With both of my girls in somewhat of a spotlight around the lodge, I often get asked “How do I get my kids into this like they are?” I guess I am lucky to have little girls that would rather fish than go shopping or play with video games. For this I am eternally grateful to my ancestors and the apparent genetics that I have passed on. While that sounds great – they are both doomed to be short like I am as well. I haven’t really broke that news to them yet…..
At any rate, to answer the question – I believe exposure is the #1 contributing factor when it comes to peaking the interest of our next generation. Sure, there are tricks, hacks, cheats. Farm ponds are great. We want to keep this fun – and there is nothing like a bent rod and splashing fish to make it fun.
Patrick Morrow recently penned a few pointers that may help get us all on the right track – Thanks Patrick!
Five Tips for Teaching Your Child to Fly Fish
Many fly-fishing enthusiasts eventually become interested in passing their favorite pastime onto their kids. And while it is more difficult to teach an 8- to 12-year-old how to whip a fly through the air than it is to teach them to use a spinning rod and bobber, it is quite possible, and the rewards for doing so are greater.
But you have to go into the activity with a sensible approach to ensure you inspire, rather than frustrate. Just be sure to keep the following five tips in mind, and your child should have a blast learning how to fly fish.
1. Start with A Stick Instead of a Rod
Fly fishing is a relatively complex activity and it requires learning several new skills, which build upon each other. Accordingly, you’ll want to start very simply at the outset. This means leaving your favorite fly rods in the garage for a while, and heading out into the backyard with a ruler or broomstick. By teaching your child the basic casting motion this way, you can establish a firm foundation on which you can build.
2. Pick A Great Place to Teach and Practice
Once your child has the basic motions down, you can break out the rods and start walking them through the basics of spooling line and casting. However, you don’t need fish for this – you just need a wide-open space. This will help reduce the number of snags and complications at this early stage of the game. A swimming pool is the perfect option, although you can even practice in the backyard (just be sure to use a practice fly that won’t snag the grass).
3. Record Your Youngster’s Attempts
While most parents begin introducing their kids to fly fishing in an effort to get them away from digital screens, technology does provide considerable value. If you record videos of your child’s casting efforts, you can go back home later and review these videos – you can even compare your child’s casting attempts to videos of others casting (just be sure you do so in an encouraging and supportive way). As a bonus, this gives you another opportunity to bond with your child at home.
4. Target Age-Appropriate Fish
Once your child has mastered the basic techniques and is ready to take their skills down to the local fishing hole, set them up for success. Don’t go hiking three hours up stream to reach your magic brown trout honey hole, as they’re unlikely to be successful. Instead, go down to the local farm pond and let them cast to bluegill or other panfish, who are much less discriminating (and not as easily spooked) feeders.
5. Keep the Emphasis on Fun
Remember that fly fishing is difficult – especially at the outset. Your child is likely to deal with minor amounts of frustration, and you’ll need to keep the mood light and fun to ensure this frustration doesn’t boil over, which can cause them to lose interest in fly fishing altogether. Never scold your child for mistakes; instead, explain easy ways to fix them and share stories about some of the mistakes you often make to help them understand that fly fishing is hard for everyone.
Fly fishing is a great and healthy way to spend time with your kids, and as long as you embrace the tips above, you should both have a great time in the process.