Guest Article by Jon Sutton Outdoorempire.com
There are a number of ways to spend a few hours with your kids on a beautiful Colorado morning, but few activities are as rewarding as teaching your youngsters to fly fish. Not only will you reap the health benefits of fishing and get the chance to spend a few hours in one of the state’s most beautiful habitats, you’ll get to do so while bonding with your children. If things go well, you may even catch a few fish.
But you can’t just grab a couple of fly rods, head down to the water and expect to have a great time. Using a fly rod is a little more complicated than using a spinning rod, and you’ll have to provide your kids with a bit of instruction. And because your kids will enjoy the activity more if they actually catch fish, you’ll want to embrace a few other tips and tricks to give them the best chance at a great day on the water.
1. Set your youngster up with a size- and age-appropriate fly rod.
Don’t hand your child one of your hand-me-down rods; they’ll only grow frustrated trying to wield a full-size rod all afternoon. Instead, set them up with a shorter, lighter rod while they learn the basics. A 7- to 8-foot-long, 4- to 6-weight rod should do the trick in most cases.
2. Teach them the basics before heading to the water.
Take 20 minutes or so to teach your kids the basics in your backyard or in a local park before heading to the water. Go over the proper grip, basic casting motion and try to let them get the feel for loading the rod. Use a hook-free practice fly while doing so to keep everyone safe.
3. Pick a low-traffic location with plenty of room.
You don’t want your kids to have to worry about snagging other anglers or innocent bystanders while learning the finer points of fly fishing, so try to pick an uncrowded location that provides plenty of elbow room. It is also important to avoid areas that are crowded with trees or other obstacles.
4. Fish alongside your kids.
You are far more likely to elicit strikes from the local fish than your kids are, thanks to your experience and skill. So, it’s a good idea to fish with your child. This will allow you to set the hook and pass off your rod so that your child can enjoy the glory of reeling in the fish. Battling the fish is usually the most entertaining part of fishing, so you’ll want to make sure they get to enjoy doing so before the day is over.
5. Don’t be afraid to seek out help.
If you’d like a little assistance teaching your kids to fly fish, consider joining one of the local workshops that provide instruction for youngsters and begging fly fishers. High Plains Drifters, for example, provides a great Kid’s Day every June, where participants are provided with instruction and allowed to try out their new skills on a stocked Colorado Parks and Rec pond.
Just be sure to embrace these tips and maintain a positive attitude and your kids will surely have a good time learning to fly fish with mom or dad. Don’t forget to obtain a valid fishing license before heading down to the water – you don’t want to set a bad example for your youngsters or have an unpleasant encounter with a law enforcement officer. Children under 16 can fish for free in Colorado, but you’ll need a valid license and a habitat stamp to fish legally.
If you’d like to learn more general tips that’ll help make your child’s first fishing trip go smoothly, check out Outdoor Empire’s comprehensive guide on the subject. There, you’ll learn a few more tactics and strategies that’ll increase your chances of catching a fish or two with your kiddos.