Getting your lady to fish (with you)

Properly attired for the fall weather and the chill waters, Carol Oglesby finds a comfortable place to lure a trout or two from a western Colorado stream.

Catching big browns on the Green River isn’t the only ingredient to having a long-lasting fishing relationship, but as Carol Oglesby will attest, it certainly helps. Having the right-fitting and proper equipment also are keys to happiness.

“You’re so lucky. I wish my wife would fish with me.”

“My girlfriend is just not interested in fishing. I took her once, but she didn’t have a good time and won’t go again.”

These are some of the messages imparted by gloomy guys who long for a lovingly shared life on the white caps of a roaring river, fishing from daybreak long into the dusky light. 

Of course, there is an occasional man who has been introduced to fly fishing by a woman, and if he is really fortunate, the woman is a fly tier, too.

My husband, Pat, and I often hear comments from men who wish their partners would fish with them. People seem to picture us as an ideal fishing couple, bound together in look-alike waders, boots, rods, reels and ball caps. That’s partly true. It’s a fact we have gotten our look-alike long underwear switched, and Pat was fidgety and miserable and spoke in a squeaky voice by the end of the day, and I was feeling like my diet really WAS working.

We do enjoy fishing together, though sometimes I find myself feeling competitive and inadequate while fishing with him, but I don’t feel that way with my women fishing friends. I hate to admit it, but occasionally I’m cranky if I don’t get the skunk off by the time Pat has hooked up a time or two.

He used to try hard to get me into a fish and that put the pressure in high gear. He hovered and offered advice. The more he coached, the more I made stupid casts, got hung up in trees, rocks, submerged logs, my waders, my vest, my net, etc., etc., and we both ended up frustrated.

We’ve learned not to push the buttons that set us off like whirling “Thingamabobbers” dragging in fast current, but rather go with the flow of the day, enjoying the perfect drift.

Men and women have different styles and different reasons for fishing. Pat and I may start the day together but end up separating on the stream as he goes on ahead, covering a lot of water, fishing quickly from one hole to another while I take my time and amble along, enjoying the scenery or casting endlessly to a single rising fish.

I think men fish with the goal in mind of “catching fish.” Imagine that. Women, however, are more likely to take in the whole experience of the day, watching clouds roll by, smelling wildflowers, becoming mesmerized with the dancing light on the water and reflecting on life.

Crazy, huh? Both want to take advantage of a day away from stress, getting fresh air and exercise. Mars and Venus — similar aims, different journeys.

If a woman is already an eager fly fisher, the separate reasons why men and women enjoy fishing are usually not a deterrent to enjoying the sport together.

But, if your wife or lady friend is new to fly fishing, there are some things you can do to make the experience fun and rewarding for her.

Save the expedition mentality and competitive edge for trips with the guys. Let her set the pace for the day. If she is not a morning person, skip the “but the best fishing time is 5 a.m.” talk.

Make the day enjoyable. Pack a nourishing, special lunch appropriate for the outing (no bologna and plastic-cheese sandwiches on white bread).

Give her good equipment and suitable clothing. A lady new to the sport is not going to be comfortable in your old waders and oversized boots nor your old vest that weighs heavily on the shoulders. Rent or borrow items that fit her, and keep it simple.

Give her a gift certificate for some casting lessons or a class, preferably with other women.

If you are wading, give her a wading staff, and make her feel comfortable and safe in your company, and don’t leave her to wade alone stumbling for balance behind you. She may enjoy a break with an entomology lesson comparing the bugs in the water with the flies you would fish. Enjoy the surroundings of the day, taking note of an osprey or eagle in the area or a spectacular sunset.

I believe fly fishing is like love: There is an inner desire that leads to an attraction. A line is cast, a suggestion made, there is another cast, and a more direct line is presented. There may be a rejection and then another lure is cast. The ensuing dance is set in motion dependent on the conditions of one’s environment and the will of the players.

In the end, it’s not who wins the game, but that each contender is released to follow their bliss.


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