I hear this question time and again and my answer it always the same. It came up again on Fly Anglers Online and I took the time to give my opinion. I figured I might as well say it here as well.
This is from an avid woman fly anglers point of view. For the most part, it was fathers, grandfathers and uncles who would take the kids fishing. They usually took the sons, as a right of passage sort of thing…but not the daughters. Probably because of the past (and present in some cases) preconceived notion that women belong in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. The men who did take their daughters fishing may have been forward thinkers or just didn’t have sons. I was lucky. My dad was blessed with two girls first…then it was another ten years before the son was born. Luckily I was well bonded with dad by then and we were "fishin’ buddies". Besides… the deal was, I could go fishing if I cleaned the fish. LOL!! He loved spending time with his kids and I benefited from that. I started fishing with worms and bobbers before I was two. Unfortunately it never progressed from the worm dunking stage as my dad didn’t know any other way. I don’t suppose his dad took him fishing much, and living on Lake St.Clair had it’s disadvantages. Finding a fly angler was one of them. I know he would have loved that if he knew someone that could show him.
What I’m saying is if you want to see more women come to fly fishing…start taking the young daughters out fishing with you, not just the sons. Get them tying flies and let them be creative!! (Arts & crafts) Don’t look for perfection. Girls have a big enough problem with that.
The touchy feeling thing…worms, bugs, fish slime etc. I believe that is a learned behaviour. In this case, passed on most often from mother to daughter. The often heard, "EWWW, Don’t touch that! Dirty!" when the youngster picks up a worm or bug …or plays in the dirt for that matter. It might keep the little girls cleaner but it stifles their natural curiosity in the world around them. Thankfully my mother was too busy looking after other babies to worry too much about that stuff when I was out playing. I LOVED finding critters of all sorts, in and out of the water, and watching them. I didn’t mind getting dirty either. …to my mothers dismay, I’m sure…but then she loved roaming the woods when she was young, too. My dad wasn’t too happy with my collection of snakes though. LOL
One other point… I didn’t go fishing during those years I was raising a young family. Believe me, I TRIED!! I was just too busy chasing little kids. Taking them fishing was like being a one armed paper hanger. I need some help to do that. My husband, their father, didn’t take too much of an interest in the "dad" part. He also doesn’t like to go fishing. Something he didn’t do as a kid, because his dad didn’t take him. His dad wasn’t much of a "dad" either. See how that works?
More girls and women will come to caring about things like the rivers and go fishing, camping and hunting, if someone (fathers, grandfathers and uncles) starts to take them out and the younger the better. After all, the days of keeping them in the kitchen are over….I HOPE. I believe it’s really that simple.
One day, these girls will be taking their girls with them.
***The issue these days is going to be whether kids, male or female ever get this opportunity at all. With both parents working and the reliance of video technology to do the entertaining… I have a real worry that our youth won’t be getting outdoors at all. If they don’t learn to love the outdoors and what it has to offer, they won’t care about it when it’s their time to look after things. Think about that one.