Twenty five years ago I wobbled along the banks of Montana’s, Big Hole River wearing waders with toes flip flopping like Clarabelle the Clown. My vest was falling off my shoulders and the long tail of my fly fishing shirt was stuffed down my pants giving me the appearance of a human balloon. Times have changed. Today woman fly fishers can find the exact size they need in fly fishing apparel. All a girl needs, all a girl wants: waders, boots, vests, a plethora of hats, gloves, polarized sunglasses, zip off pants and bright colored, quick dry, multi pocketed, fly fishing shirts. Why bright colored fishing shirts? Well, just take a look at the winners of the photography contest on Women Anglers On Line. Notice the bright colored shirts and jackets. Bright colors not only look great on us, they do not scare fish as these winners certainly can verify.
There is a world of neat stuff to blow your paycheck on these days, but if you only wish to leave behind a portion of your paycheck, try shopping Bass Pro. During the introductory section of my fly fishing schools I inform women where they can purchase equipment and apparel to fit their budgets. Bass Pro is a company that offers top quality fly fishing gear not only for women but for the whole family on line, in their master catalog and in all the stores in the U.S. and Canada. Whether on line or walking around in the “Disneyland of outdoor stores”, Bass Pro can satisfy all your fly fishing fantasies. When I lived in Austin, Texas I would always stop off at the Houston, Bass Pro to explore the White River Fly Shop, and the women’s apparel department. It was the only store where I could find three lines of fly fishing shirts for women. My eyes danced as I roamed through the World Wide Sportsman, Columbia and ExOfficio women’s fly fishing shirts. They actually had women’s fly fishing shirts that fit me - extra small! Thank goodness I do not have to listen to anyone telling me to “go ahead and shop in the men’s department, it’s okay if the clothes are a bit big”. In the White River Shop I can find gloves that fit, hats, tying materials, dry bags, lines, leaders and flies specifically for the area I am fishing. I whole heartedly recommend their CV2, Two Seventy, Gold Cup fly rods.
Since there are so many options, let your fingers do the walking through web sites, phone books, catalogs, fly shops and outfitters. Find the price that fits your budget. If price is not an object in your shopping, great, but if you are like most of us trying to make ends meet, then take the time to be an educated shopper. One of the top and easiest information resources is your local FFF fly fishing club. Join your local club and ask women members about gear and equipment. The educated shopper locates the best quality for the right price to fit both size and budget. Fly shops, outfitters, wilderness adventure stores and even a few department stores sell fly fishing apparel. Once you become experienced with the fly fishing manufacturers of apparel and equipment, save a drive and shop on line.
Wright & McGill Company, created purple “Fly Girl Rods” designed from reel seat to tip specifically for the woman/girl fly caster. They also have pages with waders and hats for “Fly Girls” on their site. Take a minute to scroll around on, She’s Shallow Minded for shorts, tank tops and fly necklaces. The “Clearwater Endura” and “Silver Label” breathable waders from Orvis are moderately priced, good quality waders. While you are surfing be sure to look at Simms and Dan Bailey, I have a two pairs of Simms neoprene waders and love them both. Simms provides their customers with top quality fly fishing products for all seasons. On Dan Bailey’s, you will find breathable waders with attractive designer trim at the top and sides. These waders accentuate your already lovely figure.
You can take your baby fly fishing, I did and she loved it. Try Angler Baby on line. If you can’t smile when scrolling through Angler Baby you haven’t had a baby….yet. My two are tall now but if Angler Baby had been around when they were small I wouldn’t have been so concerned about the sun burning their heads. This site contains hats to protect babies from the sun, bibs, khaki’s and even a wooden toy fly rod and drift boat. See you’re already smiling.
You have to protect your eyes from the sun and you absolutely must wear polarized sunglasses to see the fish. Did you know Action Optics carries fly fishing sunglasses perfect for fly fishing women? Peter Crow, General Manager says “We all want to see more women in the sport”. In Action’s “Crystal Series” the Caribe, Waterwitch, Alturas and Caicos sunglasses have polarized, photochromic, constant density, extra thin glass lenses with decentered lens technology in wrap styles. My favorite photochromic lens is the “Clearwater Copper” with a 13-23 VLT.
What does photochromic and VLT mean? Photochromic lenses are adjust to varying light conditions making them more comfortable to wear. Visual Light Transmission (VTL) is the percentage of available light that is allowed to pass through the lens. The copper provides medium contrast with increased definition. This asset is very soothing to the eyes. The “Sol-X Series” Atoll and Pol-Aire 55, offer polarized glass and poly carbonate lenses with Italian frame design and craftsmanship. The “Carbonate Series”, Gallegos, Flow, Sweetwater ll, Seeker and Allure give the wearer exceptional impact resistant polarized polycarbonate lenses at remarkable values. Action Optics top sellers for women fly fishers are the Caribe, Waterwitch, Gallegos, Flow and Sweetwater. You can not open a fly fishing magazine without seeing Action Optics.
Spending the last 15 years owning a fly fishing business including guided fly fishing trips and schools and as an outdoor writer, FFF certified casting instructor, I have spent many hours introducing groups of women to river fly fishing. Nothing delights me more than to share my knowledge of fly fishing and the great shopping venues for women. Tell the manufacturers what you want, tell the fly shops, talk to outfitters. We live in a new era, more women are fly fishing in boots and waders that fit, own a rod that fits the fish and the hand and best of all we’re wearing a blissful smile while reeling in wild brown trout.