Monday, August 11, 2014

Teach Kids to Fly Fish or just Get Out of the Way.

Get Kids into Fly Fishing

    What is the purpose of grandparents if not for getting their grandkids, bonus grandkids, and god grandkids into fly fishing? 
     But how? Tradition says hook them up with worms, bamboo pole and a lake shore full of sunfish. Yuk! Starting them out by killing worms won't point them in right conservation direction and letting them thrash about with a $5,000 bamboo fly rod seems a little bit risky. 
Gary helps Patrick with his first bass of the season on a spinner.

    Then there's the question of starting them out with a spinning rod or a fly rod. As an obsessed fly angler I just couldn't bring myself to do the spinning rod, although Patrick above seems to have mastered it quickly on the lake. Last year he told me, "Grand PerĂ©, I'll probably only use the fly rod you made me when I'm fishing with you."
     Given the competition from electronic gizmos with immediate feedback, convincing a 4 to 8 year old that fishing is fun seems to require some nearly immediate hook-ups. The excitement and fascination of connecting to a wild creature is a phenomenal experience for all involved.

   But fly casting could be a hang-up. Adults believe that fly fishing is actually fly casting and spend an enormous amount of effort when they are getting started reading, studying, practicing, and getting instruction in putting the fly in the air. I decided that kids are smarter than this and actually don't have the patience for it since casting in the parking lot is only esoterically linked to fishing on a stream.
   Four year old Eloise convinced me of this while watching her cast without an prior instruction on a lake near Chicago. Here's what her cast looks like a month later in Colorado :

Grammy points out the feeding lies to Francesca.
     I had a chance to take Max out on the iconic Gold Medal Roaring Fork River in Colorado. 
At over  a dozen trout 14 inches or over per acre, fishing here, like most famous rivers is not all that easy. These fish get large due to the fertile water and by surviving the heavy pressure of fly anglers.  I was nervous that he'd not get any action. 
The last time I fished with him we pretty much just watched the river. 

     I rigged him up with a peeking caddis that looked like what we had found under a rock. He was fascinated.
   I told him where he should try to get his indicator to drift and he figured out  how to flick or roll cast it there by himself. I helped him put in a couple mends but that seemed to be too much detail. We only spent about 10 casts in each pool as we walked up stream. I was astounded that after 45 minutes he was still at it and still interested. And then this happened.

And the release.

   I think he's hooked. The secret? Rig'em up and get out of the way. 

If you are an adult getting into fly fishing is much, much, harder. Luckily I wrote a book just for you since you are cheap, don't have the time, and are easily distracted. Check out 
"Getting into Fly Fishing for under $100." It's actually gotten some good reviews.