Briget Shields isn’t always taken seriously by men when she’s out fly fishing. They’re making a serious mistake. Shields, of Pittsburgh, is an accomplished angler, a fly-fishing instructor and first woman named to the board of directors of Penn’s Woods West Trout Unlimited.

In the coming months, she’ll teach women the art and science of fly fishing in a ladies-only setting.

Nationwide, the percentage of female anglers is growing. Statistics suggest that women who fish tend to prefer fly fishing at a higher proportion than men.

Product manufacturers, outdoor travel agencies and fishing retailers are beginning to understand the physical and attitudinal differences between their traditional male customers and the growing number of female anglers.

Southwick found that from 2001 to 2011, the number of female freshwater anglers had grown nearly 1 percent, and that the ways in which women and men fish was markedly different. While about 70 percent of men target a specific fish species, 43 percent of women fish for “whatever bites.” More so than men, women perceive fishing as a chance to commune with nature and socialize – 86 percent said they fish to spend time on or near the water, and 84 percent view fishing as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. And while 20 percent of male anglers favor fly fishing, 23 percent of women said they’d rather catch fish with flies.

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