Dorothy Schramm has a neat article in the current issue
of the FFF magazine, in the 'Women's Education' section,
titled, "Calling in Well" and it has to do with setting
priorities to find the time for the fishing gals to get
out and fish. Since I fall under that category, I read
it with interest, and her suggestions are really good.
But that's not the problem.
About 8% of the readers of Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) are
female. Does that strike you about the way you see it?
Just this fall, fishing our late salmon run, out of 50 or
more anglers of all types (spin, cast, fly) I was usually
the only woman. I did see one other gal there once this
The problem isn't getting women who already fish to actually
go - it's getting women interested in fishing at all.
In my case, my dad and grandfather fished. I graduated high
school during the 50s, and the world was much different then.
The family pretty much WAS a family. Divorce and single-parent
homes were not common. Fewer wives worked. Outdoor activities
were very accepted. Kids were encouraged to go outside and do
stuff. It might be a pick-up football or baseball game, bike
riding or a host of other 'outdoors' stuff. Families spent
vacations together, renting a cottage on a lake and fishing
was common too.
The world of the 50s was not overwhelmed with television (yes
it was there, but no one arranged their lives to fit a program
schedule) computers consisted of huge Univac things which took
up a city block. And for those who don't really think I am older
than dirt, I actually learned slide rule to get through some
college math and chemistry classes.
It was still common for dad, grandfather, or 'uncle' to take
the kids fishing. Or hunting. We admired our elders. We were
not interested in trashing or suing them. Like I said, a
different time. The biggest problem in my high school was
I am an only child. My father and his dad were both outdoors men.
I begged to go along. I fished with a bait rod until I was 11 and
grandfather gave in and taught me to fly fish. I hunted too.
The problem is we don't have as many grandfathers who are willing
to take a young girl fishing for anything, much less fly fishing.
Mom and dad, if they are still married (remember the divorce rate
is about 52% in the U.S.) are swamped with their own 'agenda' and
the kids noses are pressed to either the tv or computer screen.
Suggesting the kids go outdoors and do something is taken as
punishment and restriction of their privileges to indulge in
all the sex and violence the television and computer games are
all too eager to provide. It's even tougher for single parent
The RBFF (Recreation Boating and Fishing Foundation) - funded
by your sports excise dollars - has been running ads on tv to
encourage people to 'Go Fish.' The prime place they placed
those ads was during televised professional football games.
Frankly, if you are a fisherman (male) and you wish your lady
or wife would fish with you, invite her to go. Be serious
about the invite, and you might mention you will include
dinner on the way home. (How would like to fish all day,
get home and then have to cook and clean up?) If you have
young kids, make arrangements for a sitter - or YOU must be
prepared to fend for the youngsters while she has some time
to try fly fishing without the kids depending on her for
Show her the basics, if you spend more than 10 minutes on this it's
too much. Point her in the direction of fish and leave her
alone. Do not hover. Do not coach (unless asked). And
if asked, answer the questions simply, without preaching
or treating her like a dork. You are trying to gain a
fishing buddy, not teach corporate law. If she expresses
an interest, get her her own set up - do not give her the
old set up you can't stand. This is not the place for
cast-offs. (If she doesn't like fly fishing, eventually
you can glom onto her set up or sell it.) Teaching someone
to fish with junk is like trying to teach someone to bowl
with a square bowling ball.
Do not, DO NOT, under any circumstances make fun of her.
If she is laughing about something fine, laugh with her.
Do not laugh AT her. We are touchy about that.
I've heard men are more sensitive than women. Boloney.
Especially not when a women is trying to learn her man's
favorite sport. Praise anything she does right. Do not
yell, "NO! That's not the way to do that!" Take the phrase,
"That's Wrong!" out of your vocabulary. Instead try, "It
might work better for you if, . . . " In a calm, even tone,
thank you. If she gets the hang of it you're in for a real
treat, we can be wonderful fishing companions, and if
encouraged can even speak the language. I will warn you
though, equipping two to fish is not cheaper than one.
The chances of you single guys finding a women who already
is a fly fisher are slim. You might try your local fishing
club, fly shop, tying class, or haunt the banks and parking
lots of your favorite fishing spots. If you happen to run
into a gal fly fishing, be pleasant. It could be a very
How do we get more women fly fishing? You and I can encourage
women to give it a try, but frankly if there isn't some inherent
interest in the outdoors it isn't going to happen. Well, maybe
if Robert Redford makes another "movie." ~ LadyFisher
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!