Catching giant fish, traveling to exotic locales, knocking species off your fly fishing bucket list; I could really go on and on about all the cool things you can do in fly fishing, but by far the best is teaching your kid how to fly fish.
Some parents try to introduce their children into the sport and totally fail, while others gain a new fishing buddy for life. Success here boils down to knowing what to do, keeping the pressure off and above all else, lots and lots of patience. The key steps below can help you get started.
Break It Down
Your kid doesn’t need to know how to aerial mend right now, or the dynamics of a fly cast, or even how to do anything but get the fly out there enough to catch a fish. Breaking down the science and art of fly fishing into the simplest terms possible for them to understand and get started. They can learn the subtleties later on.
Hand them the rod with ten feet of line already laid out on the ground in front of them. Start in your front yard or in a park where there’s nothing that they can get tangled on. Take their arm and help them cast, just like you would teach them how to swing a baseball bat or a golf club for the first time. Then let them try it on their own. Some kids find learning to roll cast is much easier at first than keeping their cast in the air.
Get Them Catching Fish ASAP
Once they can get some line out there, even if it’s only a foot in front of them, actually even if they can’t, try and find a kibbie spot where they can catch a ton of fish easily and quickly, no matter what the conditions or fly you tie on. The more fish they catch right away the more they’ll want to keep fishing with you.
Even if they can’t cast, either cast for them to at least get a fish on and keep them interested in learning how to cast, or just let them reach with their rod tip and basically nymph for their first few fish. The simpler it seems to catch fish now as a kid, the more they’ll want to progress their skills later on when they’re a little older and start chasing harder fish. Maybe even with you by their side.
Keep It Fun
The most important part about teaching your kids to fish is to make it as fun as possible. Celebrate every fish caught like it’s a world record. Any cast that generally resembles a half way decent attempt at a cast, celebrate it as if they’re slinging flies like Lefty Kreh.
Whenever you get the chance to go out fly fishing with them, or even if it’s just fly casting in the front yard, make it seem like Christmas morning. The more excited they get for even the quick trips or the practice rounds, the more excited they’ll get when they actually start learning some skills and catching fish.
Unless you make fly fishing something that your kids want to do and want to love, they’ll just feel like their getting dragged to the water to fish with mom or dad. Go to the local fly shop with them and let them pick out their own gear (I’d direct them to the cheap section first).
If they can pick out the flies that are getting tied to their leader, they love their waders, their boots and their fly rod combo, the more they’ll start to love the entire experience. Giving the decision making to your kid makes them feel empowered, rather than feeling like their being told what to do.
Keep The Pressure Off
Just remember that if your kid doesn’t love fly fishing, you can’t force it. If they’re just totally against it and want to go do something else, then let them do it. I didn’t really get into fishing until high school when I bought my first car and could zip around to different lakes on my own.
I caught my first fish with my dad when I was younger than five, and even though I still remember that day, it didn’t stick until I started up again for myself. No matter how cool it is to have your kid as your fishing buddy, at the end of the day, it’s just fishing.
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