Women Fly Fishers Have the Potential to Dig The Industry Out of the Red

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More and More Woman are Picking up Fly Fishing. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Who says the sport fly fishing is shrinking?

Ok, maybe as a whole it is, but the last couple of years, women fly fishers have been on a steady rise, and just about everyone seems to be taking notice of the phenomenon. The past eleven years, I spent very little time on the water guiding female anglers. On occasion, I’d book a husband and wife trip, but the brunt of my guiding in the sport was male dominated. The past year and a half though, I’ve noticed a substantial shift in my client demographics, with women increasingly making up more of the pie. I’m guiding many more married couples and I’m even booking quite a few trips from solo female’s, who are taking the initiative to go out and learn how to fly fish on their own. Noticing this change in my day to day guide business, I couldn’t help to think, this could be our golden ticket to turning around the shrinking industry, and finally have a good chance at putting fly fishing back in the green (growing sport).

Intrigued by what I was seeing in my guide service alone, I took the time to make a couple phone calls and contacted my local women’s fly fishing club (Georgia Women FlyFishing), as well as, Kara Armano, a key female fly fisher who’s employed at Backbone Media, a public relations media company, focusing on driving awareness of brands and new products in outdoor industries. Kara said, “I’ve been heading many woman fly fishing clinics lately with great success, and each clinic I do is more popular than the last.” Deb Bowen, from Georgia Women Fly Fishing and a FFF Certified Casting Instructor said, “Our numbers have more than doubled this year alone, and we’re continuing to get new memberships weekly.” Thank you ladies for all you do for the sport. Gentleman, we need to do a much better job of supporting our professional women in the industry, and we should be volunteering our time to help our women fly fishing clubs when we can. After all, they’re working hard to promote and counter the stereotype of fly fishing being an intimidating sport for women to enter.

Two Woman Fly Fishers unselfishly doing their part to grow the sport of fly fishing. (Left) Deb Bowen, (Right) Kara Armano

Right now, it’s pretty clear the sport is lacking the ability to attract our younger generations (the kids primarily). However, with more women entering the sport, it seems very likely we should be able to convert more kids into the sport, if we focus on fly fishing as a outdoor recreational activity, that the whole family can enjoy together. When both parents, the aunts and big sisters fly fish, it has to be more convincing in the eyes of the kids. Mark Andersen, Redington Sales Manager said, “In the last 5 years, Redington has devoted a great deal of time and energy to women’s fly fishing equipment and apparel. We had great success with our first women’s wader and our line has steadily increased with the addition of the Sonic-Pro Women’s Wader this year. We see more and more women heading outdoors to enjoy fly fishing as part of their outdoor experience. Redington will continue to do our best to create great products to help them enjoy their experience.”

Companies like Redington have been banking on this new vision and direction by backing their new product lines with complimentary marketing campaigns that promote both females and kids in fly fishing. Yes, it’s a way to grow their revenues in places that have previously been overlooked, but I really believe we should be giving these companies props for doing the right thing. They’re doing their part to grow this side of the industry and we need to be backing them.

All you single bachelor trout bums out there should be taking a few extra minutes to get cleaned up and shaved before you hit the water. Your chances are better than ever to meet a soulmate with mutual fly fishing interests. It’s still early to tell for sure if women fly fishers will continue to grow in the future. Right now, things look pretty promising, and I’m enjoying all the positives that females are bringing into the industry. I look forward to hearing this subject from a female’s perspective.

Welcome Ladies to the great sport of fly fishing

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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25 thoughts on “Women Fly Fishers Have the Potential to Dig The Industry Out of the Red

  1. I enjoyed reading this article as I am a woman who is just getting into the sport. I wish there was a local women’s fly fishing group in my area, as I had a less than stellar introductory course recently when my male instructor told me that my rod was “not a princess wand” and to cast it out. I didn’t leave there feeling too good about things, but still want to dive into the sport. Is there website that is a good base for women looking to learn? Thanks!

    • Jessica,

      Like your blog. As for a women fly fishing sites to learn from, i would search out a local club in your area. For learning on the intetnet there are tons of great sites out there. Just search fly fishing or fly fishing tips. MidCurrent is one of the best sites for learning. Hope you dig into our older posts as well. We have a lot of fishing tip posts.


    • Jessica, too bad that you did not have a good experience with your instructor. Please don’t let that sour you though and keep looking until you find those who are supportive. I don’t know where you live, but if you are interested in learning, perhaps you can find a group in another area that may be willing to help you out. I just moved to Colorado and the ladies group here is awesome.

  2. I don’t even think guys need to clean up….just be polite to us lady anglers and drop the attitudes a bit! After all, we share the love of a great outdoor activity.

  3. Well done Kent! I’ve been working in a flyshop for over 4 years and teaching classes (in both fly fishing and shooting sporting clays) and you hit the nail on the head … every year MORE women are diving into what once were “gentlemen sports”. To the professionals in the biz: Newbies are watching and listening to you. They are making decisions and forming opinions based on what you do and say. Be a respectful ambassador and remember that you too were once a newbie. *Cheers

  4. Hi Kent,

    Love the article.

    I run a group for women and juniors and would love to have the full range of Reddington clothing available here in the UK.

    I am lucky to work with some talented coaches and guides in the UK who give their time up to encourage more women and juniors to try the sport.

