A Woman's Place
I know I know, the title of this blog sounds super condescending and any of my female readers likely rolled their eyes upon seeing the title but bare with me. Fly fishing, like most sports and industries, is male dominated. Generally speaking, most fly anglers are men, men own most of the fly fishing companies, and men are the customer base that is marketed to in fly fishing advertisements and marketing campaigns. However, women are blazing a trail into the sport and are becoming an agent of change within the industry and it's about damn time. This is the point where some, not all, of my male readers are now rolling their eyes. If that is you, either kindly unfollow me and keep your troglodyte sense of superiority or keep reading evolve as a human being and hear me out.
Let me start off by saying that most male anglers have no problem with female anglers and that most women will never be physically impeded to start fly fishing by a man. However, there is a small minority that give women anglers so much grief, so much needless shit, and creates so much noise on social media that at times the choir of the fragile male ego drowns out the voice of aspiring lady anglers. If you support women on the water, thank you, keep in mind I am not talking about you, I am talking to a small subset of entitled male anglers that feel the need to lambaste women on various social media sites . I have already thrown several insults at my gender but for good reason and a reason that I hope some of my fly guys reading this will take with them. As a man, I find it completely unacceptable when other men harass, bully, or devalue female anglers based on their appearance. We have all seen the comments, they usually read something like this: “your boyfriend must have caught that fish for you”, “beautiful fish but even more beautiful girl”, or the classic “you only have a lot of followers because you’re hot”. Men are rarely held accountable for these actions and as such, men must hold other men accountable for their actions if tangible change is going to happen. Fellas, if you see some other guy doing anything to degrade a woman on the water or online you need to call them out and support her on principle alone. Do it for the women in your life, do it for the development of the sport, do it for no other reason than to be a good person.
Why do some men feel the need to insult and discourage women from either participating in the sport or for trying to make a career in the industry? The answer is simple, these men are afraid of you ladies. They are afraid of the change you bring, afraid of your strength, afraid of your success, and they are terrified that they are not as good as you. Toxic masculinity runs deep within every man you know. It was unintentionally bred into us from our fathers and their fathers before them, the media, and gender norms. I’m aware of this and am aware enough to recognize and admit the impact it has had on me. I am far from perfect and catch myself thinking things that are a product of this unintentional toxic masculinity; but recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it. What’s masculine and what’s feminine are abstract concepts that we shackle each other with. These men that harass you online, send hateful comments, or confront you in person are products of toxic masculinity that has bred a hyper-masculine sense of what activities are “suppose” to be for men and men only and subsequently where a woman’s place “should be”. Hunting and fishing are one of the most primitive examples of specific gender roles. Men are the hunters and women are the gatherers. This idea is as primeval as it is wrong. I consider myself a feminist, which I define as wanting equal rights and opportunities for all women. If the term feminist unsettles you then you are probably who I am talking to, but this is a basic human right and is the only right thing to do from a moral, ethical, and legal point of view. So ladies, the next time a man starts in on you try to remember that they are afraid and it means you’re doing something right. Just do you.
James Brown said in his famous song, “this is a man’s world but it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl”. Great song, but its lyrics are dated; the lyrics of today should be amended to its our world and it would be nothing without respect. Women are amazing period. Women are every bit as intelligent, driven, funny, and skilled as men and as such deserve your respect. Women are far superior in the empathy and emotional intelligence department as well. All of these qualities can be transferred to any aspect, job, or passion in life. Women are using their drive and skills to do anything and everything, including fly fishing.
When given the option between guiding women or men, I will always choose the women. Women make the best clients; they have finesse,they have camaraderie, and most importantly they actually listen to the directions of the guide and apply it to their technique instead of letting their egos get in the way of developing as an angler. Women also make some of the best guides and recreational anglers out there because they support one another, something that men do not do as well because everything is a competition to us guys and it gets in the way of building each other up. Here are a few of my favorite female fly fishers, in no particular order, and why (Click on their pictures to see them on Instagram). Jamie Cragwall or her Instagram handle Redonthefly. Jamie is one of my favorite anglers to follow because she is the personification of the joy fly fishing can bring to people. Jamie is always stoked about fishing, makes the best of any situation, and is very honest with herself and her followers. Another woman that inspires me is Dakota Berdahl or Muddyputty on Instagram. Dakota reminds me to always push myself to be better. Dakota is on the water as much as possible developing her skills all the while having a ton of fun doing it. She doesn’t take herself too seriously and is not afraid to laugh at herself. Kayla Dickenson, Theflyfishingwife, is another one of my favorite people to follow. Kayla and her husband are a dynamic duo that are always down to explore new water, try a new fishing technique, and are always learning. Kayla encourages me to never stop learning about the sport, always be ready to adapt, and to always share your passion with those you love. Barbieonthefly, Megan, is another person I enjoy following. Megan gets more shit, almost exclusively from men, than any person deserves. Megan doesn’t give a damn what you think about her or how she fishes. Megan is unapologetically herself which is something everyone should respect and could learn from. Alyssa Adcock, Lyss_0202, is a local hero of mine. I have personally seen how much work Lyssa has put into growing as an angler. I am extremely jealous of her double haul and she is a great rowing coach and puts the wood to some big browns. Lyssa is a prime example putting in work and reaping the benefits. Last but not least is Taylor Joyce, Taylor_joyce, who is another bad ass lady I look up to. Taylor has a better cast than just about anyone I’ve met. She is also intrinsically invested in her local fisheries and is well educated on the ways of the trout on the tail waters. Taylor is very relatable, approachable, and always willing to help. Taylor reminds me that fly fishing is a community based sport. All of these women share a few things in common, they are all great anglers, their success is based off of their personal merit and not on some gimmick, and they are all excellent ambassadors for the sport of fly fishing.
So where is a woman’s place in the world of fly fishing? A woman’s place is in the water right next to you on equal ground. A woman’s place is guiding on your local waters. A woman’s place is progressing the sport and driving new industry, and a woman’s place is most certainly not being ridiculed by insecure men. Ladies you are talented, you are fierce, and you have every right to achieve your goals as a fly angler. Guys, support women in the sport, encourage other women to get into the sport, and hold other men accountable for their actions and rhetoric. Essentially, a woman’s place is wherever they damn well please.