Flyfishing discovers women. \u00a0\r\nThis was the headline of a major newspaper\u2019s coverage of the surge of women in flyfishing recently. And as much as I loathe that title \u2014 women have been flyfishing since, well, forever \u2014 I learned in the last few weeks that maybe it was apt, if comically na\u00efve.\r\nI spent the last two weekends at flyfishing shows in New Jersey and Atlanta, where I met dozens of industry leaders, guides and lodge owners, creatives and rod builders, apparel designers and shop owners. I was representing\u00a0The Flyfish Journal, and engaged in great conversations with hundreds of great people at both shows \u2014 people who wanted to know about the magazine, about where I\u2019ve been fishing, about how Mt. Baker has been skiing, about steelhead numbers in the Pacific Northwest, about the great fishing on the East coast and in the South.\r\n\r\nBut, amidst all of these positive interactions were a few that felt a little off, a little frustrating, a little bit weird \u2014\u00a0conversations and interactions that left me wondering if flyfishing really\u00a0did\u00a0just discover women. I\u2019ve detailed a few of these interactions below, a few examples of what many women in the the flyfishing industry have been putting up with for years, whether at flyfishing events, expos, flyshops or on the river. And for those that might feel inclined to make similarly poor attempts at conversation, I\u2019ve also included some suggestions that might have come off as less condescending\/weird:\r\n1.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 \u201cDo you\u00a0actually\u00a0fish?\u201d\r\nThis was a reoccurring issue, one that eventually got so annoying that I stopped politely laughing it off as an innocent inquiry from guys who maybe aren\u2019t entirely aware that women do\u00a0actually\u00a0fish. In all, I was asked probably 15 times if I *actually*\u00a0fish while in New Jersey (interestingly, no one asked me this question in Atlanta). That emphasis is not misplaced, either \u2014 every time I was offered this as a conversation starter, it was accompanied with a notable inflection on the \u201cactually,\u201d which by the 10 or 11th occurrence made me damn near lose it.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSuggestion: For those keen on not insulting the person you\u2019re talking to at the very beginning of the conversation, I\u2019d suggest alternatively starting with \u201cwhere do you like to fish?\u201d which leaves the other person with the opportunity to say, \u201cwell I\u2019ve been loving so-and-so river lately,\u201d or \u201coh, I don\u2019t fish.\u201d Though when you\u2019re attending a flyfishing show, you should maybe just assume anyone behind a booth\u00a0probably\u00a0flyfishes.\r\n2.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 \u201cWould you like to come work at my lodge as a housekeeper?\u201d\r\nThis was seemingly innocent, but hinted at a larger misconception that is nonetheless incredibly misguided: that women at a flyfishing show \u2014 some of the most qualified people in the industry, women who own companies and work for nonprofits and as guides and designers and in any number of other roles \u2014 would be not just interested but\u00a0able\u00a0to come work for a couple dollars over minimum wage cleaning sheets at your lodge. This man said he\u2019d asked 15 (his number, not mine) other women, and was genuinely surprised that no one was interested.\r\n\r\nSuggestion: Before talking to a woman or asking her a question (I know, scary stuff) consider if you might ask the same thing of a man at a flyfishing show. I\u00a0highly\u00a0doubt that any of the men running booths this weekend were asked if they\u2019d like to come be a housekeeper at a lodge.\r\n3. \u201cIf I had a time machine, I\u2019d time travel to be able to chase that.\u201d\r\nSo there I was, super excited about my comfortable new FisheWear leggings, when an old dude shared this cringe-inducing thought with me, amidst an innocent conversation about how the show had been going for him (he was running another booth). He even gave me a little look over as he said this, while standing unusually close to me. Ick.\r\n\r\nSuggestion: Just\u2026.don\u2019t.\r\n4. \u201cYou giving out kisses, sweetheart?\u201d\r\nThis one has a few different levels of weird to it. Not only was I asked if I was giving out kisses while sitting behind The Flyfish Journal booth, but the guy who asked then pointed to his embarrassed kid, insinuating that it wasn\u2019t him that wanted the kiss but his preteen. I said I wasn\u2019t really in the habit of kissing 12-year-olds. He was insulted that I said no and thought his kid was 12 \u2014 he\u2019s 14, come on. He then said he for sure thought I was 17, which is why he thought it was okay. For the record, let me count the ways that this isn\u2019t okay: Teaching your kid that it\u2019s cool to ask random women for kisses, and being insulted when they say no; using the word \u201csweetheart\u201d when talking to literally any woman besides your girlfriend, wife or daughter; telling me I look like I\u2019m 17 when I\u2019m 26 and very clearly working professionally in the industry; and, of course, asking random women who are trying to work for kisses.\r\nSuggestion: Come to the booth and introduce yourself. Ask me about the magazine, maybe look through one, ask me what I do for them \u2014 I\u2019ll likely ask you what you\u2019ve been fishing for lately and give your kid a sticker. Engage with me in the same way you would with the men in the booths around me, and maybe show your kid that women are capable of more than just giving out kisses.\r\n5.\u201cCome sit right here.\u201d\r\nYup, someone had to ask me to sit on their lap, right? This was said with a definitive lap slap, like what your grandpa did when you were five and he wanted to tell you a story. Except I\u2019m 26, this guy was for sure not my grandpa, and he just wanted to get a photo with me.\r\n\r\nSuggestion: Again\u2026just, don\u2019t.\r\n\r\nIn what has become a common theme in stories of this nature, I questioned whether or not to write this, let alone post it on the internet. But women in the flyfishing industry (and the universe, really) have been dealing with stuff like this for as long as they\u2019ve been around, so I figured if nothing else, my experiences would be relatable to half the population and informative for the other half. The vast majority of the men I spoke to over the weekend were respectful, tactful and thoroughly interested in hearing about my favorite rivers, my experience catching my first steelhead last fall and the work I\u2019ve done for\u00a0The Flyfish Journal. And then there were the handful that were peddling that same old attitude towards women in this industry, even though in most cases, these conversations could have been positive if just an iota of thought had been put into them, which is frankly not that much to ask. Even if some of these interactions read as innocuous \u2014 maybe misguided but innocent nonetheless \u2014 they were insulting, blatantly sexual and, ultimately, detrimental to an industry intent on welcoming all of us recently \u201cdiscovered\u201d women.\r\n\r\n[divider]about the author[\/divider]\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOriginally from Northern Michigan, Amanda Monthei now spends her summers smelling like smoke while fighting fires in Idaho and her winters attempting to figure out how to catch winter steelhead in Washington. When not standing in rivers or ash, she regularly contributes to\u00a0The Flyfish Journal\u00a0and\u00a0The Ski Journal\u00a0and can often be found trying to learn\u00a0Cripple Creek\u00a0on her banjo.