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    Pat Stout

      From: Ascent Fly Fishing. 10/20/2021

      We’ve been following Colorado Women on the Fly (CWOTF) Founder Erin Crider and her group for sometime, and feel like this is exactly what the sport of fly fishing needs! As much as we try to be inclusive and welcoming to a growing and diverse fly fishing community, when it comes to creating a community, safe space, and educating women anglers and BIPOC ( Black, Indigenous, and people of color), CWOTF is doing it better than anyone else. In this week’s newsletter we had the privilege of connecting with Erin to learn more about her vision and group.

      For those who haven’t heard of Colorado Women on the Fly what is it?
      Colorado women on the fly is a group of women and people that identify as women who want to grow and learn together. We are creating space in the outdoors for women. I got the idea when I couldn’t find anyone to fish with and my husband wasn’t interested. When visiting fly shop events I would only see one or two other women and I thought there was no one like me, but I was very wrong, and we just hadn’t found our community yet.

      Why did you start Colorado Women on the Fly and who did you have in mind when you started it? Did you feel there was a need or something missing in the industry?
      Our Slogan is: For women, By women, with the help of Gentlemen.

      This group is for any women who want to fish with other ladies and to also help us all feel safer on the water. I feel like there is a lot less ego between the ladies, we learn differently, and we are really out there to meet and help each other. We strongly believe that if you are catching fish, then you are not doing it wrong. Now the group is taking a stance on discrimination and highlighting the fly fishing companies that are gentlemen and actually support us. We aren’t hating on the industry, but we are definitely educating and speaking out. When men approach us on the river and tell us how to fly fishing works we have no problem letting let them know that we didn’t ask for their advice and we know what we’re doing. If we need help, we know who to call. Half of the team that hosts events are women of color, and if men are open to learning they are welcome to join us.

      3 or 4 years ago I found a dead Facebook group “Colorado Women on the Fly”) and asked the owner if I could put life back into it. She agreed and I was off! I reposted events, started fish-a-longs, went to fly shops events and slowly started pulling some of out of the woodwork. Now, there is a pretty solid following (over 1000 members), even on Instagram, which I started in March of 2020.

      Now that you mention it, I think it is kind of weird that men regularly approach women on the river to volunteer information or correct how they are fishing!? This wouldn’t happen in hiking or most other hobbies. What is it like to have to men regularly approaching you and other woman anglers on the water and how can we as men do things better?
      Mansplaining is something we deal with every time we’re on the river and it comes from an assumption that women anglers don’t know what they are doing. It makes women uncomfortable when a stranger approaches them from behind out in the middle of no where. Women are out there for their own enjoyment and mental health, and just want to be left to fish. The best thing to say to any women on the river is how’s it going. Common courtesy and questions. Women aren’t there to stroke guys egos on the river and we’re not looking to give out numbers.

      That makes total sense. When did you decide to start leading classes? What types of classes are you leading and do you have plans to diversify in the future?
      I recently started leading classes because it didn’t appear that anyone else was doing classes exclusively for women anglers. Originally I would reach out to shops to try to organize women events with them, but they weren’t interested so I started doing my own thing. We have a lot of nurses, medical professionals, moms, and educators that needed to escape their pandemic lifes and unwind. So we teamed up with Eeland Strickland of Colorado Parks and Wildlife who was also working to educate anglers, and to put on some casting classes for BIPOC ( Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and women. Fly tying is next!

      There are a lot of Facebook groups and fishing clubs that “talk” about fishing, but from the CWOTF Instagram it looks like you and the members actually get out and fish together! Are trips open to women who attend the clinic or are these mostly groups of friends posting together?
      There is a private FB group that women can join and see when fish-a-longs and events are happening and we keep it is private for their safety. I am currently in the process of making Colorado Women on the Fly an LLC but more on that later. Until next year, we are highlighting other women, posting tips, and going to start hosting sober fly tying events.

      If you had a message for the angling community or women who are thinking about trying fly fishing, what would that message be?
      Get the F#ck outside! There are thousands of studies out there saying how powerful getting out in the woods and water for even 2 hours can have an impact on your mental health. You already live in this amazing state, so go explore it with more than a hike. The local wildlife needs you and you need it before it disappears or becomes private land. We are lucky to live in a state with so much public land. It’s not always about catching fish, its about getting on the water together, getting away, escaping, and learning new skills as a community of woman anglers.

      Do you have any plans for franchising? How can other women do what you are doing where they live?
      Colorado Women on the Fly is a part of United Women on the Fly. I guess you could say it is a franchise. However, my other start up is called Uncharted Outdoorswomen. Hiking, camping, navigation, plant identification, ice fishing, fly fishing, fly tying, conceal and carry, firearm safety, sporting clays, upland and waterfowl hunts, and how to hunt big game. Phew? big dreams ahead. This is definitely, franchisable. Coming 2022

      That is super exciting! Please keep us posted! How can women connect with CWOTF? Where can they follow you and learn about upcoming events?
      We are working on a couple of websites that we hope to have live in the Spring of 2022. Currently we are very active on social media with Instagram and Facebook and you can women wanting to get involved can follow us @coloradowomenonthefly. The Facebook group is private to help keep our women anglers safe and it is open to all women. This is a great place for women looking for a fishing buddy, a good guide, sell gear, or join us for an event.

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