Leah H holding a King Mackerel and Alex P holding a Blackfin Tuna off West Palm Beach, FL.

How Women are Making a Splash in Fly Fishing

Over the years, fishing has become more popular, specifically among women. We’ve seen an increase in the number of women booking charters, along with the number of female guides. In fact, according to a 2015 report by the Outdoor Foundation and Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, women comprise 34.4% of fishing participants and an overwhelming 47.4% of new participants in the sport. 

In conjunction with this female fishing craze, more women are turning specifically to fly fishing as a favorite sport, as over 30% of fly fishing participants are women. Female anglers of all ages and experience levels are learning to enjoy this activity all over the country, and we’re likely to see this trend continue.

Why are more women taking up fishing nowadays? 

There are many potential reasons why the sport of fishing has drawn more female participants. We asked a few Floridian female anglers for their thoughts on the sudden surge in popularity.

“It’s a way for women to get out of the house more and enjoy something for themselves,” explained Dianne, a Florida resident with three years of experience as an angler. “You can go to the water and unplug, and forget everything for a while. There is a certain grace and patience that is needed, and you have to be in the moment with each cast. I just love it!”

Another aspect of angling that more women seem to enjoy is the competition. “I think that women now are more competitive than ever which is why we’re seeing more of us picking up a rod,” Kristie Macqueen told us, a resident of Jupiter who’s been fishing for over 15 years. “When my husband reels in a 30-lb Wahoo, my first thought is, ‘I bet I can catch a bigger one.’ . . . Showing the guys that they aren’t the only ones catching a trophy fish always puts a smile on my face.”

Yet another reason women are fishing more is the desire to change people’s view of fishing as a sport intended solely for men. Katie Zalesky, an angler with five years of fishing experience, stated, “I think women have always been interested in fishing. But I have also been told ‘the men will go fish, and the women will sunbathe,’ more than once. So, I think it’s a blend of women refusing to buy into the stereotype, and men being more inclusive in general.”

Kristie M and Grant H holding lobster at Treasure Cay in the Bahamas.

How Women are Excelling in Fly Fishing

According to Dianne, publications and social media have indicated a growing female presence in the fishing community, specifically when it comes to fly fishing. “It’s no longer shocking to see a woman angler in a magazine that maybe in the past was geared only toward men,” Dianne explained. “There is also more of a presence on social media. I follow quite a few on Instagram. And there are YouTube channels and podcasts by women anglers.”

Then there’s the ability to handle all of the steps involved in the sport. “I think multitasking is one of our biggest advantages when it comes to fishing,” Kristie stated. “Applying this to fishing is second nature. You have to stand on the poling platform, pole the boat through the shallows, keep an eye out for the wake produced by a fish swimming in too shallow of water, spot the fish, etc. There’s a lot going on.”

Meanwhile, Katie points out the touch that women have: “I feel like women are really good at feeling the rod out, being patient, and accurately interpreting what’s going on the other side of the line. Call it a gentle touch, call it intuition, but it seems like things ‘click’ much faster with the ladies.”

Guest and Alex P holding a yellowfin tuna off West Palm Beach, FL.
Guest and Alex P holding a yellowfin tuna off West Palm Beach, FL.

How the Industry Could Be Improved to Encourage More Women to Get into Fly Fishing

While the fishing industry has seen a rise in the number of female anglers both amateur and professional, there may be some improvements to it that could encourage more women to join in the fun, particularly regarding fly fishing.

“I would say definitely make sure the gear is designed for women,” Dianne suggested. “We have/need a different fit than men. Would love to see more classes and fishing trips offered for women.”

“Answer the questions women ask honestly and openly,” Katie recommended. “Too many women hate fishing because their man (or the captain, etc.) talks down to them because they don’t know the difference between a fly fishing rod and a deep drop rod. But hey, everyone starts somewhere! Just explain the differences, without snarky commentary.”

Kristie believes that more instructional content could be tailored toward a female audience. “An easy solution would be to produce more content that features female anglers,” she offered. “It seems that every fishing show I tune into focuses on men catching the big fish, while the women are in the background watching, if they’re even included in the shot at all.”

Echoing this sentiment, Katie added, “I would love to see [an experienced] lady angler starting from the very basic foundations of fishing (how to tie leader knots, what kind of hooks are best for which situation, a breakdown of rods, reels, bait, tackle, tools, etc.). I haven’t seen anyone in this industry do it.”

Yet another talking point is color, as Katie made clear, “Please do not make a ‘women’s’ version of something and only provide a pink option. Yes, pink is cute, but black is best, and not all girls like pink.”

Now that fly fishing has developed into a popular sport among women and is only likely to attract more female fans and avid anglers, it’s become clear that fishing is no longer among the few remaining sports simply considered a “man’s” game.

About the Writers: 

Co-authored by Rona Gindin, a multimedia writer and editor featured in women and travel outlets including Woman’s World, Brides, and Fodors, and Doug Hughes, the founder & CEO of FishAnywhere.com, the world’s largest online booking platform for professional charters and fishing guides. 

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