    The Reddington brand female clothing range is functional and stylish for the fashion conscious female angler. When my group first started, were informed by a female representative from a major angling company here in the UK that they now had waders that fit the female form…we dutifully purchased them, which were actually men’s size small…..we now know better !….I am a huge fan of Reddington waders and my girls purchase them here in the UK.

    Thank you for mentioning women anglers. Any females interested in angling in the UK please check out our website. We are the only female group in the UK that holds events for the single, double handed rod and fly tying. Coaching and equipment is free of charge and events are at cost. We are not a business just 30 ladies who like to go fishing and raise money for charity.

    Tight Lines from the UK
    Anne Woodcock

  5. Great article. I’d have to disagree with a sport stereotype. I don’t think the sport of fly fishing has the impression of “men only.” I do think there is a problem with a lack of mentorship. It’s hard to find people to show newbies the ropes no matter if they are men or women. Many great fly fisherman are good at catching fish but horrible teachers. It’s hard to find people who are patient and adapt their teaching styles for specific students. We have that problem with our current fly fishing club. New members join thinking they are going to be schooled in all things fly fishing. Then they go on a trip and they might be told what fly to use or what gear to buy but there isn’t much more mentoring then that.

  6. i guess im not seeing this article as positively as the rest of u. i am a woman fly fisher and a part time fishing guide. im also a member of the major womens fly fishing club in colorado. the whole tone of this article seems to be more “ooh heres an untapped market and way to make more money” than “hey ladies, welcome to a great sport”. i mean, thats fine from a retailers point of view. but i guess i was just expecting more from the article than that. it was basically a commentary on how we can keep the sport “in the green” as u said, by targeting the wallets of women. anyway, thats what i got from it.

    • Your the first person to bring a negative spin on my blog post, and although I believe you mistook my points as negative instead of positive, I do appreciate you telling us how you feel, and I respect your opinion. I was the one after all, that requested hearing from female anglers and their personal opinions on this subject. We have a strong community at Gink & Gasoline, and we encourage feedback, good or bad. Just remember, it’s a blog post, not an article published in a major publication. I”m not a journalist, a professional writer, and I don’t have a literature degree, I’m a fly fishing guide, primarily writing tips to help beginners and novice catch more fish with a fly rod. There were lots of details I left out and didn’t touch base on in this post, because I didn’t want it to turn into a novel.

      The post was intended primarily to raise awareness that women numbers have grown in the sport significantly during the last few years, and it’s a great thing for everyone. The term “Red” was meant to symbolize a shrinking industry, not net profits or revenue increases by companies in the industry. I’m a guide as well, and the better the industry is doing, the easier it is for me to attract new customers and grow my business. I’m suspecting as a part-time guide yourself looking to consistently book trips, you would agree with me on this. I think it’s also a positive that there’s been an increase in fly fishing gear designed specifically for woman, predominantly the last 3-5 years. Uni-sex sizing has been a big problem for woman outfitting themselves comfortably until recently, I wasn’t at all inferring the goal is to target woman’s wallets. I cheers you on mentioning we should all be shouting, “Hey Ladies, Welcome to a Great Sport”, I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I’m going to post it at the bottom of the post, per your recommendation. I thought that’s what my post was doing in the first place, well that, and to drop my opinion that I think that women are going to be the key players in attracting our younger generations in the future.


  7. Ken,
    Thanks for the article. I have enjoyed each trip with you – you have treated me like an individual who wants to learn more about fly fishing. Keep up the great work. I’m working with Deb Bowen to attain my FFF CCI. I just recently completed the Casting and Instructor course with Joan Wulff at the Wulff School of Fly Fishing.

  8. We are experiencing the same increase in women attending our two fly fishing schools and we love it. We will always enjoy teaching the men but really welcome the youth and women. Casting is technique and our women students are often some of the best.

    • Scott,

      If anybody knows the wordbon the street it’s you with all your fly fishing schools. We need to fish sometime man. I also wouldn’t mind you fine-tuning my cast. Hope all is well and thanks for your input.


  9. I think its great that more women are getting into fly fishing. The more the merrier and the better for everyone, especially the fishery resource.

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  11. 7/1/12 HI Kent: you are absolutely correct–more women are taking up the sport of fly fishing all the time. I’ve owned & operated Women’s Flyfishing in Alaska for twenty-six years, and our sole purpose is to let women know what they’ve been missing, and help them to get started in the sport.We do an annual fly fishing school as well as eleven or twelve small group guided trips for women to great locations all around Alaska, as well as to Mexico and Argentina.

    When I started fly fishing over 30 years ago, gear such as waders for women simply didn’t exist, and the attitudes of many fly anglers was that women somehow just didn’t belong out there on the water with the guys. Thankfully, that has changed drastically these days. Not only fly fishing clubs for women have made that happen, but also the instruction and guide services that hire women as well as those owned and operated by women themselves. AS you note, the internet has really helped women to get connected with these resources and to find places to learn as well as the gear and equipment to help them do it.

    Thanks for the article! Author, guide, and fly fishing business owner, Pudge Kleinkauf

  12. I was lucky enough to learn how to fly fish in a women’s class with Molly Semenik, from Montana (http://tietheknotflyfishing.com/wordpress/) at my local fly fishing shop here is SLC and completely dove into the sport! I am slowing finding more women that are equally involved. The more I’m out fishing the more women I see and it’s great!

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