Written by: jim litchfield, Reno Fly Shop
Customers in our shop often ask how old a child has to be before they can start fly fishing and my answer is always the same: if your child can walk on their own then they are ready to go with you. There is no need to explain the nuances to them; They just look forward to being outside, with bugs, water, sun and a chance to catch a slippery, wobbly fish. And that’s nice because it means you don’t need a lot of experience to enjoy the day, just a basic understanding of gear, knots and throwing. I have taught my sons to fish and I suggest prioritizing the following three things to ensure a great time on the water with kids:
1. Have fun
There is something special about water that can inspire children. Embrace that excitement and let it set the pace and direction of the day. Flipping rocks and finding bugs can be just as much fun as making them wade and throw instantly. Keep the instructions simple and you’ll grab their attention. Children are very intuitive and empathetic and notice the smallest details. If you have a smile on your face and a wondering voice in your voice, you’ll recognize that feeling right away.
2. Bring snacks
Snacks are crucial. Kids will be so excited and distracted by all the things you show them that they won’t want to slow down while eating or drinking. If you shove a quick snack in their face mid-step, things will go more smoothly.
3. Keep it short
Above all, children want to have fun and spend time with you, although I know this from my own experience less is more on such trips. Plan to spend less than half as much time on the water as you think you will. Short breaks not only lengthen the journey, but also strengthen skills to get in and out of the water safely.
Jim Litchfield owns and operates Reno Fly Shop in Reno, Nevada.