Young Lady Anglers And The @fly_girl_global Community


Written by: Isobella Ash

The Fly Girl Global community was created for young lady anglers to build confidence, make angling friends their own age, learn from each other, and have fun! Read more about Fly Girl Global’s journey from the perspective of her father below.

The purpose of @fly_girl_global is to help young lady anglers go from feeling like they are the only one in the world, to being a part of a community. Every young lady angler with a love of fly fishing, at some point, has had the same thought: “Am I the only one?” FGG is changing that. 

My daughter, D, caught her first fish when she was barely two years old. Of course, it was the usual set up, a bobber, a hook, and a drowning worm. The fish, however, was not the normal little sunfish. It was a good-sized bass, too big for her to hold by herself. A quick photo, a moment of great admiration, and a splash sent the great fish back into the pond, but it left something behind for my daughter to keep her passion. Walking to the neighbourhood pond with her after work became common practice. 

Later that year, her mother and I divorced and her life completely changed. Everything was different but she held on to her love of fishing as tightly as she held on to me. For her, Fishing became synonymous with daddy time and she loved it. 

Two years later she was a competent spin caster needing very little help from me to rig, cast, and catch a fish, but a new world was about to open up for her. I was preparing for an upcoming salmon trip. I had tied a box of salmon flies and we stopped at a local pond so I could reacquaint myself with my 10wt rod, a far cry from the 4wt I used when D was not with me. Fly fishing was something I did only when D was with her mother. It was my love. Little did I know, by the end of that day I would be passing that passion for fly fishing to my daughter. 

As I cast she watched closely with a strange curiosity, watching the heavy line stretch and bend and then suddenly straighten as it rolled out onto the calm water. The 4wt was leaning against a nearby tree and her focus suddenly turned to it.  A parent sees such things as their children are always in their peripheral vision while on the water. A smile grew on her face as I set my 10wt down and approached the 4. To her, it seemed just her size. I tied a nymph on and unspooled a rod length of line. As I handed the rod to her I had no idea I was about to hand over my lifelong love of fly fishing as well. 

In my mind, I was expecting her to dip the line into the water lazily like a cane pole, but she had other plans. She had been watching and that was not how she saw me doing it. She dragged the fly slowly side to side in front of her,  watching the nymph rise and sink as she changed the speed of the rod. Suddenly she rolled the rod forward and straightened the fly, leader, line, and rod 25’ out into the water. Pleased with herself, she pulled the nymph back and did it again. Instantly with that revelation, she became a fly girl. By the end of the day, that rod was hers. 

She loved that rod. It set her apart from the other anglers she saw on the water. It was longer, and knowing how to use it to catch fish seemed a great accomplishment to her. Being a crafty girl She soon started tying her own flies. When she caught her first fish on a fly she leveled up, again. 

She proudly shared her fish stories at school with her friends, usually in the cafeteria during breakfast. Crowds of friends would gather around to see her photos from the weekend, but not all of them were full of admiration. When a jealous student at her school made the statement, “Fishing is for boys.”  It broke her heart. She loved fishing but she had never seen another girl fly fish. Was it true? Am I not supposed to be doing this? Is there something wrong with me?  These questions weighed heavy on her. She went to bed that night sad and perplexed. 

Angling & Social Media

Unable to console her with words I took to the internet. A few searches later and I made the hard choice to give my daughter a private social media account. I chose Instagram because of the ability to follow other accounts instantly without having to wait for them to accept. I found nearly a thousand other ladies that fly fish that night but unfortunately, none of them were D’s age. Not surprising. What kind of parent would give their 7-year-old daughter an Instagram account?  I never thought I would. I dreaded the day she would figure out how to make one herself, but this situation was special. 

I have come to learn, social media is best compared to a hammer. A hammer has two jobs: tear things apart and nail things together. That night I was rebuilding what the young boy at school had torn down. 

As I started the car the next morning I pulled up her account full of photos of other lady anglers and handed her the phone.  D’s school is quite a distance from our home and she had plenty of time to see what other ladies were doing on the water. It didn’t take long before she realized the boy at school was wrong and she was going to make him eat his words. Being thoroughly convinced, we talked about a name for her account. She loves dry fly fishing and was born in March. She has brown eyes, and she was about to bravely break out into a whole new world. @marchbrowneyedun seemed more than fitting. 

Since that day she has not doubted her place on the water. That boy had lit a fire under her and she was on a mission. She did not want any other lady angler to ever feel the way she felt that day. We set some very firm rules about not sharing personal information in her photos and posts and every post had to be encouraging or inspiring in some way. An agreement was struck and she released her adventures to the world. 

Building A Community 

Her desire to meet angling friends her age led her to teach her friends at school, church, her Girl Scout troop, even the playground next to the pond. At the pond, she would hook a fish and call a girl from the swings or slide over for help. Then she would hand the girl her rod mid-fight to let them finish bringing it in. She was a natural teacher, and willing students were easy to find. Early this year she began the FFI Casting skills challenges so she could become a certified casting instructor and “teach fly fishing for real.” At 9 she was the youngest person in the world to earn the bronze casting pin. She was training for the silver and gold when the pandemic locked everyone in their homes. Trapped away from the water and fish, she dove deeply into Instagram searching for other girls that fly fish. 

Parents occasionally post a proud pic of their daughters on their account and if she saw one she would message their mom or dad. She found several girls that could tie flies and several that wanted to learn. The girls she found began tying together online. England, Caymans, Texas, Washington state, the girls were spread out and with the time difference, she asked me to help with scheduling. Once her group spanned 9 time zones We needed a place to centralize communications. The last thing I wanted was to miss or forget a message and be responsible for one of the girls feeling left out. They get enough of that already. @fly_girl_global solved all of that. There we have a parents’ message group where girls’ availability to tie is posted and when two or more girls overlap they tie together. 

 Learning From Each Other

While some girls tie live on Instagram, most ties are done in a private video chat. Normally the ties are one-on-one but as many as 6 girls that fly fish have tied together at once. The formula is unique. At first, I thought we would need teachers and guest tiers for the girls to learn from, but the girls showed they could learn a great deal from each other. Although it is not a requirement, every girl is given the opportunity to share a pattern or a technique. This builds confidence and a sense of how important each girl is to the group, strengthening their overall sense of community. They are not only becoming better tiers they are becoming better teachers with the confidence to go to their friends outside the angling world and invite them to try fly fishing or tying. 

Experience is not needed to join, only an interest in fly fishing. First-time tiers are always welcome, in fact, they are cherished. It doesn’t matter if not a single fly gets whip finished as long as the girls have fun. Having fun is the only requirement we have. If we as parents allow them to keep up their passion for fly fishing we will not be able to stop them from learning it. These girls are loving it and it shows. 

In the northern hemisphere winter, there is one hour every day when all the girls currently in the group are awake at the same time and that hour on Saturdays (Sunday morning for some of the girls) they are not in school. Saturday 19th @fly_girl_global celebrated with a holiday party and girls from all our time zones had the opportunity to attend. With the group now spread across 20 time zones, girls everywhere have a place to meet angling friends their age and a pretty good chance of fly fishing with a few of them as their paths cross. English, Spanish, Norwegian, and hopefully soon, French and Japanese will be included in our ties. Coldwater, warm water, salt and fresh, these girls speak one common language: Fly Fishing and they are not afraid to share what they have learned with anyone willing to listen. 

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