Meet JJ Benson Foraie, authentic, kindhearted, and badass. She is a rockstar female flyfisher, working long days, taking stunning photos, and having the most genuine heart. She is a shining example of finding something you love, sticking to it, and making it your life--kind of like CKO Christina! With a baby on the way, we could not be more excited for her to start a new chapter in her life! We like to believe that the only thing she likes more than fly fishing are STIK hats :).
Crested Butte, Colorado
Favorite part of your day:
Starting the morning with a hot cup of coffee and journaling my daily gratitude. (In full disclosure baby hasn’t quite made his/her arrival yet, so I am sure my answer will soon change).
I grew up competitively riding horses and skiing, but fly fishing didn’t become an integral part of my life until my late-twenties. I was originally introduced to the sport when I was in college pursuing a post-grad degree and asked a close family friend who is a world class angler if he would take me. While being on the river was never far from my daily thoughts after that, I didn’t make the decision that fly fishing was (and is) what I wanted to to do more than anything else until two years ago when I asked my husband for my own rod for Christmas.
What started as a genuine love and appreciation for being on the water, disconnected from the daily career grind turned into so much more - something that saved my life and kept me centered through some pretty challenging life events. My goal(s) today looks a little different than they did when I started: I want to be a good angler. Not just fishing for trout in my home streams, but to be able to fish well for different kinds of fish, in different situations and scenarios. And I feel like I am getting closer to realizing that goal all the time. Each time I go out, I learn something new. I am so grateful for fly fishing and for all of the wonderful opportunities and people it has brought into my life, to the guides who have put me on new species and taught me about their fisheries to those who have supported me and encouraged me in this journey.
Instagram seems to be a place where people escape their city lives and follow people like you who live the dream life- outdoors, enjoying what you love. What was it like to become an “influencer” for living your life?
I suppose I’ve never really considered myself as an “influencer”, although I am honored that you would consider me as one. I think for me, it has been more about enjoying the intersection of my passion(s) for photography and being outdoors, posting pictures of special moments I want to remember.
You were recently highlighted in the Orvis Catalogue about “Women on the Water”- can you tell me more about that?! So cool!
Orvis has been a big proponent of encouraging more women to fall in love with fly fishing which is really neat, and being included in their campaign was a fun surprise for me. I didn’t know I was going to be featured until a guide friend of mine who works at our local Orvis store sent me a picture (before I even got the catalogue in the mail). I have been fortunate to forge some really cool friendships with talented photographers and anglers I like to fish with - some of whom work with Orvis. Seeing memories published from fun days on the water is just a cherry on top of the cake.
If you’re not flyfishing in some gorgeous place or hiking in the mountains, what is your typical day-to-day like?
I am in a state of transition. I went from being a career girl to navigating new parenthood. I am honestly still trying to figure it out.
From what I know about you from Instagram and our email exchanges, you seem like a truly authentic person. I know from starting STIK that when you are authentic to who you are and what makes you happy, good things happen. What are some words of wisdom for people who might be struggling with that in this time of constantly comparing ourselves on social media?
I too have to remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of envy following anglers and photographers that travel and chase exotic fish on the fly all around the world. What we don’t see are the years of sweat-equity and likely (many) tough sacrifices that went into getting them where they are today. Social media is a highlight reel, we often don’t know everything behind "the square". My Instragram is a carefully curated set of images too. Up until very recently when I left my job to stay at home with our baby I worked a 50-60 hour work week and lived the life of a weekend warrior - I’ve just never posted pictures from behind my desk or the late night drives and early morning commutes to the river.
I really love my Gunn Beanie in White Lies. I wear a lot of white so I rock it more than anything else, but would love to incorporate a STIK hat in black and grey into my wardrobe too.
As a mountain girl from Colorado I have collected quite a few winter garments over the years, but nothing holds a candle to my STIK hats. In fact, I consider them such an essential winter staple for everything from winter fishing to daily wear that I have donated almost all of my other hats. The wool is legitimately soft. Honestly, I didn't know wool could be this soft--it feels SO good. I also find that wool is warmer, more breathable, and more beautiful than synthetic materials. The major kicker for me is that it holds it’s shape in wet conditions on the water too.