With a fishing career spanning over 30 years, I thought it timely to write an article about why I love fishing so much to hopefully inspire more ladies to take up the sport, so make sure you share this article with other ladies in your life!
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t fish and, whether working in the fishing tackle industry or outside it, it’s something I’ve always done. Fishing has taken me through many of life’s ups and downs but what is it about it that I love so much?
WHY START FLY FISHING?
There are many reasons why I love to fish so let me tell you more.
It’s a hobby that lasts a lifetime – my dad introduced me into the sport when I was five years old and 30 years later I’m still fishing. Yes, I’ve dipped in and out at times as many anglers do, but I’ve always come back to the sport. I enjoy the precious time I spend with dad on the water – it’s priceless – and I love that I now fish with my husband and many friends I’ve made through fishing and hope to one day be able to pass on my knowledge to the next generation.
I love the inclusivity fishing brings – the fact that anyone can do it, no matter what age, race, gender or ability. As an angling coach I often find that women make excellent anglers. Women tend to be more patient, they listen well and don’t use power over presentation when casting. The largest recorded British salmon landed on a river with rod and line was landed by a woman, Georgina Ballantine, in 1922 at 64lb, and this record still stands today.
Fishing is great for both your mental and physical health. Fishing allows you to switch off from your troubles and focus on one thing – that bite, and everything you’re going to do to get it! It’s a relaxing sport – that feeling of being ‘at one’ with nature and spending time in the fresh air is just the best feeling there is. It’s far from sedentary – I never stop moving when I’m fishing! Finding the fish is vital – cast, cast and cast again and, if you’ve no luck, move!
Anyone can catch a fish. And it’s true, with a bit of guidance, anyone can hook into a fish. As an angling coach, I’d advocate a few fishing lessons prior to going it alone – they can prevent several fruitless and frustrating hours on the bank.
When I first started out fly fishing and for the years that followed, finding another female on the bank was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Today there are a number of female anglers out there which is so good to see. The world is changing… slowly.
WHERE DO I START WITH FLY FISHING?
So, you fancy giving it a try but where do you start? Most of us have water near us so don’t be afraid to visit your local fishing tackle store or call the Sportfish Game Fishing Centre on 0118 930 3860 for advice – the guys would be more than happy to help you. You can easily find your local tackle shop or angling club via the Angling Trust postcode finder. I founded the Fishing For Everyone Ladies Fishing Club in 2009 and, whilst the club isn’t currently active, we are always available to help ladies find their way into the sport via our Facebook page.
Like anything you buy, of course you can spend a fortune on kit, but you don’t have to either and I wouldn’t advocate doing so if you’re just starting out. There is a good range of inexpensive fly fishing tackle and starter kits available that include everything you need to get going. Kit hire is also available at many fisheries and fishing tackle shops so do try before you buy.
One thing I would invest in however is casting lessons – learn to cast a decent line and you’ll quickly start landing fish. Lessons tend to start from £30 per hour depending on where you are in the country and don’t be fooled, you can get through a lot in two hours which is what I’d recommend for a first lesson. Any longer and you grow tired and just stop taking the information in.
Whilst we’re on this, don’t go for a lesson on a cold, wet or windy day – hard to ask for in the UK I know, but, believe me, you want to enjoy your lesson and get as much as you can out of it and you’re not going to do that if you’re frozen to the spot! A full list of qualified angling coaches can be found on the Angling Trust website or, if it’s not too far away from you, contact the tuition team at The Sportfish Game Angling Centre on 0118 930 3860 and book a lesson with them. It’s money well spent!
I’ve always found the angling community to be super helpful – thankfully I’ve rarely found any issues being the only female on the bank, if anything I’ve found the guys to be nothing but friendly, supportive and encouraging so I thank them for that. More often than not they are more than willing to offer that ‘secret’ fly or piece of vital advice that they’ve learnt over their years in the sport.
LADIES’ FLY FISHING GEAR
I like to look good on the bank – who doesn’t! When I first started there was literally no specific fishing clothing for ladies – it just didn’t exist, there weren’t enough ladies who fished to warrant its production. Today however, with more ladies in the sport we have so much choice, from base layers to waders and everything in between.
To begin with, I’d recommend getting the basics – a hat and glasses for safety are non-negotiable – I wouldn’t coach anyone who didn’t have them. If you can, I’d invest in some polaroid sunglasses – they really are worth every penny. In addition to that, sensible footwear, layers and waterproofs and you’re all set!
LICENCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL
A fishing licence is another must for a day on the water. Don’t let the vast array of different licence options put you off though. If you’re trying fly fishing for the first time, all you need is a day’s trout fishing licence – this costs £6 and you can buy it online at the GOV.UK Buy a rod fishing licence website. A licence to cover 8 days is £12, while one to cover the entire year is only £30. Although there are sections of free water that can be fished with just a national licence, many venues require an additional daily fee that can range in price. A good starting point for advice on venues is your local tackle shop.
One thing many non-anglers don’t realise is how much anglers do to help the environment. We like to fish in clean waterways and are always on the lookout for trouble including pollution and disease. Charities including the Angling Trust, Wild Trout Trust and Atlantic Salmon Trust all support these sustainable efforts and, without them, we’d not be able to enjoy the sport we all love so much.
So, why not give it a try? Next time your dad, husband, boyfriend, mum, wife or girlfriend says “I’m going fishing this weekend” why not tag along… you never know, you might just enjoy it.
Lucy Bowden is a qualified level 2 angling coach and Marketing Executive at the Farlows Group Ltd who own the Farlows and Sportfish brands. Lucy began fishing aged five and is dedicated to getting more people into the sport, particularly more ladies and children.