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Womens Flyfishing Clubs

Years ago I had the opportunity to serve on the founding board for Colorado Women Flyfishers. At the time, I was a recent college graduate who had just relocated to Denver. Like so many volunteer opportunities, serving on this board brought much more to my life than I was ever able to give to it. Lifelong friendships, new adventures and a new community that welcomed a young woman moving into the next phase of  life.

I was blessed to grow up in a flyfishing family. The club however offered monthly educational meetings (with dinner and socializing), casting lessons and we soon formed a long list of summer trips all over the state. I was fortunate to meet a group of friends who enjoyed the same recreation I did; and they came from all walks of life.

As the women’s flyfishing segment continues to grow, so do the clubs and other groups serving it. Flyfishers International (FFI), founded in 1964 to offer education, conservation and community, was always open to women; however like the sport itself, FFI had more men in their membership than women. In 2016 four ladies decided to create an organized voice for the women’s segment to be represented and have offerings at the annual FFI Expo. These ladies have not only created a voice but they’ve had the most popular booth at the expo, evening events that included happy hour, door prizes and an overall enthusiasm that is contagious. They learn about all aspects of flyfishing and, they have a lot of fun.

Patty Lueken, Mary Ann Dozer, Sandy Carpenter, and Molly Semenik were the four ladies who created that organized voice. They had a women’s booth at the expo and women’s educational opportunities that stretched through those two days. Subsequent years brought evening events, happy hour, door prizes, additional education opportunities and the camaraderie we all enjoy.

Today Patty Lueken serves on FFI’s board and is the Women’s Program Committee Chair.   The Women Connect program includes online training opportunities, connections and friendships across the country. Their Facebook group recently passed the 1,000-member mark and continues to grow quickly.  Get involved and you’ll soon have friendships around the globe. Have a question about fishing somewhere new? Post in this group and you’ll have resources, friends and fishing buddies in a heartbeat. In recent years several men started attending the women’s tying events because the are fun! They teach the same skills, offer a variety of patterns and an open, laughter filled, educational environment you will enjoy being a part of.  

Patty recently said, “There is just something special about having the fishing camaraderie with other women.” So true. We all enjoy the time with our significant others but having these friendships is also important.

Flyfishing has always brought amazing people into my life.  I’ve learned a great deal about fishing from my girlfriends. I’ve also learned about domestic duties -or not doing them, relationships, career advice and connections, friendships, backpacking, skiing………. The list goes on and on. Join a women’s club or trip and you’ll find folks like you. You’ll find a place to ask the ‘stupid questions’ (which are the same thing everyone is asking), enjoy a day on the water and make lifelong friendships you’ll truly cherish.

You can ‘connect’ with FFI Women Connect at any of the following: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Instagram: ffiwomenconnect or Facebook: Ffiwomenconnect.

Rods, Reels & Heels

Rods, Reels and Heels - Joni Kamerzel

From time to time Finatical Flyfishing likes to focus on some of the amazing women in flyfishing today. We’d like to introduce you to Joni Kamerzel. She and her husband Kellan own two businesses in Bozeman, MT and are truly live the outdoor flyfishing life.

Joni grew up fishing on her Grandparents’ ranch in Judith Gap, Montana. She loved spending time there with her Dad and cousins chasing fish and being on the ranch. After Moving to Helena she met ‘a cute boy’ in high school who also loved fishing and outdoor activities. Kellan instigated fishing trips and Joni quickly grew to love the sport of fly fishing. They’ve now been married 13 years (flyfishing together for 16) and have two adorable boys ages 11 and 8. These boys are already skilled fly fishermen. (Yes, these sandy-haired blond kiddos do remind you of a River Runs Through It.) Although Joni spent a lot of time on the Big Hole River early on, their family spends the most time on the Yellowstone and Jefferson Rivers now.

Recently they had the opportunity to acquire Rods, Reels and Heels from Brenna Richardson. If you are looking for anything fishy this is the place to check out. Hats, shirts, sweatshirts, stickers and fishy jewelry are there for the taking. There are also some really cute skorts on sale that are different from the few on the market today!  They are currently working on some exciting new items in technical wear and colder weather apparel -stay tuned for their announcements. Only a few months in, they will be working on women’s flyfishing gear and equipment in the not-too-distant future. Keep an eye on their website and social for more information on new releases! 

