Last night (August 10th) Spokane SheJumps hosted its second annual collaboration with Spokane Women On The Fly (or SWOTF) to bring local ladies a two-hour introductory class in Fly Fishing. As we did last year, we intentionally kept this course on the smaller side with a cap of twelve women so that we could offer more one-on-one instruction with one instructor per every two students. This approach really helps students start perfecting their casts more quickly and everyone gets lots of opportunities to ask the local pros lots of questions!
We met up at Mirabeau Park in the Spokane Valley and the weather cooperated with us despite a small chance of rain – we even got a rainbow for our event! This is all very fitting as Heather Hodson, founder and lead instructor of SWOTF, describes herself as a “Rainbows and Unicorn kind of gal,” who’s optimistic outlook and warm positivity will soon get you envisioning catching your very own fish on the fly! She even shared with us some of the unique flies that she has designed and tied herself. My personal favorites being the “Barbie” and the “Rainbow Brite” (shown below), which she claims works great in our local rivers!
And of course, all attendees of the class received goody bags from our SheJumps national sponsors! We had Treeline Coffee from our friends in Bozeman who make my absolute favorite coffee! They roast farm-to-cup coffee where they visit the farm and have a personal relationship with all their coffee farmers to ensure quality beans and fair prices for farmers. The ladies also received the newest organic chap stick creation from EcoLips, the sustainable PoGo chap stick that is designed to be refillable and the container is made from recycled plastic. Everyone also received an oatmeal fruit squeeze from one of our newer sponsors, Munk Pack! These squeezes are delicious and are gluten-free, vegan, and made with high quality super foods to fuel your adventures. I personally love them for mountain biking and try to always keep one in my pack whenever I’m adventuring.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one inspired to get out there and get my feet wet (literally) after our first hour of the course, which was spent more lecture style. Heather gave us a brief overview of all the fly gear and how to go about selecting the right set-up for ourselves and our region. She did a great job of breaking down all the fly terminology and the anatomy of a fly rod. Soon enough the gears were busily turning in our heads, processing this new lingo with words like “tippet,” and phrases like “fast action rods” and “snobby fish.” Heather also directed us to the best local fly shops, encouraging us to buy and learn from the local pros who are welcoming to newbies and who she assured us will kindly help us beginners navigate this new and somewhat intimidating territory of fly fishing.
To help us get started, we were all given supplies and instructions on how to tie a Clinch Knot, the most basic knot used to attach the fly to your line. We then broke out of the lecture portion of the class and assembled our own rods and reels in preparation for the real reason we were excited to be there – to start casting! Heather demonstrated our backward and forward stopping points of 10 O’clock and 2 O’clock and away we went with our individual coaches, the other very experienced (and super fun!) fly girls of SWOTF!
We practiced traditional casting at our “10 and 2” points and then we moved into a more advanced casting method called “shooting our line;” enabling us to send our lines out further distances to get to the hot spots were fish lurk. Some had more success than others with casting our lines but one and all had huge smiles as we sheepishly untangled our lines or nailed that perfect cast! By 8:30pm we were starting to lose the light and we began wrapping it up so we could head to the local brewery for a pint with our new friends!
Certainly two and a half hours is not enough time to make you a pro fly fisher but it is absolutely enough time to get you hooked on the sport! (pun intended) I highly encourage any women looking to take that next step into the fly fishing world to attend one of Heather’s extended classes (about 4 hours) where she has the time to go more in depth with you. I would also encourage you attend one of the SWOTF outings or group trips which they have ALL the time! You can check out their class schedule and group outing calendar on their website here. Don’t wait to sign up for a class though as they fill up very quickly!
I have to say, I look forward to this event every year. Not just because it’s popular and sells out in a few days (because it does that too), but because I truly enjoy reconnecting with Heather and the rad ladies of SWOTF. I love watching them in turn connect with the new students and make new friends and future river buddies out of them. Being surrounded by their positive energy, inclusivity, and the stoke that these women have for their sport is truly contagious. In just a few hours they make it seem possible that we will all be catching a fish soon, even sooner rather than later. As Heather, our ever optimistic “unicorns and rainbow gal” says: “it is not if, but when you catch a fish…”
Photo Credits: Danika Pariseau
Rainbow photo credit: Tiffany Hansen
Big thanks to our partners!