At what age should I get my kids started in fly fishing? This question came to us this week and it's a good one. Actually the question was At what age was Annie (our daughter) when she started fishing?
Annie went with us to the stream occasionally when she was a toddler (3-5). During these years she mostly learned to throw rocks, get her shoes wet, and slip and slide around on wet stones. But it became somewhat familiar territory for her and she would see us catch a fish now and then. Mostly it was stream side babysitting and not much fishing for us either.
As she got older she played by herself alongside the stream doing the usual stuff – making mud pies, floating sticks, throwing more stones, but now she would come out and net the fish for us. She would make a few casts with the rod but didn't have much attention span yet. We have a pond with panfish and she did much better at the pond catching bluegills – they were easier, she could handle them and let them flop around in the dirt and grass and they would swim away happily when she got them back in the water. It was especially nice at the pond in May because when the bluegills are spawning they are close to the edge and she could see them take the fly – and it's not too buggy or weedy yet. She learned quickly how to smooth down the spines so she wouldn't get pricked.
When she was ready (for her it was around 11/12), we found a riffle on our home stream where she could stand at the edge in water that wasn't too deep and practice her casting with a fly. The moving water camouflaged her sloppy casts and the fish had less time to decide about the fly, so it sometimes resulted in her catching a fish. There's nothing like a reward at any age, but especially with kids. They need to get results or they will soon get bored. From that point on it was pretty easy and she learned as she gained experience.
For us, it has come full circle, so to speak, because we are now taking our grandsons, who are 5 & 6, fishing. They have Echo Gecko fly rods which they use like little spey rods and have become quite good at getting the fly out there. We are enjoying every minute of it.
What is the right age to take a child fishing? Whenever they want to go!
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