Monday, October 10, 2011

What I Want to Be.

A fisherman. Not a fisherwoman. Not a fisherperson. Perhaps I'm just not PC-enough (which is most likely the case).

I realize that many women will loathe me writing this. Many women backed the suffrage movement until they realized what it meant. Until they realized that it meant they would be treated as equals. That they would have to work out of the home. Have to think about careers. They might have to be single their entire life and have to earn a living for themselves. They would have to pull out their own chair at dinner and would have to open the door themselves. Yet, they could also vote and decide and drink and smoke and wear pants. And, they could think for themselves. Thank God, we could finally think for ourselves.....out loud.

I know full well what this belief of mine means, and what writing this means. It means that as a woman in a male-dominated world I have to be as good as, no --- better than --- most of the men. That is, if I want to be taken seriously. And I do. And I will be. I'm not just a pair of breasts in waders. I'm no trophy, nor are my fish.

I've been here before, in the minority. I've been the only girl in the show ring holding up a 1,600 lbs. steer's head. They didn't make women-specific cattle for me. And I had to train my steers better as a result. Less muscle = more finesse. I've been the only woman in an entire conservatory classical guitar department. The only woman on stage, and they didn't play any slower for me. I had to keep up. And I did. During the first week at the conservatory a classmate said, after hearing me play, "well, you're good for a girl." I cringed. I refused to be good for a girl. By the end of the year I was better than him. And I refused to be "good" because I wore short skirts and low cut tops. I wasn't going to sell out my sex. I won cattle shows and I was a damn fine guitarist. I was good. And not just for a girl. Did I have to prove myself though? Of course.

And now in yet another male dominated world -- fly fishing -- with which I've fallen in love, I know I need to do the same. Segregating the sexes is not any way to make the field more diverse. The Bitch Creeks and Page 6 Chicks do nothing to make women become interested in or feel more comfortable fitting into this sport.

By placement, it's shown who the real fishermen are. And it's been fitting, for the most part. Women have written woman to woman, not flyfisher to flyfisher. My sex still needs to prove itself. Women have done it to themselves. We've haven't risen to the standard of fishermen. We’ve risen to the standard of fisherwomen. And while I know it isn’t PC to say, it’s different than that of being a fisherman. The standard is lower whether people will admit it or not, and even if the title persists, the expectation needs to change.

My kind of feminism isn't sexualized. I'm a woman and I think that's fairly obvious. I don't need to have a pink rod or waders that hug my hips. And I don't need to be overly tough and bitchy to make my point. My kind of feminism, my way of being a woman, means that I will cast and tie and fish as well as men. Not out of spite, or to impress, but out of respect. For you -- and, for myself. I want to fish with you – not against or behind.

I will be the first to admit that there are some very big physical differences between men and women. Some very big strength differences. We aren't the same and I am not one of those women who think that we are. However, not being the same doesn't mean we can't do the same things; only, in different ways.

My fishing partner, a man, told me the other day that I’m a good fisherman. I don’t feel good yet, but I hope to be. Someday. A good fisherman. That, is what I want to be. And that, is what women need to be.

So there. I said it. Out loud.

136 comments:

  1. Blog is looking fantastic Erin, and great post as usual. My mother is a great fisherman and she taught me the love of fishing.

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  2. Those are some very impressive achievements. Most people in this world can't ride a 1,600 lb bull, male or female! Just one look at his blog and it's easy to tell your a damn good fisherman.

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  3. Your an angler, and from what I have seen and read on your blog, a pretty darn good one.
    I need not be P.C..... just truthful.

    Stay with it e.m.b.

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  4. Dustin and I had a similar discussion this very weekend, and I am in the process of writing this exact same post!! However, I am going back to the drawing board because you write this message much better than I. :) I just want to be the best fisherman I can be. Not a fishergal, fishercutie, fishergirl...just a fisherman. A fisherman that understands my weaknesses, knows my strengths, and develops a method all my own...all of these I work on daily, and with each day I become a little bit better. Nor, do I want to bang down every vendors door screaming, "HEY! I am a WOMAN fly fisher!!! Give me free goodies!!" Blech.

    Erin, you really could not have said this better. I love it.

    -stephanie

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  5. Southern Renaissance Man - Thanks for stopping by, and for the good words! And your mother sounds like a darn cool lady. :) I love seeing that you're passing 'being a fisherman' down to your girls now too!

    G Lech - Thanks, my friend!

    Brk Trt - Thank you sir, as always! And I'll keep fishing and writing (despite myself, sometimes)...it's the one that sticks with me.

    Stephanie - Hey, fisherman! This was a vent of sorts. ;) I have another one rolling about the fact that (in my opinion) there aren't "women specific issues" in fly fishing. Part of the reason it's so great! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the reassurance on this topic, Stephanie!

    Mr. P. - Thank you, sir...

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  6. Erin, please don't take this the wrong way, but fishing is about the fish, not the fisher. There are two types of anglers; those that chest pound and count fish (usually those fishing less than 7 - 10 years) and those that can appreciate the take, the fish, the color... these people can sit on a rock and watch rising fish without making a cast. They can watch another angler drift one by and fool the fish. They can appreciate that anglers successes. It does not matter whether the angler has boobs or moobs (man boobs), as long as they are smiling.... and you can see it all from your rock.

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  7. Well stated! You have the a poetic gift of writing. Thank you for sharing using your outside voice!

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  8. Richard - I agree, completely. However, I think that those people -- the ones you describe -- are the true fisherman. Yesterday I fished all afternoon. I was more distracted by figuring out what birds were around me (turned out to be Townsend's Solitaires) than really fishing. My problem and point is that when people get into being "fishergirls" and "fisherchicks" and make a point of pointing out what sex they are, the focus is off the fish and put onto them.

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  9. Sportzchick - Thanks for stopping by and also, approving of my voice level. ;) Cheers.

