As previously printed in the Canadian Fly Fisher magazine (2008).
I have a confession to make.
I’ve always been a sucker for a woman casting a fly rod.
I can’t help but watch in awe as she casts effortlessly into the cool breeze, gently throwing mends upriver, concentrating on her fly's presentation before stripping the line back in and preparing to cast again. I try so hard not to stare but, the truth is, I just can’t help myself.
Ade you're sexy as hell babe!
Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch a tight loop cast from just about any angler, man or woman, but there’s just something different about a cast kissed with a feminine touch.
Hello ladies, please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is April Vokey and I’m an avid angler and fishing guide in beautiful British Columbia. Like so many of you, I’ve been bitten and deeply infected by the fishing bug, and, quite willingly, I allow it to consume my life.
Mathew Moisley photo.
My fascination with fishing began when I was a little girl. Never having the luxury of a father or grandfather who was really serious about fishing, the origins of my obsession with the sport has always been a mystery both to me and my family.
Nevertheless, my parents, always huge supporters of quality family time, were more than happy to take my sister and me to spend the day at the water, picnic basket and mini fishing rods in tow. Although, as children, we had great fun casting worms and wedding bands, it wasn’t until I was old enough to drive, that I was able to take myself fishing and truly learn the ways of the river.
My first car; the Blue Beast (Buick Skylark). This thing got me to the river and back and was the most reliable fishing buddy I had for a long time.
Getting started was intimidating. I had a lot of questions and, with no one to answer them, I made my way to the library and took out every book I could find on different species of fish and methods of catching them.
I learned how they fished in the UK and the habits of countless ocean-dwelling creatures, but remained fairly ignorant about fishing in the Lower Mainland, B.C. For this, I had to seek help from somebody with experience, so I headed to my local tackle shop.
The guys in the shop were more than helpful and provided me with knowledge about the river that I was interested in fishing, making sure that I was properly equipped. They set me up with affordable gear, drew me detailed maps, and explained the basics of proper river etiquette.
Off to the river (Damn, BC is awesome!) Aaron Goodis photo.
Little do they know it, but that was a day I will never forget. Barriers dropped, and fears were forgotten, as I was welcomed with friendly faces, sincerely interested in showing me how to grow in the sport. In return, that shop gained a loyal customer, never too proud to ask for advice and always eager to share her reports and experiences.
It is a relationship I strongly urge any aspiring angler to commit to.
As my days on the water accumulated and the years passed, a natural progression began. I found myself being lured by the beauty of the art of fly-fishing..... I longed to cast that fluorescent line with ease, my body flowing gracefully and my fly taunting unsuspecting fish as it swung across the current.
It has always seemed romantic to me, a classic sport as old as time, consisting merely of a patient angler, several trusted flies, fly rod, spooled reel, and sheer appreciation of the tranquil surroundings and therapeutic songs of nature.
I never could, and never will for that matter, wrap my head around why such a poetic pastime has for so long been pursued primarily by men.
April Vokey photo.
Aaron Goodis photo.
Andrea and Jenna ready to rock 'n roll (Trevor Welton photo).
For the longest time, my friends and family thought I was losing my mind. Seeing me endure long drives and freezing weather, they knew there must be something extremely unique about this sport that I continued to stubbornly pursue.
Typical scene of a BC canyon wall. Looking back now, no wonder my parents freaked....
Even my little sis, Dana, began to understand what all the fuss was about (Steve Morrow photo).
I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually find myself agreeing to bring some of my close girl friends out with me to share the experiences of a day of catch-and-release fishing on the river. The outcome proved to be something I’d never experienced before.
As an angler who had always preferred to fish solo or with capable male fishing buddies, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t slightly concerned as to how the day would unravel.
April and Nicole (Marcel Saring photo).
The truth is, I was completely taken aback by how incredibly enjoyable our time together on the water was.
With conversation not varying much from that we’d exchange over a cocktail on a girls' night out, we easily lost track of time as we enjoyed our freedom and surroundings—hiking along the river bank, searching for that single adrenaline-packed moment.
