Mia & the Little Gal: Mia Anstine shares her essential gear picks for the female angler.
When the Little Gal became “hooked” on fly-fishing, we immediately gave her the gift of a new rod and reel. It’s key to know what gear is needed to enjoy any sport, especially outdoor sports. As LG’s love for fly-fishing progresses, we will strive to get her set up with the “must haves.”
Below is my list of fly-fishing essentials for women.
Rod and reel
Of course, one cannot fly-fish without a rod and reel. Although, we purchased LG’s pieces individually, there are many combo kits available at big-box sporting goods retailers. These kits include rod, reel, line, backing and possibly even a rod case and flies. Combo packages are a great value and, at the minimum, give you everything you need to stand on the bank and throw a bug on the water.
Finding a female-specific rod and reel is a challenge, even today. That is most likely because it’s more about the performance than the appearance of the rod. That being said, fly rods have various flexibilities to accommodate innumerable fishing scenarios. Longer, stiffer rods are generally common for open-water fishing and smaller, more flexible rods are used for stream fishing brookies. Reels are very individual to the type fishing you are doing. Combo rod-and-reel packages are geared toward in-between fishing scenarios. Ask your local fly-fishing shop for additional help with choosing individual items.
Waders and boots
If LG is anything like me, and I know she is, she’ll be freezing her toes off in the river before we know it. I tell you what, freezing toes can cut any fishing trip short. That’s why quality waders and boots sit high on the list of fly-fishing essentials.
Waders, designed with the lady angler in mind, are available from a variety of companies. I’ve mentioned my fondness of the Redington Siren waders ($219.95) in previous posts, but I neglected to mention, other than fit, the importance of the functionality of a wader.
When you are looking for waders, make sure they are made of breathable material. This is important for hot days. It’s no fun to be a bucket of sweat inside a non-breathable getup. A belt is a must to prevent water from filling the waders in the event of a fall.
The waders should have stocking feet. This allows for more versatility than the old fashion boot-foot waders.
That being said, boots are important if you’re going to be wading, especially in chilly water. Yes, you can wade in a wading shoe or sandal, but for “essential gear” sake, let’s include boots. Wading boots provide ankle support and much needed traction. This is important because of the mossy, rocky river bottom you’ll likely be trekking across. A common tennis shoe or rubber boot doesn’t provide adequate traction and is a surefire way for you to end up lying in the water with the fish. LG and I like the Redington Willow River Wading Boot for ladies with felt bottoms ($89) or with sticky rubber bottoms ($99).
A felt-bottomed boot provides the traction you need, even in the mossiest areas. With modern technology, rubber-bottomed boots also allow for traction in and out of the water while reducing the chance of carrying ANS species from one river to another.
*Note: Always try wading boots on, as some require you to buy 1 size larger to accommodate the stocking foot of a wader or sock.
Vest or pack
A vest or pack comes in very handy as you manage your rod and line while maneuvering upstream. You’ll want your hands free to cast, balance and safely catch and release a fish. You’ll also need replacement flies in the event you happen to lose one, or the fish are being choosy. Vests and packs will carry said flies, extra tippet, leaders, weights and other gear. Fish Pond ($159.95) and Umpqua ($179.99) make packs that are largely adjustable, even to fit women’s petite bodies. They also have attachable/detachable backpack options. These can be added for day trips when you may want to pack a lunch or stow your jacket, bug spray or other items.
Nets help anglers safely bring a trout in, quickly remove the fly and gently return it to the water. Yes, there are those anglers that are experienced and can manage without dumping the delicate fish on a rock, but it’s better to use a net for safe handling of these delicate creatures and therefore, ensuring good fishing waters for future generations.
*Please make sure to equip yourself with a personal flotation device while enjoying the water.
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