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  10. e.m.b. - I totally agree...

    a fisherman, is a fisherman.... you-R, what you-R, you own it.... make the best of it, be proud of it.... Just fish, learn, grow and marvel in the places fish dwell... become the best angler you can be.

    My wife is learning to be a fisherman and I ALWAYS think I have more to learn as a fisherman... That's what being a fisherman is all about, the learning and the doing! No other "true" fisherman should think of you as anything less than a fellow fisherman - "trying" to learn and do... and more women should expect to be treated as such. I've guided many excellent fisherman who happen to be women... and yes we old timers still call them "fisherman" regardless, sex has nothing to do with it.

    Great post... Doug.

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  11. Doug - You "old timers" are of the right mind! "life-long-learners" as my mother always says. And I consider myself one in all aspects of life. Keeps things interesting! Thanks so much for the comment and assurance I'm not off-base.

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  12. "I don't need to have a pink rod" ... ha ha ha ... Whatever makes you happy :) ... Enjoy ... And yeah being minority ... I can understand that ...

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  13. Ankur - Oh silly double meanings. ;) But I will enjoy! And I'm sure you can understand...and we're minorities in food too, eh?

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  14. It is my considered opinion that in most important ways, women are superior to men. You are the best of the best.

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  15. You address issues I've thought a lot about, on both feminism and fishing. I've been using the term "angler" so as not to promote or alienate one sex or the other. Angling could use a lot less macho and a lot more manners out there, and I'm always happy to see a woman on the river, not because she's a nice pair in waders but because most that I run into are curteous and have no macho chip on their shoulder. I'm no men's apologist, both sexes have their weaknesses, but I know that when men dominate an arena such as this we tend to make it tough on women. To be fair, we also make it tough on each other. I think that you're a damn fine angler, fisherman, whatever, and an excellent writer. Whatever you do, stop trying to be one of the guys and just be you- you are already excellent. The last thing we need is another guy on the river. Just my two cents.

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  16. FR - You can call be a fisherman anytime. No alienation there. And don't worry about me trying to be "one of the guys"...I'm just being me. Me who just happens to be a grown-up tomboy. ;)

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  17. Cofisher - I'm not so sure about that....but thanks. :)

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  18. Stick it to 'em, and keep showing them that it's not about being male, the name on your rod, or how much your waders cost.

    I'd be proud to share water with you anytime, Erin.

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  19. Colorado Angler - I don't own a piece of woman specific gear, and got my wading boots at Goodwill for $7. Thanks for the good words...and sharing water would be grand!

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  20. 'However, not being the same (in opinions, sexuality - anything in life) doesn't mean we can't do the same things; only, in different ways.' <<<----THIS :)

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  21. Jen - Yes, exactly! Importantly though, to the same standards.

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  22. no pink rod... but I bet you wish you still had that Orca whale rod/reel. It was golden. pa

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  23. Pa - The Free Willy Rod! Yes, I do wish for it...and the frog umbrella. :)

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  24. Funny...that's why I wrote "Excuse us..we are just fisher girls!" on my FB post the other day. People look at us women anglers as an unusual occurance when it's really not. Thanks Erin, for saying "out loud" what I have been thinking!

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  25. River Damsel - You've been drinking that same water Stephanie and I have been, eh? Glad to hear it...and thanks, as always!

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  26. I really enjoyed reading your position. You're right, tough subject matter. You certainly have had some wonderful accomplishments and are clearly driven to achieve your goals. I'm thrilled that you've set your sights on fly fishing excellence! I've spent my fair share of time guiding and teaching people how to fly fish. Over the years, I can confidently say that women are considerably better fly anglers than men. One, they listen and are not constrained by personal opinion or ego. Two, they have a delicate touch, which is extremely important in dry fly fishing at an advanced level. Three, they have an eye for detail that makes them infinitely better at reading water and understanding micro currents, given the appropriate amount of practice. Last, well, don't even get me started on their creative eye and dexterity in fly tying.

    At the end of October, I'm spending four days being guided by Whitney Gould, a world class Spey caster by any measurement, but more importantly a very "fishy" person. I've traveled to fish with many guides all over the world and have been blessed to spend time on the water with some amazingly skilled people. This upcoming experience with Whitney is something I've looked forward to and tried to coordinate for years. Finally, it's coming together! I want to fish with her not because she is a woman that might offer different experience or perspective, but rather because she's just damn good, and will teach me some highly technical components of two handed fishing that I want to polish.

    I look at guides, or other anglers if we're being candid, in singular terms, are they "fishy?" Man or woman, it simply doesn't matter. Guides are a funny lot. Some are celebrated as being excellent casters, or in others what I consider debutantes of particular pieces of water. If they can't catch fish, they don't amount to squat. More often than not, it's the guide that doesn't care how the cast looks, where you have to crawl to find success, or how close from your rod tip you find fish that gets the job done and earns my respect.

    In the end, trout, or anadromous species for that matter, could care less about your sex and won't hesitate to punish your ego at a moments notice. From what I've read, you will have tremendous success in becoming an expert fly flinger. Measuring your skill against the average Joe, if you'll forgive me, is setting the bar pretty low. Rather, I hope you'll measure your skill and personal satisfaction against that of the quarry as they live in some beautiful places.

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  27. Well done. On a related topic, I never understood pink rifles and handguns. Aren't woman who carry these things a bit embarrassed? You can be a hunter or an butt-kicker without being a huntress or a butt-kickeress. An idea definitely dreamed up by some guy in marketing.

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  28. Gary - Wow, thank you so much for your comment and taking the time to share those experiences and thoughts. Your trip with Whitney Gould sounds amazing, and I'm looking forward to reading about it. I definitely agree with your comments at the end of your first paragraph and I've witnessed it also in horse riding and at the conservatory. On average, women are more willing to take direction and instruction which relates to bettering oneself. I really love though that fly fishing is such a level playing field. Horse riding was too and I loved it for that as well. And I'm going to take your bar-setting advice...thus right now, it's pretty darn high. Thanks again! (And sadly, I never made it to those browns this weekend...bah!!!)

