Fly fishing was once viewed as a sport for men. This may be due in part to the early elitist status of the sport. Even nostalgia tends to favor the masculine involvement in fly fishing. However, fly fishing is now appropriately recognized as a great sport fishing option for men and women alike. In fact, estimates are that there are well over one million women who now participate in fly fishing. Some estimates are that women now account for 15-20% of modern fly fishers.
Interestingly, the first book on fly fishing ever published was written by a woman. Dame Juliana Berners published A Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle in 1496. Berners is reported to have been a nun and noblewoman. Berners certainly must have tied and fished her own artificial flies. There are equally influential women involved in fly fishing today.
There is a growing market catering to fly fishing for women. Some outfitters are dedicated to teaching women to fly fish while other outfitters report that the number of women participating in fly fishing classes routinely outnumbers men. Fishing clubs for women are also becoming quite popular, particularly around popular fly fishing areas.
Fly fishing does not normally require a lot of physical strength. Fly fishing is far more about speed, finesse, and style. Women actually do quite well at fly fishing.
The catch-and-release ethos so prevalent in fly fishing may be appealing to many women as well. While traditional fishing often closely resembled hunting trips with the objective being to bring home food, sport fishing activities like fly fishing often are more about the thrill of the catch. Photos and great memories are frequently the only thing brought home from fly fishing trips. The fish often stay right where they are. Many fly fishers even use barbless hooks now to make catch-and-release fishing even easier.
Fly fishing provides a great opportunity to get out in nature without having to kill anything. There are certainly women who fish to catch supper but many people, both men, and women enjoy fly fishing because of the opportunity it provides to get in touch with nature. Fly fishing is a very relaxing sport but also provides good exercise at the same time. The rhythm of the cast is soothing for many people. Fly fishing also provides opportunities to see a variety of wildlife and birdlife in their natural environment. The scenic backdrops around many fly fishing destinations are also simply incredible.
Fly fishing clubs and groups provide social networking opportunities and camaraderie. Men and women both enjoy these benefits. With the advent of specialty, women-only fishing clubs, and groups many women are finding a home with fly fishing.
Manufacturers are also recognizing the significant increase in participation by women. Women can now buy waders that are actually designed for women – rather than relying on the closest men’s size they can find. Fly fishing rods are also now being designed with women in mind. Women’s fly rods are designed to be somewhat lighter and to have smaller handles. These improvements are good news for all women who enjoy the fly fishing sport.
Fly fishing is a great sport for everyone – men and women, adults, and children. Everyone can enjoy a day out of fly fishing.