Have You Seen Her?
A couple of months ago, Jacob and I were sitting around shooting the breeze with a few other anglers and the topic of female anglers came up.
Disclaimer: I was the only female in on the conversation.
It quickly progressed into talking about a wide range of different lady anglers that are prominent on social media and how their look or what they wear determines their skills or lack thereof.
"Have you seen her? She wears way too much makeup and not nearly enough clothes. Obviously, someone else caught that fish and just handed it to her."
"Have you seen her? She's such a hipster and her boyfriend is a photographer so he's probably making her look a lot more talented than she really is."
"Have you seen her? She's trying way too hard! All those name brand fishing clothes and brand new waders. I mean she's good, but not good enough for that kind of recognition."
Have you seen her? She's basically wearing dude's fishing clothes, she looks like such a dike, she's probably a closet lesbian." *No comment on her actual fishing abilities followed
I sat there quietly, mostly taking it all in, offering up little tidbits here and there. I went home at the end of the night pretty troubled by the conversation. Notice how you never hear guys compare each other's fishing abilities based on their brand of waders or fishing hat selection.
With campaigns actively infiltrating fly fishing calling for more women on the water, such as 50/50 by Orvis, #Flygalfriday by Denver Outfitters, or the insurgence of women's fly fishing communities (DUN Magazine, She On the Fly, Fly Fishing Fly Girls, Braided Fly Fishing, etc...)
HOW IS THIS STILL AN ACTIVE CONVERSATION?
So, here's the conclusion I came to...
Ladies, it's our fault! We do this to each other, maybe more than the guys do. We don't want to fish with other females that look different from us because their looks somehow dictate their skills or how much fun they would be to hang out with.
The saltwater angler who wears a bikini fishing for reds? Cool! That's what she's comfortable in! Also, it's probably really flippin hot.
A female guide who owns all the latest and greatest gear? Awesome! Good for her for getting those endorsements and deals!
That "hipster" chick decked out in the most badass fishing hat and Filson vest? You are my hero for being able to pull that look off!
Lady angler who's more comfortable wearing her husband's baggy shirts (Guilty). Perfect! She's comfortable and happy and probably spending the day jumping over rocks and climbing up waterfalls... Bikinis are not conducive to such activities.
Point is, I would love to go fishing with any of these "stereotypes." Why? Because we've all got a common, obsessive lifestyle and the love of fishing, which basically overrides everything else.
Ladies, want the guys to stop labeling and judging us? We need to stop first, set the bar a little bit higher, and start calling out B.S when we see it. Like with so many other issues, I'm holding the fly fishing community to a higher standard, because I know we can do better.