Posted on June 14, 192000 at 08:07:07:
Teaching Children to Fly Fish
You can impact a young persons life in a very positive way by giving them the gift of fishing. In a society where there are so many wrong things for a kid to do fly fishing can provide a healthy escape. You do not need to be a professional casting instructor to teach a child to fly fish you merely need to have the desire and the ability to spend a little time at it. Your contribution will make a lasting impression .
Ideally you can introduce a child to fishing at a very early age. My four year old daughter loves to go out and dunk worms for white perch each summer. As adults, our primary responsibility during this time is to make the child comfortable in the outdoors. At these early ages children are beginning to form associations with their environment. When I ask my daughter if she wants to go fishing I do not want her to think about how cold her feet were or how bad the bugs chewed her up. I want her to think about what a good time she had the last time she was out. Be careful that the child is comfortable and feels secure during these early stages between 3 and 10 years old.
Do not force the youngster to begin flycasting. As the child learns to enjoy other ways of fishing he or she will one day be ready to try the long rod and will ask to learn. This usually takes place somewhere between 9 and 13 years of age. When this magic moment occurs here are a few guidelines to help you and the youngster along.
Be confident in your ability as a teacher. All it requires is patience and a simple understanding of fly casting ( I am assuming that you have both) Children are much easier to teach to flycast than are adults. Adults come with too many bad habits and other hang ups that get in the way of learning. Adults need qualified instructors, children do fine with just patience and a lot of encouragement. Be confident you'll do fine.
Try to break the basic overhead cast into a series of components allowing the child to practice each,and later coordinate them into the final cast. You need not introduce the line hand until the very end. First show the youngster the appropriate grip, how to accelerate the rod up (using a controlled wrist), pause , and the forward cast. You should demonstrate each step first and then allow the child to try it with an unstrung fly rod. Once you are confident in their casting motion allow them to try it with a strung rod and a short amount of line. They can simply grip the line in their rod hand for now as they practice the stroke. Allow the youngster to practice this for a while as you gradually pull out more and more line. The youngster should eventually work up to enough line so that he can feel the rod loading and unloading. With each cast the child can allow the line to fall on water or grass (depending on what you have available). Take frequent breaks especially if the youngster begins to get messy. When all is well, introduce the line hand and the appropriate time to release line. Again allow the child to practice and coordinate all motions of the completed fly cast while you provide positive reinforcement. If things get messy don't get frustrated simply stop. Come back and try it again later. It is best to have frequent but short fly casting sessions. Don't be afraid to go back to the basic stroke (without line hand) and practice.
You will be surprised at how quickly a youngster will learn to fly cast. Once this is done you can go on to teach some of the finer aspects of fly fishing which the youngster will spend a lifetime learning and enjoying. Best of luck in this worthwhile endeavor.
If you have any questions regarding this article or flyfishing in general please feel free to contact me at Northeast Anglers Inc. 1-800-558-7658 or www.northeastanglers.com
Gary Scavette is a registered Maine guide, U.S.C.G licensed captain and the President of Northeast Anglers Inc.