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What is fly fishing?

Fly fishing is a method of enticing fish with imitations of their natural food, such as insects and small fish. Flies are hand-tied from feathers, fur, fabric, or whatever will make them look to a fish like the real edibles it sees on or under the water. These materials are fastened to a hook with wraps of thread. Many tied flies, such as a pattern representing a mosquito, are virtually weightless and therefore require some means of presentation, or getting them to the fish. This is done by casting a weighted line through the air so the fly will land naturally on the water. In a good presentation, the imitation fly not only looks but also acts like the real insect. It sounds simple in theory but involves a lot of skills, from figuring out what fly to use and developing an accurate cast to finding out where the fish are feeding.

Why fly fishing?

  • Fly fishing is just plain fun

  • Fish live in beautiful places

  • Fly fishing involves all the senses

  • Fly fishing is a “time-out” from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living

  • Fly fishing is a challenge

  • Every fly fishing outing is a new adventure

  • Fly fishing can be a lifetime sport

  • Fly fishing is an entire process and all of it is interesting

Women who fly fish enjoy the sport at many different levels - being outdoors in the fresh air, sharing another’s company,
having time to reflect, or simply catching a fish. Everyone’s experience will be unique. Go out there and make it the experience you want.

Why fly fishing and breast cancer?

Fly fishing and the casting motion provide a movement for joint and soft tissue stretching. Fly fishing uses a whole range of body movements. Post-surgery, a mastectomy scar has a tendency to adhere to the nearest tissue possible, thereby limiting movement. Casting a rod opens up the chest area with both arms in use in differing directions and a range of shoulder, back and hip movement.


Being in the outdoors and having to walk to a lake or river, even just standing in the cool moving water will increase fitness. Our experience is that one or two out of the dozen participants develop a continued interest in fly fishing or fly tying.

Turning your total attention to the activities of fly fishing can provide relief from everyday stresses. Studies on quality of life for women recovering from breast cancer confirm that outdoor activity, exercise and social support can help survivors live longer and thrive.

What does it take?

Fly fishing is a sport in which women can excel because there are so few physical barriers. Regardless of age, body type, or muscular condition, virtually anyone, who wants to, can learn to fly fish. In fact, many say that women make just as good fly fishers as men. So many aspects of the sport, particularly casting and playing fish, have to do with skill and experience.

* Some excerpts are from “Fly Fishing: A Woman’s Guide” by Dana Rikimaru, Instructor, Orvis Fly-Fishing Schools (and CfR volunteer).

What do participants say?

“Wonderful to meet other women gone through similar journey and sharing your stories”

Bernadette, first CfR retreat, ACT Fly Fishers Inc.

“It has been a fantastic weekend, everyone is so caring, we feel like princesses”

Andrea, first CfR retreat, ACT Fly Fishers Inc.

“It is great to focus on something totally new. It is quite technical and not as easy as it looks, but there is fantastic support and tuition, a great experience. Where has this been all my life?”

Sally, first CfR retreat, ACT Fly Fishers Inc.

“The retreat made a huge positive impact on my life. I am a two time breast cancer survivor. I was first diagnosed at age 35. I have survived the cancer but continued to struggle with early menopause, being unable to have children, weight gain and depression. These issues were never addressed. It wasn't until I attended the retreat that I have started to get my life back.” 

Mary, 2014 NM retreat participant 

“A CfR retreat, it's an amazing experience. You learn that you're not the only one dealing with this disease, but you learn it in a beautiful, peaceful setting, surrounded by wonderful, strong women. The best part is that you get the chance to experience a new skill that provides a challenge and hope to move forward. I've thought numerous times about standing in that stream with my river guide trying to cast my line to catch the elusive fish, and the sheer awesomeness of it all. And that gives me hope.” 

Debbie, retreat participant

To the “Fishers of wounded chicks”:
“ It has been an extraordinary experience ….. for a group of women, who have shared one of mother nature’s hiccups, a problem that presented each woman with quite a challenge to survive! ….. Your group of “fly fishers” gave us another lovely challenge - to get out and enjoy others company, to be out with nature, giving support and a sense of fun. Fly fishing is a lovely new sport to us all ….we had a fabulous experience being spoiled and nurtured ….
it was a lovely healing experience …. wish you all enormous and ever lengthening fish records ….”

Testimonial from Dawn, participant at CfR Retreat No. 3

"I would like to thank you and your fabulous team for a lovely experience on the CfR weekend. I had such a wonderful time from start to finish - it was great to do something completely different (even though alas I don’t think I quite mastered the cast!). Everyone was so warm and welcoming and the organisation was spot on. It was so nice to be waited on and ferried around and I was so impressed how everyone went out of their way to be welcoming. It says a lot for fly fishing that everyone was so relaxed and chilled - all that communing with nature must have a beneficial effect!
Once again, thank you for a lovely weekend - I wish you all happy fishing!
- participant, CfR Retreat 2022

"Truly wonderful weekend, loved the experience of learning to fly fish, meeting such passionate and supportive people and to meet other breast cancer survivors, to support each other. We will continue our new friendships.”

- participant, CfR Retreat 2021

“Blown away by the generosity of so many people to give us such a wonderful experience. Patience of buddies was amazing! A unique experience none of us will forget, thanks Casting for Recovery.”

- participant, CfR Retreat 2021

“Memorable and humbling experience with wonderful group of ladies and learning about the gentle art of fly fishing. It helped getting my mojo back and put a smile on our faces and joy back in our hearts.”

- participant, CfR Retreat 2021

Am I eligible?

Participants, who have had their treatment in the ACT, are eligible at any age and any stage of recovery from breast cancer. Medical clearance from your Doctor or Care Nurse is required acknowledging that you are medically fit to attend the CFR retreat.

What is the selection process?

Participants are selected in the order of registrations and receipt of medical clearance. Those who have registered will be notified whether they have been successful or not. Those successful will be asked for additional personal information as well as dietary needs and details for sizing of fishing gear. They will then be supplied with all the information they will require prior to the retreat weekend. Those who have not been selected will also be notified.

What personal information does CfR ACT collect?

We need your contact details and some personal information, like your shirt size and possible physical and mobility limitations.

Why do you need this personal information?

So we can contact you about the retreat. The personal information is required to assist our casting instructors with tailoring your instruction. Also, to meet any special requirements you may have.

How is my information stored?

Your personal information is stored in a secure container. If you emailed us your application form it will be printed and the email deleted. Only contact details are stored electronically.

Who sees this personal information?

CfR ACT operates on a ‘need to know’ basis. Normally the only people who will see your personal information will be the retreat coordinator and the casting instructors.

What happens to my personal information after a retreat?

Within fourteen days of the completion of a retreat your personal information is destroyed. We will keep your contact details unless you specifically ask us not to.

Where can I get a full copy of your privacy policy?

Download the CfR Privacy Policy or you contact us to request a copy by email or post.

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Deb's big trout CfR5.jpeg
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