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  29. Steve - Thanks! And to note, I don't understand the pink thing either (in handguns, rifles or rods) and am embarrassed seeing other women holding those things (sad thing is, these things actually sell!). I can't take it seriously. "You can be a hunter or an butt-kicker without being a huntress or a butt-kickeress." That, my friend, is right on!

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  30. Erin,

    What a great piece of writing, and a great message. As a father and grandfather of girls I can only hope that they would view the world they live in in the same manner as you do. There are no limits to what you (and they) can accomplish, only people who would try to place limits on you (and those people aren't always men). Keep at it, keep writing, and most of all keep fishing.

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  31. Erin ~ Proud of you dear friend!

    Heart, passion, and love for what you do ... behind a fly rod or a keyboard, you kick it Erin style! For that I appreciate who you are :-) When we wade the river or creek together it will be a special privilege to call you Erin!

    Jim
    Two Guys ~ Wet Waders & Flies

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  32. Grizzly Wulff - Thank you, sir! With your influence in their lives, I am sure your granddaughters will. Nothing makes stronger, assured, and independent (all in good ways) women like good men in their lives. As you said so well, those limitations aren't always men...thank you for saying that. I truly hope Jay and I make it out to Pyramid this next spring!

    Jim - Thank you, my friend! And it shall be a privilege to call you Jim...and we will both learn from the Geese! :)

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  33. Taking a stand. I like, and respect, that. Oh, and I happen to agree 100%.

    Someday I want to hear you play that guitar, too.

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  34. Erin, perhaps it a fault within those who treat you differently.

    I am comfortable with who i am which in turn lets me be comfortable with who other people are.

    If you are happy with what you do then keep at it, set your own standards and let those who "deem themselves worthy" of judging you worry about you becoming better than them................. ultimately that is what they fear :):)

    Keep at it Erin, i love reading your stuff, even if you are a girl :):):):)

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  35. Mike - Thanks! And I'd be happy to play for you...as soon as I stop fishing enough to practice!

    Tom - I think you pegged it --> being comfortable with who you are on and off the water....and that is what produces a confident and successful fisherman. Oh yes, and I'm always so happy to have your thoughts and comments....even if they are from a boy. ;) Cheers, my friend!

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  36. While this sounds more like a personal goal of yours which is an awesome one at that.

    I dislike the competitive nature that fly fishing seems to be adopting. To me if you are wearing waders and fishing you are a fisherman period. Doesn't matter if your a girl or even good or bad, we share a bond regardless.

    I get there is always general ribbing over beers between buddies about the size of the fish or amount or whatever, but I won't fish or talk to anyone who would look down at someone because of it or what type of panties they wear :).

    Just my opinion.

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  37. Well said my friend! Well said! I'm right there with you.

    I love the look on people's faces when I tell them I used to be in construction, or that I fly fish and tie my own flies. They seem amazed by that for some reason...

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  38. Steve R. - While I agree with you on the competitive nature in general, I also think that there is a good sort of competition and that is what breeds advances, achievements, and standards. And that, is good for us all. All too often I have seen people say they don't like "competition" when they are just content to be as they are and don't want to be pushed or push themselves into learning something new or perfecting skills. "Good enough" is well...good enough. And that stagnation I dislike. But, that's their choice. So I'll never be satisfied with my skills. Never. It's a curse, really. ;) And glad to hear you don't care squat about the panties!

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  39. Red - I thought we'd be of the same mind on this. :)

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  40. Nout wrong with that Erin. I've always treated the word 'fisherman' as an all encompassing term anyway regardless of gender or even age. All this PC stuff just gets in the way sometimes.

    Without a doubt, you're better, more experienced and have much more finesse at catching fish than I and that's fine by me. Happy to learn from you whatever your sex.

    Equally happy to view women in bikinis and waders too lol ;-)

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  41. Chris - Thanks! And regarding the last sentence...you will find none here. ;)

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  42. Jay - Chase the fear, chase the fear, chase the fear...

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  43. I'll chime in say pretty much the same as the others. Well said... You're writing is so freaking good and this piece is no different. Excellent stuff as always...

    Ben

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  44. You're my kind of fisherman. Shine on...

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  45. Totally totally totally with you, Erin. Thanks for this.

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  46. Ben - Thank you! As always, for reading and taking the time to "chime"...

    Jim - I'm glad of that...and I'll do my best. :)

    Andi - You are welcome! But you have my many, many thanks for your reading and continuing encouragement, and also for your writing which I feed on every morning.

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  47. You might aspire to be a fisherman, but you are a lady indeed!
    That was a nice post, thanks for sharing!
    Cheers!
    J.

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  48. Hey I enjoyed reading this from different angles... another e-pal of mine Kate Taylor who runs the Rogue Angels blog is a fisherman I greatly admire because of her fishing accomplishments... I confided in Kate sometime ago that the big wish I had was to get my wife fishing... maybe 2 years have passed and this summer I managed to get Janet out fishing... it didn't matter that her casting wasn't great (she'd never cast a fly rod before) BUT at the point she had her first fish, a 10lb northern pike on the fly she was the same as me - she became a fisherman! Interestingly she outfished me 2 to 1 that day... loved it!

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  49. My only competition Erin is between me and the damn fish :) that's what drives me to get better or to tie a different pattern or whatever.

    Hey whatever motivates you though and keeps your passion up for anything I am all for. I just wanted to offer perhaps a different opinion and that to some... perhaps most... your gender doesn't matter :). But like I always say... you're the only one who has to live with you the rest of your life!

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  50. Ohh one more thing, I won't be satisfied with my skills until I catch a fish on every cast! It doesn't matter how many you catch... hell if I tried to keep up with guys/gals like you or Jay I would stick to video game fishing...

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  51. Jindra - A lady I'm not sure about. ;) Cheers, my friend!

    Shawn - Thanks!!!

    David - It's a very interesting topic...to look at from many angles for sure. It's wonderful that you got a fly rod into your wife's hand. And her first fish a pike!? Holy cow! THAT'S an accomplishment indeed!

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  52. Steve R. - Wii fishing!? Noooooooooooooooo!!!!! ;)

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  53. Interesting post.
    I'm a big fan of the term fly fisher. It works for either sex and I don't really think it's too P.C. I don't really use the term fisherman much because I think I associate it with methods other than fly fishing... but that's just me.
    I must ask, in light of this post, do you think my frequent use of the phrase/label "outfished by a girl" on my blog is inappropriate? I completely respect Kelly's prowess as a fly fisher and know that in many ways the student (she) has surpassed the teacher (me). I've been fly fishing for over 16 years and I introduced her to it about 3 years ago... but she's far better after 3 years than I ever was.
    Just curious to hear your perspective.

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  54. you really have the switch boards lit up on this one... :-)

    I salute your prose in tackling such a topic. I don't have much to add that hasn't already been said...

    Well written, and really well done!

    Cheers!

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  55. Jay - Hmm....perhaps I should adjust to "fly fisherman"...? ;) Regarding your question....no, I don't find it inappropriate. Especially, in the context of your blog. You and Kelly have a great relationship, and it is obvious you respect her skills as a fly fisher very much. It's a little teasing and playful and in a way, your acknowledgment that "student has surpassed the teacher," as you say. Keep doing what you're doing.

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  56. Sanders - Well I guess I do, don't I. Really though, my intention was just for me to make peace with this post I wrote a while back, and to have the peace of mind of not feeling like a hypocrite having it written but being too scared to post. Thanks as always!

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  57. Should be more women like you in the sport, E.

    And more men.

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  58. Hi Erin, We talked about this before and you tried to explain it but it wasn't until reading this post that I really got it. I think it will be hard for most men to put it out of their mind that you are a woman. Even if they treated you as an equal on the water they still might hold a door open for you or let you escape first off a sinking ship.

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  59. I want to be a good fisherman, too...

    I love honest writing, thanks for coming through.

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  60. A constant stride toward betterment (and even perfection) is the sign of a strong person. Call it being a "fisherman" if you like, but the point is you have goals and a plan. This kind of "strength difference" is not gender specific and I suspect you know it.

    I am continually impressed by you Erin and it's making me jealous. Blogging is not the proper platform. Do you have enough of these essays to publish a book yet?

    Oh, and they sell waders in thrift stores out there? I should move to Colorado...

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  61. I am with clif Erin...when is the book coming out? I hate to say, but quit giving us such great stuff for free.

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  62. Erin, With the highly hot topic you've discussed here I'm slightly surprised to see no dissenting opinions. I fully agree with you and I correct people daily when they akwardly try to say fisherperson/fishergal to let them know....uhhh, I prefer fisherman.

    I won't completely disagree with you that women have set lower expectations for themselves. Some, yes, but not all. I'm not into the pink rods and girly waders, but I certainly guide many women who truly relate to that type of market. They excitedly display their minty green waders while I choke down my gag reflex. But, I'm lucky enough to have spent time on the water with many tough women who define vim and vigor and who would certainly outlast many men I've spent time with on the water. (Some of these women might actually like those minty green waders if they held up more than a week....ack.) These same women, many of whom you will find in the photos of my blog, are as good if not better than most fishermen out there. They hold themselves to a very high standard.


    That being said, I do think, thanks to years of insanity, we are segregated by our sex but in my line of work, that can be a fantastic asset. I offer a different guided experience than the other dudes on my team and most of our guests appreciate that and recognize the difference. In many cases it IS better, although in the end, it's just different. And like that, I'm different as are the many incredible outdoors(wo)men I meet. We're not what you find in stock, we're, well, Rogues. So that being said, I like Bitch Creek and Page 6 Chicks because women need to remind that it isn't a man's world out there. There are hourglass shaped fisherman around every bend. As it stands, I have the new Drake on my desk here, and the only female contributions next to one of the editors and the killer cover shot of Mia Sheppard by Shawna Stephenson are the page six chicks baring legs and backs. Yikes! (although I likely wouldn't challenge that gal Birgen Knoff on the Madison to an arm wrestling contest anytime soon...)

    I've spent the last three months following your blog and what I've read is quite better than many of the articles in this issue. So start publishing your work, and be better than the men so we can do away with page sixes and boys will be boys shit and see your photo with an incredible article instead. I deeply admire your skill. Thanks for such enjoyable reads and for all the food for thought.
    -k8

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  63. Wonderful post and there must be something in the air! Had you been here last weekend you would have fit like a glove as Lisa and I sat with two friends over dinner and the conversation more or less flowed along this line of thought. Also the transition that we've seen in the blogging community over the last couple of seasons.
    Real fly fishing is a passion that not many folks ever take the time to find and probably fewer yet have the patience to even seek. You're to be congratulated!

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  64. I don't know if Chaz Bono fishes are not - something tells me he doesn't. But if he does, he's a fisherman. The point is, you're a fisherman if you fish, whether you're a woman or a man or something in between. Way too much emphasis is placed on the "man" part, and since "fisherman" is one word, I think it transcends gender, or eliminates it altogether. After all, it's pronounced "fishermun" so who's to say what a "mun" is, right?

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  65. Darrell - Thanks...on both accounts.

    Kev - Ah, I'm not against chivalry. In fact, I hold doors open sometimes too...

    Clif - There's getting to be a good amount of these essays, eh? Hmm. And yeah...I've found two pairs of wading boots at Goodwill thus far. ;) Come West!

    John - Well what kind of advice is that!? Ha...thanks for it though!

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  66. First time 'round these parts. Good post. Look forward to reading your old ones as well as the ones to come!

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  67. k8 - Speaking of food for thought...wow, your comment! Awesome. It's fascinating to me to get your perspective and opinion as a guide. I really like the distinction you make that being "segregated" can be an asset...and I agree completely. It makes us stand out, but that is what also, I think, necessitates having high standards for ourselves. Also your point about Bitch Creeks and Page 6 Chicks being necessary reminders...for now...is a great one. It is a man's world and I really quite like it that way. What I don't like is that world and those traditions and heritage being "softened" to get women into the sport. Speaking of The Drake...I have two article submissions out to them currently. So I'm crossing my fingers in that regard. Thanks for the encouragement to do so though....I'll keep shooting them stuff until I get in. :) Thanks also for the 3 months worth of reading...and again, for your thoughts.

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  68. Midge Man - Well thank you sir, and sorry to have missed you at the frenzy!

    Kirk - Chaz Bono, eh? Ah, ya never know. Thanks for the comment...but now I won't be able to sleep for wondering about muns....

    Nathan - Glad to have you stop by...and very glad you enjoyed the read!

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  69. Erin! sweet post, I could tell you meant it all, and I agree. You want to feel the equality and be thought of as "fisherman". It's awesome that you still don't count yourself as "good", but still strive to be. I'm not "good" by any means, and don't strive nearly as hard as I should, I just like being on moving water. On the female/male issue it's a tough situation. there are many awesome/skilled/dedicated female anglers who trump many male anglers by far, on all levels, which is sweet. that being said, it is still a male dominated sport/hobby/reason for getting on a river. so for you, being a minority in fly fishing will always garner additional attention. not only being a minority, but being a female. call me old fashioned, but I was raised opening the car door for my mom after church, opening the door for EVERY woman WHEREVER, and if I let my date pay for dinner and my dad found out. Bad news.

    I completely respect your desire to be a good "fisherman". It's totally possible, and I would say is already a reality. You love to fly fish, care for the fish and their environment, love the land and area they swim in, and desire to be a better angler. There it is, you are a "fisherman". To some of us though, you're also still a "fisherwoman". Instead of rock/paper/scissors for first shot at a steelhead run, you will get it (at least the first few times). When there is one fly the fish are rising to, there is only of that fly left in the box, and we both need a fly, you will get it. What I'm trying to say is that there are male flyfishermen who desire to see women succeed in a sport where they are the minority (for many reasons). They will make sacrifices for the difference in sex, with good (and often questionable) intentions, and it will always be that way. Anyway, another awesome read, thought provoking, and keep up the great work.

    Oh, but I do have to say long live Page Six Chicks

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  70. also, the word verification for the above comment was... "rismster" , so basically Rise Master. A coincidence? Don't think so

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  71. Comment #76, which no one will read.

    When it comes to casting a fly rod, women take to it more naturally. My daughter is a natural. At a casting class/demo at a fly show the pro, known by fly guys but forgotten by me, was watching my daughter cast. He was impressed and told me so. Also told me that women take to it easier because they don't muscle the rod. Let it do the work.

    After that, it's just catching fish.

    I tell both my daughters to never think of being female as some sort of limitation. Go do what you want to do, whatever that is.

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  72. Erin.. I know you are exhausted reading and replying. I got about three quarters through the posts and had to scroll down and put in my 2 cents (I'll finish reading all after another cup of coffee).
    1) WOW, fantastic! I love to know were people stand on issues and I resisted PC as long as I could, but, alas, the service business beat me into submission. Normally I don't mind stepping on people's toes and, usually what is going through my mind comes out of my mouth (my wife has reprimanded me on many occasions). But the reality is, as a business person, I need to take the neutral ground and, like Jay, I try to us the term Fly Fisher.
    2) I have heard from several guides that women make better clients. They listen without preconceived ideas, whereas men tend to think they can just command the fish to bite. I, too, have seen that in casting instruction. Sure women tend to break their wrist too much... just like men!
    3) I sell HOT PINK fly rods and reels loaded with pink backing and dusty rose fly line, because there is a market out there. When I built my 7 year old granddaughter's fly rod, she wanted a pink rod. I compromised and used pink thread on a matte gray blank, knowing that the thread would darken when the epoxy was applied. I knew that she wasn't going to be 7 her whole life. Some women are, I guess.
    My point, in all of this, is that some insecure women need to flaunt their sexuality. That's OK, and I will sell them pink if that's what they want, but if I can learn a Fly Fishing tip from a chick, a girl, a woman, a fisher person, or a fisherman, I'll take it. Although I've fly fished for over 30 years, I still have a lot to learn and sometimes I think men and women expect more out of me on the stream than I am capable of, but I don't care and I'm am glad you don't either.
    Thanks for your rant and let's fish!... I'll leave my pink rod at home.... LOL!

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  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  74. Oh, BTW, I try not to let my MOOBS get in the way, but I have developed back problems! :-)
    Erin, you are a gem and a fly fisherman.

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  75. My goodness, I think most blog authors are pleased/surprised to get 5 comments, let alone north of 80.
    I dunno, Erin. A premise seems to be that fishing is a competition, and that certainly is out there. But after nearly 60 years fishing I don't even think about whether or not my loops are as tight as the person down the river, or if they are catching bigger fish. It's enough to watch the movement of a leaf on the water, or see the flash of a fish turning deep.
    I'm going out to the Smith River near Crescent City today, see if I can tickle a King's fancy, see if they can tear up my 8wt.
    Cheers,
    Mike

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  76. This part I really liked:

    "And I don't need to be overly tough and bitchy to make my point."

    A lot of women feel similar to you but they don't quite come equal because they ARE overly tough or bitchy.

    Fish on!

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  77. I realize we are all fly fishermen here, but wow Erin, you've opened up the proverbial can of worms :), 81 comments and growing...

