It’s a New Year and the perfect time to consider a new hobby.
Women anglers are on the rise and a quick trawl of fishy sources suggests that there are upwards of 300,000 women anglers casting in the rivers of the UK.
Famously women are said to better their male counterparts at fly fishing due the natural secretion of pheromones (hormones) which attract the fish. Whether this is scientifically credible or not, women do catch bigger fish in greater numbers. We don’t wish to be seen to promote a competitive stampede to the river bank but a woman, Georgina Ballantine, has held the record for the largest ever rod-caught salmon and freshwater fish since 1922. A whopping 64lb of River Tay salmon.
Broadcaster Fiona Armstrong is one of the most well known women who fish. She has been casting her rod for over 25 years and was first introduced to the sport by her husband. This is a well-trodden route into the sport for many women, through spouses, partners or male family members, though Fiona cautions against taking instruction from husbands or partners, “Getting your better half to show you the ropes is rather like asking them to teach you to drive.”
Instead, it might be an idea to cast your net more widely. There are a number of clubs, some dedicated to ladies, some mixed, that hold “Try it” days aimed at encouraging women to give fishing a go. These days normally include tuition, hire of equipment and clothing, plus the opportunity to meet other women who fish.
Anne Woodcock, Event Organiser at Ladies Fishing, a club based in the North East and Marketing Director at online angling hub FishPal says:
“You will be surprised how many ladies would love to try salmon fishing and don’t know where to begin. During 2013 I have held introduction days for salmon in Scotland on the River Tay, Tweed, Annan and Deveron and introduced over 35 women to salmon fishing.”
Fly fishing is often portrayed as a solitary pastime, characterised by images of lone anglers up to their waists in water casting a contemplative line in a deep pool. There is no doubt that fly fishing requires quiet, stillness and concentration if the elusive quarry is to be caught but for many women the social side of fly fishing is a huge part of the enjoyment of the sport.
A peek at the gallery pages of the Scottish Ladies Fly Fishing Association website reveals a fun, collegiate, successful and active club.
Ladies Fishing, although based in the North East is active throughout the North East and Scottish Borders. Their stated aims are:
“Firstly to fill the demand from ladies for river fishing events for salmon and trout. Secondly to offer qualified, experienced instructors teaching (for) beginners, to advanced casting tuition for ladies on a group and individual basis at a sensible price. Thirdly to encourage a network of female fishing buddies communicating with each other across the North East and Scottish Border’s. Fourthly, to raise money through fishing events for good causes. Finally organise free events to encourage females into fishing…..we don’t charge a membership fee to join us, and we do enjoy many benefits, e.g. discounts from fishing shops, all our events are at cost, trips to shows, free events and free tuition.”
Another good source of advice and tution for lady beginners is Fishpal, they have a page dedicated to advice for ladies and Eoin Fairgieve who has written many books on learning to spey cast and is recognised as one of the best teachers in the sport.
If you are considering taking up the sport here are some resources you may find helpful:
Scottish Ladies Fly Fishing Association: http://www.sanaladies.co.uk/
Ladies Fishing: http://ladiesfishing.co.uk/
Eoin Fairgrieve: http://www.eoinfairgrieve.co.uk/
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