I think about how to foster a love of fly fishing in my kids a lot. Judging by the number of views and retweets on my post How To Foster a Love of Fly Fishing In Children, those of you with kids or grand-kids think about it a lot too.
To start fostering a love of fly fishing in your kid, first foster a love of fishing in general.
Take them to a pond and sit on a dock with a Dora the Explorer rod (princess rods work too.) There is no need to get all crazy about rushing your 5 year old to a fly rod. My kids first rods were those cheap little Shakespeare rods with the fancy Disney designs on them. They love those rods. If you start by focusing on fostering a love for fish, the outdoors and fishing in general, a love for fly fishing will grow on its own. Just keep sharing your experiences with them. On the other hand, if you are some kind of crazy fly fishing elitist with your kids, pressuring them to do things the way you want them done, there might be something wrong with you and your kids will end up frustrated. Their frustration with you will translate to a frustration with fishing. Some of my favorite times with my kids have been sitting on a dock below my in-laws house throwing bobbers and worms at bass and bluegills. They love it and I love that they love it.
Two years ago one of my daughters took the rod from me because I was “casting to the wrong place.” I thought I was casting that rod better and further than anyone had ever cast a Dora The Explorer Rod. She gently took it from me, walked to the other side of the dock, pointed at some bugs on the surface and told me, “Dad, the fish are under these bugs, they like to eat them.” As I stood there delightfully shocked my daughter plopped her bobber down in the middle of the bugs and caught a blue gill in seconds. I could have fallen over when she turned and looked at me with a grin that seemed to say “I told you.” It was less than a year later that she noticed a fish rising not far off the same dock to a “bug” on the surface. She took the fly rod I had brought (just in case) and caught her first fish on a fly.
Here is the moral of the story.
Instead of trying to force your kids to fish at your pace, fish at their pace and while doing so help them learn to love everything that surrounds the sport of fishing. Don’t frustrate their love for fly fishing by trying to move them too soon to a fly rod. If you love fly fishing and you love your kids it will happen when they are ready. When it does it will be so much more rewarding.