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5 Tips for Fishing with Kids

Photo credit Aly Nicklas

You want your kids to love fishing as much as you do. To find the zen and peace, the patience, the thrill, the confidence, the focus, the connection with nature. They can, and they will. 

There are few things more rewarding than watching your kid master a cast, or proudly reel in the evening’s meal. Plus, you might just find your favorite new fishing buddy.  These tips will help you share your love of the art of fishing with your kids. 

1. Manage expectations.
If you make the whole trip about catching a fish, you’re likely to go home with some sour faces. Instead, shift attention to practicing the cast, exploring the habitat, and just spending some relaxed time as a family outside. When appropriate, use the practice of catch-and-release as an opportunity to empower your children as little conservationists.  Make it a fishing-day ritual to go enjoy a meal of some fresh whole fish afterwards, regardless of whether you catch anything. That way, there will always be a fish at the end of the adventure. As an added bonus, it’s a perfect opportunity to build your children’s knowledge about where their food comes from.


Photo credit Aly Nicklas
 
2. Practice at home.
No one wants to start a relationship with fishing by hooking themselves on a cast, and that kind of introduction might scare off a youngster for years.  Always remember to teach caution with rigging and baiting your hook. Get a short practice rod rigged with some yarn, and let them whip it around the backyard or even the living room. The weight of it will allow them to get a feel for the cast before they move onto the real thing. Plus, they’ll have more fun (and be more likely to catch something) if they have some competence with their cast before they get into a situation where there are bushes to hook and fish to be missed with a line dropped too hard. When they are ready for the real thing, head over to our page about Fly Fishing gear and equipment and gear up. 

3. Do some location scouting.
Pick a nice flat grassy area with gentle banks by a pool, where there aren’t many obstacles in the way of casting and there’s space to take a nap or play by the river (without falling in or scaring the fish) when breaks are needed.


Photo credit Aly Nicklas
 
4. Let them bring along a friend!
They’ll have more fun learning the skills, exploring, and enjoying that post-session meal if they’ve got a peer to share the experience with.


Photo credit Aly Nicklas
 
5.  Encourage exploration.
When they’ve tired of casting, encourage them to poke around the river bank. They can look for critters, collect rocks, and get dirty. Show them different sorts of tied flies, and then send them off to look for the real thing to observe where it hangs out and the way it moves through its environment (when you get back home, they can learn to tie them themselves watch our video "Fly fishing knots series" Teach them about identifying different sorts of currents. Encourage them to think like a fish: where would they hang out?  Let them get in the water and see how close they can sneak up on a fish. Be sure to give them the opportunity to enjoy the environment on their own terms, whatever that may mean. Because when it comes down it, the most important thing you’re building is a love for the experience, and catching a fish is just one little piece of that.

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Alisa Geiser

Alisa Geiser

Alisa Geiser worships the wilderness and is 100% dedicated to adventure. One day she will make babies, but right now she's overwhelmed with how perfect her 11 nieces and nephews are and gets her kid-time teaching them to skateboard, throwing sleep-over parties in her tipi, and taking them on excursions where they discover they enjoy things like eating eel. Alisa is a writer, publisher and filmmaker with a track record of involvement in projects that make a lot of noise to promote positive social causes--recent clients include Honor The Treaties and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. Knee Deep, the documentary film about grassroots volunteerism she co-directed in 2014 with Aly Nicklas, is currently on international tour. Her work has been published in Women's Adventure Magazine, National Geographic PROOF, elephant journal, and elsewhere. She's represented by Foundry Literary + Media and holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder.