WITH A FEW GOOD POINTERS, SHARING THE ART OF FLY FISHING CAN BE EASY
You may be tired of fishing alone or want to share a favorite pastime with your loved ones. After all, someone probably taught you, and if you are reading this, you survived to tell the tale. While it may seem daunting at first, teaching kids or family members how to fly fish can be immensely rewarding—and not difficult with the right tips. Here are a few pointers for getting your budding pupil out on the water with a bent rod, a tight line, and many fish opportunities.
Despite what many online retailers may lead you to believe, you don’t need to take out a second mortgage to purchase a good fly fishing setup. An entry-level rod and reel are more than enough for a novice to use for years, and it is best to avoid sinking too much into the purchase (pun intended) in case they lose interest.
In the same vein, you also want to make sure to pick a versatile rod for a range of fishing conditions in your area. Generally, a 9-foot 5/6-weight rod is suitable for most freshwater fishing, from alpine lakes to large rivers. If you are fishing the ocean, you may opt for a heavier rod, like a 9-foot-8-weight rod. Wild Water Fly Fishing carries an array of excellent entry-level rods.
Wild Water Fly Fishing is the one-stop shopping experience to get you started. Check out all the gear you might need here!
Start with a bit of target practice. While it may be tempting to go straight to the water, the best place to teach casting is in an open, grassy area such as a public park or backyard. Place a hula hoop, small tarp, or blanket about 20-25 feet away (this will be the target). Next, tie on a bright piece of yarn to help the new fly fisherman see the “fly’s” location while casting. Casting without a hook also helps alleviate the anxiety often encountered by the new fly fisherman at the possibility of accidentally hooking yourself.
Once your target is set up and the budding fly fisherman is ready, they can try a few gentle casts. Emphasize stopping the cast at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions, and don’t worry about letting out more lines for now. Many beginners will attempt to use their wrists to flick the rod back and forth, resulting in rapid fatigue and a lack of accuracy. Encourage them to use their forearms and maintain a straight wrist.
The most common mistake beginners make is waiting longer on the back cast, an error that will inevitably result in a tangled line. During the first few casts, ask the novice to allow the fly to drop to the ground behind them, following it with their eyes the entire time. From the ground, ask them to do the same on the forward cast, aiming for the target. Watching the fly line on both the forward and back casts will help them get a sense of how long the fly line takes to extend behind and ahead of them.
Once they get the feel of straightening the line on both the forward and reward casting motion, you can have them start attempting regular casts. They may still have trouble waiting on the back cast, so you may have to ask them to count to two or three before sending the fly forward again (the time will vary depending on the rod, fly, and technique). It is also a good idea to have them watch both the forward and back cast to help visualize how long they should wait before starting the next casting motion.
Eventually, you should move the target further away and explain how to let out a little bit of line to lengthen the cast.
Of course, a large part of fly fishing is tying (and untying!) knots. Knots can sometimes be the most challenging part. Start with a rope or piece of yarn; this will help the student visualize how the knot comes together without fumbling with the small line diameters used in fly leaders. After that, it’s time to move on to the real thing.
ON THE WATER:
Now that you and your student are ready to get out on the water, it is essential to think about where to start. Pick a lake or slow-moving river where the fly will be highly visible, preferably away from any underbrush or trees that might result in a snag. It is usually best to start with dry flies since adding a nymph can exponentially increase the chance of a tangle. If you are not planning on keeping any fish, de-barb the hook. While doing so might make it more challenging to land fish, it also reduces the likelihood of injuring you or your student!
Set expectations. As they begin casting, it is vital to let the beginner know what they can reasonably expect from the day. Even the best fly fisherman return empty-handed, and a novice may quickly become frustrated if nothing bites. Make it clear that catching a fish is not guaranteed. Maintain attention on technique, not results, praising every good cast and giving advice when needed. Chances are they will be too busy to grow bored or frustrated, and it will help them draw a sense of pleasure from the activity itself, not just the catch.
The moment has come. You see the flash, hear the splash, and the rod’s tip starts to bend downward. With some luck and your calm guidance, your pupil lands the fish.
If you plan to release the fish, you have one final teaching opportunity—handling it without injury. Have the novice wet their hands before touching the fish, demonstrate safe hook removal, and gently return it to the water. If the fish does not remain upright, move it slowly back and forth in the water to force oxygen over the gills.
With patience and understanding, you can help new fishermen develop into accomplished anglers, so they can tell the story of the day they became hooked on fly fishing.
About Wild Water Fly Fishing
Wild Water Fly Fishing represents a dedication to bringing friends and family together by providing everything you’ll need to gear up for a trip to the lake. If you’re a parent or grandparent wanting to nurture a kid’s interest in fly fishing, Wild Water provides the best tools to make your fly fishing trip an unforgettable experience. Wild Water Fly Fishing is the only company to focus exclusively on affordable, easy-to-use fly fishing starter packages for all species of fish.