Fishing. You either love it, or you hate it. The same can be said about how your kids may feel about it. Whether they’re the kind who are fascinated by aquatic creatures and the process of hauling them onto a boat, or they’re little child activists who vow to do no harm to any living creature and therefore are appalled at even the mere mention of the pastime, their view of the sport will dictate whether or not you even need to read beyond this.
My son falls in the former category so let me clue you in on a different kind of fishing fun we had recently—fly fishing! But before that…
Places to go fishing with kids
There are so many places to go fishing with kids. Where the best place might be to go fishing with your kids begins with what your idea of fun might be. Don’t take them on a boat if you hate boats or turn green at the first few notes of a sea shanty. If you hate mosquitoes and have no desire to sit in the middle of a forest for hours, don’t take them fishing on a secluded tree-lined pond.
Fortunately, in this day and age, there are plenty of kids’ fishing activities to choose from and you can avoid any that you might think of as difficult situations.
1. Deep sea fishing boat
An easy choice only if you live near the ocean. The boat is often stocked with plenty of bait and, more importantly, crewed by locals who tell you what kind of fish your kid just caught. They will also get it off the hook for you, then throw it back in the water or fillet it to your specifications right on the boat.
And, of course, there are deep sea boats specifically geared towards kids, like this one. Again, if you need an antihistamine to go on a bike ride, this might not be your choice.
2. Stocked kid’s fishing pond
But this one could be! No matter where you live, you can probably find a fishing pond that’s been abundantly filled with living, breathing fish for you and your kid to enjoy catching.
Often, you can just show up empty-handed and they will have equipment for you to rent. All you have to do is find a spot and spend hours with your kids hauling in the same fish over and over. Or, in some cases, the pond might require you to bring the fish home for dinner. It’s pretty fun.
Find a guy with a boat and pay him some money to take you and your kid on a fishing extravaganza unlike no other. Whether you live near lakes, rivers, or oceans, it doesn’t matter. Someone is willing to get paid to take you out and find you some fish. I think this option is best because you can fish with an expert who will not only find you fish to catch, but you can even persuade him to end the day early if your kids start complaining because they just aren’t feeling it anymore, way short of the 2-hour time limit. Win-win.
Those are the 3 best options for fishing with kids, in my opinion. You could also rent your own boat or hire some dog sledding guide to take you to a frozen lake in the middle of a snowy tundra for some ice fishing, but you can research those kinds of things.
For a beginner like myself, grab your and your kid’s fishing rods, choose an option that includes a few experts around you who know what they’re doing, and relax. You won’t look as cool around your kid when you yell for a crew member to take the tiny sunfish you just caught off your line, but the day will go much more smoothly.
What is fly fishing?
Fly fishing is the art of fishing but is much more complex than regular fishing. It’s like heating your dinner over a candle when you know they have already invented the microwave. But alas, I digress.
Fly fishing is fantastic. Just ask Brad Pitt.
I had never tried it myself. When my family and I took a giant road trip after being stuck in our house for an entire year, we found ourselves in Montana. It seemed like a no-brainer to me to give fly fishing a shot.
How to fly fish
Fly fishing is a very particular way to attempt to catch fish. You use a long, thin pole, a thick line, and a slew of different kinds of tiny lures that were barely weighted down. The “fly” is usually supposed to look like… a fly.
It’s a tiny speck on the end of your line and is often hard to see. The lack of weight and mass makes the itty-bitty lure hard to cast, so you must learn a new technique when you are ready to fish.
I like things to be easy, so we decided to throw money at the problem instead of researching, gathering our supplies, and heading out into open waters. We just hired someone to help us (if you happen to be in Montana, I can’t recommend the fine folks at Bent Fly Fishing enough). We paid the money; they provided the boat, the fly-fishing gear, and the fly-fishing expertise, not to mention the knowledge of the area, which helped provide us with an incredible day on a lazy river just outside of Glacier National Park.
Since we were from out of town, one other thing they told us about ahead of time was fishing licenses.
Do kids need a fishing license? Yes, and so do you. Our captain told us way ahead of time who needed them, how and where to get them and where to keep them, so when we met him at the boat ramp, we were officially ready.
Out on the water, our guide taught us all the basics of how to fly fish and encouraged us even when we made mistakes. By the end of the day, we were expert fly fishers! Well, at least he made us feel like we were, anyway. We were “casting, stripping, and mending” like pros. And we learned the most important lesson of all—fly fishing is fun! We really had a great time. My son caught the first fish of the day, and he could not have been prouder of himself. That alone was worth the price of the whole day.
What you need to fly fish on your own
Suppose you don’t want to take my advice and hire a guide for whatever reason, no problem. I’ll give you a list of all of the essential fly-fishing gear you’ll need to get from the fly-fishing shop to get you started on your family fly fishing adventure.
1. Fly fishing rods and fly fishing reels
These are important as they might be your only actual, bare-bones necessity to fly fish. They come in adult and children’s fishing rod and reel sizes. They often come separately but go for one already assembled, like the Orvis fly fishing rod, if you can.
2. Fly fishing flies
This one is important too. The whole sport is named after these little guys. They come in all shapes and sizes and depending on what kind of water you’re fishing in, you may need a whole spectrum at your disposal.
3. Fly fishing waders
Don’t have access to a boat? Get yourself and your kids out into the water like cool and very stylish pros!
As for how to tie fly fishing knots, this video should help with that.
Getting kids hooked on fly fishing
I don’t know what your idea of adventure is. I’m not here to judge you. But if you’re so inclined, why not try something new? Kids love trying new things, right? My kid gets so excited when I tell him we’re doing something he’s never done before! He never shows any form of resistance.
Actually, he always pushes back. He hates change and would rather do the same things every day. But guess what? He loved fly fishing. While he did something new, he also learned the valuable lesson that he might like something else new in the future.
And that makes it all worth it to me.