How old were you when you caught your first fish?
I was about ten, and I don’t think that was too young.
I have seen folks bring kids as young as four, five, six to small streams and ponds.
I have fished watching them and wondered how the experience was for them and their children.
You might have been thinking about doing the same for a while.
I am sure you envision perfect moments of you and your young one having matching gear and perhaps fishing outfits from the same brand, reeling in that trout on a fly combo.
Despite all, there are ways of teaching your kids how to fly fish that won’t apply to adults.
Family fishing trips will never be the same if you find it challenging to help your child learn the ropes.
Fly fishing can be challenging to master for any beginner regardless of age; however, these tips should help you make the learning process engaging fun and instill good conservation ethics in a soon-to-be pro-angler.
Get help from a Class or Instructor.
This will help you and your child start the learning process right.
If you have tried introducing a new skill to a newbie, you know how challenging it can be.
Competent fly angling instructors specifically handle children and teens; seek their help.
Or, you can enroll in a class – this doesn’t mean dropping them off at the class and leaving.
Join your child in the lessons and enjoy learning with them.
If you attend classes with your child, leave your ego at the entrance and be very open-minded.
Regardless of your experience level, you might learn a new thing that will be helpful on the water.
When going on the water with a guide, they provide the necessary tackle and gear you and your child need.
Also, they give instructions and share local knowledge of insects, fish, and the water for a very successful day.
Keep Equipment Simple for a Start
Don’t rush to outfit the young angler with the latest releases in the market.
If they can handle your fly rod easily, allow them to use yours for the first few sessions.
A good pair of sunglasses and a sunhat are what you will need at the beginning.
Please bring them to the local fly shop to pick their flies; it helps them learn about ownership and anticipate using them soon.
Guide them to flies you think would work for the species they intend to catch but allow them to shop and get those that catch their eye and make them excited.
Bring two fly rods as a parent or guardian but don’t fish.
When teaching children how to fly fish, all the focus and attention has to be on them.
This is their time, and you shouldn’t fish whatsoever.
While at it, I know how angry you can be but be calm and patient.
Avoid putting pressure on them to cast flawlessly.
You can be a step ahead of these guys and look forward to their needs.
Be there for them and avoid rushing the process but as they get the hang of things, allow more independence.
If your child doesn’t enjoy casting even after trying different things for a long time, don’t put too much pressure on them or give up.
Each child is different.
Rig and Detangle it for them
By now, you should have assumed the role of a fishing instructor or guide. Rig, detangle and re-rig for your little one.
Allow them to focus more on casting and hooking fish.
They can learn how to tie nymph rigs and blood knots later.
Teach them the Simplest Fly Fishing Techniques First
Do you teach calculus to a kindergarten child?
Same way in fly fishing with kids, teach them the most straightforward techniques first.
Allow them to learn how to cast at 20 feet consistently and ensure they are confident doing it alone.
You can advance slowly and leave shooting lines or double hauls for later.
Choose your Spots Wisely
Go to ponds densely populated with bass or bluegills, or if you live closer to a lake with freshly stocked trout, the better.
They need to catch a fish to see the point in the setup and fly casting.
Once a child feels a tug, they will get hooked to fly fishing from the beginning.
Bluegills, stocked trout, and other panfish species are excellent for youngsters to get started.
Check for stocking schedules on your state’s fishing website.
Plan the outing a few days after the latest stocking to increase the chances of getting a bite with your child.
For the first few outings, I recommend going for quantity over quality.
Heroic Congratulations for Small Wins
These are kids, and they love affirmations and being congratulated.
Coach your child on how to set the hook and fight a fish.
They might need more help reeling in a fish at the start.
After netting the catch, celebrate them with photos and praise for their accomplishment.
You know those photos you have as keepsakes to date (If you have any); their first fly fishing photos might be the best ones they’ll keep.
While taking heroic shots of their first catch, teach them how to handle a fish safely.
Allow them to wet their hands and explain how to keep a fish in the water until ready for the photo.
You know the water buddies easily slip away during this time.
Keep yours in the net as you set up your shot.
Once ready, ask them to lift the catch out of water for some seconds and give a banana smile.
This is what memories are made of!
Instill Conservation Ethics from the First Day
While fishing with kids, clean the stream and pick up trash together.
Explain the importance of caring for the environment so that we can all keep fishing for years!
This is where being a role model fully swings in.
Leading by example is crucial in this case, and there isn’t a need to lecture them.
They are bright, and caring for Mother Nature is sensible.
You can make it fun by picking ten pieces of trash with them and rewarding them with a cookie.
If you have some money to spare, buy a mono master and show them how to use it to pick discarded lines.
Are Fly Fishing Classes for Kids Important?
Let’s be honest: Fly Fishing isn’t as easy as regular fishing, and that is why we are hooked on it.
It is a challenge, and we all love some tasks.
It has taken a long time for most people to be excellent at this hobby.
If this has been you some time back, can you put yourself in your kid’s shoes?
When trying to get kids started on fly angling, there are high chances that they won’t be bothered about the challenge.
Kids love doing fun things, and there is an endless list of stuff they can do; do you get it?
At this point, you are competing with things having immediate gratification.
It will be crucial to make you and your child’s fly angling outing instantly gratifying.
Learning the foundation skills should be more engaging and fun.
That is where professionals come in to save both of you the frustration.
It can be daunting to find an expert fly angling instructor who is great with kids but check with the local fly shops.
If the shop offers no beginner classes for kids, they could refer you to a fantastic local instructor.
I know about Orvis stores hosting fly fishing introductory classes, which are kid-friendly and free.
Your child might be that type that gets uncomfortable in group settings.
Opt for one-on-one instruction.
Everyone has their learning space, and for kids, the average duration should be an hour or two long.
Besides the fishing action, ensure you make the entire excursion fun by packing tasty snacks, food and drinks.
The first few trips are special occasions, and it is crucial to reward your young ones with things they love but don’t get in their daily lives.
If you are set up to tie some flies, choose one evening (or let them do) to help them tie some of their own.
Show them the basics of fly tying if they are interested in learning.
Teach them how to wrap the thread around hooks, and secure material, then loosen them.
Despite their tiny fingers, children grasp fly tying quickly.
Their creations mightn’t follow specific patterns, but there are chances that they will appeal to a fish.
Introducing kids to fly fishing gradually helps gauge their interest in it with little upfront investment.
Bring a combo on a hiking or canoe trip instead of planning a whole day angling trip.
If you find a good fishing point, rig up your rod and cast for some minutes.
If the kid expresses interest, it is the best time to introduce a quick lesson.