Women Are Here To Fish

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Justin Pickett

I read a post on social media the other day that got me feeling all kinds of frustrated.

I literally wanted to pull my hair out after reading the remarks of the ignoramus who decided to peck this stupidity from the safety of his keyboard. This ding dong’s remark was in response to a photo of a nice rainbow trout caught by a female angler, which was posted to her Facebook page. The original post appears to have been taken down by the page administrator, but it went something like this:

“Now let’s see a video of your cast, drift, and you landing that fish.”

Now, like I said, there is likely some variance to the actual quote, but those are the “items” that this guy wanted filmed to verify to him that this female angler was competent enough to catch a trout all by herself. Seriously? He went on to defend his request, which just made things worse.

The majority of the social media world attacked this guy, and rightfully so. Who is he to play “river police” from the comfort of his desk chair, assuring that everyone’s cast and drift are up to his standards? Oh wait… Not EVERYONE on the river. Nah, this guy probably would not have had the balls to do the same thing to another male angler, but a gal holding up a trout….I guess that sounded like easy pickings to this Facebook Casanova.

Certainly a girl doesn’t have the mental and physical attributes to complete a cast, mend some line, set the hook, and land a fish that possesses a brain the size of a pea. I’m not trying to downplay the sometimes technical aspects of fly fishing for trout, but this guy was definitely calling into question the ability of this female angler to catch a fish. However, I bet if the same were expected of him every time he posted a fish, he would be the first one to cry about it on his social media page.

News Flash: women fish!

Women fly fish. There have been women in fly fishing for a long time. Long before many of you reading this, and myself, were even conceived. There are some amazing women who have done, and continue to do, amazing things in many areas of the sport of fly fishing. Conservation. Guiding. Travel. Product development. Instruction. Casting for Recovery. Dun Magazine. Abel Women. 50/50 On The Water. I could go on. Women play a major role in many aspects of our sport. I could give numerous examples, but here’s a couple:

Ever heard of R.L. Winston Fly Rods? They are world-renowned for building some of the most beautiful, high performance fly rods on the planet, and are one of the oldest and most storied names in fly fishing. Many anglers who own Winston rods absolutely covet them. Well, since 2008, Annette Mclean has been the person responsible for the design of every Winston rod that has left their shop. Gasp! A woman! And, prior to 2008, she had been the production manager for both graphite rod and bamboo rod programs. Oh, and aside from being an amazing rod designer, I hear that she’s one hell of an angler.

Secondly, just this past summer, Camille Egdorf took first place in the 2 Fly X-Stream event at the Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado. Through three rounds, she was able to edge out eighty-nine other anglers in a series of casting challenges, ending with a fishing competition between ten anglers, who qualified to enter the final round of the competition. Yeah…she beat all the men. All of them.

These are some pretty impressive women, if you ask me.

These examples of success aren’t accidents, nor are they examples of other people doing the work for these ladies. They worked their assess off and learned, no doubt, through a lot of trial and error, all the while taking shit from assholes (men) who didn’t think they deserved to stand next to them on the river. Let me assure you, they’ve done their homework. They’ve probably outworked you and will also out-fish you. They aren’t out on the water pulling hair in cat fights, they’re throwing punches and getting shit done.

Regardless, there is going to be the egotistical bunch banging their clubs on the ground crying foul because they encounter a successful female angler, whether it be on the water or on social media. And because of that, I will still be here banging my head against my desk.

Fellas, do yourself a favor and get over it.

We are not the only gender entitled to post shitty grip-n-grin photos to the interwebs. We damn sure aren’t the all high-and-mighty chosen ones who are meant to oversee that everyone lives up to our own individual standards when posting photos on social media. I’m sure there are probably many dudes out there who feel the same as this guy, and just choose not to make their feelings known. Had this particular fella been face to face with this lady angler, I doubt he would have called things into question, but the computer screen provides a safety blanket for folks like this. I know not every guy feels this way, but instances like this brings out the one thing that I hate to see in fly fishing: exclusivity. This isn’t YOUR sport. It is everyone’s to enjoy.

Fly fishing as a whole is growing. And, with that, we are seeing more and more women hitting the water, and it’s a great thing. Toss your testosterone and ego aside and go fishing with some of these awesome gals.

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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37 thoughts on “Women Are Here To Fish

  1. There are still many angling magazines and internet publications that have female angler “cheesecake” sections – the only purpose of which is to objectify women for the entertainment of male anglers. These media sources help to engender the attitudes towards women fisherman that you describe in this article and should be criticized by the entire angling community for doing so.

    • Yes! You’re absolutely right! I did think of her but if I included every single gal I was thinking of then this article would have been forever long!

