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A Journey to Becoming a Female Fly Fishing Guide

Laurel Monaghan

Becoming a full-time fly fishing guide isn’t just a man’s dream.

Just ask Laurel Monaghan, a Montana fly fishing guide, diehard archer and sponsored athlete. She’s living the outdoor dream, but it hasn’t come easy.

She left corporate America, where she had a comfortable, high paying job. She left her home in Pennsylvania and her family to travel across the country to guide, trading in her comfortable lifestyle to live with a house full of men in an effort to reduce her high cost of living. There, she worked three jobs, marketed herself, and became an expert on the local waters, all while building up clientele.

Her challenges didn’t stop there. As a female in a male-dominated industry, she often finds that fly shops pass her referrals on to her male counterparts. Local competition is high and the guide lifestyle is extremely inconsistent. She has had to deal with being poor, alone, and fighting her doubts.

She has termed all of this “going for broke.”

Essentially, she is risking everything to achieve the ultimate reward, something many of us contemplate but never actually build up the courage to pursue. 

For her it seems to be worth it.

I had the chance to meet up with her, where she showed me how to fly fish, introduced me to some incredible Montana waters, and shared the benefits associated with her profession.

For example, she currently has a five-State, fully sponsored whitetail hunt lined up for this fall. She has paid for guided hunting trips with gear and will make most of her income during a 5-month time span, leaving her time to pursue other hobbies.

Most importantly, she seems to be loving life.

She isn’t the only one. Women have found their place in the outdoors. Between sponsorship opportunities, TV shows, and viral social media accounts, they are getting the exposure they are searching for.

However, it is thanks to risk takers like Laurel that these women are building the courage to reach out to companies, take chances on their careers, and support the outdoors.

Suddenly, “going for broke” doesn’t seem so bad.

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A Journey to Becoming a Female Fly Fishing Guide