Stillwater Angler Fishing Report
For most of my years, fly fishing has been a male dominated sport and industry. Not unlike a lot of outdoor sports, gear, equipment and clothing were tailored to men.
Industry advertising and marketing were oriented towards the male consumer, particularly the older, more financially secure demographic.
However, in just the five years that I’ve been in the retail business in addition to the outfitting and guiding side of things, I’ve seen a big change in the composition of the customer and client base.
As I mentioned last week, women now comprise about 30 percent of all fly fishing participants, and are the single fastest growing demographic in the market. Where once it might have been good enough to trot out a pink fly rod and call it good, women are now found in all facets of sport.
In addition to being wives, daughters, girlfriends and friends, women are being found in greater numbers not just as customers and clients, but also as outfitters and guides, business owners, and leaders in the sport. They are fly fishing enthusiasts who I have found bring a fresh face and perspective to the sport.
Women are embracing fly fishing in droves and that’s a good thing.
I’ve seen a significant increase in the number of women who are taking our classes, becoming retail customers and guided clients. With few exceptions, women are enjoying the sport for what I consider all of the right reasons.
They want to learn and enjoy the challenge and fun that fly fishing has to offer. They are good stewards who care for the resource and its preservation and conservation.
More and more, women are choosing fly fishing as the recreational activity to share with their spouse, family and friends. There are women’s fly fishing events, activities and clubs sprouting up all over. They are actively involved in conservation organizations too and are some of the leading advocates and representatives of the sport.
Now more than ever before, manufacturers are offering fly fishing gear specifically oriented for women anglers. Just a few short years ago, it was virtually impossible to find a pair of women’s waders, and a woman had to make do with a men’s pair that was too big here and too narrow there.
Now, most major brands offer at least one, if not more, women’s model wader as well as boots. There is a plethora of women’s clothing items available too that offer a good mix of functionality and fashion. It’s no longer good enough just to get by. Women require gear that works for them and most manufacturers have recognized the need to meet that demand.
Like anything, this growth of women in the sport isn’t without its share of controversy. “Grip and grin” photos of young women holding fish is pervasive in the media, particularly social media sites.
This has generated both positive and negative buzz. Some argue that the women are just exploiting or being exploited by the opportunity promoting fly fishing presents. Others would argue that many of these women provide much needed visibility in providing exposure of the sport to women and encourages and inspires the participation of others.
The vast majority of women fly fishers I have known and shared time on the river with are highly enthusiastic about the experience, and have found fly fishing to be a bonding recreational venture like no other.
Personally, I find it extremely rewarding to experience and be a part of this recent trend of the growth of women getting into the sport of fly fishing. I think it’s healthy for the long term vitality of the sport, and from a business perspective, will help sustain the industry. Tight lines!
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus. He can be contacted at 322-4977 or via www.stillwateranglers.com