From Frequent Flier to First Timer
As an experienced traveler, camper, hiker, wanderer, adventurer I always considered myself a frequent flier. I have moved across the globe more than once and love to travel, anywhere and everywhere. I was super excited to take my first fly fishing trip. I had a rudimentary grasp on the concepts, but I was still lost somewhere between all these unfamiliar terms like caddis, streamer, spinner, spey, switch, loop-d-loop, hopper dropper, flip flopper.
Beyond learning the language, my only real concern was that I drive a 2WD sedan that can not be trusted off-road in any capacity. I hit up Titus Adventure Company (TAC), our local adventure vehicle rental outfitter. I wanted to see what kind of rig could get me down to Gunnison and let me river hop comfortably. I was in luck. Travis Titus, the CEO and founder of TAC, suggested Dolly, their Lexus GX460. She is fully equipped with a rooftop tent and shade by Alu-Cab. She is also outfitted with a mini fridge that runs off its own battery.
TAC offered me literally dozens of add-ons and camping essentials during the reservation process. They have legit thought of everything.
Basic things like: a Bluetooth speaker, camp stove, paper towels, Yeti coolers, bear spray, and bug screens.
But more importantly: hot water camping showers, hammocks, fire pits, and backcountry toilets.
Then there is top end gear like the rooftop tents, which can be rented alone as well as with their 4x4s. They have you covered on electronics with a satellite communication stick and/or power banks. Oh you plan on doing outdoor sports?
For sporting gear they have: bike racks, ski racks, roof boxes, hitch racks, and of course Riversmith fly rod roof racks.
They even have: packrafts, standup paddle boards, sleds, snowshoes, and shoe grippers.
Not to mention: binoculars, lamps, solar lights, torches, knives, risers, and floor mats.
I was super impressed by their comprehensive list of add-ons, but I found out they also do all-inclusive Guided Overland Trips. Sooo, now that's on my bucket list! 4 days with a guide that TAC calls an "unforgettable Colorado-style safari" - yep, sign me up.
I asked Travis Titus what inspired him to start this adventure rental company and he told me he "I started the company as a way to help get people outdoors. The cost of ownership for all the overlanding setup is really high, why not just rent the times you go out. Think of us as a blend between REI and Uber."
All of the add-ons are fully installed and ready to roll when you rent from TAC. I was excited when I saw the Black 2-Banger River Quiver #RIGGEDANDREADY for me! But what I loved most about the rental process was they walked me through all the bells and whistles. They made sure I knew how to pop-up the rooftop tent, ladder and shade and secure them all back down too. Everything was super easy to operate but having the full walk-through was really great.
Dolly did not disappoint, she was a pleasure to drive and handled beautifully at highway speeds and on dirt roads. I made it down to Gunnison Reservoir Saturday afternoon and met up with the Colorado Women on the Fly classmates. We all hopped into Dolly and Erin's truck and headed to the inlet off the reservoir.
We got down to the water for and hucked some dry flies around enough to feel the rhythm of the water and watch the storm clouds roll past. Within the first moments I felt the peace and serenity of connecting with the flow of the water, chopping the fly upstream watching the river carry it by was unexplainably satisfying. Wind was picking up so we packed it up and drove to our campsites at Elk Creek to enjoy cocktails, brews, appetizers and some famous Cowboy Caviar. These women for sure know how to roll.
Sunday morning we headed up to fish Taylor Park where were greeted with a herd of cows, tons of calves and unreal scenery along the Taylor River. We enjoyed getting our feet wet and making our way upstream practicing our casts, mends, chops, stripping, reeling the line and one of the students did catch a Brown trout!
Fishing with Erin Crider (@bigfootwrangler on IG) was not only educational, she is downright entertaining. Her contagious smile and sense of humor was welcoming and she was happy to start from the very basics with us. She offered lots of tips and tricks but balanced it with a healthy dose of reality. She put it rather bluntly, “if anyone tells you you’re doing it wrong, tell them to f#ck off.”
It was her bluntness and down to earth passion for fly fishing that made her class so enjoyable. Everywhere we went she was in tune with the signs from nature. She shared tips on listening for bird calls and watching their patterns, looking at bugs and their colors, she shared about how when a storm rolls in the pressure changes the fish will retreat to the deeper waters, she talked us through surveying the landscape and waterways, and basic fish behaviors - like the fact that fish will face upstream.
The more I learned about Erin Crider the more I can see the massive impact she is making on the fly fishing community. Particularly here in Colorado where she has been relentlessly building an inclusive community around these passions.
Erin Crider devotes herself full-time to her two startups, UnchartedOutdoorswomen and Colorado Women on the Fly. Since 2018 Crider has been creating opportunities for women to fish and hunt. Her startup Uncharted Outdoorswomen goes beyond the fly fishing and fly tying to include: hiking, camping, navigation, plant identification, medicinal foraging, ice fishing, conceal and carry, firearm safety, sporting clays, upland and waterfowl hunts, and how to hunt big game. She also harvests the feathers and fur from her hunting adventures and uses them for fly tying material. Colorado Women on the Fly is an all-female outfitter fully licensed, bonded, insured, and permitted all over the state of Colorado. Erin Crider now employs 20 guides across a wide range of expertise, and is currently hiring! Her guides are given the freedom to set their own schedules and prices. And I am pretty sure she would be one of the best bosses ever.
Overall, the 2-day trip was an inspiring introduction to the craft of fly fishing. From getting a chance to play with knots and flies, feeling the action of an Orvis Clearwater rod, and most importantly connecting with nature and good people. I am grateful for Erin Crider sharing her mission of Colorado Women on the Fly, making this sport accessible and enjoyable for all. And I am already planning my next fly fishing adventure!
Snakefalls Outdoorsmen: If you had a message for the angling community or women who are thinking about trying fly fishing, what would that message be?
Erin Crider: Get the F#ck outside! There are thousands of studies out there saying how powerful getting out in the woods and water for even 2 hours can have an impact on your mental health. You already live in this amazing state, so go explore it with more than a hike. The local wildlife needs you and you need it before it disappears or becomes private land. We are lucky to live in a state with so much public land. It’s not always about catching fish, it's about getting on the water together, getting away, escaping, and learning new skills as a community of woman anglers.
Connect with Colorado Women on the Fly & Erin Crider:
Facebook Group: Colorado Women on the Fly
Connect with Titus Adventure Company:
Read more about fly fishing in Gunnison River