Women make up only 30% of fly fishers according to the 2017 Special Report on Fishing published by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. Orvis has set out to change that. Its new 50/50 campaign has set a target of 50 percent participation by women in fly fishing by 2020.
Leading off with more fishing apparel, wading gear and boots sized for women, and women-specific events, Orvis has made a commitment to match its campaign goals.
I recognize this is enlightened self-interest. More women in fly fishing means more potential sales for Orvis, particularly when their events highlight their gear. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with enlightened self-interest.
Bringing more women into the sport will benefit everyone – gear makers, guide services, lodges, and so on. At the same time, more women in the sport will mean change will be required to accommodate them. Hear that, disheveled tobacco-chewing guides?
Further, more voices for conservation of wild places helps everyone. This is becoming more critical given the current administration’s policies and priorities.
I once got to watch Molly Semenik teach an introduction to fly fishing for women. For those who don’t know her, Molly is on the Casting Board of Governors of Fly Fishers International – the leading organization for certifying casting instructors. I was struck by the difference in terms of how Molly approached teaching versus some sessions I’ve been in taught by men. More voices like Molly’s are needed to continue growing the sport.
This is a great initiative. Well done Orvis.