Wild, stronger, together

Don Oliver | Special to the Drum

The above title makes one think the Wild Bunch, from last month’s column, merged with other Wild Bunches and are conquering the world. You’d be wrong if that’s what you thought. No, “Wild, Stronger, Together” is the motto for Durango’s new women’s fly fishing club, called Braided. While this club is new, it was in the works for two years.

Two years ago, Kami Swingle and her husband Nick, new Durango residents working in the fly fishing industry, were invited to the Orvis Guide Rendezvous. Kami’s role was to meet with a group of ladies, in the industry, to try and come up with new ways to get more women into fly fishing. Kami and Nick were invited to attend the following rendezvous, and Kami meet with the same group of women. Only this time, after a year of thinking and communicating, the group came up with a plan for Orvis. It is known as the 50/50 campaign. The campaign embodies three main goals: Making it easy for women to participate in the sport, celebrating the unique connection between women and conservation and showcasing authentic experiences of real women fly fishing.

You can, and should, go to the Orvis website. Click on fly fishing, then women on the water, and find more about this effort.

After doing this work, Kami realized that, in fact, finding other women to fly fish with was difficult at best. Her husband, Nick, didn’t have any problem finding other guys to fly fish with, me being one of them. So, when fly fishing and visiting with her friend Katherine Sumrall Griego, they decided to do something about the imbalance, and formed Braided. Braided is a fly fishing club whose membership is comprised of women wanting to learn how to fly fish, and women who already know how to fly fish but are looking to find other women to share the sport. Their  website is www.braidedflyfish.com. This club is truly organized. Having been in existence for less than one year they have approximately 60 members, plus 170 followers on Facebook. They meet the first Tuesday of each month, at various locations. There are no requirements for membership and no dues. To raise funds for operations there is an occasional charge for an event, and they sell hats. I’ll buy one.

In less than a year Braided has hosted two happy hours to introduce themselves to the community, a film night, fly fishing 101 sponsored by Durangler’s, and fly fishing 201 sponsored by The San Juan Angler. The 201 event had some of the members catching their first fish using a fly rod. Another casting clinic hosted by Simms, Durangler’s and a large group of volunteers helped the members of Braided with basic casting. The two happy hours and film night raised some funds, part of which, were donated to Casting For Recovery (CFR). CFR is an international non-profit that teaches fly fishing to women dealing with various stages of breast cancer. The next event will be in October when Orvis representatives will be here. If that’s not enough, future events include a river cleanup, and classes on etymology and conservation. Men, we need to tip our hats to Kami and Katherine. I think Braided is going to give our sport a much needed boost.

I have written, in previous columns, about there not being enough women fly fishing (column 85). I also wrote about the differences in mythical men’s and ladies’ fly fishing clubs (column 52). In my fantasy, I dreamed that Kami and Katherine read my old columns and used them as their motivation to form Braided.

So, where does this leave us old guys that love to fly fish. First, we can do a better job of sharing our sport with others. Then maybe we’ll have to form some type of men’s fly fishing club. Or, we can get wigs, shave, question our sexuality, and join Braided. The choice is yours.

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