Local angler hosts women’s fly fishing clinics

Laney Griffo
The first half of the clinic is spent learning about the flies and the equipment.

For many people, there is nothing better than a peaceful day fishing on the river. Nothing beats the sounds of running water and the calm while waiting for a fish to bite.

But in the male dominated world of fly fishing, going out to the river can be intimidating for some women. This is why Alpine Fly Fishing, and local fly fisher, Amy McCormick, have been growing their women’s specific fly fishing classes.

According to a 2019 Vice article, women made up 31% of the nearly 6.5 million Americans on the river. However, in the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of women taking on the sport.

“What we’re seeing in the sport is that the female segment of the market is growing immensely, it’s the fastest growing segment in fly fishing right now,” McCormick said.

McCormick moved to the basin 30 years ago to finish school. She was planning to transfer to a four year college but fell in love with Lake Tahoe so she finished up her education at Sierra Nevada College.

She got her degree in painting and to bide her time while figuring out how to use that degree, she got a job at Kirkwood. She’s spent the last 24 years working at Kirkwood in the winter.

She helped build the Expedition Kirkwood program and she focused solely on the women’s aspect of the clinics.

“I’ve been coaching those for at least 15 years so that’s where I found my passion for focusing on women in sports,” McCormick said.

McCormick does say she sees a difference in the way men and women learn sports and that difference is really seen in fly fishing.

“I find that working with women, I obviously relate to them but they take in information differently than men,” McCormick said.

McCormick started fly fishing in 2001 when an old boss from Kirkwood, who was a fly fishing guide, took her out on her first fly fishing trip. She said she was “hooked right away.”

She started to pursue that sport when she wasn’t at Kirkwood and eventually began working at Alpine Fly Fishing.

“What I like about fly fishing is that it’s basically playing with nature,” McCormick said.

When you present your fly to the fish, it needs to look like something they’d really eat.

“There’s a lot that goes into that to, it’s not only what bugs you’re using but how you’re presenting them, how you’re tying them to your line, your lengths, the distance between the flies, how much weight you’re putting on and it’s all dictated by what the water is doing,” McCormick said.

McCormick has been fishing for 20 years.

McCormick said the sport is peaceful and artistic, which is part of the reason she thinks more women are being drawn to the sport.

“There’s no bad days on the river, whether you catch fish or not,” McCormick said.

It requires a ton of patience and the ability to appreciate being one with the surroundings.

McCormick offers one day and two day clinics. During the clinics, she spends the first half letting the women get acquainted with the equipment and learning to make flies. The second part is spent on the water.

She recommends the two day because it allows for more time to learn and for more time on the river.

The clinics are given on various sections of the Carson River, the Walker River or on the Truckee River.

To learn more or to book a lesson, visit

Editor’s note: This story appears in the 2021 summer edition of Tahoe Magazine.

McCormick loves how fly fishing imitates nature.

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