An open letter to sponsors Patagonia, Simms, Trout Unlimited, Yeti Coolers, Scientific Anglers, Adipose, Dale’s Pale Ale, Crystal Creek Lodge, Abel, TFO Flyrods, Yellow Dog, The Drake, Ross Reels, Costa and organizers of the Fly Fishing Film Tour
Dear Sponsors and Organizers of the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T),
I’d like to thank you for the hard work you dedicated towards this year’s Fly Fishing Film Tour. I loved the window into Alaska guide life in “The Lost Boys of the Yantarni.” Highlighting taimen conservation in Mongolia was inspiring to a young water conservationist like myself. “Bucknasty” and “Yow” are sure to be new words in my river vocabulary. I appreciate that your festival highlights much more than catching fish – it also captures the lifestyle, humor and excitement of the fly fishing sport as a whole.
I saw the F3T at one of its first stops in Bozeman, Montana. It was my first time attending a F3T, and I was looking forward to the films pumping me up for the upcoming spring season of fishing. Yet when I left the Emerson Theater three hours later, I was upset. Why?
I was upset because in over two hours of fly fishing films, not a single woman casted a fly rod. Out of twelve films, I recall only one woman’s voice recorded, a conservationist in “Wild Fish Works.” A man emceed the event, men talked about the films they made, and the only women on stage the entire night were drawing raffle tickets. There were plenty of women in the audience – not just girlfriends, but also guides, fly tiers and avid fisherwomen, and none were represented during the films.
“Oh, don’t go all women’s equality studies on us,” you might be thinking. “This tour is about fishing, not gender.”
Please, hear me out. Sponsors and film organizers, I know you aren’t misogynist a-holes. I know that you have mothers, girlfriends, female fishing buddies, and sisters that you love and support. I know that many of your top employees are women and that you have women professional fly fishing ambassadors. Which is why I also know that you’re better than what was presented at this year’s F3T.
Sponsors in particular have the most to lose in this. I’ll give you a personal example. I started fly fishing four years ago. Like with any new sport, I started with a pair of hand me down waders, too-small boots and a borrowed fly rod. I hooked a few big fish and got hooked myself. I bought my own fly rod, tippet, and indicators and begged handmade flies off friends. I’ve caught some nice fish, and I’ve lost a lot of nice fish too. I learn more about casting technique, fish habitat, and untangling monofilament every time I go out on the river. I whitewater guide on the wilderness sections of the Salmon River in Idaho, and hope to someday be a fishing resource for my guests. I’m seriously looking to upgrade my disintegrating hand-me-down waders, maybe with a pair of Patagonia Spring Rivers or Simms G3 Guides. Ross Reels, I just realized how much a nice reel can improve your fishing experience and I’d love to support a business like yours. Costa, I’m always losing or breaking my sunglasses, and your products look ideal for long, sunny days on the water.
Why as a company or organization do you support a media event like the F3T? Because you love fly fishing, of course! But also because your savvy marketers realize the power a well crafted video has to motivate people to get outdoors and experience a sport. It doesn’t matter if they book a Yellow Dog trip to Argentina or only drive to the Gallatin River, thirty minutes away. You know that if someone watches a fly fisherman hook a taimen in Mongolia while wearing your waders that the next time they make it out to their backyard river, they will want to be wearing your waders too.
The problem is that my feet and legs don’t fit in men’s waders (trust me, I’ve tried). Seeing man after man casting, catching, laughing and cheering on his equally male buddies doesn’t motivate me to go buy your women’s specific fly fishing gear or trucker hats. Sponsoring a film tour is about supporting the fly fishing community that supports you back. And this year? You missed us.
Again, I trust this didn’t happened purposefully. I want to know about the barriers to having females in your films so we can cast beyond them, so to speak. Were there no good film submissions featuring females? I’d like to help organize some of the talented female guides and other avid fisherwomen to work with videographers in the upcoming year. Did you feel that watching a strong woman cast tight loops and catch the perfect fish wouldn’t be well received? Trust me – that theater in Bozeman would’ve erupted had they gotten to watch a woman land one of those taimen. Are there not enough great fly fisherwomen to feature? Of course not! You know more of them than I do.
Diversity makes media stronger and more interesting. In the series of films this year, you highlighted brown trout, taimen, carp, tarpon, bonefish and salmon. If every film had been about pursuing brown trout, your audience would’ve been bored. If every fish had been caught on a salt water flat between Florida and Cuba, you would’ve been criticized. Diversity, however, goes farther than fish genetics and human nationalities. It also includes gender.
[bctt tweet=”Diversity, however, goes farther than fish genetics and human nationalities. It also includes gender.”]
I’m looking forward to seeing what the F3T features in the upcoming year. I’m hoping your feature will be titled “Females F&*$ing Fish Too,” but I’m open for suggestions.
Emerald LaFortune is an Idaho and Montana based outdoor writer and adventure guide (whitewater boating with OARS – Idaho) with an Environmental Studies and Non-Profit Administration background. You can see her portfolio here and her blog here. Most of her writing experience involves river sports and environmental issues.