Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

This is always a fun topic to read about and talk about. I tend to be the father that has an idealistic mentality about teaching kids to do things. Luckily, I married a woman who has learned to corral my ambition and keep my expectations on a kid’s level. Our son Van will turn two in a couple of weeks and from day one I have been trying to brain wash him. It has been fun seeing his progression in just two years, from being able to say “fishee” to using a reel. I have recorded his progress as we’ve gone and it is fun to see. Before having a kid I was always trying to get my nieces and nephews to fish with me. I learned a few things along the way that I am trying to keep in mind as Van grows up.

Since I am a young father, this topic is going to be coming up very regularly. I am officially making it a blog post category here on howdoyouflyfish.com. I have a lot to say concerning the topic so I hope you enjoy the information and feel like you can contribute. Please feel free to ask questions or post comments below.

Bonnie Lake, AK.

Bonnie Lake, AK.

Something that I have learned in my more recent life, is that kids need to learn that killing fish is a choice. I like to preach to all of my students and most everyone for that matter, that when you fish with a fly, killing the fish becomes a choice rather than a consequence. Teaching your kids that they can have fun and not have to eat the fish at the end of the day will go a long way to helping them develop a good perspective. I am by no means against fish consumption. I am an advocate for respecting resources and conserving fisheries for future generations.

Start with a light spinning rod set up.

I grew up fishing with lures on rivers and flies on lakes. The rigging is simple and provides an opportunity for catch and release. If your kid can understand the concept of reeling, then they can catch fish. Obviously patience is a virtue for parents as your kid won’t want to sit on your lap and reel the entire time. They’d probably rather throw some rocks into the water. To rig with a fly on a spinning rod I use clear plastic floats or I call them bubbles. Not your red and white bobbers! The bobbers can’t be filled with water and made to sink at a desired rate. I put the bubble on my line skinny end first and then tie on a swivel (tie on the fat side). From the swivel you add a leader of straight mono-filament, usually 6 lb. The leader can be long or short. Typically I don’t use a leader that is longer than the rod to avoid tangles.

When it comes to choosing a fly, you can use any fly you would normally use in a still water situation. With a fly and bubble you can fish dry flies or sub-surface. Wooly buggers are great flies to use because you can catch any species of fish with them and tie or buy them in all sizes and colors. When I was small my father swore by a fly called a Rengade, or the Scofield Special. It depends on the body of water you will be fishing, but for most small trout or pan fish, just about anything will work.

I love fishing with my boy!

I love fishing with my boy!

By adjusting the amount of water in the bubble, you can have a floating system or a sinking system. If you want a slow sink rate make sure there is a tiny bubble of air in the plastic bubble. You can adjust it to the conditions and your kids abilities. I find that if Van wants to reel slowly, I keep the bubble afloat so it doesn’t get stuck on the bottom. If he is reeling fast, I fill it completely with water to keep it subsurface as he reels it in.

In the video below you can see the rigging. I have fished this way my whole life. It is definitely a great way to get very small children started. Keep in mind Van is not yet two years old.


I have taken my small nieces and nephews as well as my son out fishing using this rig. It catches fish. The biggest and most important thing to keep in mind is that kids want to have fun, so keep it that way. Just don’t let yourself get stressed when they don’t want to fish but instead throw rocks. Be open minded and let them discover it as their curiosity allows. One last note, make sure you take pictures and videos if possible. Kids love to watch the videos and look at themselves catching fish afterword. This will keep them enthused about going on the next trip!

Thanks for reading the post today. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email: flyfishscook@gmail.com. I would love to discuss this topic further and I definitely plan to in the near future.


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