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  78. Travis - Thanks so much. And after 8 hours of getting my ass kicked by pike...I feel I have a ways to go to that "good" status. ;) Also, I really respect you for your "old fashioned-ness". I proudly lean that way myself. I appreciate having doors held for me (not because I can't open them, but because it's a way of showing respect) and I hold them in return -- that always throws guys off a bit. And the paying thing. Well, if my dad ever found out I went on a date with any man that didn't pay, he'd forbid me from ever seeing him again. ;) I know that being a woman stands out on the water, and always will. I just don't like feeling patronized. Oh, and I know I'll never win the Page 6 Chicks thing. ;)

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  79. Ken G. - I read it!!! :) I have found that my past life as a musician helps my casting an incredible amount...especially when I was learning to double haul. I always enjoy your thoughts and comments....you make me smile, your advice to your daughters reminds me of that which I've received from my dad.

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  80. FlyFishingCrazy - Wow. I think I need a cup of coffee now. :)
    1) I have the liberty of not being concerned with being PC. Which is a good thing because I've never been able to. I think fly fisher is a great happy medium.
    2) I have heard that as well...and tend to agree. To generalize, we're better at taking directions and instructions. Egos don't get in the way and I think we are much better able to laugh at ourselves. However, I think this is also why women tend towards being okay with being "ok" fly fishers. They don't have the inherent competition and drive that often men do.
    3) "she wasn't going to be 7 her whole life. Some women are, I guess." That is possibly the greatest line ever. I've never been a pink-person. Even when I wanted to be a ballerina when I was 6, I still liked purple better. But so it goes. To each his/her own. I only wish women-specific stuff wouldn't be shrunk and pinked, as is the stereotype.

    Let's fish indeed! Cheers, my friend!

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  81. FlyFishingCrazy
    P.S. I won't mind your moobs. :P

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  82. ShouldFishMore - Honestly, I expected that this post might be dismissed as the rant of an eccentric mountain woman. It's happened before. I suppose the only competition, really, is with myself. And I'm hard on myself. I hope the Smith treats you well, my friend...and that your journeys have been grand thus far.

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  83. veritascs - Thanks for stopping by and reading...and for leaving your two cents! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who is put off by that attitude. Cheers. :)

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  84. Richard - I wasn't expecting this. :)

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  85. Its incredible how you've capture my sentiments about being a female fly fisher exactly. I been fly fishing for a very long time and can't stand it when people ask me what I want to be called. Why should I want to be called anything but a fly fisherman?

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  86. Kara - Right!? It's always seemed very obvious to my way of thinking...I'm a fly fisherman. Never a questions to me. I'm glad you found a like-mind in the read, and thank you for taking the time to comment!

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  87. You catch carp. On the fly. You're good. Dang good.

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  88. Seriously...92 comments....write a book.

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  89. Ty - I do. I can. And carp never cease to make me feel that really, I can't ;)

    Lunkerhunt - ;-)

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  90. If I could fish half as well as you write ...

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  91. I wish you only the best in your journey to fishermandom. Sometimes I wish I was a fisherwoman...but I suppose the grass is always greener. As far as I'm concerned that SOTM turtle of yours already clinched whatever title you're seeking for me.

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  92. Troutrageous - When you get right down to it, really, we're just all grazing animals at heart. ;) That turtle was sheer craziness!!!

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  93. everything that needed to be said, has been said.

    I've said it before and I will say it again, I look forward to buying your book.

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  94. Ivan - You are all so much more confident than am I...and thanks for that.

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  95. hello Erin,
    nothing better than a rant with a purpose and i hope you'll rant some more ! needless to say, i could't agree more with the underlying tone.

    as someone else mentioned above, i prefer the term 'fly fisher' over fisherman. the Federation of Fly Fishers worked out this genderless distinction in the early 60's. something i applaud.

    once again, thanks for the inspiration.
    marc

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  96. All this because I never "let" you win at Candyland.

    sgb

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  97. Marc - "rant with a purpose." My mom always told me to "walk with a purpose" and I guess I do both. ;)

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  98. sgb - Yep...this is all, so completely, your fault! :) Thanks!

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  99. Is it too late to join the party?
    You are who you chose to be Erin, not what others label you as. I think you're awesome.

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  100. John - Ah, it's never too late. And I think I can live with the label you've given me....cheers! :)

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  101. Over 100 posts - well done Erin, you should charge an entrance fee :-)

    I call myself an angler - non gender specific, no problems. As for trying to be better than anybody else, hmmm? I always compete with the fish rather than my fellow anglers and I am as good as I am. We are, after all, only as good as the last fish we caught, reputations mean nothing to our scaley friends.

    But I would like some pink waders just to see the look on people's faces :-)

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  102. Dave - Crazy amounts of comments. :) You're wise...angler covers the gamut...and fishing is great in that the only competition is with yourself and the fish. "I am as good as I am"...and that'll do me for now. Thanks, as always! And if you get those pink waders...please, take a photo! :)

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  103. Lunkerhunt, Ivan, et al:.... I notified Erin yesterday that an Associate Editor of Stackpole Books re-posted this post on LinkedIn. I immediately requested a signed copy of the 1st edition of her first book. Whatever that book is, I want one, Erin!
    Your "Let's go fishin'" buddy..
    Larry

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  104. Hello Erin, I really can’t add a lot after this many comments (unbelievable!), except the fact that I wished that I had a fly-fisherman like you in my life (sorry Jay). A great post once again! You’re not only a fly-fisherman, you’re becoming a celebrity fly-fisherman!

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  105. Lonesome piker - I was pike fishing yesterday! And all the while I was thinking it would be brilliant to come pike with you in Belgium (dang silly international plane tickets and finances though). I've put it on my life list. :)

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  106. Just got hooked onto your stuff thanks to my dad. He's a big fan so he has me reading. This article was awesome and I love the way you right. I do agree, women fishermen should be on the same level as guys, we work just as hard and should be honored in the same way. Honestly though, I would totally use a pink fishing rod and still out fish the guys.

