Up in my neck of the ocean I don't see many
women fly fishers. I'm not sure if it's because
it's salt-water fly-fishing, or is it that there
just aren't a lot of women interested in the sport.
I suspect it's the latter. If you survey the covers
of fly fishing magazines, however, you'd get the
impression that no one but women fly fish, as almost
every cover is graced with an attractive young lady
holding a trophy trout. A closer inspection often
reveals brand new waders, a vest without gink spots,
large hoop earrings, perfect teeth, and a few other
things that suggests 'model' not 'fly fisher.'
It's likely a marketing ploy to attract men, and
it probably works. But this is not to say that
there are no women fly-fishers. What is considered
the very first book written about fly-fishing, A
Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle,/b>, was written
by Dame Julianna Berners, the Prioress of the Benedictine
Nunnery of Sopwell, in 1496. Let's hope she fished better
than she spelled. Some more contemporary women fly fishers
are author Margot Paige, the granddaughter of Alfred Miller
(a.k.a. Sparse Gray Hackle) and wife of Tom Rosenbauer.
Cathy Beck is a renowned female fly-fisher and author
who was once kind enough to personally answer an inquiry
that I sent to her website asking about fishing the
Florida Keys. Paige Rogers is well known on the East
coast for her fly-fishing and fly tying, and no
discussion of women fly fishers would be complete
without mentioning casting guru Joan Wulff. But
while there is a fair share of famous fly fishing
women, you just won't find many women streamside.
My wife doesn't fly-fish, and there are times when
I've regretted this, feeling that she'd understand
my passion a bit more if we shared it. But when I
read Margot Paige's "Little Rivers" and noted that
she and husband Tom Rosenbauer argued over who would
watch the baby while the other fished the evening
hatch, I realized that, like most couples, my wife
and I don't need yet another thing to fight about.
My fishing provides "normal distance," a term used
by psychologist to describe that occasional sanctuary
a married person needs from his or her spouse, and
I'd bet that my wife appreciates my fishing almost
as much as I do. Maybe more.
In my own experience when a woman is present on
the stream it changes the dynamic, and guys, being,
after all, guys, are quick to introduce themselves
and offer advice to the ladies where, if the intruder
were a man, he'd be treated like a worm dunker. I
occasionally attend fly fishing seminars at a local
shop, and there is a woman who attends now and again.
In normal circumstances she would be considered plain
looking, but grubby fly fishers are nothing if not
great contrast gainers, and in this setting she's
a super model. We respond to the Pavlovian bell
and edge closer to be near her so we can share our
clever observations and pithy insights, and I'd
suggest to any woman seeking male companionship
that she would have the selection to herself at
these fly fishing events. Realize, though, that
while the odds are good, the goods are odd.
I enjoy the company of the opposite sex at least
as much as the next guy, but I've come to believe
that there are some interests that just aren't
meant to be shared, like watching the three stooges.
Plus I don't need the distraction. I bumble enough
when I luck onto a pod of feeding fish; who knows
what I'd do if an attractive woman was watching.
And if there were more women streamside I'd probably
feel that I should wash my fishing hat, replace my
tattered fishing shirt, coordinate my outfit-do a
'queer eye for the fly guy' thing, and that's really
not my style.
So I'm glad that I don't see more women fly-fishing,
and as I write this I can't help but realize, damn,
I'm getting old... ~ Dave
Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an
avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor.
He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet
newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats)
and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.