Tactical Ninja - Pink is the new.. oh wait, no it isn't.
Jul. 23rd, 2014
09:24 am - Pink is the new.. oh wait, no it isn't.
A couple of weeks ago, that thing about the Bic Cristal For Her pens went around again. It sparked the usual hilarity regarding only writing under the supervision of our husbands, how nice that we can now lift the pens easily, etc.
In me, it also sparked curiosity about ladies' fishing rods. Because I can't for the life of me work out what you'd make different in a fishing rod to make it gender-specific. I thought for a while about length for casting (against the fact that women are generally shorter than men) but reality is that casting is mostly about technique, and the only place where height makes a difference is in surfcasting. I've yet to find a 'ladies' surfcaster. So anyway, because there are assumptions and then there is research, I went and had a look at the available fishing gear that claims to be 'for women'.
First, I came up with 6 well-known fishing gear manufacturers:
I have Penn, Okuma and Shimano gear. They are equally good and none of them are 'for ladies'. I have a soft spot for Penn but without any real evidential backing.
Anyway, I then went to their websites and checked to see if they had any fishing gear that was labelled as For Women. Penn and Daiwa did not, the other four did. Here is a sample of what was on offer, with the blurbs copied directly from the sites:
Ugly Stik Spinning Ladies Combo:
"Ugly Stik® GX2™ rods offer better balance for lighter feel, improved components, and eye catching cosmetics for a more modern look designed specifically for women."
So they claim that what women need in a fishing rod is for it to be light and improved, and have eye-catching cosmetics. Which apparently means having pink accents on your rod and reel. I went and had a look at the other GX2 combos, and what I found was the same set of specs listed above, with different reels that weren't pink.
Okuma SST Ladies Edition:
"SST Ladies Edition Rods Feature-
Technique and species specific rod actions
Sensitive IM-8 graphite rod blank construction
E-glass rod blank construction on Halibut rods
Durable stainless steel guide frames
Zirconium guide inserts reduce friction from braided lines
Halibut/Sturgeon rods use heavy duty boat guide frames
Custom 1-K woven carbon fiber pipe reel seat on Salmon rods
Custom IM-8 graphite pipe reel seat on UL and most spinning rods
Premium fore and rear grips on all models
Halibut rods feature a triangular shaped foregrip with shrink tubing
Integrated compressed cork butt cap, non skid surface
Stainless steel hook keeper
So there's nothing there that actually claims to be specifically designed for ladies. I looked up the standard SST rods, and the blurb for them is *exactly* the same - but the rod is a gold colour. So I can only assume that Okuma believe that to make a rod be for ladies, it means.. making the rod pink.
"The Shimano Lipstix range of rods were designed specifically for the growing number of female anglers that are taking to the water and wetting a line in a previously male dominated past time.
The Shimano Lipstix series of rods consist of 6 models that cater for most fishing applications - in the range there are 2 graphite models (TDLS127 - FRESHWATER SPIN and TDLS130 - SPIN) available that provide lady anglers a more responsive and decerning spinning rod."
You'll note that they don't actually say anything specific about why these rods are for women. I looked at the specifications and I couldn't see anything there either. But I do note that the rod is purple and has little lipstick kisses on it...
Pflueger Lady Trion Spinning Combo:
"Designed specifically for women anglers. Custom grip lengths, proper size reels, and specific actions that make fishing more enjoyable for women anglers. A proud supporter of the American Breast Cancer Foundation."
These guys claim that the grip length is important, and that their rods have a specific action. Wow, something that may actually make a difference! Also, their rod is pink (to be fair it also comes in fetching turquoise), and for every Lady Trion Combo you buy, Pfleuger will make a donation to the American Breast Cancer Foundation. I'm impressed. These guys really thought about what women want when they designed the Lady Trion.
So anyway, I wasn't all that satisfied with what I found - a bunch of pink rods with a bunch of vague claims about making fishing more enjoyable for women, and nothing specific about exactly how this would happen. Because I'm that kind of girl, I thought I'd investigate further. So I sent the following email to all four of our Ladies Fishing Gear developers:
"I'm a keen fisher and have been for a number of years. At the moment I'm into spinning and a bit of softbaiting - mostly light line stuff. I was browsing your site and found the Lady Trion range, designed especially for lady anglers, and it got me curious - I'm wondering what features of these combos make them best suited for women? It's not clear from the overview on the site. As someone who's been fishing for years with just any old gear with the right specs, I'd really like to know!"
Of the four manufacturers, only Pflueger has got back to me. Here is what they said:
"The Lady Trion series of equipment has all the same specs and conditions that the regular series does, it just comes in a different “pretty” color."
They get 10/10 for honesty, at least. It does kind of make the claims on their website look stupid though.
Now, this may not be confirmation that all of the ladies' fishing rods are labelled 'ladies' because they are pink - but the silence from the other dealers speaks volumes in my mind. I'm going to assume here that there are no special features that make fishing more fun for women anglers, and that the vague claims made on the sites are that vague because there's really nothing they can say honestly that doesn't also sound patronising. I mean, "Hey look, we made it pink because we know you love pink, right?" is not likely to convince women to buy a rod.
This assumption is not based entirely on what you see here. It's also based on having been an angler for over half my life. I've never bought ladies gear, because fishing isn't a sport that requires differently sized, shaped or engineered equipment based on gender. Not all rods are the same, but if you have the right spec for the type of fishing you're doing, you're good. Seriously. Ladies' rods are bullshit.
I can see an argument that *some* women might like to have a special rod that's their very own, and because of the way our society has gendered pink as a women's colour, *some* women might be encouraged to see that as more theirs than the regular ones. And for a small number of women, that may encourage them to take up fishing.
For me, I find it both patronising and insulting that these manufacturers are making claims about the design of this gear being tailored to women's needs when all they are really doing is providing a normal spec rod and reel - in pink. They are shouting, loud and clear, that what women need is pink. And as a subtext, they are also suggesting that a) women don't know enough about fishing to notice that there's really no difference, and b) every other rod in their range is for men, because women and pink. And no other reason, because there isn't one, but look - PINK STUFF LADIES!
I'll keep sourcing my fishing gear from the
I'll keep you posted if Ugly Stik, Shimano or Okuma ever get back to me about their ladies' gear.