I’d just go with cheddar or hot pepper which isn’t really hot, it’s more like pepper jack.
Everything you said was correct, dampers wide open with no smoke or humidity for the first hour and then close them down and add some and a wTer pan. Check out the advanced thermal processing video where we added automotive sponges to the water pan, you can really get your telematics humidity up there with that!
I’d use 19mm smoked collagen casings and I’d hang them if possible, if not you can rotate them but they are gonna have marks either way so maybe just leave them so one side is smoother?
Don’t forget an ice bath or shower to cool them down, then leave them out at room temp for an hour, then the fridge overnight before vac packing.
Good luck, I’m sure they’ll be great!