Pointers and products for children aged 4 to 10
Every fly-fishing parent has a dream—a dream that their children will follow their footsteps down that muddy trail to the river and take up fly fishing. In another age, it was very likely that if you fly fished and shared a love of the outdoors with your kids, they would follow suit.
Journey Youth $230 Tyler Befus turns heads when he takes to the casting pond at fly-fishing industry trade shows—where everyone is literally a casting “pro.” Those results make dad Brad Befus top dog when it comes to teaching kids how to fly fish. Brad works at Ross Reels and helped his company put together the Journey Youth fly-fishing outfits, a culmination of everything he’s learned from teaching not just Tyler but many children how to fly fish. The 7'6", 4-weight pink and blue (boy and girl) rods come with a FlyStart reel, fly line, a Cordura rod-and-reel case, and an the instructional DVD A Kid’s Guide To Fly Fishing with Tyler Befus. rossreels.com
Today, with competition from video games, the Internet, and the general urbanization of our culture, it’s becoming a rarity. Most kids today would rather spend their time adding friends on Facebook than tying flies or looking under rocks for stoneflies, but here’s how you can turn it around.
First, start your kids early—and don’t start with fly fishing. The idea is to first get them interested in the fish. How they catch them is not important here, so don’t be a purist with four- and five-year-old kids. A carton of worms and a bobber is a fine way to get started fishing—that’s how most of us started anyway, right?
Redington Minnow $100 Targeted at ages 6 through 12, the Minnow comes as a complete package with a Crosswater reel spooled with backing, a RIO Mainstream line, and a tapered leader. The 8-foot 5/6-weight rod comes with a booklet with casting tips for kids, and games to get them casting in the backyard. This is no Snoopy rod. It’s built to look and cast just like dad’s fly rod so kids get started on the right foot. redington.com
Once they learn the thrill of anticipation, and the joy of success, they’ll up the ante and ask for a fly rod. Just make sure they see you fly fishing from time to time and the table is set.
Echo Gecko $100 Small children under six years old rarely have the coordination to strip or shoot line with their line hand. Their early attempts at casting are usually two-handed affairs—not Spey casting, mind you, but a two-handed back-and-forth windshield wiper stroke that plops the fly out there. The 7'9" Gecko is short enough for little kids to handle, and has a 2" fighting butt to get both hands working the cast, and also to help lever a big bluegill into shore. The bright yellow color and high-density foam handle make it kid friendly, and with a 4- or 5-weight line it can handle stocked trout, pond bass, and all sorts of panfish. rajeffsports.com
When they do start fly fishing, don’t just unload your old tackle on them. Children are small, but that doesn’t mean they are second-class citizens. When they catch a sunfish by themselves they feel a sense of accomplishment—and pride of ownership of legitimate fly tackle not only encourages them to become more familiar and proficient with the tackle, it also gives them the independence they need to succeed outdoors.
Getting kids interested in fly fishing takes more than just time on the water. You can instill a passion for fly fishing between fishing events by tying flies together, and bringing the culture and entertainment of fly fishing into your home through books and DVDs. Olive the Little Woolly Bugger is a fictional character in a three-book series ($13 each, Johnson Books) created by Kirk Werner. Werner is the co-founder of the web site takekidsflyfishing.com, and has done an excellent job of weaving fly fishing into a story line and illustrations that kids find captivating. The other books in the series are Olive and the Big Stream and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. Montana Fly Company (mfc.com) also sells accessories with the Olive motif including Olive the Woolly Bugger nippers, and plastic fly boxes with Olive on the front.