8 Rivers And A Girl Named Mandy
by Mandy Hertzfeld
If you ever find yourself in Minturn, Colorado on a Wednesday night during the winter months, you’re in for a treat. Here at the fly shop there’s never a dull moment. A group of bearded men sit around a big table drinking local craft beer while bantering back and forth about how their new shimmery creation is going to rip lips better than any other fly out there. Glancing into their tying boxes, you’ll notice that the materials within are supplies that you would probably find in a Girl Scout’s arts and crafts collection. It's common to find every color of the rainbow in nail polish, google eyes, feathers, fur, beads, tinsel and beyond. While tying pink sparkly fluff on a hook and discussing what to name it (maybe ‘Sparkle Fairy Princess’), I quickly realized that any outsider walking into the fly shop would see that this sport isn't how it seems.
Over the years, fly fishing has served many purposes – whether it is putting food on the table or serving as an escape from your daily grind. I’ve seen the sport grow over the last 10 years and one of the best parts is the flocks of women entering the male-dominated sport. I get to watch women alongside their husbands and sons, and out-fishing them by a mile. The sport is reliant on technique, patience, persistence, and adaptability; women were built for this. If you can hold a fly rod, you have the opportunity (or ability) to cast it and cast it well.
Photo by mandy herzfeld
It was enlightening to look back at the history of fly fishing to discover a strong presence of women in the industry since the beginning of the sport. Looking at Joan Wulff and her record breaking 161 ft. cast, she held the world champion fly casting title for almost 20 years, and against all male competitors. Currently, 12-year-old Maxine McCormick is the world’s youngest Gold Metal Fly Casting Champion. Don't let it fool you, women have been quietly dominating the sport of fly fishing since the beginning.
Photo by mandy hertzfeld