Jenny Tates grew up in a family of anglers and with the fortunate access to incredible fishy waters in her backyard. After graduating college with a Business Economics degree and a family business in her future -- her path was pretty clear. With a quick stint in Public Relations after graduating, Jenny soon entered the family company that her great grandfather started. She began working closely alongside her cousin, who is now in line to becoming the 4th generation owner of the family business. After a few months of working with her family, the reality set in that while her heart wasn't necessarily in the family business, it was in the family passion: fly fishing. Since that realization, Jenny has chased her contagious love for fly fishing all over the world. She now is based out of Marblehead, Massachusetts where she is building her business, FlyandFlow, which has a mission to share the passion of fly fishing and inspire women to get on the water. Read on to learn more about Jenny's new business and her love for fly fishing.
We're curious... how did you get into fly fishing?
While I grew up with a familiarity of fly fishing for striped bass, "stripers" from my father, it wasn't until 2009 that I picked up a fly rod. My first fish on the fly was a bonefish in the beautiful Bahamas. I still remember it like it was yesterday. The frustration of not being able to spot the fish or reach them with my beginner's cast finally broke and I laid into my first bonefish and never looked back. That trip ignited something in me that I carried home to Massachusetts. From then on, my summer mornings were spent waking up before sunrise to chase stripers. Fly fishing has since become a lifelong passion. I now dream of chasing golden dorado in South America - and my fly fishing destination bucket list continues to grow off the page.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced so far in fly fishing?
Fly fishing remains to be challenging time after time, which makes it so rewarding and addicting. While, I've been skunked a handful of times chasing tarpon, my quest to land one remains high on my priority list. Many say, "That's why it's called fishing and not catching." In a less literal sense, being a female in this sport can be challenging at times. Fly fishing has traditionally targeted and recruited men. Today, more than ever, more women are discovering a passion for fly fishing.
Female anglers are gravitating towards several different roles in the industry: conservationists, guides, entrepreneurs, artists, and industry leaders. It's amazing to see and be a part of.
What is one of the most memorable species you've caught?
Landing my first permit on the fly is a memory I'll never forget. It was brutally hot out and we'd been chasing the same school of permit for what felt like hours. To our advantage, these fish were feeding in a pattern that allowed for us to stay on them for quite some time. After hours of countless presentations of the fly, patience, and anticipation, one finally gave me a fighting chance. After landing this fish and rejoicing in one of the happiest moments of my life, I named him flapjack and sent him on his merry way. It's a memory I wish I could relive repeatedly.
You're starting a new venture right? Tell us about it.
I've finally found my true pursuit in fly fishing through FlyandFlow. FlyandFlow's mission is to encourage more women to get on the water with a fly rod in hand through various travel destinations around the world. From Massachusetts to Belize, these trips are designed for all levels of female anglers and built for learning, disconnecting, and supporting other women to get outdoors and fly fish. The journey is just as important as the fish we find. FlyandFlow's next trip is fishing the Deerfield River in late March with Harrison Anglers as a kick-off to the spring. We already have several novice anglers signed-up. Learning from each other in this environment is what it's all about.
Was there an 'aha' moment that lead you to starting FlyandFlow? To think... I'm going to build my future around fly fishing no matter what?
Since September, FlyandFlow has become my sole focus. Of course, this is scary, but, it's truely what drives me. I think the 'aha' moment has been building for some time now and I have finally been able to direct it towards a goal: FlyandFlow. Women are the fastest growing demographic within fly fishing and it's changing the norms of the industry.
As a female angler, I feel inspired by the growth and enthusiasm surrounding women in the fly fishing industry.
What's on the horizon for FlyandFlow for 2019?
2019 is going to be a great year! I'm working on getting more involved on a local level through hosting various casting clinics throughout the summertime and even a local tournament. In terms of trips that are on the horizon for women, we currently have Montana, Belize, the Bahamas, and our backyard fishery lined up for 2019.
What's your perspective on the future of the fly fishing industry?
I believe a significant part of the future of the fly fishing industry is female. In 2018, the Outdoor Industry Association's Special Report on fishing reported that 31% of the fly fishing industry is made up of female anglers. This percentage is predicted to rise as women are noted to be the fastest growing demographic in the sport. The American Sportfishing Association reported that women account for 45% of new fishing participants in 2017. While women's involvement is increasing in numbers, opportunity is still essential for future growth. More women need to be encouraged to get on the water with a rod in hand, which is what inspired me with FlyandFlow. Women are key to the future of fishing.
What's your packing list for a day on the water?
For a full day on the water, I like to be prepared. You just never know what the day will bring. Packing lists can vary based on species and duration on the water. I'm going to reference a day on the water fishing for stripers. In summary:
- Multiple layers (New England weather is extremely unpredictable)
- Waterproof outer layers
- A hat for sun protection
- Quality polarized sunglasses for spotting fish
- Water for hydration
- Bars for nourishment
- Some sort of day pack for organization
- An assortment of flies, leaders, tippet, wire for bluefish... everything you need to feel confident in your set up to land "the one"
- Beer for slow times or celebratory times
- I even have hand warmers on standby for the exceptionally cold days
How should people get in touch with you or involved with FlyandFlow?
I would love to chat more about FlyandFlow and opportunities to connect further. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers to a fishy 2019.