Should you teach your significant other to fish?

Teaching the Wife to Fish

The decision to teach your partner to fly fish may be more complicated than you think.

photo by Tom Rosenbauer

You know you’re dealing with a touchy subject when you have to begin with a disclaimer, but here goes: this post is not about gender. The points made here apply equally to men and women when the roles are reversed. I know several couples in which it is the female who is the passionate angler. The power dynamics are somewhat different, but the same rules apply. Okay, now that that’s out of the way. . .

Robin Kadet’s recent post about learning to fly fishing brings up a question I’ve heard a lot over the years: Is it a good idea to teach your spouse how to fly fish? In most cases, it’s a man wondering about his wife, but I know couples in which the wife is the hardcore angler, as well.

In a column I wrote a couple years ago on, I laid out the issues this way:

I’ve heard two competing arguments over the years. Uxorious types believe that a wife who knows how to fly fish means the angler will now have a loving partner with whom he can share his passion. Aside from the joys of bonding over a shared love of fishing, this arrangement may also translate to more opportunities to fish, since now you don’t have to split your free time between doing what you want to do (fish) and what the wife wants to do (something else). The counter argument is that a man’s fishing expeditions are a time for him to be away from his partner, giving each some time to breath and recharge. (Of course, if the wife is left home alone with the kids, how much recharging is she doing?) Depending on the relationship, there are merits to each argument. I know husband-wife teams who really enjoy each other’s company on the water, and I’ve guided couples who should never have gotten in a boat together. I leave this decision to each individual angler, his conscience, and his partner.

About eight years ago, I booked a float trip for my wife and me with Reel Women, a guide service staffed by female guides in Victor, Idaho. I figured that Mary Beth would learn better from a woman, which turned out to be true. She picked up the sport quickly, and we had a great time. However, she never developed a real passion for fly fishing, and it remains my “thing.” I’m sure she could be great at it because she’s naturally athletic and her casting stroke was good right off the bat, but I’ve never tried to push her to fish more. However, even though she didn’t develop into a true fishing partner, I think that sharing my love for the sport with her was an important step in helping her understand why I want to be on the water so much.

In a recent article in the Baxter (AR) Bulletin, popular Outdoors columnist John Berry shares his different experience and argues persuasively that teaching his then-girlfriend to fish many years ago has greatly enriched both his relationship and his angling experiences. I know that Tom Rosenbauer is very excited by Robin’s recent enthusiasm for the sport.

What do you think?

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