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Neither raindrops nor dusk deterred Tiger Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, from finishing her first day of fly-fishing at K Club, Ireland’s five-star resort. And apparently her level of zeal is more often the norm than the exception with women trying their hands at the sport.
Mention fly-fishing and what usually springs to mind are weather-faced men wading waist-deep in frigid streams in Montana or Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula—or, worse, photographs splashed on free calendars from the local bank. But now the pristine County Kildare–based K Club is getting more women to cast away along the club’s mile-long private stretch of the River Liffey with its Girls on the Fly program. The trout-laden waters and Arnold Palmer–designed golf courses are a popular twofer with Woods, Sir Sean Connery and other male heavy hitters. But they no longer have the run of the place.
Estate manager Sean McManmon says of Nordegren’s die-hard spirit: “She loved it. I tried to get her to go [back to the club] because of the rain, but she was the absolute last to leave the river. I gave her my jacket to keep her warm.”
A former captain of the Irish national men’s fly-fishing team and founder and former coach of its women’s team, McManmon knows how to reel in the wild brown trout and salmon, but he insists the pastime’s benefits extend beyond the physical.
“You’re your own best friend when you go fly-fishing. You don’t need somebody else,” he says. “One hour goes by like a minute. No one tells you what to think about.”
Even though his fly-fishing days stretch 54 years, McManmon thinks newbies can get the same sense of satisfaction after only hours of practice. “I like to send them out of Ireland with a memory, and that memory would be catching that fish as the sun is setting. It may be your last cast in the last hour. That’s the one you’ve been looking for sometimes,” he says.