SHERIDAN — Fly-fishing isn’t just an “old white guy’s sport” anymore, and new co-owners of the Fly Shop of the Bighorns, Angling Destinations and Trout Unlimited are hosting an event to prove that reality to Sheridanites.
Sheridan already creates an inclusive atmosphere for anyone interested in fly-fishing — from children with differing socioeconomic statuses participating in Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation to women taking to the rivers with Rods, Reels and Heels. Bringing the Fly Fishing Film Tour to Sheridan for the fifth year adds to the inclusivity and diversity for those wishing to learn about the deeper stories associated with fly-fishing.
“The content is usually — sometimes it can be political — there’s usually a story there, it’s not just, ‘Hey, fishing, look at this big fish,’ or, ‘Look at this group of people that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to go fishing,’” said Clark Smyth, co-owner of the Fly Shop. “There’s a lot more to it; they’re more substantive than that.”
Every year, the tour includes eight short films, each about 15 minutes long and tour organizers send out something to tour members about what each of the films are about, said Liza Scott, a guide with Rock Creek Anglers. While she said the company works to keep upcoming tour film content a secret, in years past they pick unique stories. Recently, filmmakers and those choosing the films for the tour promote inclusivity by including fly-fishing stories about women and children.
“They’ve a bigger push to have inclusivity of kids and women and having more of those films featuring those types of people when you don’t totally think of when you think of fly-fishing, which has been awesome to see,” Scott said.
Scott, the only female guide with Rock Creek Anglers, has worked with the company for several years, starting with the sport after her grandfather passed down the tradition.
Smyth said he is observing a shift in more women gaining confidence in their skills within the sport, and stories he has heard firsthand of people feeling intimidated about coming into the store is something he is trying to eliminate.
“It’s like, wait, what’s intimidating about coming into a retail store on Main Street?” Smyth said. “There’s just this culture of boys club with fly-fishing; how do you break that trend? I’m sure some of these films will address that, but that’s also something company-wise we’re trying to address.”
With the mystery films headed Sheridan’s way earlier than in years past — to cater to those who were seeing it earlier at other locations before it came to Sheridan — and a raffle for a fishing trip to the Bahamas, Smyth and his crew are working to bridge those gaps between the boys club and everyone’s sport.
In addition, 100% of the proceeds are being fed right back into nonprofit work through the Sheridan Community Land Trust. Smyth said the SCLT is a great partner for them and works hard to establish healthy waterways in Sheridan, which translates to healthy fish habitats and positive fishing experiences for people of any demographic living in or visiting Sheridan.
Whether venturing into the sport for the first time or having decades of experience under your belt, Smyth and Scott encourage all to participate in the film tour Feb. 29 at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with opportunities to bid on silent auction items including $10,000-$12,000 worth of donated items. Films begin at 6 p.m.
Editor’s note: Fly Shop of the Bighorns is offering Press Pass members