Women on the Water
…breaking into the boys club
I grew up fishing the gulf coast with my dad and brother. The three of us spent a lot of time on the water with my dad untangling lines, patiently instructing us on casting various reel types, and teaching us about the saltwater ecosystem. I was hooked on spin fishing from a young age, even though I was almost always the only girl out on the bay. My dad and brother didn’t seem to mind me tagging along in the summers, but the fall was a different story. Every year when the leaves starting changing colors, the boys would head up to north west Arkansas with a father son group to fly fish on the Little Red river – and, being a girl, I wasn’t invited.
Finally, after years of begging and complaining, I somehow managed to crash their all boys trip and experience fly fishing for the first time. I donned an extra pair of waders, not caring that they were big and baggy in all the wrong places and definitely intended for men… not a 5’4, 118 lb woman. The borrowed boots weren’t much better. Despite feeling like an astronaut in all my oversized gear, I managed to catch my first fish on the fly. It was a beautiful, buttery brown that was nearly two feet long. After that I was REALLY hooked.
Soon after, I moved to Colorado and took up fly fishing in earnest. I found the same problems as before: few female fishing friends and none of the waders fit.
Fly fishing has historically been dominated by males with the stereotype of being rich, old, and white. However, in recent years, women have become the fastest growing demographic in the fly fishing industry, making up just over 30% of the 6.5 million Americans who fly-fish, according to a recent study by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. Thankfully, with the number of female anglers rapidly rising, new products are emerging to meet the unique gear needs of women on the water.
Women’s specific waders didn’t hardly exist until a few years ago, but now almost all the major gear companies (Patagonia, Redington, Simms, Orvis, etc.) are making them – and, let me tell you, it’s a game changer. Trying to make do with an oversized pair of waders gets old after a while!
If you’re a female fly fisher looking to stay dry, check out my top three picks for women’s specific wader options to avoid feeling like you’re an astronaut!
My Top 3 Wader Picks For Women
I am thankful for my dad and brother for inviting me into their world of fly fishing at an early age, teaching me to love the outdoors, and even sharing their waders with me. Although fly fishing has traditionally been a boys club, there are more women on the water than ever – which is a great thing for everyone. It challenges gear companies to expand their product offerings and adds to the growing number of users to love and protect the water systems they spend time fishing on.
Written by Lindy Reese
Lindy Reese is a native Texan living in Colorado. She grew up fishing for reds on the gulf coast and now enjoys hiking to high lakes to chase crimson cutthroats in Colorado. She now lives in a 180 square foot tiny house that she built herself. When she isn’t fishing, she is either tying flies or teaching outdoor leadership at an expeditionary learning school. Check out her latest adventures on Instagram @lindyreese.
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