I always assumed fly fishing was a difficult, more advanced type of fishing. Maybe it’s all those photos and videos of people throwing out those beautiful, perfect casts. You know the ones I’m talking about. The magical arch of fishing line, floating through the air and then landing perfectly on the water.
Now yes, that cast might be a bit challenging to master. But all in all, fly fishing is not difficult. In fact, many anglers like to introduce it to kids at a young age because it’s really pretty simple.
My kids and I discovered this for ourselves during a fly fishing adventure in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We found a fishing guide to take us out (worth every penny) and suited up in our waders. Then we were ready to go.
Based on that experience and the awesome guide who worked really well with my kids, here are our top tips for fly fishing with kids. We hope they inspire you to try this awesome sport.
1. Set some expectations up front.
When you’re fly fishing with kids for the first time, you won’t look like the videos and photos of fly-fishing experts. Fly fishing can be a very relaxing and easy hobby, dipping your line in the water a little at a time. So make sure your kids know this up front. If they go in expecting to whip their line all over the place, it’s probably not going to end well.
2. Try a short trip first.
It might be tempting to go out for a few hours, pack a lunch, or even make a day out of it. But don’t! You don’t want the first experience to be a negative one. So try going out for just an hour or so to start with. Leave them wanting more.
3. Practice casting.
Before you get on the water, your kids can practice casting. Before you even get a fly on the line, you can also practice casting just in the water. Practicing will go a long way in getting them ready.
4. Make sure your dressed right.
If you’re going to wade in the water at all (which is such a fun part of the experience), make sure you have waders and right shoes. No one wants to get soaked and have wet feet in the first 10 minutes. So be sure you have the right equipment. This is actually one of the best parts of hiring a fishing service or guide. They’ll provide it for you!
5. Know where to go.
You want to go to an area that has good fly fishing. So if you don’t know the answer to this, ask around. No one likes to go fishing if the fish aren’t biting. Take the time to find this out, and everyone will have a much better and memorable time.
6. Celebrate every success.
Let your kids know that a “strike” in fly fishing isn’t a guarantee. Maybe you’ll only get a strike one or two out of every 10 times. This is OK! Stay positive, and praise their efforts every step of the way.
7. Keep ‘em moving.
Fly fishing isn’t a “stand in one spot” kind of sport. You’re always moving, working the stream and looking for a hot spot. This is great when it comes to fishing with kids. They’ll like moving around and trying different areas. Also, take a break when you need to. This is my daughter and I taking a “see, we went fly fishing” selfie.