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  107. This is undeniably a great blog. You're a great writer and obviously love the sport. I am no woman. A different point of view may spark up some more conversation on here and drive comments to 200+. There's already more than I've ever seen on a fishing blog...holy. PLEASE don't take offense to this, I honestly mean no harm.

    That being said, I guess I just don't understand the sentiment behind this post. I'm not talking about you specifically but this idea of worrying about everyone else thinks that seems to be so common in fishing.

    Fly fishing is a lot of things to a lot of people but I guess I have a hard time finding the need to be competitive in fly fishing. Sure, it is a male dominated sport - but is that because women are less capable? It seems it's more a matter of interest and exposure. I just don't get the need "to do the same" and prove yourself. To who? To yourself? That's totally cool. But it seems like the desire is to prove to others. Fishing is a sport that is, for the most part, done solo or with friends. I think it's cool whenever I see a woman - or a young person - fly fishing. Because it's peculiar, I guess.

    To me the whole idea seems somewhat contradictory. I understand that there are undeniable differences in strength between men and women but how does that apply in fly fishing...or guitar for that matter? It seems to be a difference of norms and nothing more. Otherwise, would suggest that women are innately inferior (at guitar and fly fishing) but that YOUR not. I can't agree with this. Women are rad.

    I really hope this doesn't come off too pointed but I honestly feel like the online fishing community feels so much like a big high school sometimes. We all love the sport, so lets just spend more time focusing on the parts we do like and not all the critical parts. I don't doubt you love fly fishing. That is very evident. So why the need to compare yourself with others? Just fish your guts out and love it! I'll get off my soapbox now.

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  108. Nina - Your dad has mentioned you in a few of his comments...he's awesome and I'm following along on his cross country journey presently. Thanks for stopping by!

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  109. Erin -- Fantastic post! As one wading more regularly into the blogging lifestyle, I find your work here inspiring. I've always disliked manufactured labels because they devalue the merits of an individual. On the water, we are who we are: fishermen.

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  110. OutsmartingFish - First of all, thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and leave a very well thought out comment. Drive comments 200+ eghads. ;) I am, I guess you could say "worried about what people think of me" because as a woman in a man dominated field right from the get go you aren't taken as seriously. And honestly, like I said, there's a reason for this. The women I have fished with have not been as adept as the men. Don't take this the wrong way, but men can get away with being middle of the road....women can't. Not, at least, if we want to be taken seriously. Women also get a lot of leeway from men, just on account of being women. And I think competition is a great thing....not to an unhealthy level, of course, but really what is the point of doing anything (in my opinion) if you aren't going to at least attempt at being proficient and knowledgeable at/in it. My real competition is with myself, and I'm extremely hard on myself. When you're a woman, you notice that "fishermen" don't treat you as "equal" especially when you're fishing with another man. For example, I have been referred to as my fishing partner's (a man) lady friend. If I were a man, I'd be his fishing partner. But to many on the water who see a woman and man fishing together, they assume the woman is there to impress or something her man. Not, because she has just as much passion for the sport and not, because she is just as good as he is. I in no way, think women are inferior -- I think they're rad too! -- but I think in many instances we let ourselves be because it is much, much easier. I have high standards and really, I think that is part of the history of fly fishing....the grace, the elegance, the whole tradition begs skill. When there is such a minority, when there are women who don't take the sport (or themselves) seriously, it drags us all down. I really appreciated your comment...and now I, will get down off my soapbox. ;)

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  111. Andy - Thanks! And exactly...fly fishing is very individual. But just because it is, doesn't mean merit doesn't matter. Right on, my friend! And next frenzy...let's go for some carp. :)

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  112. I fish a lot. It is my passion and my profession. I do not have time to wait around for my fishing partners to put on waders, rig a rod, decide what to tie on, mess with casting knot after casting knot, fight the wind, wine about not being properly dressed. Hell, if I was OK with all that I would guide on my days off as well! This is why I prefer to accompany those who are as competent or more so than myself. So, what I think Erin here is saying is that she is competing with herself, comparing her abilities to others so she gets better, faster, more competent. And then is invited to fish with those cocky, arrogant SOB's such as myself. So she can watch and improve even more. Setting herself up to succeed even more. More power to you, Erin!

    Here is the official invite: Erin, you can come fishing with me and the other guides anytime! (you can even bring Jay, I guess)

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  113. Very awesome post and elegant portrayal of your stance on the matter... Best of luck with this! I am definitely subscribing!

    Hate to do this, but I have a shameless plug:

    I've recently started a blog designed to showcase peoples' experiences and epiphanies that lead them to realizing how passionately they love to fish. If you are interested in sharing your story, check out www.castingcurrents.com for more information...

    Paul Baechtold

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  114. Paul - Many thanks...for stopping by and wanting to come back! :) Your "shameless plug" looks and sounds awfully cool...I'm definitely checking it out!

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  115. Erin, I have been a lurker for a long time. I too am a woman and fisherman. What an articulate article on a tough subject. How many times do I have to hear, "Oh my God, that's a girl fishing down there." (I have not been a girl for 46 years.) I love to fish and have since I was 4 or 5. Thanks to my Dad, who took me out fishing with my 3 brothers. I am the only one of the four of us that still fishes. I took up fly fishing about 15 years ago. I would fish every day if I could. Keep up the great work. I look forward to your posts. Judy

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  116. Judy - Thanks for showing yourself. ;) And for reading. You've outlasted the boys, eh? Good on that! Keep fishing, and I'm honored to have you following along as I do the same...

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  117. Well said. Thanks for good writing on a good topic.

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  118. Wendy - Thanks a bunch for the good words...and thanks also for stopping by.

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  119. It is not as if I have anything additional to contribute to the discourse at this point, but out of a certain self-important vanity I will offer my thoughts.

