A Woman's Practical Guide to Flyfishing

Introduction
By Amy Becker Williams
  |  Gorp.com
Page 1 of 5   |  

Flyfishing is more popular today than ever before—and part of that growth is due to the influx of women into the sport. Fishing is no longer a men's only club. Women from all walks of life are getting in on it, whether they are single careerists, retired grandmothers, or everyone else in between.

Women compose at least 15-20% of flyfishers today. Heck, my family alone makes up a pretty good percentage themselves. Female flyfishers in my family include my mom, sister, daughter, niece, sister-in-law, and many others before my time. Women now have more opportunities to get out in the wild and learn about flyfishing, and more resources are becoming available to help them do this. Today, we female anglers can find an increasing number of books, schools, guides, catalogs, organizations and equipment just for us.

What follows is a primer for women who want to try their hand at flyfishing. Flyfishing is not just your father's sport any longer—and once you try it, you'll be hooked for life.

Women: Legacies in Fly Fishing

Some women have such passion for flyfishing—the places it takes them, its meditative quality—that they've influenced other women to get involved and, in some cases, have even made a living and created a lifestyle out of the sport.

Dame Juliana Berners, a legendary 15th century angler (and nun), set the tone for women in the outdoors (as well as the tone of future literature about the outdoors) with her classic 1496 treatise on flyfishing. Her words are still available— The Origins of Angling reprints her treatise in full. Dame Berners was in the outdoors, paving the way, long before we fought for and won women's rights-and long before women were required to buy a fishing license.

Modern times have their share of pioneering women, too. Mary Orvis Maybury (of the famous Orvis family), chronicled American fly patterns in a best-selling 1892 book. Joan Salvato Wulff, the living casting legend, forged her way into the industry, taking part in angling competitions, writing on the sport, teaching, and creating a product line. Her books Fly Casting Techniques and Joan Wulff's Fly Fishing are wonderful examples of her work. Maggie Merriman teaches in West Yellowstone, Wyoming, and Cathy Beck ( Cathy Beck's Fly-Fishing Handbook ) and Wendy Hanvold-Gunn teach and write about the sport. These women, along with so many others, have earned a place in the history of women and fishing.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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