By Madison Hyde
As an 18-year-old girl in the fly fishing industry there are different challenges that are faced compared to guys of all ages in the same industry. Sure it’s kinda fun to be able to out-fish/out-cast/out-talk guys when it comes to fishing knowledge, but at the same time the judgement that can come before and after, is a little less to be reckoned with.
I hate the fact that while I’m out fishing there’s the stares, not the normal “What’s your rig look like, and are you catching any fish?” it’s more the “I’m going to stare at you longer to see if you actually know what you’re doing, or if you are just making a fool out of yourself in name brand fishing apparel that your boyfriend/husband/dad bought for you so you wouldn’t feel bad about him leaving home to go fishing, again.” It’s during that moment that I like to throw out my best cast, or prove to them that I know how to tie my own fly on. But the fact that the effort actually has to be made to prove that I am “worthy” enough to be in said name brand apparel, is kind of appalling. Of course you’re not supposed to let what others think of you get to your head, but the fact that after many years of women entering the industry there is still a gap at times is kind of appalling, but gives a huge sense of motivation.
And of course that isn’t always the case there are many guys that are very supportive of us, and to those men I extend greatest thanks!
When I asked other women on their thoughts about what it’s like to be a woman in the fly fishing industry thoughts about lack of representation, bond between female anglers, and not being taken seriously were ones that were brought up amongst them.
Megan Woodard and Michelle Jorgensen of Dancing Caddis brought up how despite the fact that women make up such a large part of the industry, there is a lack of representation amongst us because of how companies market their products, various fly fishing films, and a very select few companies that “seek out, acknowledge, and implement women’s unique perspectives.” But even with that taken into account, the women apart of the industry are a very tightly knit group who continue to support one another and are willing to lend each other advice and help to continue each other’s growth.
Both Woodard and Jorgensen mentioned how if they are to fish with any male besides their husbands/boyfriends can give the wrong idea making them think that it’s a date of some sorts.
I also asked Nicole Darland, VP of Global Marketing and Brand Development of North Fork Composites/Edge Rods, what it was like to hold such a high position, yet not be a male in the industry and she had talked about how even though she likes to wear makeup, designer jeans, and heels doesn’t mean she can’t show any guy up on knowledge of the sport. One key point she brings up is how women can be huge examples to others to come and join as well “I knew early on – we all have talents and loves and can all make our mark and play a role in our own way. Be the “if she can do it, I can do it.” If we build it they will come sort of mentality. Be the magnet for others to join! The law of attraction rather than promotion. I do not tie (I have – it’s just not yet my thing.). But, I support those who do!” And that is the support we should extend to everyone.
I decided it would be pretty biased if I just had this from different women’s points of view, so I had asked the opinion from a man who is also a part of the industry to see what his thoughts on the subject were. Primarily he had said that women just seem to pick up the sport easier being able to make good casts from the start. He also said that women also develop a deeper passion for it, and he hopes to continue to see more women get into it.
Overall, this industry is big enough for all of us, so why don’t we all just welcome each other with an open spot in your boat for one another!