Being a young female artist has made entering into the fly fishing industry anything but boring. I was told early on that this year would be one of the most wonderfully-crazy years I would ever experience. And it absolutely has been. And it’s still not over. The artist’s and fishing buddies, who have helped push me along the way, are the only reason I have had the confidence to share my artwork. Basically a sink or swim scenario. But specifically the women who have been working in the industry before me, are the reason I am welcomed as a woman. It’s no secret that the sport of fly fishing is male-dominated. Learning on the rivers in Montana, I was often the only woman present. But that’s beginning to change.
Going to the first Fly Fishing Show in Denver CO, I was beyond nervous. I mean, truly, so terrified that my artwork would be completely rejected. But lucky for me I was going to be part of the new Women’s Section. The women were incredible, constantly checking on one another, figuring out ways that they could support one another, and eager to share their experiences.
Hearing about the stereotypes and obstacles these women have pushed through was humbling. These incredible fly fishing women have done so much work to make the sport more accessible for women and young girls. One particular woman spoke about sharing the sport with a grieving widow, who was able to reconnect with her late husband by learning on his fly rod. I was in tears. I still think someone needs to write a screenplay to tell that story.
Being a woman in a male dominated environment can be challenging. But the support of those with you, and those who have come before you make the experience extremely rewarding. I can’t begin to explain how energized I was from speaking with not just the women, but the men who were so excited about the growing interest in women’s fly fishing. In fact, many men brought up the distinctively positive vibe in the women’s section compared to the main show. Everyone felt welcomed there. People were excited to talk and learn from one another.
This sport is so incredible. It brings communities of people who care about sustainability, water quality, and one another. And these are people who never settle for what has been done. They always look to better the sport and its impact on the rest of the world. As an artist, and as a fly fisherwoman, I am so excited to be a part of such a progressive group of people.