Feet First: Polio Disability No Match for Fly Fishing Enthusiast
March 13th, 2018
When people say fly fishing is difficult, 68-year-old Marty Loudder challenges them to try it with their feet.
Longtime SOLitude client Martha “Marty” Loudder is far from average. She’s a successful Professor of Accounting and Associate Dean at Texas A&M, where she oversees 4,500 undergraduate students. She’s an avid fly-fisherwoman, who takes yearly trips to the abundant San Juan River in Mexico. And she has spent more than six decades achieving goals with limited use of her arms.
After facing polio at the age of three, Marty has navigated life with a fully-paralyzed right arm and a partially-paralyzed left arm. As a result, she relies on her feet for a lot more than walking.
“Polio has enhanced my creativity because I have to figure out how to do things differently from everyone else,” she said, pointing out that she spent six months teaching herself to fly fish. “As you can imagine, I don’t tolerate anyone saying they can’t do something. If I can learn to do it with my feet, you can learn to do it with your hands.”
Marty’s love of fly fishing started around 2008 when she moved in to her home in Central Texas. She has always loved the water and was adamant that her new property would contain a pool or a backyard pond. She was elated to find a house with both.
Video Credit: The Orvis Company, Inc.
“My son taught me how to fish on our pond with a regular casting rod, and then the next thing I knew my husband had ordered me a six foot fly fishing rod,” she said.
Using online videos and special tools for individuals with unsteady hands, Marty learned the mechanics of fly fishing, and soon was able to tie fishing lines using fingers and toes. It didn’t take long for fly fishing to become a passion.
In 2010, her enthusiasm for the sport led her to Mexico for a week of dedicated catch-and-release fishing in the trout-filled river of San Juan. There, she said, her guide helped her fine-tune her technique and use an 11 foot rod.
“He stressed the importance of muscle memory,” she said. “His advice was really creative and I started catching fish immediately.”
Marty has made a point to return to San Juan for a week each year, and said she hopes to ramp up her fishing trips when she begins working part-time in May.
A truly perfect day on the water, though, involves her pond and her family.
“I remember one time we had our grown children and our grandchildren over for an evening on the dock and it was just magic,” she recalled. “The kids were learning to cast and the fish were feeding amazingly. Every time the kids put a hook in, even if it was bare, the fish would bite!”
She credits SOLitude for keeping the pond stocked and the water healthy over the last nine years, allowing her family to get full enjoyment from the waterbody.
“There’s nothing better than spending time together at the pond,” she said. “And it’s even better when the fish are biting.”
Learn more about Marty’s story at Orvis News.
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