  2. It is with pleasure that I note there are now three women serving on the board of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. And, AFFTA is chaired by a women. AFFTA has recognized the importance of women in the sport since the start and continues to support their involvement.

  3. I really don’t think this is an issue. One person said something demeaning on social media, nothing new here… the rest of us should not be lumped in with this person. I have personally never heard of anyone slandering women in the sport. Actually, quite the contrary, I and almost anyone I have ever met would congratulate a female for taking up the sport. My wife included. Anyone that posts ANYTHING on social media is welcoming the onslaught of scrutiny and offensive remarks. Don’t get your panties or tighty whiteys in a bunch.

    • I gotta disagree with you Dan.
      So you’re saying that the “women can never be as good as a man” mentality isn’t an issue in fly fishing? This example just proved that it does in my opinion. And I’m not lumping you into a group. I addressed that not every guy is going to feel that way in the article, but to think that this isn’t an issue is pretty silly to me. I do think the majority of male anglers welcome women and that’s another reason why we are seeing more and more women in fly shops and in other areas across the sport. I think it’s awesome. However, we’re going to deal with the egos of those that feel insulted at the idea of a female angler being equally as good or (god forbid) better than them when it comes to fishing. Thanks for your comment!

    • “I don’t really think this is an issue” and “I’ve personally never heard of anyone slandering women in the sport.” Said the man.

      You’ve never been treated like dirt when you walk into a fly shop, never been bumped from a spot on the river by men who think you don’t know what you’re doing/don’t know river etiquette and think you won’t complain. Try buying any piece of fly fishing merchandise (outside of CFR stuff) that doesn’t feature a man fishing, never a woman fishing. Remarks are snide, rude, and constant. What fishing world are you living in where this does not exist, because I’d love to come throw a line (sometimes an awesome cast, sometimes not) there.

  4. Even if she made a bad cast and drift, so what? Who is this guy? All of us have been through our own learning curve, and if we weren’t excited about every fish we caught along the way we wouldn’t still be fishing. Since when does anyone need the approval of a panel of experts to share their catch on social media? Guys like that are bad for the sport.

  5. Great post!

    Fishing/fly fishing is an extremely male-dominated sport, and that absolutely makes it easier for sexist ideas to creep in unnoticed.

    If you don’t think it’s an issue, then you didn’t read the article above which provides an example of it being an issue. I strongly hope that this isn’t a significant probem in our sport, but it’s conversations like this that will keep those sexist forces at bay.

  6. If the standard for catching fish is a perfect cast, drift, and fly selection, I must have been imagining all those fish I caught over the years. I have been fly fishing for over 30 years, and it has been a constant and continual quest to get better.

    Just when I think I’m pretty good, my wife of 19 years decides she wants to give it a try last year…she routinely out casts, and out fishes me.

    Fly fishing has always had an air of exclusivity, wether based on income, gender, or other things. Some of that was unfair, a good portion was well founded. Its been a breath of fresh air the last 10 years or so to see that start to change.

    To all the female anglers out there (my wife and 11yo daughter included) please ignore the ignorant rantings of a neanderthal.

    To everyone, male and female, rich or dirtbag, white or other, just get out and fish, and if you don’t have something nice to say…shut the hell up!

  7. Yep… thanks! We ladies have been signing this song since time immemorial. From Joan Wulff to Pudge Kleinkauf to April Volkey and Hillary Hitcheson, ladies all over this great land have been hucking flies and getting it done despite the heckling from the peanut gallery. Thanks for being an ally!

  8. I think we would encourage and attract a lot more women into the sport if the macho, warrior mentality we see in many marketing styles and even in the harsh lingo was eliminated. Going fishing should not be portrayed as going to war.

  9. As a male I have been amazed by the photos and articles in Dun magazine. They have reinvigorated to the art of fly fishing. With the addition of their paper magazine, I now need to rewrite my bucket list to include many new places.

  10. I think I saw the post…misogynist doesn’t begin to cover it.

    As the father of a young lady who can out fish, out shoot, out paddle, and out climb 95% of the couch potato, video game playing gomers of her generation…not one of whom will ever make the cut to date a highly motivated, hard working, high earning dynamo…I can tell you that it was likely driven by envy, insecurity and bitterness.

    My daughter has seen plenty of that from these clowns already…and what I like best is, “I can handle it Dad, but thanks for asking if you can do anything.”

    Not all the sexist behavior comes from old white guys in Hollywood and DC…not even close…

  11. This is a great post. They need as much positive press as they can get and support from the guys. They bring a great aspect to fly fishing and if anyone thinks they have to be perfect then look at yourself. Perfect casts don’t always catch fish and often times it’s the crappy casts that do. They can fish with the best of them. Justin you forgot one famous fly fisherwoman who’s been doing it for decades and was being all the guys a long time ago. Joan Wulff. The more people we have in fly fishing the better. It only helps the sport grow. I’ll welcome them on the water anytime.

