For the Love of the Fly

Not just for the boys

“It’s so weird that you’re into fly fishing,” my friend said, looking at me from across the table. The responses that I get from other girls when they learn I’m a fly fisherwoman are varied. I’ve been told I’m an inspiration, and I’ve been told I’m only into it because of my husband. A lot of women don’t understand the appeal of fly fishing, or why I’m so crazy about it. Fact is, I fell head-over-heels in love with it, and even though my husband introduced me to it, it’s not because of him that I love it.

Fly fishing allows me to get out and explore places inaccessible to those who are afraid to get their feet wet. There are few things that make me feel closer to nature than fly fishing. You have to read the river and understand how a trout thinks. You’ve got to study the way the water moves in patterns and curves, the way the insects flit above the surface, and which pools are likely to be holding. There is nothing like the quiet found on the river, standing knee-deep in cool, rushing water, feeling the force of it against your legs and bracing yourself on the slick stones underfoot. I am lulled by the rhythmic back-and-forth motion of my rod and the deliberate force with which my line unfurls in a graceful arc.

It’s true: fly fishing is a male-dominated activity. But given the chance, many women would enjoy the varied facets of this amazing sport. For the skeptics out there, here are some reasons to give it a try:

1. It’s a good workout. At the end of a long day on the river, my thighs burn and my arms ache. Think about how much strength it takes to step your way for miles upstream in knee-deep running water, slinging a rod back and forth above your head.

2. It’s not brainless. Anyone can get out there and throw a fly around, but you will tangle your line, snag a tree, and not catch a thing unless you know what you’re doing. It’s like any sport—to do it right, there’s a science and an art that must be applied. Selecting the right fly, knowing where the fish are holding, learning the proper motion for a successful cast… these things take practice and knowledge of your surroundings. Learning both the science and art of fly fishing is a huge aspect of the sport.

3. Fly fishing is a gateway to adventure. You will explore new places and see the landscape from a new perspective. Yellowstone National Park? It’s a whole new world when seen from the middle of a river.

4. Fly fishing is fun! The sudden burst of a trout from the water after grabbing your perfectly placed fly provides a rush like no other. The tightening of your line, the fight with the elusive creature, the uncertainty of who will win this ultimate showdown—then the triumph as you grab ahold of the fly, lifting your conquest high, its slick body glistening in your hands before you gently lower it back into the water, releasing it with reverence. Nothing beats it.

Fly fishing certainly isn’t a trip to the mall, or a day at the spa. It involves getting your hands a little dirty (and fishy). Some women may feel it’s weird that I would rather spend my day on a river with a fly rod in hand. But I think if more women gave it a try, they would fall in love with the sport and all it has to offer just like I did.