Joni and Kellan also own and operate Revved Up Promotions. Revved Up is a complete in-house screen printing, embroidery, and promotional products supplier. They can help you brand your business by sourcing just about anything you need with a logo on it.  This company currently serves a very diverse clientele and is growing quickly.

Rods, Reels and Heels and Finatical Flyfishing have partnered up to offer you a special deal through December 31, 2022. Book a trip with Finactical Flyfishing and receive a $25 gift card to Rods, Reels and Heels. (Gift card available at the time trip is paid in full.) You’ll be lookin’ good out on the water with memories to last a lifetime! Just mention Rods, Reels & Heels to Finatical Flyfishing when you book your trip.  Visit Rods, Reels and Heels at to check out all of their products and Finatical Flyfishing to pick out the dream trip you are ready for!


bamboo flyrod maker

Meet Olivia Elia - The First Woman Bamboo Rod Builder

One of the missions of Finatical Flyfishing is to highlight some of the women leading the fly-fishing industry today. There are some fabulous guides, women who own their own shops, and others in various segments of the industry. One segment of the industry that has deep ties to the roots of fly fishing, is bamboo rod making. Before the existence of graphite, before fiberglass, rods were built from bamboo. We may not consider what the making of a rod entails until we have the opportunity to watch the detailed process in action.

We’re honored to introduce you to Olivia Elia, perhaps the first woman building bamboo fly rods. When Olivia was three, her dad gave her a large block of wood, a hammer, and a box of nails for Christmas. She learned both the passion for woodworking and the skill for detail from her Dad at an early age. Olivia's interests have always involved creating with her hands and that has led to many artistic pursuits. She also developed an eye for composition and design in her study of photography.

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts from UCLA, Olivia went on to teach fly fishing as well as pursue her passion for it. She worked at Kala Ukulele while in California and is now at Preston Thompson in Sisters, Oregon building guitars. The profession of being a luthier has strengthened her woodworking skills with knowledge of tools and materials, precision, and artistic endeavor. Olivia's time and dedication to rod building have increased over the last two years. Her first apprenticeship was with master rod builder Russel Beck. She then moved to Sisters, Oregon to serve a second apprenticeship with master rod builder Dave Dozer in Sisters. Today she is building rods and is still close to Dave and Mary Dozer in Oregon. Although she has only been at it a relatively short time, she has orders stacked up to February 2022.

Bamboo rod building is truly an art form. This type of rod is made of six strips of bamboo glued together to form a hexagon. The strips are triangular in cross-section and tapered creating a tapered rod from handle to tip that is both pleasing and functional to use. The art of planing these pieces is one thing. The rod building process also includes sourcing the right materials, assembling it together, and finishing the rod. When one becomes aware of the skill involved with achieving the proper flex in the rod, line management and everything else….... you begin to appreciate this art.

Regarding Olivia’s designs and personal brand, we’ll share this quote:

“Finely crafted bamboo fly rods evoke a feeling of artistry, quality craftsmanship, and tradition. My goal in building bamboo rods is to create a rod that will move exactly as the caster desires. A rod that dances to it's maximum ability. I hand build all my bamboo fly rods one at a time.  I invest upwards of 80 hours building each rod, and I am intent on superior quality and precision in my building process. My tapers are inspired and adopted from those of historic bamboo rod builder, Jim Payne, who was considered to be one of the finest rod designers in modern time. My rods all have a crisp medium-fast action, perfect for delicate dry fly presentations to the most selective trout. I use the finest quality components on all my rods, and I turn all wood reel seats on my rods from hand selected figured hardwoods. I offer a number of different rod sizes/weights that I’m sure will meet your demanding needs of a quality bamboo fly rod.”

If you like the visuals, her Youtube video illustrates the skill, precision and artistry involved in her bamboo rods.

Olivia has been featured in the Bamboo Journal which is produced by the Italian Rodmakers Association.  You can find that story here (page 50). Visit her website at for more details on her rods or contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 605-877-5247.

Meet Julie Meissner, Guide and Former Stanley, Idaho Outfitter

From time to time we like to feature some of the great women in the flyfishing industry today. Meet Julie Meissner, based in Stanley, Idaho.

Julie was born and raised in central Oregon by a father who was the ski school director at Mt. Bachelor and a mother who taught outdoor programs for the community college in Bend. She grew up ski racing with her siblings in the winter and working in the family marina business at Odell Lake in the summer. It was the amazing snow and backcountry skiing that called Julie to Stanley, Idaho in 1981. She planned to stay one winter, working as a backcountry ski guide but has been in Idaho ever since.

