This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 21st, 2005

Ladies Night

Never let it be said Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) isn't willing to try something new. Well, at least different.

Starting this Wednesday night, March 23rd, Hostess Vicki Eagle Elk will host the first ever Ladies Nite in our Chat Room. My husband, JC or Castwell, jokingly suggested it was a good way for the men to have their wives understand the husbands need for a new rod, or reel. And the joking is fine - and who knows, that could work.

The real idea however, is that for whatever reasons, some women prefer the company and advice of other women. They would prefer to ask questions from other women they think can help them. Maybe the male dominated sports world has treated them badly in a fly shop (surprise) or some idiot has dismissed them as 'unworthy' in a fly casting class (I've heard some real horror stories on that one). Or quite possibly, dear husband has attempted to teach wife how to cast. . .certainly good intentions, but most of the time fruitless. Husbands shouldn't teach wives how to drive either in my opinion!

There are 'women only' classes available in some places, and the 'Women in the Outdoors' programs offered by various states have been quite successful. These usually are not geared to fly fishing, but general outdoor programs including camping, fire building, first aid, shooting sports and general fishing. If you have an interest in improving your outdoor skills these programs can be a terrific experience.

So why don't more women fish? Fly fish?

I wish I had a nickel for every time I've been asked that question. The answers aren't that difficult. The lack of exposure to someone who fishes or fly fishes in a young gals life is the number one reason. If dad or grandfather fished, chances are a young gal would be able to go if she wanted. In my case both dad and grandfather fished, but it was grandfather who was out and about in the north woods, and I tagged along. I had a bait casting rod, and picked worms from wet lawns to use as bait.

What I didn't have was television, computer or play station. I don't remember ever being - or saying "I'm bored." I do remember spending a lot of time outdoors. I had a bike at home, but not up north. So I walked wherever I wanted to go. That is what kids did. I did have other interests, I played tennis, swam, painted watercolors, wrote and read a lot.

Fortunately for me, grandfather did allow me to learn how to fly fish when I was eleven. That was the beginning, and I've never looked back.

My childhood was not uncommon for the time. Individuality was encouraged. Independence was encouraged. A kid did not expect to be 'entertained.' You made your own entertainment. A far cry from today.

Growing up, teenage years, girls are overwhelmed with images of the career girl, working wife, and perfect super mom. Those images are not heavy on the family in the outdoors, or women as role models for outdoor sports. It just doesn't happen. In today's world, families are spread out across the country or world - so what influence dad or grandfather might have is even less.

If a woman is holding down a full-time job and raising a family, her connections with the outside world really are limited.

Add to that, women do have full-time jobs (although I think raising kids IS a full time job) and are still expected to be home makers. I suspect it is a very rare marriage where husband and wife equally share the house responsibility and child raising. More often than not, hubby gets to take off for a Saturday or Sunday and go fishing - and at least while the children in the family are small, it's mom who stays home with the kids.

It is even worse for the single mom! What break does she get from the kids? Mostly going to work. Add to that, even if she gets the urge and for some reason wants to try fishing, or fly fishing - where is the 'spare' money to do it going to come from? How is she going to learn?

Enter FAOL. We do have one of the very best tutorials anywhere on learning how to fly fish. It is called, Fly Fishing 101. We also have really good, simple instructions on How To Cast - all the information on which Knots to use, and how to tie them is also here on FAOL. Fly fishing physically is non-sexist. By that I mean women are certainly physically capable of doing what is required to cast properly. Learning to wade a stream isn't any harder for a woman than it is for a man. Learning which flies to use to imitate the insects takes a little time, but the basics aren't difficult either. It is doable.

What we are offering with the Ladies Nite is just a little encouragement for women to be involved. If you (or your wife, girlfriend, significant other) have an interest in fly fishing - or perhaps really a burning desire to learn, we can help. Ladies who may be a little intimidated at having some guy try and teach them can feel free to ask questions and get answers. That's the bottom line.

It's Ladies Nite! (No cover charge, drinks half-price, byob, no floor show.) Bring your questions - or just show up to give a little support to other gals who want to fly fish.

Oh, and yes, men are welcome, but it's not YOUR night. (At least while Vicki is hosting.) ~ DLB

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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