It was much like taking a yoga class or a cleansing hike with a close friend—the adventure, movement, relaxation and concentration of fishing provided an escape from all the accumulated stresses of work, home, and life in general. Spending time on the river with these patient, energetic and persistent women, it didn’t take me long to conclude that having a woman fishing buddy was the link that had been missing for me.
Guide Kate Taylor knows what I'm talking about.
Soon, I began to get phone calls and emails from other friends and acquaintances and, before long, I was taking women of all ages with me to experience a sport which so many of them had an interest in but were too intimidated to try. These women included co-workers, relatives, friends of friends and guiding clients.
My girl Ashley.
It’s such a shame that intimidation prevents so many women from participating in fly fishing. Afraid of lacking the strength and the skills necessary to be a successful angler, a vast majority of women opt to stick with sports more suitable to the physicality of a woman. This is truly unfortunate, as there is nothing further from the truth than this major misconception. In actuality, it is a fact that women are better casting students than men.
Giving a lesson.
Ask any reputable fishing guide or casting instructor, and most will agree that women do indeed learn more rapidly than men.
This is not meant as a put-down of the opposite sex, but rather as an observation of how each sex absorbs instruction and how easily they apply it to the task at hand. Enthusiastic and open-minded, women sincerely listen to constructive criticism, immediately focusing on improving their faults. Please note that this is not always the case when receiving instruction from one’s significant other, as that can often cause more harm than good. You all know what I’m talking about!
Women tend to have a more gentle stroke, controlling the fly rod with careful movements, taking special precautions not to overpower it, the way most men do so regularly.
Maintaining the rod tip’s proper path in casting is crucial, and women are more apt in applying that unexaggerated, delicate motion, in which the tip is prevented from being forced too far back or too far forward on either side of the angler, enabling a sweetly loaded rod which delivers a beautifully timed, tight loop. With the realization that brute strength plays no part in the process of becoming a great caster, the intimidation factor is soon overcome and forgotten about completely, being replaced with the joy of perfect, effortless motion.
Right Shannon? (Rod Vanderlinde photo)
As a firm believer in equal opportunity and a fishing buddy to both men and women, I have spent countless days on the water with a wide ranging assortment of anglers.
Over the years, some days have proven to be undeniably frustrating, and others, unbelievably picture-perfect. However, my favourite days are just indescribably……..girly?
Yup! With bright pink hats and manicured nails, I am self-admittedly a ‘girly-girl’. I’m simply a woman who likes to play in the water, rather than a diva or a feminist—a serious angler in touch with my feminine side, who spends all of my free time chasing fish in the hope that they, in turn, will chase my fly.
You can be certain that there are more of us out there than you might think there are, and with time, as each woman begins to break through the subtle barrier of what has been up until now a ‘boys only club’, we are slowly finding each other and establishing our own niche.
Sarah Exton is feisty with her red nails!
Although it's only natural that there will be days when an intense conversation with a female fishing companion is the last thing you wish to engage in while angling, I strongly encourage all women to make some effort to get to know other fellow female anglers in their area, as these fishing relationships do have a lot to offer. If meeting a stranger isn’t for you, don’t give up, chances are that one of your close girlfriends or co-workers are probably interested in having you take them out for a day or two. Whether it be meeting someone in your area, or introducing that lovable but completely novice friend who wants to accompany you (remind them that instructional magazine articles for beginners are not gender specific), your local tackle shop should be able to assist you.
A local angler, Radine, who has blessed me with a smile on more than one occasion.
A day of fishing with a female friend is like nothing else, as it forges a bond that only another woman can fully comprehend. Women speak the same language, and with this advantage in communication, we are able to teach and learn from each other with great ease. Accepting each other’s flaws and idiosyncrasies, there is an inherent comfort level between us that makes the day so special.
As in Sex and the City (only without the sex and without the city), we giggle as we hike, discussing relationships and life, never fretting about how much we are sweating or how often we have to use the bushes as a bathroom. It’s a perfect partnership.
A day of fishing full of laughs, girl talk and serious misbehaving....
We hurt from laughing the next day.
Alright Fly Gals, unite!
Stay tuned for a chance to win a free hoody in part 2 of 'For The Fly Gals'.