    I have always had a small measure of guilt for being male, as I understand what a lucky ticket I drew. A white male in America... can't bitch about that. Women are, as a group, the most oppressed sub-set of humanity. Yoko Ono said, "Women is the nigger of the world." Across all cultures, across the ages, and spanning all geographical regions, women are forced to endure insult at the hands (and other members) of men. I think that the best thing that we as a species can do for ourselves is to educate and empower women. Birth rates are very high in developing countries where women enjoy social status just a bit above livestock. These areas are largely responsible for the parabolically ascending growth in the human population, and something as small as teaching these women how to read could have a dramatic effect on diminishing the population explosion and attendent consumption of resources.

    And I have a hard time remembering the last war that was started by a woman.

    Still...

    I can't help what I am. All I can do is be comfortable in my skin and try to consider the impact of my actions. I never assume that a woman is incompetent.

    People can decide what role they want to play, and can shake off societal expectations regarding their gender. I am forced to suppress the urge to vomit when I see a macho-man strutting in a sleeveless t-shirt or driving a monster truck, but pink outdoor accessories elicit an identical response.

    Most persons are in possession of a visage that enables those who behold them to quickly apprehend their gender. An obviously female or male person that drapes gender specific accoutrements upon themselves in excessive quantities strikes me as perhaps a bit insecure, or at the very least tacky.

    There is something to be said for "angler."

    SS

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  120. SS - Wow. Your comment. Thank you! Those last two paragraphs are perfect (my opinion, hammer hit the nail on the head), you said in those what it took me an entire essay to. Awesome.

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  121. Erin,

    Another great read and thought provoking (holy comments). I look at men and women as being equally capable of being good and bad, smart and dumb, sexists or not, fulfilling stereotypes or not.

    If it's fisherman you want to be called, then so be it. I've been recently trying to reinvent the term used to refer to a fly fisherman. For some reason 4 syllables seems too much for me, and to precede the type of fisherman seems pretty high brow and condescending for a low brow as myself.

    So, I'm thinking flyer seems short and fitting. For what it's worth, you seem to be a hell of a flyer. A fly flyer if you want.

    Marc

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  122. Marc - Flyer. I like it. I can be that. :-)

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  123. Hi there! I have been a pioneer most of my life in the IT profession. I am a woman who likes nice clothes, makeup and jewelry. That's who I am as a woman and how I dress when I fish. However, I am a fly fisherman.

    I want to be a good fisherman. Heck, I want to be a fabulous fisherman. If it weren't for the men in my fly fishing club I wouldn't be an intermediate fisherman. I share what I have learned with anyone who wants to learn.

    I do want to specialize in getting more kids involved.

    Our Club with a co-ed team just finished a fly fishing tournament where we placed third. I did not realize that the guys on the team are so proud they can put anyone against other teams and win. There was some discussion on having a woman's division. Our club said no it was too divisive. I'm proud of them. They did say a woman with a spey rod is very very sexy! ha ha ha ha ha ...

    Fish on!

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  124. Anonymous -- Hi! And thanks for stopping by! That "pioneer" spirit of which you speak kind of guides everything we do in life, eh? Keeps things interesting, and always a challenge. I'm proud of your fly fishing club too....what a statement! Keep up the great work!

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  125. Kudos to you on such a great article. Woman in Fly Fishing is an article idea that has been in my bailiwick for several months. Reading your post on the subject has just re-energized my on the subject. I do have to say that it will not be as eloquently written as yours.

    I agree that segregation of the sexes not a good idea. I have fished for several years with a female partner (a very good friends’ wife) and have found it to be far much more enjoyable than fishing with the “guys”.

    We need to be a collective "fishermen", we don’t the term “fisherwomen” Fisherman as a group is what can give the sport its’ image. This will hopefully increase participation and involvement in coldwater fisheries conservation. I don’t want every stream to be "assholes to elbows", but I feel (based on retail numbers) that we need to grow our sport.

    We as “fisherman” would give our sport the collective bargaining that it deserves. We can show this power as conservationists when we vote or donate our money, and as consumers when we use the power of our dollar at retailers.

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  126. projectflyfish - Thanks! And I'll be very much looking forward to your article. I think you make a great point with the "collective." Government legislation, conservation groups, etc....will take our sport and love a lot more seriously if we come as unified "fishermen." That is a point I hadn't thought of, and thanks so much for making it! Cheers!

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  127. I've obviously come across this post much after the fact, but it very much resonates with my own sentiments. I've been fly fishing for several years but have yet to fish with another woman. Several of my fishing partners have offered to "set me up" with other women in the sport, but I have no particular desire to fish with other women--I just want to fish with people who are easy to get along with and who can help me get better. I don't care if they're old, young, male, or female. I've always been a very competitive person, and if I want to be one of the best I have to fish with the best. It just so happens that the best anglers I know are male.

    In a reply above, you said, "...I have been referred to as my fishing partner's (a man) lady friend. If I were a man, I'd be his fishing partner." I've lost count of how many times I've been mistaken as a fishing partner's "wife," "girlfriend," or "lady friend." I don't mind because I actually find it quite amusing but it seems to make my fishing buddies a bit uncomfortable. It's hard for some people to comprehend a girl out fishing with a group of men just as fishing partners and nothing else. I luckily have a very understanding husband!

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    1. Angela - I'm glad we're of like mind on this subject, and I'm not surprised we are. And, you are one woman I would actually love to fish with. :) To your words "if I want to be one of the best I have to fish with the best" I say hear hear. Thanks for the thoughtfully laid out comment.

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  128. I too am a female fisherman, I know that women don't have the physical strength of men, where we win is in technique, delicacy of touch and I have to say it, the determination to succeed in a world generally geared against our success. As an advanced instructor I know how hard it is to be taken seriously and that is one reason why I chose to do advanced AAPGAI because I knew there would be no allowances to be one of the guys we have to be as good as the guys.

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    1. Sue - Thank you so much for reading, and for taking the time to comment. Good on you for the advanced AAPGAI certification...what an achievement! And only one other woman has accomplished the feat, I read. Hear hear to "no allowances."

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