Kids Learning to Fly Fish

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I am in favor of kids learning to fly fish.

Let’s see why: We use small barbless hooks or bent down barbs,

  • Our outfits are lighter.
  • The long rod keeps the hook further away from the body.
  • We use one hook not a bunch of treble hooks.
  • No messy bait to handle.
  • Not a lot of mechanical equipment to repair.
  • It is a sport that will grow with the child for the rest of their life.

How old should a fly fisherkid be?

  1. If the child is able to tie their shoes.
  2. Can pour a glass of milk from a half gallon bottle.
  3. Understands that a fly fishing rod is not a toy but a working tool.
  4. Would like to go fly-fishing (This I have never had a problem with.)
  5. The one thing I like to see is a kid that can swim. We know that sooner or latter all kids ‘fall-in’ To be able to swim will take the panic out of the experience. Of course a life jacket is a dang good idea in most cases.
  6. Sun Glasses for Eye Protection is a must.

Why did I start out with what a child can do, is in part the physical development. The young fly caster will have to be able to swing a long rod, and to be a good fly caster, be able to stop the rod. This takes a little coordination and muscle development. Not just be able to throw something but to control the arm.

Of course I do not think that a six or seven year old is going to be a long distance caster. I know that half the fun of being a kid fishing is all the other things that are happening. Like the frogs, bugs, birds. Just the rocks on the bottom can hold a world of wonder when you first see them up close. Give it all time to take place. This world when seen through the eyes of a child can be a rewarding experience for any adult that spends the time to enjoy it.

Equipment for a kid is not as hard as you might think.

  • Rod: 6 to 71/2 ft graphite (lightweight) medium action for a 5-wt. line ( the smaller weight rods will not cast a popper well enough for a kid)
  • Reel: Single action click drag. For #456 line. Graphite. (Light-weight)
  • Fly Line: Concept from SA is a good line to start WF-5F in orange
  • Leader: Tapered (3X) or Mono of 15 lb. down to 4 lb.
  • Fly; Surface = Poppers, Elk Hair Caddis, Trudes, sizes 12 – 8
  • Sub surface = nymphs, size 14 – 10 (indicators can be used)

I like to start a kid off with surface flies. They can see the “take” and that is half the fun. If fishing gets tuff then change to a subsurface fly.

To be able to say they caught a fish is still very important to a child. From the start instill in them that fishing is not always catching. It is just fishing.

The reward is being able to go fishing. Spending the time fishing with friends and family is a pretty good reward. After that is understood ‘Fish’ will be regarded as a bonus.

I have not given you an age to start a child fly-fishing. I would like them to be able to spend some time in the “Back Yard” learning the equipment and how to use it. Simple things like winding the reel the right way. How to hold the rod. How ‘long’ it is when going through the door. What the line does when you keep shaking the rod. How to get the end of the line out in front of them. It is much harder to teach fly-casting at the lake or river. There are too many ‘new things’ going on all ready. Making it hard for young minds to keep it all together.

I like to give the child a good base to start with. The basic casting stroke’ is an important step in developing a fly caster (Don’t you wish someone would have shown you?) Learning the name of all the parts of the outfit becomes a game.

I have four grand-sons that fly fish and two great grand kids that have taken fish with a fly rod, (1 girl, 1 boy) both were 5 when they started fly casting.

Too young, no just short interests span. Two hours is a long time for the first trips. Break for drinks and treats. Make time to explore. Short time later there is not enough hours in the day for them.

I hope this helped. Remember a long rod (9 ft) is a lot of rod for a small person to handle. My kids started out with 5 1/2 and 6 ft. rods. I have one in the truck just ask to see it any time.

Fly casting is as easy as flysoup,

by Allen Crise FFF Certified Flycasting Instructor

Allen Crise FFF Certified Flycasting Instructor
Hawk Ridge Tackle & Flycasting School
2508 A CR 1011
Glen Rose, Tx. 76043
[email protected]

This article originally appeared on

Photo by Mike Cline – Own work, Public Domain,

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