How To Get Your Kids Into Fly Fishing

Fly fishing can be a wonderful activity with your kids: it’s perfect for one-on-one bonding time, instills a love of nature, and gives rewards for patience. Kids can learn some great lessons while fishing, and you can spend some quality time together away from all the screens inside. However, it can be hard to figure out exactly how to get your kids into fly fishing. Particularly for younger children, the attention span required to catch a fish can be a little too much. The following tips can help you share your love of fly fishing with your son or daughter in a way that both of you will enjoy.

It’s about More than Just Fishing

You can start to share the joy of fishing when your kids are young, even just a couple of years old. Start by simply making it fun for them to come out to the water with you. There are all sorts of activities they can do alongside your fishing: exploring under stones, skipping stones (or perhaps just throwing stones), building sandcastles or rock stacks, and so on. Take some time to explain parts of the surrounding nature and wildlife, such as the bugs underneath rocks and the fish you’re catching. They’ll love learning and seeing everything. You may not have the most productive day of fishing with a little one running and splashing around, but they’ll likely start thinking of “fishing” as a fun activity to do together. How to get your kids into fly fishing is less important than how to spend quality time with your kids.

Start Gradually

Learning how to cast can be difficult and frustrating for kids, so work on teaching them gradually. You’ll probably want to let them start fishing with a simple line and bobber. When they seem ready for fly fishing, start small. You can teach the casting motion with just a couple of sections of the rod, then add the full rod, then add in the line. Practice casting in your backyard before actually going out to the water (just make sure there are no family pets nearby!). When you actually hit the water, give plenty of praise and encouragement for good casts. If your kid starts to get frustrated, take a break; too much pressure can become a turn-off. You may want to purchase a specialized kid’s rod, which is lighter and easier to handle than adult rods.

Teach Them About Bugs

Kids think bugs are cool. Teaching them about the life cycles of aquatic insects is a great way to get your kids into fly fishing. If you can show them insects in various stages of their life cycle, even better. Fly fishing goes as deep as you want it to. It’s not necessary to bring entomology into it, but you will often find kids more interested in the bugs than they are in the fishing. It’s a great opportunity for learning a part of fly fishing that many adult anglers don’t know much about.

Catch Some Fish!

For kids, it can be hard to grasp the joy of the simple process of fishing; they want to actually catch a fish. After all, what could be more exciting than catching your very own fish? When you’re starting out, try to find a fishing spot you know has some easy catches, such as a recently stocked trout stream. With some luck (and a bit of skill), your kid might catch his or her very own fish. If they’re not catching anything, you can let them reel in your own catch. There’s still a big sense of accomplishment in being part of a catch. Before you release the fish, take a moment to admire it together. Those are the moments that will keep your kid coming back to fly fishing.

Make it About Quality Time Together

If the focus is only on catching fish, there will be disappointments. The truth is, sometimes the best anglers get skunked. When the focus of a fishing outing is on spending quality time together rather than on the fish themselves, it’s a win-win. Some of the best days fishing with your kids will be days that no fish were caught. The life lessons are endless on the river. Kids learning to be outside and appreciate the wonders of nature will only enhance their experiences going forward.

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  1. And just one thing I would add…
    Don’t push it! Just because YOU want to go fishing all the time, doesn’t mean your kids will! In fact, this could have the exact opposite efect, making fishing something that they feel they are being ‘forced to enjoy’… And that will not end well for anyone!

  2. Let them be in charge… When they want to do other things, let them…

    • Yes. My oldest son likes to wander and fish while my daughter likes EVERYTHING about the river. So she might be fishing one second and then throwing rocks the next.

  3. Great article, I agree with everything that has been said. Start when they are as young as possible and as soon as they show any interest, get them out there. Kids like to doing “grown-up” things and many people perceive fly fishing to be a grown-up activity. Although it really isn’t, that perception alone will drive some kids to be interested. I got my first fly rod in 1962 when I was 12 years old and living in Los Angeles. Very few people were fly fishing and that made me even more attracted to it.

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