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How to get your Kids into Fly Fishing | Fly Fish University Podcast

Dec 16, 2020

Creating an enjoyable experience for your little (or not so little) ones on the water...

The first memory I have of being alive (literally) is hooking a rainbow trout on a small lake outside of Kamloops, BC where I lived in a lakefront cabin with my dad. I was right around 2 years old, it was early spring and the lake was still partially frozen with large sheets of ice floating freely around the middle. I hooked the fish on a spinner, it made one jump and actually landed itself on a piece of ice floating in the lake. 

We had to pry the fish off of the ice and put it into the small bucket I brought with us in the canoe before making our way back to shore, frozen to the bone. As we approached the shoreline, by a series of unfortunate events, we actually ended up flipping the canoe in just a couple feet of water. I remember the chill that stayed in my bones long after I made my way out of the frigid water, and also know why I still wear a life jacket to this day!

Though this wasn't the smoothest entry into my fishing career, it was one that I'll remember forever. Being a dad of two little ones now (almost 3 and almost 1 as I type this), I am incredibly grateful for my opportunity to introduce them into fly fishing. I have also successfully helped many parents help get their kids, young or old, into the sport of fly fishing.

Here are just a golden rules if you're considering getting your kids on the water...

Keep it fun

I literally cannot stress this enough. Fly fishing is fun, it's supposed to be fun, but sometimes we insist on making it hard. Your first impression will often be the most important one, and if your kids start out thinking fly fishing is a boring slog of an activity, it will become increasingly harder to get them on the water more often. 

If they're little, bring things with you that they can play with. Don't make it all about yourself, the more you can make it about them and their experience now, the greater your chances of having them actively participate in fly fishing down the road. 

Don't give up after one attempt

My fly fishing career has gone something like trying it for the first time at an incredibly young age, trying it again around 10 years old (with zero success), trying it again at age 14 and becoming immediately hooked. Once I started, there was no stopping, and by 17 I decided against going to college so I could work full-time in fly fishing. 

Had my dad, or anybody else who tried to teach me, given up on the first go, I would probably be the shift manager at Wendy's (I actually did work at Wendy's for a short stint in my early teens) instead of typing this to you. If at first your kids don't find fly fishing as interesting as you do, imagine how fun you would have found waving a stick with a bright string attached to it while hooking the trees behind you at their age. 

Don't push it

Kids like to rebel. The more they feel like it's something they "have" to do instead of something they want to do, the less inclined they're going to be to stick with it. Fly fishing, as you know if you are reading this, is incredibly enjoyable. This is how it was designed to be, do not push your kid into feeling like they have to join you on every outing if they don't want to.

Pick a fishery with them in mind

Don't drag your kids to a trophy lake where you might have one chance at a fish on a full day of fishing. They likely won't grasp the concept of the risk/reward factor yet, so bring them somewhere they will experience some action. Even if it is a stocked lake that does not grow fish over the 12-inch mark, it's going to keep them entertained and bring them a sense of accomplishment.

Hire a professional

If your child is old enough and you want to drastically shorten their learning curve, set them up with someone who is professionally qualified to teach them. This might mean sending (or accompanying) them to a kids fly fishing camp, buying them some online education, or bringing them on a guided trip. 

In case you didn't know, all Fly Fish University programs, courses and workshops are completely FREE for kids under 16 years of age! Drop an email to [email protected] and I will get your little one set up. 

In closing

Fishing with your kids is awesome, I cherish the ability to bring my son and daughter onto the water. They don't get frustrated over the same little things we do like tailing loops, wind knots and broken tippet. They carry a wonderful sense of adventure and curiosity, and bringing them onto a lake or river is a great chance to a) get them out of the house and b) educate them on the thing you love to do most!

Listen to today's podcast episode on Apple Podcasts by clicking here!

All other podcast enthusiasts, listen directly below!



- Jordan Oelrich


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