Women Fly Fishing – 9 Tips & Reasons to Get Started

You’re curious about fly fishing and wonder why some men are mad keen on it? Is now the time to try out fly fishing for yourself?  Here are some essential tips and reasons to get started. 

There are lots of reasons why women don’t get involved in fly fishing. The barriers aren’t always apparent, as the reasons can be subtle.  But they might also be completely obvious if you’ve been around these types of gender issues before. 

Now is the time to bust the myths, learn more about this fantastic activity and give it a go. 

Let’s go over what you absolutely need to know and other valuable tips.

Fly fishing is about technique – not strength!

You don’t have to be big and strong to cast a fly fishing rod.  

Look at the queen of fly casting in the USA,  Joan Wulff.  At 5 feet tall (152 cm) and in her mid-20s, Joan won the national fly-casting distance title by beating the all-male competition in 1951.  

The following year, the organizers changed the competition rules to create two classes, splitting up men and women.  

Joan was a National Casting Champion from 1943-1960 for both her long casting abilities and accuracy.

Joan, now in her 90s, is still involved in the Wulff School of Fly Fishing.  Her coaching style is touted as the best in the world.  You can see her here on YouTube. 

Learning to cast is a crucial skill of fly fishing.  It can help if you have played sports or have good hand-eye coordination, but anyone can do it. 

Also, smaller rivers and lakes don’t require a huge cast, which is good for beginners to start.

Fly fishing doesn’t have to be expensive.

All hobbies have costs, whether buying clothing and equipment, joining clubs or transport to get to the activity.  Fly fishing is no different. 

Fly fishing for beginners can be inexpensive.  Or you can spend a fortune, especially if you happen to be a ‘gadget junkie.’ (I confess to this tendency. ?)

You can pick up a rod kit for less than $200.  You will also need a handful of flies and something to keep them in. Sometimes 

In summer, you can fish in sneakers or sandals that you don’t mind getting wet.  Winter fishing might result in purchasing some fishing boots or waders. 

I’ve bought lots of gear second-hand.  Many people have bought fly fishing gear in the first flush of enthusiasm. Then life gets in the way, and they find they are not using it.  Check out eBay right now, and you’ll find 1,000s of quality rods, reels, waders that you can pick up at a low cost.

While learning, it’s best to use low-cost equipment and upgrade once you have mastered the techniques.  By then, you will also know if you are fully committed.

Fly fishing is a great way to make friends.

Anglers come from all walks of life, which is one of the things I love about this sport.

Time spent on the river together brings a sense of companionship, a common purpose and a mutual connection with the environment. 

Then, there is the time spent together driving to the river or lake, as well as overnight trips that create an excellent opportunity to get to know people. 

But, for me, the bonus is once you’re on the water, it’s a solo pursuit so you get to spend quality time with yourself.  

Do you have a friend who would like to try fly fishing?  Maybe you can start together?

Get connected by joining a club or online female community

Join the local fishing club

In most locations, you will find a fly fishing club.

These clubs provide regular meetings where you’ll: 

  • learn from guest speakers
  • participate in club classes 
  • join club trips and events
  • find fishing buddies

Join an online female fishing community

Groups like United Women on the Fly provide information, support and courses (free and paid) to help women get involved in fly fishing.  

United Women on the Fly “ is committed to building an inclusive community that educates, provides resources, encourages, and connects anglers from all backgrounds into the sport of fly fishing.”

They are not the only online community, and of course, there are Facebook groups and Instagram profiles that you can join or follow. 

Or check out podcaster Avril Vokey on “Anchored with April Vokey.”  Avril also offers free and paid courses on her website.

Here’s a Complete Guide – Fly Fishing Resources for Women

Hire a local fly fishing guide, preferably a female one

If you’re feeling a bit self-conscious about going out for the first time, you might be able to locate a female guide in your area.  Or splurge out and treat yourself to a weekend at a fishing lodge. 

Here are some inspiring female fishing guides.  “Six Women Who Are Revolutionizing the World of Fly Fishing

There is a growing movement of women encouraging women to take up fly fishing.  

Buy online to get the best gear to fit your curves

It’s not always easy to buy fishing clothing and accessories for women locally.  Here in New Zealand, it’s difficult due to our small population of female anglers.

The answer is to shop online.  

Most of the big-name suppliers have equipment such as waders and boots for women in their range.  But there are also companies specializing in women’s gear.

While it is trickier to buy without trying things on, all online suppliers offer fitting charts, so you can measure yourself up before getting out your credit card.

Again you’ll also find low-cost, second-hand equipment online.

Women make good anglers because we listen

Fishing is about learning some discrete practical skills to get a little piece of fabric attached to a small hook to land on the water in the right place to trick a fish into thinking it’s food.

Fly fishing requires a commitment to learning skills and techniques.  You don’t need to be strong, but you do need to focus and pay attention to detail.

Many fishing guides and casting teachers like giving lessons to women because we listen!

And we are not intent on using our muscles to do the job.

Becoming proficient at fly fishing also requires practice.  Practice, practice, practice.  Like any new sport or activity, you need to practice to get your muscle memory and coordination working.  

There are ways to practice at home, outdoors at the local park, or in your living room.

And today, with so much learning material available on YouTube and in books, there is no excuse.

Fly fishing is excellent for the body and soul

Fly fishing is an excellent exercise for toning and balance.

I underestimated how good I would feel when standing on a riverbank casting a rod onto the water.  There is something about being in touch with nature and actively engaging my mind and body.  

Fly fishing is active relaxation on a good day and occasionally hard work on those few days that I’ve pushed myself too hard or too long. 

It turns out that catching fish is a bonus

Fly fishing gives me a reason to keep fit and agile, as well as keeping me fit and nimble.  

I use pilates to keep my core and legs strong and improve my balance.  I need this when walking up riverbanks and wading across rivers.

Get brave. Put on your big girl pants!

It can seem overwhelming.  As an experienced fly fisher, I still feel like a novice who has a lot to learn.  But that’s part of the fun. 

There is a lot to learn.  That includes knowledge about rods, reels, lines, leaders, knots, flies, entomology, trout feeding habits, and reading the water. 

If you love learning, as I do, then that’s what makes fly fishing so engaging.  Learning to cast a rod so that you trick a fish onto your hook is uber exciting. 

Finally, I started getting serious about fishing late in life, but I want to be like Joan Wulff, still fishing in my 90s.  Start now.   You won’t regret giving it a go!

First you get good at casting and tying your knots, then you get good at noticing when a fish has shown interest in your fly, then you get good at setting the hook, then you get good at successfully reeling in and nabbing your fish, and finally, once you have all that stuff taken care of, you can pay attention to the science of the fish and bugs, and know how to read the water and your environs. So, be prepared to try a lot, and fail a lot, before getting to a point of truly being comfortable in the water.

How to Get Started With Fly Fishing