Fly Life Magazine

The Series: Important Women in the History of Fly Fishing; Rhea Topping

The American Museum of Fly Fishing and its “Exhibition Profiles” are the profiles of important women fly anglers, fly tyers, artists, conservationists and guides of yesterday, today and tomorrow

The American Museum of Fly Fishing and its “Exhibition Profiles” are the profiles of important women fly anglers, fly tyers, conservationists and guides of yesterday, today and tomorrow“ Exhibition Profiles” are from the book “A Graceful Rise” written by Catherine Comar, executive director of the museum. Promotional narrative for National Endowment for the Arts is provided by Fly Life Magazine.com. Copyright the American Museum of Fly Fishing (AMFF) – 2014. More images are viewable in the book.

Meet Rhea Topping

Rhea Topping began to fish with her parents at the age of four with spinning tackle in salt water. Her fly-fishing career, though, began nearly thirty years ago when she made a decision to learn how to cast a fly rod. After receiving informal lessons from a number of friends, Topping enrolled as a student at the premier casting school, the Wulff School of Fly Fishing (Livingston Manor, New York). It was here that she met her mentor, Joan Wulff.

Image provided by Rhea Topping.

Image provided by Rhea Topping.

Topping did well under the instructors at the Wulff School, and eventually Joan Wulff encouraged her to consider becoming an instructor there. She apprenticed for two seasons, commuting eight hours each way every weekend; she then became the first woman instructor hired by the Wulffs. After several years, she opened her own fly-fishing school in Virginia: Rhea Topping’s School of Fly Fishing.

She has received several honors, awards, and certificates during her career. Topping became the second woman to earn the Federation of Fly Fishers master instructor certification in 1997 and was named Woman of the Year by the federation in 1999. Her latest Federation of Fly Fishers award came in 2003 when she received the coveted Lew Jewett Lifetime Award.

Topping promotes and supports fly fishing wherever she goes. She compiled research for, wrote, and published the groundbreaking book Rod Rage: The Ultimate Guide to Angling Ethics (2004). This book was unusual as its purpose was to teach angling do’s and don’ts along the water. She recently produced a best-selling instructional DVD in 2007, Double Haul, for the benefit of students and instructors. She was the associate producer of Joan Wulff’s Dynamics of Fly Casting DVD and worked with casting legend Mel Krieger on numerous book and DVD projects. To further serve the fly-fishing community, Topping has been both a regional and a national director of the Federation of Fly Fishers.

Rhea Topping continues to spend much of her time traveling the world with a fly rod in hand. Topping teaches at her fly-fishing school in Virginia; instructs at the Yellowstone Institute in Montana; runs Mayfly Adventures, her fly-fishing travel service; and is the lead instructor for the Casting for Recovery Virginia retreat.

Information!

 Cover of A Graceful Rise. Cap > Author Catherine E Comar's book received great reviews. The women profiled are amazing, and that alone makes for an interesting read. The next printing is due out shortly.

Cover of Catherine Comar’s groundbreaking book about the world’s famous women fly fishers, tournament casting champions, teachers, fly tyers, conservationists and IGFA record holders.

American Museum of Fly Fishing, 4104 Main Street Manchester, VT 05254 802-362-3300.

Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am to 4pm –

Read review of A Graceful Rise . . . 

Stay in touch with the Museum and its On Fly in the Salt initiative . . .

Online exhibition of “A Graceful Rise” is now live, click here . . . 

Regular updates on the exhibition and the Indiegogo campaign will also be posted on the Museum’s website.

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