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On the subject of women who flyfish---some random wanderings:

Just as with men, there are a lot of variations. Women fish for a variety of reasons: some start up because they think it's a great place to meet men, others like the outdoors and want to share some time with their significant others but are not die-hard---they'd be just as happy sitting on a beach in Hawaii. Others are as passionate (not a man's word) as any guy could be and spend a LOT of their waking moments involved in fishing, talking fishing, or thinking or reading about it. And all degrees in between.

I know several women who fall into the "die-hard" category. They are all very much women, that is, there is no sexual ambiguity. Given the choice, they would simply rather wander for hours through a Cabela's store than shop for clothes. I put myself into this category. Why this is, I cannot tell you. It's just the way things turned out. Maybe we were blessed with an extra gene or something. The women in this group are all very competent flyfishers and tyers. In fact, many of them regularly out-fish the men they are with and a couple of them can tie flies equal to the masters.

Usually, most men don't take women who fish seriously and are often pretty condescending and sometimes, downright rude. Maybe with good reason: they fear the woman's motives or their dependence. Maybe they've had this kind of experience. You have to prove to them that you are "one of the guys", don't need help, aren't going to whine when the conditions turn rough, and in fact are pretty good at catching fish. My impression is that when men go fishing, they want to fish, not to teach or take care of someone. Even once you prove yourself, it is the truly rare man who would seek you out to fish with---they still seem to want to fish with the guys. This probably has nothing to do with the woman, but rather that the guys need to have some rare all-male time.

Most of my women friends and aquaintances who do not fish think I'm a little weird. they think it's peculiar---it's just not something that women do. On the other hand, with many of them I can tell that they secretly admire what I'm doing--or at least maybe they wish they could get away as much as I do. Mostly, they haven't a clue what it means to be a competent fly fisherman. Their vision of someone fishing is someone sitting a chair or a boat holding a rod, using bait, drinking beer, or some such thing. They have no idea the work and skill it takes to be any good at it. Perhaps if they did there would be greater admiration.

No one in my family fished so where it all came from I cannot say. Something pretty deep inside me that ached for the great, mountainous outdoors and wanting to be on the water and catch a fish. I caught my first fish all by myself when I was twelve or so. I can't even remember where I got the equipment or figured out what to do. I always carried a rod with me on my backpacking trips in my twenties and thirties, but it wasn't until a friend (who was going to go with us on one of these trips) taught three or four of us to flycast that it all began---at the age of 40. My husband had his fathers fly rod and ever after that initial lesson up at the local pond, we carried that rod and a few motley flies with us and caught more fish than we ever had done spinning. After a few year's "mountain-less" lay off for child rearing, we were able to head back into the mountains, and it was about this time I joined the local fly club through the auspices of a co-worker. It's been twenty long (but happy) years of gaining skill--so much to learn. Nowadays, I even know enough to feel comfortable sharing some skills with new members of our club.

My fly club was a wonderful place to learn. Largely, it was made up of men, but its location being Santa Cruz, and Santa Cruz being a pretty laid back and foreward thinking kind of place, the guys were very accepting and welcoming---not just to the women, of which there has never been more than a handful, but to all newcomers. The strong rumor is that this is not true of all clubs in the area. One of the clubs in the Monterey Bay wouldn't even accept women members for many years.

Because it is difficult to find a critical mass of women who are as skilled and gung-ho as I am, and also because I like men and co-ed situations, I tend to shy away from all-women trips or groups. I have nothing against them. It's just that I like to fish with folks who know what they are doing fishing-wise. I still have a lot to learn and I always want to improve my skills from folks who know more than I do. And also, when I fish, I want to be totally selfish and just fish, not teach or care for the needs of someone else. Guess I just like the guys in this respect, also.


Edited by Eric

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