So, you’ve decided to teach your kids to fly fish.

So, you’ve decided to teach your kids to fly fish.

So, you’ve decided to teach your kids to fly fish.

Chris Opfer

 

You’re super into fly fishing. You watch every YouTube channel, you have all the latest gear, and your local fly shop lovingly refers to you as a “shop rat.” Well, lucky for us parents, we get to pass on this amazing hobby (it’s not a sport, sorry – not sorry) to our kids or grandkids.

I have two young boys who are 7 and 9 as I write this blog post. There’s some disagreement amongst us guides as to when is too young to take kids fly fishing. The answer is, it totally depends on the kids. Both my boys started spin fishing at 2 years old and really got into fly fishing starting around 4 years old and, I’ll be the first to tell you, that’s pretty young.

The first few fly fishing experiences consisted of 1 fly, maybe some casting, monster truck toys, and throwing sand. I’m going to tell you right now that kids think waders are the coolest thing because they can stand in the water and not get wet. 5 years later, my boys are still amazed by this magic.

Don’t expect much from your kids when you first take them out whether they are 4 or 14. They will get bored pretty quickly and you have about 45 minutes to get them on fish before rocks start getting thrown in the water. I would suggest having them practice casting a bit in the lawn or the driveway, letting them wear their new waders and boots in the house, and having them pick out a few flies at your local fly shop. These flies probably won’t catch fish, but the kids think they’re cool and that’s all that matters at this point.

Before you actually head to the river, you need to get your kids some gear. Why? Because they are more likely to enjoy themselves if they are comfortable and have their own stuff. If they’re only using your rod and they’re wet-wading while you’re in your $800 Simms G4Z waders, they just won’t enjoy themselves as much. Luckily, the fly fishing manufacturers know this and they’ve made it easy for us parents.

So, you’ve decided to teach your kids to fly fish., dad and son fly fishing in river

First, let’s talk waders. Both Simms and Redington make great kids’ wading gear at a very reasonable price. I have sets of both. For sure, you’ll want to buy them a little big, but so much that your kids are swimming in them. I’m also going to say that they are way better than the rubber or neoprene kids’ waders you can get on Amazon. Nothing ruins a fly fishing trip, or any family outing for that matter, faster than an overheated and now cranky kid.

Second, let’s talk rods and reels. Several manufacturers make youth setups. Two of my favorites are the Echo Gecko and the Redington Minnow. The Gecko is great for younger kids from 4 to 10 or 12 with its shorter length (7’9”) and smaller grip. The Gecko is VERY soft and is basically a two-handed spey rod. This teaches your kids not to do the arch cast that touches the ground behind them. It also allows for a more natural roll cast.

Plus, the soft tip of this rod allows for excellent tippet protection for when your kid inevitably reels down on a fish they shouldn’t. I actually really enjoy casting this rod too. The combo is excellent as the line has colored sections to let you know when you’ve reached the maximum distance that rod can throw.

The minnow is great for kids from maybe 8 to 16. It is also shorter than your average rod at 8’ as well as having a smaller grip. The shorter rods are less fatiguing for your kids. It’s soft enough to throw dries, but will also throw nymph rigs with ease. It’s silly, but I really like the color of the Minnow and so do the kids who I’ve guided with it. If you haven’t figured it out yet, having fun equates to more time on the water.

Another thing I like about this combo is that the reel is polycarbonate just like the Echo. This is great for those frequent times when your kid slams the reel into a rock, drops it off a bridge, or drags it through the parking lot.

What about other gear? Get your kids some cheap polarized sunglasses. They’ll love seeing the fish and hooks in eyes are bad, mmmmkay? Kids will need to have a place to put their snacks, water, and fly box. Get them a vest or I really like the small chest packs from Fishpond and Umpqua. Almost more important than the rod and waders is a net. You’ll notice that kids will enjoy netting your or their sibling’s fish just as much as they enjoy catching the fish themselves.

Kids even just enjoy walking around the river in their waders with a net seeing what they can dredge up. Get them a cheap net with a retractor that they can hook on the back of their pack. This way it doesn’t get lost and you don’t care when they decide they want to use their new net to try to dig a hole in the sand on the bank. Yes, using a net as a shovel is fruitless, and yes, my boys did this yesterday on the river.

That’s really about it as far as gear. The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is this, make it fun for your kids. The more fun they have, the more they will want to go with you and make this a hobby of their own. This doesn’t mean that EVERY kid will love fly fishing the way we do, but it definitely increases the likelihood they will. I know that when I take my boys fly fishing, it’s not about me catching fish.

It’s about me unhooking flies from bushing, catching them when they try to float downstream, serving snacks and water as often as I can, and maybe helping them feel a fish or two on the end of their line. With that said, there is not much I enjoy more than when we pull back into our driveway from the river and my boys ask, “Dad, when can we go fly fishing again?”

For some of you reading this, you may not want to be the one to teach your kids to fly fish and that’s okay! Let one of our experienced guides help your sons or daughters learn the fundamentals. The bonus is that you get a guided trip too! We are also fully stocked on the kids gear, so stop by our store that closest to you.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

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Chris Opfer

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