Fly Fishing Women

I have just read an excellent article in the about fly fishing women. I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post, but in a nutshell the article talks about three British women’s journey into the wonderful world of fly fishing. The lovely ladies in question are: Martha Thomson, Lucy Bowden and Carol-Anne Armstrong.

I have to say that as a game angling instructor I have found that over the many years I have been instructing, there has been a significant and welcome increase in women taking up the sport either individually or with their partners.


(Pictured above: Anne Champion and Sue Macniven, both APPGAI Advanced Instructors)

This of course covers both game fishing and coarse fishing. The reason for this I believe is that it is an activity that does not demand brute strength, rather, it requires a lightness of touch as well as  excellent timing and technique, skills that can be attributed to both men and women in equal measures.

I must say fly fishing appears to be more attractive to women in many cases than coarse fishing as the bait (flies) used is made up from silks and feathers to represent insects, as opposed to coarse fishing, where maggots and worms and other such less appealing bait is used. In some cases, handling this type of bait is not an attractive proposition, dare I say, particularly for women.

A Brief History Of Women’s Fly Fishing

Women have been involved in angling in one way or another for many centuries. Dame Juliana Verna wrote a book called “Treatise on the Angle” published in 1497.

From the mid 19th to the mid 20th century the well to do would take their autumn holidays on their estates in Scotland, Wales and Ireland to stalk deer, shoot grouse and fish. In those days it was not “the done thing” for women to shoot so they were taken fly fishing for salmon, sea trout and trout on the estate’s rivers.

In fact, most of the national records for the largest salmon caught are still held by women; these days from all socio economic backgrounds, in contrast to the early days where it the domain of the wealthy landowners and their house parties.

Life has changed a great deal since those days with the advent of the midlands reservoirs and other large still waters. Fly fishing has become accessible to everyone and the modern equipment needed is within easy reach of all who would like to take up the sport.

Are Women Better Than Men At Fly Fishing?


Women are fly fishing in greater numbers these days than many of you might think. We have ladies teams competing all over the world and there are many women fly fishing on a regular basis with their husbands or partners; and can you guess who catches the most fish more often than not? Yes, sorry chaps, it’s the ladies. Controversial maybe, but in my experience, this often the case. I’d love to hear your opinion on this at the bottom of this post.

Many fisheries have facilities for women now and the clothing manufacturers such as Hardy Grays and Orvis are now making excellent clothing and waders especially designed for women.

Fly Fishing For Women Recovering From Breast Cancer

One other point to add is the therapeutic value of the action of casting whilst fishing. It has been proven that fly fishing has been a tremendous help to women who have undergone surgery for breast cancer. So much so that an organization called Casting For Recovery has been formed. Casting For Recovery is a charity which provides fly fishing retreats for breast cancer survivors. They have enclaves around the UK where women can go to help their recovery.


Women’s Fly Fishing In Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire

Last year on my courses over 50% of the participants were women, either on their own, with friends or with partners. If you or your friends are in the Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk or Lincolnshire regions then I would be more than happy to introduce you to the wonderful world of fly fishing.

All you have to do is contact me for details of our introductory sessions, bring a friend if you want and come along to one of our fisheries for a morning to learn about fly fishing for women.

This year we are running coffee mornings at several fisheries for women and girls who might be interested. If you like what you see you can book your first fly fishing course. If you thinks it’s not for you then nothing lost, you’ll at least have enjoyed a morning trying something new. All the equipment you need will be provided on any course you take.

Fly Fishing Women Video

Here’s a great video to see a women’s fly fishing lesson in action.  I had the great privilege of being featured in one of John Bailey’s “On The Fly” TV series.

In the video, John discusses how in Scandinavia and America women anglers significantly outnumber their male counterparts and asks the question: “Why are so few women attracted to the sport in the UK?” John Bailey enlisted my help to examine the state of women’s fishing in the UK. Along with John and myself, Pauline Smith and her nine-year-old daughter Megan took to Norfolk’s Bure Valley lakes to put their talents to the test – with some surprising results.

Encourage More Female Brits To Take Up Fly Fishing

To close this post I’ll go back to the start and suggest you have a look at the article I mentioned earlier: Fishing: Meet The Three Female Converts Who Can’t Get Enough Of The Sport.

I have to endorse the article and suggest you visit the featured ladies’ web sites too.  I know all the women featured and I can assure you they are dedicated fly fisherwomen!

Please forward this and Tweet it to as many women and girls as you can and let’s encourage the female population of the UK to take up this wonderful sport just as their counterparts in the US and Scandinavia have.

Thanks for reading. Your comments are most welcome.


Tim Gaunt-Baker


5 thoughts on “Fly Fishing Women”

  1. Great article, Tim! Yes ladies fishing is a growing support and I think the work of the England’s lady team, Casting For Recovery, are doing great things along with the ADB, AAPGAI and GAIA to promote the sport.

    Yes, manufacturers should be doing more for ladies clothing and can I just clarify that as far as I’m aware, it’s Orvis and Simms that make ladies clothing; Hardys don’t manufacture for ladies though there PR team would like us to believe it. I’m one of a few ladies caught out by the Hardy PR.

    Fab article, thank you for promoting ladies fishing and please encourage Hardys to cater for women.

    Thank you.


  2. Great article! Although fly fishing here in Canada is still much more popular for men than it is for ladies, we are seeing more ladies than ever before enjoying the sport of fly fishing. However, the highest numbers of ladies fly fishing each year here on the Miramichi are from the UK as it appears that it has been a tradition for a long time in the UK. In 2010, we had 455 guests fish with us on the Miramichi, 77 being ladies, which was up from 44 in 2009; and like your article says, I don’t know if it is “lady luck” or not but they are certainly out-fishing the men!

    1. Thanks, Byron!

      I appreciate the feedback. It’s good to hear that the ladies are flying the UK fly fishing flag for us over there in in Canada. And just in case you’re interested I reiterated the point on a recent You Tube video. You can take a look by following this link: women’s fly fishing video

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