More times than not when folks learn I’m a fly angler, I hear a statement like, “I’ve always wanted to do that, but never took the time to learn.”
This is a real shame, since most of us work for decades at our jobs that we might not like because it pays well, (or perhaps because it doesn’t), and leaves us with a sense of wanting to be out doing something we really enjoy instead. One thing I’ve noticed lately however is lady anglers are entering the sport of fly fishing at a rate that might surprise you.
As the director of the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, I saw more lady anglers than ever. These attendees ranged from experienced river guides to brand new anglers. We also saw an influx of women that were already anglers but wanted to develop the skills need to be a good fly anglers. Women from their late teens to mid-60s showed up in droves to attend paid casting classes. They also attended lectures on fishing for warmwater fish, trout, saltwater species and took in tips from fly-tying experts on how to create their own patterns. I specifically recall one group of four sisters that came from Maryland to begin their pursuit of fly fishing and got free casting lessons from none other than Lefty Kreh.
One such lady angler I know that recently fell hard for the fly fishing bug is Amy Olson, a medic and fire fighter for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue that works at Fire Station 28 near Seven Corners in Falls Church, Virginia. Amy started off with tying simple flies, but her passion soon grew. Soon I found myself answering her e-mails about fly fishing tactics and gear which steadily grew more complex as her desire to learn expanded. Imagine my surprise at finding out she started tying her own flies with in mere months of entering the sport and recently she caught her first fish on a fly that she tied.
Just like men, women connect with being in the outdoors and getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Once Amy took the plunge, she went from being mildly interested in fly fishing to taking on trout in the Shenandoah National Park, and warmwater fish in Florida where she went on vacation. Recently she hit a new pinnacle when she managed to land a bass on a fly that she tied. Having spent nearly 20 years involved in fly fishing and having authored two books on the subject, this is a goal I’ve never achieved since I personally don’t tie flies. The only problem is Amy is now showing up her boyfriend on the river with some regularity now that she’s really into the sport.
Amy is the perfect example of what can happen if you take the chance to get involved in fly fishing and apply yourself. Fly Fishing isn’t hard, it’s just different and just like any other sport it takes time and effort. You just have to decide you want to try something new and then put yourself out there.
Don’t know where to begin? Try contacting your local Trout Unlimited or Federation of Fly Fishers Club in your area. Either one of these fine groups loves to help new aspiring anglers. You can also drop in your local fly shop and see if they are giving any beginner classes or fly tying classes for beginners.
So can women make good fly anglers? You bet! If you need proof just look downstream or visit a local fly fishing show and see all the women that are there. Of course you could always go by Fire Station 28, if Amy isn’t out saving a life or putting out a fire, chances are she’s tying a fly, or at least reading about her new found sport. I for one hope she continues her pursuit in the sport, if I’m lucky she might teach me a thing or two about fly tying.
Beau Beasley (www.beaubeasley.com) is the director of the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival (www.vaflyfishingfestival.org). His latest book Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Water was released early this year.