The other day I was chatting with a fellow fishing buddy and we stumbled onto the topic of introducing more women to the sport. We talked at length about clinics, casting instruction and many other ways to get women interested in picking up a fly rod. We both seemed to share the same beliefs and agreed upon nearly everything, but then he made a comment that I was hesitant to agree with. “We need to get the husbands and boyfriends to teach their girls how to fish.”
I want to agree with this statement and there are circumstances where it works, however, I’ve had many women tell me that they’ll never go fishing with their significant other again. When I asked why, they simply said their man friend got frustrated with trying to teach them the basics of casting and turned a usually fun-filled day of fishing into a teeth gritting, uncomfortable and miserable experience. It’s circumstances like this that will continue to keep women from getting back out on the water, which is why I’m not in full agreement with that comment.
With that said, I have a couple suggestions for the fellas who want to get their girls on the river. First off, if you have a girlfriend or wife that enjoys to fish, by all means take her fishing! But if she starts to catch more or bigger fish than yourself, don’t get butt hurt and start pouting or complaining that you’re not catching fish. It not only annoys your guide but will make her feel bad and quit fishing. I’ve had several husband/wife anglers in my boat and there is nothing more disappointing then to see a husband inadvertently attack his wife because she’s simply out fishing him. Also, if you’re on a guided fishing trip and your wife/girlfriend has just learned how to cast, tie her knots, manage her line, etc. Don’t hover over and nag her about what she’s doing wrong. Just let her do her own thing and learn by trial and error. Besides, it’s the guide’s job to instruct and oversee her progress. If something needs to be fixed, the guide will do it.
The next tip I have is probably the most important. If you’re taking your wife/girlfriend out fishing for the first time, be unnecessarily patient with her. She’s out there with you because she wants to understand and be apart of what you love. There’s a good chance that if you hadn’t asked her to go in the first place, the thought wouldn’t have even crossed her mind. So she’s doing it for YOU! Respect that and take extra care to make sure she doesn’t feel as though she’s a burden or is holding you back. If she has a bad first time experience, good luck getting her back out there. I recently heard a story from a gentleman who took his wife on a float trip for the first time. She was interested in learning how to row but was having a difficult time coordinating the oars. They apparently came to a stretch of river that was more advanced than what she was capable of handling and as a result bounced off the bank a few times. He became so frustrated that he “yelled” at her which scared her to the point where she’ll never get back into a boat. A classic example of what not to do.
Ultimately guys, be humble, kind and patient when you’re teaching a woman to fish. Fly fishing is tough and it’s even harder for us girls because it’s a male dominated sport. Just remember that you’re girlfriend/wife is out there for you because she cares about your interests and wants to be apart of it. Be excited for her when she catches the big one and be humble if she out fishes ya. It will only lead to a happy and healthy fishing relationship!