Have you ever wanted to learn how to fly fish? Well the answer to that was a resounding “yes!” for the women of Spokane, WA. On a sunny and crisp Wednesday evening, eastern Washington hosted its first SheJumps event, an Intro to Fly Fishing Clinic. There were only 12 coveted spots available in this free class and ladies quickly “jumped in” and filled the class within 48 hours of registration going live!
Washington SheJumps Ambassador, Anna Twohig partnered up with Heather Hodson, local fly fishing expert and advocate, and founder of Spokane Women on the Fly to host this clinic. For a stellar SheJumps event, collaborating with SWOTF was really a no-brainer as the idea behind the group is to give the women of the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area, whether new or experienced, an opportunity to connect with other women fly fishers. Sound familiar?
From the SWOTF website:
“Sometimes considered a “Rainbow and Unicorn” kind of girl, Heather has the outlook on life to see the good in everyone and everything. This brightness shines through her when she’s on the river with the ladies and teaching them how to fly fish. Recently the group has grown, with more and more women catching their first fish on the fly. ..”
After attending her class, there is no doubt in our minds that Heather is definitely a “unicorn kind of girl.” You can spot Heather’s warm smile a mile away and she brings a lot of energy and stoke while teaching her class. She also keeps the education portions digestible and easy to absorb with her sense of humor and stories of personal experience on the river.
In the first hour of her clinic, Heather covered equipment advice (guidance on what to get for your first rod), basic rod set-up, and how to tie a clinch knot. During the second hour we broke up into groups of 2-3 (with one experienced fly teacher for every two students) for some quality hands-on casting practice.
Participants all received an SJ goodie bag filled with snacks and fly fishing info, as well as their first real fly. After demonstrating how to tie a clinch knot, we all had to tie our own knot and got to keep our fly we had selected and tied ourselves!
Once we broke up into smaller groups, everyone had a great time practicing their casting stroke; attempting to copy their instructor’s direction of stopping at “10 and 2.” Spreading out, we practiced casting on the large expanse of turf at the Mirabeau Point Park, with our “strike indicators” helping us spot where our cast landed and keeping us on target.
There was a lot of excited energy radiating through the end of class and faces were lighting up with big smiles as beginners achieved their first near-perfect casts. There were also looks of determination from the more advanced students who had fly fished before; pumping their coaches for more tips on how to improve their form. Stoke was building on all levels and ladies started wondering out loud when they might be ready to hit a river and test their newfound skills.
Whether beginner or intermediate, all of the ladies clamored for “more time” as we started to lose daylight and one of the last dog days of summer began slipping away. Heather and the Spokane Women on the Fly are a perfect example of the positive group experience that women are seeking out on the river: rad women swapping tips and stories, sharing laughs and smiles, and most importantly, bringing women who are new to the sport into their world with encouraging words and open arms. See you on the river!
Anna Twohig, SheJumps Pacific Coast Ambassador