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

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 26th, 1998

Politically Incorrect?

Off on a tangent again, I received a schedule of the programs being offered for a big sportsman's show. And big as life was listed, "Fly Fishing for Women." Taught by someone I've never heard of. La De Da. Whoopie!

I just don't get it. Or maybe I really do and that's the problem. I'm a woman. I fly fish. This is my opinion. Deal with it.

Part of what I'm convinced is happening is hype. Hype on the part of greedy fly shops, guides, manufacturers, promoters, publishers and anyone who thinks they can make a buck. Make a buck how, you ask? By claiming that fly fishing and learning fly fishing is somehow "different" for women. Fat chance.

If that is the mind-set of the politically correct, then why don't we have separate programs, rods, reels, waders, videos, and books for say Asian fly fishers? Or Native Americans? Or African Americans? Or Asian Women, or Native American Women ... you get the picture.

Opps, I missed blonds, redheads, brunettes, grey-haired women? Or men? How about separate information, gear, classes for bald men? Short men? Those who are married? Or single?

You folks just need to get organized! You are being left out discriminated against!

Unfortunately the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) decided to do a separate program for women. In my opinion, and as a member of FFF, this detracts from the overall stated goals of the organization, All Fish All Waters. I absolutely expect that somewhere down this crooked road will be an appeal or demand for Women Only Water!

Get real. The fish don't care. If fly fishing is about the fish, (and maybe I am really off base here) what is the point? So a woman ties flies, obviously the folks who manufacturer vices and tools need to market their goods just for women.

Hey here's an idea ... how about marketing fly-tying kits in designer colors. Not the actual stuff in shades that might replicate the actual bugs but designer colors to match a persons clothing or hair, or maybe eye color or lipstick.

What an opportunity! Just sitting out there waiting for the right public relations/marketing firm to jump on it.

Back in December I attended a formative meeting with people from our state's department of fish and wildlife on getting a program for women in the outdoors started here.

Part of the meeting was concerned with getting the proper committee in place so the number and placement of the porta potties would be correct. I should have asked if the colors of the porta potties would also have to politically correct. Even worse, the amount of time spent on the porta pottie discussion was huge compared to the time spend on what the CONTENT of the program should be.

What is wrong with this whole concept? Do I have some problem with women wanting to fish? Or be in the outdoors?

Of course not. I've been fortunate enough to have spent most of my life as an outdoor person. Living in Northern Michigan and raising dogs made bird hunting an accepted thing. Years later I was introduced to big game hunting which was the natural thing to do in the place I lived at the time Montana. Hunting with a bow came after rifle hunting. For many black powder becomes the hunting method of choice. Again, usually after some experience with rifle.

I fished with a casting rod, spinning rod and fly rod. That somehow seems to be a rather natural progression. And if the circumstances were such that a spinning rod, or big salt water bait rod was the gear of the day, I would happily comply.

It's not that I'm against having 'whomever' involved in fly fishing. Where it get sticky for me is when the fly fishing industry tries to "market" fly fishing as a "sport" like golf or tennis just something else for bored women to do.

Whine, whine, whine. So pick another "sport." Go somewhere else. Go away. Let the real fishermen have the streams and lakes back. Dig clams or fly kites. Have your acrylic nails done again. Read a book. Watch your soap operas. Stop taking up valuable space on the waters.

No doubt there are folks who never fished for anything in their life, who stumble into fly fishing, get hooked and love it. I think that number is pretty small compared to the rest of us who threw out our first worm on a hook, or spent some serious time untangling rat nests of spinning line. Those prior experiences of fishing brought us to an understanding and love of the places fish are found. Perhaps made us appreciate the challenge of fooling the fish into taking our lure. And what the possibilities might be if we could really fool the fish with a fly.

Without that frame of reference, there is no appreciation or understanding of what fly fishing is about. All the marketing hype in the world will not produce that. ~ The LadyFisher

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