The fly fishing season is underway and while it’s thought more women are taking to the water, there’s a push to make the sport more accessible.
Kylie Sargeant is the country’s only female certified casting instructor and says traditionally it’s been a male dominated sport. “Some women, their father may have fished, their partner may have fished. Which is one way of getting introduced to it. But if you don't know of anyone that fishes it's not an easy sport just to jump into and learn to do by yourself."
Internationally it’s becoming much more popular amongst women. In the United Kingdom fishing licenses amongst women are up 230 per cent, while in the United States women now make up 30 per cent of those who fly fish.
In New Zealand women make up around 10 per cent of fishing licenses, but because of the pandemic it’s hard to tell if that number is on the rise.
"I think there are a few more women but we've still got a long way to go to get 50/50 on the water,” Sargeant said.
Belinda Thomas grew up watching her dad fish and began herself in her 20s. “What I love about fly fishing is it's what you make it. Some days it's just a big decompression, other days it's just really exciting and it's like ahh and something that really keeps you awake at night”.
She’s represented New Zealand internationally in the sport and has sometimes been the only women in the competitions. “I would hear a lot from guys, how do I get my girlfriend, partner, wife, significant other involved in fly fishing so I think that it has increased hugely”
Last year New Zealand’s first women only fly fishing team was announced and they’re set to compete in Norway this year, restrictions permitting.
The Owen River Lodge in Murchison is running a women only luxury fly fishing weekend in April after the success of a similar event last year. Owner Felix Borenstein, who started the lodge 19 years ago, says he’s seen an increase in couples and single women booking in to fish recently.
"There's a whole untapped market there which is women who want to do more of the non traditional sports type sports like fly fishing"