Women Anglers on the Rise

There are no exact numbers, but by and large, fly-fishing has long been regarded as a "male-dominated" activity. There's little doubt that a female angler on the banks of a trout stream a few years ago would raise an eyebrow. Not anymore.

An unscientific survey of Colorado's fly-fishing cognoscenti confirms that somewhere in the past decade, women have made a significant ingress.

"Fly-fishing is very restorative," said Erica Stock of Trout Unlimited. "It's not a race. It's not a competition. It's meant to relax you."

And so, she explains, fishing emanates a kind of welcoming atmosphere from one angler to the next, whether male or female. Sure, there's a bit of my-fish-is-bigger rivalry on any stream, but Stout said fishing's inherently mellow nature takes the edge off most clashes of ego. She also notes that, much like yoga, fishing offers a kind of mental relaxation that is often hard to find.

"It has a meditative quality," she said. "You have to remember that you will never achieve perfection, so you have to go into a kind of Zen Buddhist mind-set."

The mental aspects of fishing tend to level the playing field between the sexes, especially in a sport in which the gentle touch is more effective than raw strength.

"It's funny how often we'll have a couple out on a trip and the woman will often do better," said Dave Johnson, owner of the Crystal Fly Shop in Carbondale.

Johnson eschewed beginner's luck for a more pragmatic explanation: "Women have a great sense of listening to their guide," he said.

Guides and fly-shop owners are listening to their female customers as well. Johnson said that there's not a fly shop he's aware of that doesn't offer some kind of specialty female gear, most notably in vests and waders, where fit makes a big difference.

Read the rest of the story at The Denver Post online.

Photos by Brenna Richardson.