She worked as a white-water guide on the Middle Fork of the Salmon for about 20 years and has guided the Main Salmon, the Bruneau, the Owyhee, Hells Canyon, and other well-known regional rivers as well. Over time she moved more and more into guiding flyfishing trips.  In 2000 she started her own business on the Upper Main Salmon with a wading and float permit. Her guiding business did well, and she helped at least two other guides get into the business. There have always been five guides on that section of the river but when Julie started the permits were not used that much.  Fish and Game doesn’t stock some of the area and it was a hidden gem.

Due to her passion for being on the water, she sold that business to Silver Creek Outfitters in 2010. Continuing to guide for Silver Creek she no longer had to spend time doing payroll, marketing, and other office-associated business activities which allowed for more time guiding and fishing. Her flyfishing skills, appreciation for the outdoors, and relationships with her guests are highly prevalent when you get the chance to talk with Julie. We’ve had many comments on our social media posts regarding fabulous days on the water and the demonstration of ‘not a better day to be spent.

Mary Ann Dozer is one of the people Julie helped get into the guiding business and she has a lot of respect for Julie. “Julie knows the river like the lines on her hand, better than any other guide you can find.  She knows how to optimize the day for the anglers on her boat! She'll put you in situations to catch based on your casting skills! I will always be indebted to Julie for mentoring me as a flyfishing guide. You will never meet a more knowledgeable humble guide.”

Julie really values meeting so many amazing people and sharing experiences in the outdoors. One of the more famous clients was a member of President Clintons' cabinet! You ask about favorite stories on the river, she will tell you about a guest who was very new to flyfishing who landed a 24 ½” Cutthroat. That’s a big fish on any river but especially the section of the Salmon below Stanely. That story exemplifies the great teamwork that can happen between angler and guide. 

These days Julie only guides about 20 days per year. She enjoys her time hiking, gardening, and skiing in addition to traveling to countries like Peru and Nepal. Being able to take a couple of months and really immerse yourself in a country and experience the culture is something that really exemplifies Julie’s spirit.

She has a handful of guests who return each year to fish with her. We’re very lucky and appreciative of the opportunity to offer time on the water with Julie Meissner during our September 18-22 trip.

Flyfishing’s Bamboo Origins Shine in this Exquisite Drift Boat

Blog by Steph Albano, June 2021

About this time each year, bamboo rod makers from across the country come together on the Henry’s Fork. If you visit Harriman State Park you can ‘meet the makers’, cast a few of their rods, and learn more about how this art form comes together. This year, Ron Knowles brought his bamboo drift boat along. As if the rods were not enough, this boat is a true example of how art and flyfishing often intersect.

Ron has been building bamboo rods since 2002 through his company “The Grizzly Switch” in Missoula, MT. A couple of years ago he decided to take this up a notch and build a bamboo boat. He purchased Kingfisher plans from Jason Cajune and made a few minor modifications. Nine hundred hours later his masterpiece was complete. It is a masterpiece. Rod storage is built-in for anything up to a 10-foot rod. Storage for fly boxes, jackets, and other gear is available in the side boxes as well as under the seats. Oh, and the doors to those seats, have a beautiful engraving of a fisherman. The intricate flooring is easily removable for cleaning the boat. He also built three bamboo oars compete with a Guinea Fowl feather sealed in. Yes, three, just in case you need a spare.

The details to this dream package don’t stop there. The trailer articulates on the bank – just in case you might be taking out someplace that isn’t exactly smooth. It also comes with an electric wench -no hand cranking at the end of your day on the water!

Ron has had the boat out 8 times and enjoyed every minute on the water. However, he is ready to sell this boat and move on to his next project. He is only asking $10,000. We’ve seen used drift boats going for more than that!

What is Ron’s next project? Hard to say….. he has a bamboo rod vault on his vehicle. No details were missed there either. This carrier comes complete with internal braided nylon sleeves to keep your rod from bouncing. He has bamboo wading staffs as well. Sixty-seven pieces of birch bark were laid together for the handles on these wadding staffs. Stunning!

If you are interested in that boat, his rods, or other products, you can reach Ron at 406-544-3524 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

ADDRESS: Idaho, United States
PHONE: 208-220-0706



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