    • I couldn’t possibly forget Joan. She’s gotta be numero uno in many of these conversations that go on involving women in fly fishing. I just figured most people would already know of Joan’s accomplishments in the sport so I included a couple other ladies into the mix. Thanks for adding her name to the discussion though! It surely is deserved!!!

  12. Sorry to have missed the chance to call out the poster of such a moronic, ignorant comment. I know that this tool represents the minority of what most gentlemen fly anglers feel today. The whole attitude women get from some men is understandably tiresome and got old long ago…
    I truly love fishing/guiding women…all of the fun, little to none of the “baggage” that some of my male clients bring to the table. When I get a first time guy out, and his casting could be better and I ask if I can make a suggestion to help him, far too often I get the” How dare you, I’m a good caster” look. Whatever dude, it’s your day and your money. NEVER have I had a lady be anything other than a unpretentious sponge, honest about wanting to learn, improve their ability and appreciative about anything I could do to help. And the enjoyment level of their day is not ultimately tied to success of catching fish, but of absorbing the entire experience going on around them. It’s all about the fun. Guys could really learn something from this.

  13. Good post Justin. I learned a long time ago, 1994 on Depuys spring creek to be exact, that a woman can seriously out fish anyone. I watched Cathy Beck catch sipping browns on a size 20 midge and she was gracious enough to show me what she was doing. At the end of the day, we all fish cause we want to, and no one else should be judging us at all.

  14. Great article. One of the tough things about being a minority in any activity is the extra scrutiny on performance that comes along with it. In fly fishing, there is obviously the assigning or expectation of mistakes due to the angler being a woman (as was pointed out nicely in this article), but scrutiny of performance can also go the other way. How often have you heard a man say he knows a female angler and then point out that she can “out fish” or “out cast” him? In general, these comments are not made by men about fellow male fishing companions. Praise and support are good for anyone, don’t get me wrong. The danger simply lies in the regularity of putting the emphasis on how well a woman can fish versus the simple fact that she is fishing. As a female angler, I look forward to the day when it is so common for women to fly fish that no one even thinks to point it out and we can just be another angler on the water. Thank you for your article, Justin!

  15. Justin,

    First, thank you for your article. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I’m with Michigan Trout Unlimited. We recognize that women are fly fishers also and we’re aggressively taking steps, big steps, to include and make them welcome in our male dominated culture.

    In our Diversity Initiative we have a number of events and opportunities that center on women fly fishers. We have ignored this part of the fly fishing and conservation community far too long.

    I have taught beginning fly fishing 101 for several years. My best students are women, from casting, classroom instruction, etc. They listen and do what I’m instructing. They’re very coachable unlike many guys.

    I know several women who are better fly fishers than me and a lot of my male fly fishing friends. Like you said, guys, get over it!

    Thank you again, great article.

  16. I wish my wife fished! There are some pretty amazing women out there fly fishing. I hope they know that the majority of men support them. I will be teaching my daughters to fish, and i hope they love it as much as i do. Personally i find it extremely attactive when i see a woman who is in love with the outdoors, and comfortable with the beauty that nature provides.

  17. Great post Justin! I think it’s a wonderful sport for everyone..women included. The tug/drug doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. I didn’t see the original post or comment but I do wonder if it was intended more as a rebuke on the current state of social media rather than on women fishing. By that I mean it seems we see more and more posts that are practically a commercial rather than a genuine post of someone enjoying the sport. Sometimes I too wonder if (male or female) the angler actually did the work necessary or if it was posed after some amazing (probably female) angler did all the work and handed it off for a photo op. I have seen this happening more and more in other hobbies to include fitness, where instead of hard work and sweat, some people choose to enhance their abilities (steroids, implants, etc) so they can be “instafamous” and get promoted/paid. Similarly in surfing this has happened with some people looking and sounding the part to sell a brand but with very little interest in the sport. Still no excuse to be rude or demeaning toward any angler it was just a thought as I read the post. Keep up the great posts and keep a bend in your rod.

  18. A more historied person would be Joan Wulff, of Catskill angling fame. Joan was the National Casting Champion from 1943-1960. One of the highlights of her career was winning the National Fisherman’s Distance Casting event against an all-male field, casting a fly 161 feet.

    But at the end of the day fly fishing is not a competition of who can or cannot cast a fly, or who is better at enticing a fish to take a fly. It is simply experiencing the outdoors and wonders of nature. Sharing the camaraderie, or cherishing the solitude. No angler, male or female, should ever be made to feel that they need to ‘prove’ themselves.

    Thanks for the article.

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