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Women And Fly Fishing

April 24, 2015

The question is practically as old as fishing itself: Who is better at fly fishing, men or women?

To be sure, there are more men in the water at any given moment and the sport has been dominated by men since the early days in Scotland. But these days, even a casual glance at a stream as you drive by will yield a number of female anglers. So what gives? Are men better or are women better? Let’s take a closer look.

For sure, men can claim they represent the bigger number when it comes to percentages of fly fishing anglers. According to most recent studies, the numbers break about 65% men and 35% women. So, almost twice as many men are on a body of water at any one time compared to women. But again, who is better at their sport?

Many fishing guides (including this one) agree that women listen a whole lot better when receiving instruction in casting, reading water, etc. Men, by their very nature, often revert to the macho mentality that interferes with learning. Women tend to ask when being instructed about casting, “You mean like this?” Men will often utter the same words in the same situation but with the emphasis on the word “mean.” At the end of the day, women tend to take away more for their money when being instructed, guided, etc. than their male counterparts. That’s the human nature angle.

Physically, men tend to be stronger and hence have better endurance for casting all day long. They also tend to be stronger waders. However, women tend to think a bit more before they do either with their results often matching or exceeding the boys and men out there. Many men will wade into a stream a bit too quickly without giving the water a thorough read. Women tend to tarry a bit on the bank and give things a good look before proceeding.

There are exceptions to all of these examples of course. In my 62 plus years of fly fishing, I would have to say men and women are equal in the water. Their individual approaches are often different but their results are more often the same. I use me and my wife as examples. Rachel is a better caster. She learned patiently from my father a very correct, fluid and beautiful cast whereas I learned the same things years before from the same instructor but forced my bullheadedness onto the process. If we had a “cast-off,” she would beat me hands down! However, I am in the water more days a year than my wife and therefore I have more practice. To be sure, when we are fishing together, I usually do a bit better…. the old practice makes perfect thing.

The picture above illustrates the point about results often being about the same. That’s Rachel with a Brown Trout taken on Montana’s Clark Fork with a number 16 Blue Winged Olive in 1996. I believe the fish count was dead even that day. Points for casting had to go to Rachel. I probably edged her out just a little in the “reading the water” category, but again just a little. So who was better at fly fishing that day? We were probably equal.

It’s sometimes tough for men in this world of “winners and losers” to simply concede that it’s really not a contest after all. Who is better at fly fishing? Probably the one with a fish on at any given moment. That would make us all better than ourselves in the end.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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