So I floated the Warner sisters down the Yampa River the other day in my drift boat–my wife, Sarah, and her sister, Susie. And they proceeded to put on a fly-fishing clinic, making great casts along the bank all day. Both were rewarded by landing some hefty trout on dry flies. They only broke off one fish between them. Tangled a couple times (my fault, as I had the righty and lefty casting over the middle of the boat at the same time as we worked the left bank).
They were dialed on the same fly pattern (an awesome, supremely simple elk-hair caddis that also fishes like a hopper which I order from my buddy Stu Tripney, owner of Stu’s Fly Shop on the South Island of New Zealand. They fought the fish on 4-weights. And all the while, I’m working the sticks thinking, “Jeez… I fish with a lot of people, and these are two of the best I can remember. I LOVE the women in my life!”
Truth is, my Sarah and Susie have been fly fishing longer than I have. I picked it up when I was in my teens and dating Sarah. I’m sure I would not have made the cut with her father, Fred, had I not. Hence the name of the drift boat being “Fred’s Fault.” I had to believe Fred was smiling down on his girls the other day.
The day also reminded me that women are simply born better anglers than men. Ninety percent of the challenges I face when I’m guiding male clients is undoing the effects of testosterone. Casting is a matter of timing, not power. Presenting the fly and mending are about paying attention to the details. Fighting large fish is all about patience, and has nothing to do with exerting your will on the fish. Advantage to the ladies on all counts.
Everyone in the fly “industry” wonders “how do we get more women in the sport?” My answer is, they’re already there! They don’t stick out because they aren’t walking cliches, wearing trucker hats and swilling PBR, and not many of them like to stand out in the cheesy hot pink stuff some companies produce “to market to women.”
I wish more companies would focus on better, more functional gear for women. We recently conducted a poll of fly shops, asking about the quality of products developed specifically for women anglers, and 55 percent of respondents answered: “I still think there’s much room for more, and we’ve barely tapped the potential of this demographic. We’re behind the times.”
And a word to the wise “Fly Shop Guy”… Don’t underestimate the abilities of anyone who walks into your shop. I know at least two unassuming moms who could probably kick your butt on the river, any day.