A recent post, over at Field & Stream, suggested that fly fishing is “suffering” because it is too manly, meaning not enough women are involved. The reason given for this is a lack of gear designed specifically for women, and the author suggests “we must kill the boys club mentality before it kills the sport.”
A lively discussion ensues, much of it revolving around marketing and economics, suggesting it is not the health of our sport that is in great peril; it is the Industry surrounding our sport, the folks who bring us all the latest doodads, geegaws and improved modulus ratings who have the troubles. More people must buy more stuff or our sport will die is the message.
Is targeting women the answer? Owl Jones brought up some interesting points in his post Fly Fishing is Too What?, especially “you either ARE an angler or you ARE NOT an angler”. Most gear on the market right now can be used by both men and women, just like the gear of the past, but if I have learned one thing from reading these discussions it is that a small fortune awaits the person who designs waders that don’t make butts look big.
The Fly Fishing Industry can not sustain unlimited growth; the resource certainly wouldn’t allow it, even if every man, woman, and child could somehow be persuaded to buy a rod, get off their ass and go fishing. The Fly Fishing Industry is not fly fishing and if fly fishing needs more of a less “manly” feel it is not because there is money to be made by targeting an underserved demographic.
With the question(s) of why/if fly fishing needs more women in mind, it seemed appropriate today to make a run over the mountain, to Manchester, for another viewing of A Graceful Rise: Women in Fly Fishing Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at the American Museum of Fly Fishing.