If I told you that women spend a lot of money it wouldn't be news. But if I told you that women spend $3 billion annually on trip-related fishing expenses and fishing equipment, it would be huge news. Well, I'm here to tell you that is exactly what they spend according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
The only people that may not be surprised by this figure are fishing equipment manufacturers. After all, they have been tracking the female-phenomena for several years. Their business depends on it.
"We believe the female target market has been increasing for years and will only continue to grow," says David Robinson, technical advisor for The Orvis Co. Inc., a fishing equipment manufacturer based in Manchester, Vt.
From 1986 through 1996 Orvis manufactured the Marbury Rod, a superfine rod that had a soft action that worked well with delicate casts. "The only reason we stopped manufacturing that superfine series was because today's technology provided us with the ability to produce lighter rods for both genders," Robinson says.
These advancements eliminated the need for gender-specific rods, at least in terms of rod weight. The size of the grip, however, is often the focus of rod customization according to Rick Bogert, maker of Bogey Custom Rods.
"The only thing on a rod that can be changed to make it more female-friendly is the grip," he explains. "I often customize the grips for women by shaving them down on the lathe." This narrowing of the grip enables female anglers, who typically have smaller hands than their male counterparts, to have a more stable grip with less room for slippage.
Slipping also plays a role in the eyeglass industry. For the first time, Orvis will be offering new sunglass designs specially targeting female anglers. "We found the need to design smaller frames and lenses to meet the needs of the female angler, who has a smaller facial structure," Robinson says.
Orvis is not alone in its search for the perfect sunglasses for female anglers. Dr. Gary Nesty, an optometrist for Solar Bats Enterprises, Inc., an eyewear manufacturer headquartered in Brazil, Ind., launched a smaller framed sunglass-design three years ago and is adding two more this year.
"Not only do we shrink the frame size and narrow the bridge gap, but we try to appeal to the fashion side of a woman and utilize colors that compliment her," he says.
The newly launched "C Max" and "V Max" designs are made of a lightweight alloy and will be available in an antique gold finish.
While shrinking may work on some pieces of gear, like rod grips and eyewear, other areas call for expansion.
"I need tackle manufacturers to make the boxes bigger, more durable and lighter," says Tammie Muse of North Little Rock, Ark., a top angler who finished ninth as a co-angler at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour season opener. "As a woman, I need to take everything with me. If I have to ask my male partner for something, he may view me as less than prepared, which is a light in which women cannot afford to be viewed."
Overall, equipment manufacturers are beginning to recognize the value of a female market that some insiders believe makes up almost 15 percent of annual sales revenue. In light of this market potential, many companies are hiring women to be part of the company pro staff, which is good news for female anglers on tour.
While some tools of the trade need a female touch, others are just fine the way they are. The most important thing to remember is that what makes a rod a 'woman's rod' is the fact that she owns it - and nothing more.
Content provided by Bass Fishing Magazine, the official publication of FLW Outdoors