15 must do’s to help kids enjoy fishing

May 9, 2009


By Travis “Dr” Gillespie – Xstream Outdoors

This is a subject that I have been thinking a lot about lately. It is something that is so important to our sports future and the tradition of Fly Fishing. After many years of teaching fly fishing to all ages, here are my most important points to teaching kids how to fly fish and enjoy it.

1. Its never to early to take a kid fly fishing:

Kids are kids no matter what the age…Sometimes adults act more childish than 8 yr old anyway. I hear all the time “I can’t take my kid fishing until he is older “ I think that attitude is just a little selfish. There are times to fish with hardcore buddies and times to fish with your kids. For example: I am 26 and have no kids of my own, but I have helped teach many kids how to fly fish and now they have moved from the kids group into my hardcore fishing buddies at age 12-15. My little brother Gunner is living proof of that. Growing up with fly fishing siblings, Gunner was introduced to fly fishing when he was old enough to walk. He got his first fly rod at age 4 and caught his first fish that year. At age 6 he could cast, hook and land fish alone and now at age 12. He is completely self sufficient and can out fish most adults that we go with. (Don’t get me started on his little sister Addie, who is now 10) So when I hear someone doesn’t fish with their kids because they are too young, I just shake my head, knowing what they are missing out on.

2. Build up what a privilege it is to go fly fishing.

3. No matter what, make it fun:

Never get mad at your kid, laughing goes a long way. Remember how bad you were when you started.

4. Teach by example:

You can fish too! Don’t spend the whole day shadowing over your rookie. It gets old quick! Catch some fish and show them that you are a master at the sport. That respect will go a long way. Plus it gets kids excited to see fish and makes for a successful trip even though they might not have caught anything. (Age Depending)

5. Make it simple:

One fly, small casts, no trees, etc…

6. Its not just about fishing:

Go on a hike, hangout, look at the flowers, bugs, and animals. Do what they want to do. They will want to go again if it was fun.

7. Make sure to be prepared.

Have warm clothes, food and water at hand.

8. Pick a good day and location:

Don’t fish the Provo River with a rookie. Choose a river or lake that you know holds a lot of hungry fish that are easy to catch. I like high country lakes and streams (lots of brookies) and community ponds. Also make sure you go on a nice day. Fishing in comfortable weather is lot easier than sub zero weather. Plus it’s a lot more fun for kids.

9. Bring a friend along:

Kids show off to their friends, which in reality teaches them to be better. Plus sometimes it makes it fun for them to stop fishing and just hangout with someone else. Remember its about having fun, not just fishing.

10. Don’t over teach:

Teach them when they want and are ready to learn. The best time is when they ask for your help.

11. Be Positive:

Give lots of complements, kids always perform better under a positive teacher.

12. Teach Through Stories:

Most kids relate to stories better than lectures. Stories give kids a chance to visualize the situation before it is done. Plus kids will really pay attention when a story is being told.

13. Get treats or food after (before) the day:

Build a tradition. During the summer we always get a Slurpee after a day on the river.

14. Gear Them Up:

How would a kid be able to go out and play baseball with his friends if he didn’t have a mitt, bat and ball? It’s the same thing with fly fishing. Kids need at least a rod, reel and line to be able to practice their casting. This doesn’t mean go out and buy the best gear- I would go to any sporting good store and get them the cheapest rod and reel possible. (Most are under $50 for the set up) It will make them appreciate, getting a nicer set up later on. Have them save up their money to get a net, fly box, flies, glasses, waders, and boots or they are all good gifts ideas. (Birthdays, Christmas, etc…)

15. Tell them that you are proud:

Don’t forget to tell them that you are proud of how good they did. That they are great fly fishermen.

So get out and take a kid fishing and I promise you, the rewards will be priceless!

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3 Responses to “15 must do’s to help kids enjoy fishing”

  1. Chubbs Says:

    Good stuff Dr.


  2. Merle for Wapiti Waters Says:

    I think this advice is great. AND, it applies to me. Take me fishing, don’t over teach, make it a good time, and tell me you are proud of me. I am NOT a young person, but I like the sound of this experience. This is a good article, I would like to post it on out Trout Unlimited site.


    Big Hoss Reply:

    I think that would cool for you use it. do you want to copy and post it or do you want me to send you the HTML?


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