Twenty years ago I walked into a fly fishing store with my family in one of the biggest cities in the country. My husband, a golfer, was greeted several times by the employees. I on the other hand, an avid fly fisher, was overlooked. The third time my husband was asked if he needed help, he pointed to me. “No, but my wife does, or did. She just walked out the door after being ignored by all of you. I think you just lost a sale.”
Fortunately, the industry has changed its attitude towards women, including eliminating initial offerings of purple waders and pink vests. Women, the fastest growing segment in the sport of fly fishing, are serious about the sport and demand service as well as good gear and tackle. Women’s fly-fishing organizations undoubtedly have helped to change those attitudes. Flygirls, a Michigan based club, is entering its 16th year as a Federation of Fly Fishers charter club. And while its purpose is to provide educational and recreational opportunities for women, the club also welcomes men to join their ranks.
Flygirls is different from most clubs, in that it has no central location and therefore no meetings. Instead, women get together for fishing outings, fly tying lessons, casting tune-ups or quiet retreats that are put together by the club’s board of directors. Flygirls’ directors are a dedicated group of volunteers, meeting twice a year to come up with the club’s calendar of activities a whole year in advance. While some activities are repeated annually, the board tries to offer new endeavors on different rivers and lakes, maintaining a high interest level for the membership.
Women in Flygirls are from all demographics, and like other fly fishers, are often older when they take up the sport. Many women decide to try the sport after their children are grown and they finally have some free time. Often women will try the sport after a change in relationship status of a spouse or significant other. The act of stepping into water and casting a fly rod can be very healing, and the bonus of doing this with the Flygirls is meeting other women that may have had similar experiences.
Some of the upcoming planned activities for Flygirls in 2012 include a beginning fly-fishing school, trout fishing on Michigan’s Au Sable River, Smallmouth Bass fishing, and a trip to the Garden River in Ontario for salmon fishing. Many Flygirls plan fishing events together on an informal basis, renting riverside cabins or hiring professional fishing guides for their adventures. And don’t just look for them in Michigan – Flygirls are serious about fly-fishing and trek all over the U.S. and beyond in pursuit of fish!
For more information on the Flygirls, contact Ann Miller (email@example.com) or visit their website at flygirls.ws.