Nancy Zakon

Photo courtesy of Nancy Zakon.

When Nancy Zakon was eleven years old, her father taught her how to fly fish on a small pond near their home in Alabama. Though a pleasant pastime, it certainly was not a career calling for Zakon—at least not yet.

By the early 1990s, Zakon had established herself as a successful professional. She married, and her husband Alan asked, “Why not do something you truly enjoy? You’ve always enjoyed fishing.” She resigned from her job and decided to expand her knowledge of fly fishing.

Zakon joined the Orvis store in Manhattan as a clerk and bookkeeper. She observed that there was a need for casting instruction and encouragement geared toward women, and she collected the names of women who fished and women who would like to learn. This led her to establishing casting instruction for women in Central Park and promoting women’s enjoyment of fly fishing through demonstrations at trade shows. Before leaving Orvis, Zakon worked with fly-fishing guides Lori-Ann Murphy and Christy Ball to teach the first women-only Orvis casting classes and designing Orvis’s first line of women’s fly-fishing gear and clothing; the line was released in the spring of 1995.

Zakon founded two women’s fly-fishing organizations during her second career. In 1995 she started Juliana’s Club in New York City, and in 2002 she established the Bonefish Bonnies® at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Both clubs promote the sport among women through regular meetings, outings, casting instruction, and newsletters. Whether the focus is fresh or salt water, these clubs encourage women to make fly fishing a part of their lives. Zakon has served on the board and became president of the International Women Fly Fishers, is a member of the Woman Flyfishers Club, and is currently on the board of trustees of the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

Nancy Zakon and her husband Alan live in Key Largo and enjoy the challenges of saltwater fly fishing much of the year. She is still a member of the Juliana’s Club and continues to coordinate the regular activities of the Bonefish Bonnies®. During the summer months, Zakon can be found on the freshwater streams and rivers of New England.


Note: this text was written in 2011.