Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna L. Birkholm

January 11th, 1998

The Spin, Part 2

I hope the fly shops owners, and tackle manufacturers of the world don't buy into the drivel about how they should be targeting women as the huge untapped market. If you didn't read this column last time, you will be lost - so go back and read The Spin, Part 1.

There have been some interesting comments on the Bulletin Board regarding "The Spin." The bottom line for me, and I suspect many other women who fish is we don't want any special treatment. Sure we need equipment, gear, clothing just like the fellows, and personally I've never had a problem finding anything I wanted or needed. Most of the fishing women I know are as gung-ho as the guys. And in most cases lack of knowledge is entirely related to the length of time they have been fishing - not lack of interest. Put bluntly, women who want to fly fish do it! And do I have to say they do it because they love it?

So I find the advice of Lyla Foggia, (same article in Fly Tackle Dealer as last week) as to who the manufacturers and fly shops should be targeting as the ideal candidate for fly fishing asinine.

So here again, quoting directly is the interviewer for FTD and Foggia. I have tried not to take things out of context, but have edited for length and relevance.

"FDT: Why do you think it's important to approach women in a different way from the way you approach men? After all, it is fly-fishing any way you cut it, isn't it"

"Foggia: Well, for one thing, women don't fish for the same reasons as men. There was a study done by Mark Damian Duda that brought that out: Women fish for recreation and to enjoy the outdoors and family [ Fishing Motivational Study for 1995, available through the American Sportsfishing Association]. Catching big fish was the least of their reasons for fishing. It was completely the opposite with men.

But in fly-fishing, there are a lot of upscale women who have money to spend, who are career executives, business consultants, etc., who are looking for some kind of relief from all the stress. They want to do something outdoors. And fly-fishing has a great image and it's attracting women. But these women are so busy with their careers and their families, they are not going to sit around reading the magazines; they are not going to go to fishing show; they're not going to steep themselves in this culture the way men do. So you are going to have to reach them through alternative routes. They don't hang out in fly shops; fishing is something that they really want to do, but they don't want to make it a big part of their lives in terms of reading about it and studying it."

"FTD: Are you saying that women don't, as a rule, get into it as intensively as men?"

"Foggia: Oh, they get into it intensively, but it's while they're on the water that they'll be intense about it. They don't sit around plotting their next purchase or all this other stuff. I think they're more likely to acquire great gear, take good advice and go fishing when they can. But it's not like a lot of men I'm around who just live and breathe fly-fishing.

Women don't have time, or they don't want to make time, to be sitting around reading about some technique. They'll spend the money to get a guide or get instruction, and on flying out for a fancy vacation to fish. But in between all that they're really not part of the fly-fishing culture."

"FTD: So this does present some unique market problems."

"Foggia: You've got it. You've got to get outside the envelope on this one."

"FTD: How do you do that?"

"Foggia: . . . I'm constantly being reminded of how many men really would love to have their women with them. I don't know why. I mean, this thing about going fishing with the guys apparently has gotten old or something. But they really want to share it with the women."

"Foggia: Consider this: The women I see coming into fly-fishing are very successful in the rest of their lives. They have money to spend. And they are the type of consumers this sport needs. We're not talking lower-middle class here; we are talking about women who on their own are making $75,000 and more, many of them. And they, to me, are worth pursuing. They may not fish as often, but these are women who - and I used to live this lifestyle - think nothing of spending $1,000 on a designer outfit, $200 on a handbag or a briefcase, and drive the latest-model luxury car. They've got the money. So if you can get them emotionally involved in fly-fishing, they're going to transfer some of those spending habits. They're going to think nothing of spending $600 to $800 on a rod."

"Foggia: . . . Before we finish, by the way, I should add that if we can get more women into the sport, a lot of them would get seriously involved in resource conversation. That's just our tendency."

There it is. Lyla Foggia's perfect vision of a woman fly fisher. A vision being spoon-fed to the manufacturers and fly shops.

Maybe I should quit now. ~ Deanna Birkholm

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