• Take Your Baby Fly Fishing: 5 Tips for Fishing With an Infant
  • Post author
    Ryan Kaufman
  • fly fishing

Take Your Baby Fly Fishing: 5 Tips for Fishing With an Infant

Ryan Kaufman, fly fishing guide Headwaters Outfitters with child

Nothing Puts a Damper on Your Personal Fishing Time Like Becoming a Parent

You’ve suddenly been forced into time-sucking responsibilities that without a doubt eat away at what was once time on the water.

In my situation, Mama just recently went back to work part-time, which means that I, Dad, have occasionally been on babysitting duty.

In order to make up for time already lost on the water, I figured, what the heck – I’ll take the little guy fishing.

My son Sawyer and I have been out fishing a handful of days, and here are a few things I’ve learned.

1. Make Sure Your Child Is Secure and Comfortable

This is important for your child's safety (#1 priority), but it also helps you get as long of an outing as possible.

We have a backpack carrier as well as a front carrier. Both have advantages and drawbacks. If you opt for the backpack, make sure you’re aware of ducking limbs above your head, and remember, your child’s head is a little higher.

He or she will not likely be happy if you run them into a low-hanging rhodo.

2. Stick To Small Streams

There are a couple of advantages to small stream fishing with your baby.

First, I’ve found the baby stays most interested if you keep moving. He or she will more than likely get antsy if you stand over a pod of stockers for long stretches of time.

Another advantage is wading in small water is pretty easy. A slip and fall in big water with a baby would be a bad situation with potential consequences no parent wants to think about.

Lastly, smaller fish are easy to land and handle without putting safety in jeopardy. There’s nothing better than running downstream after a two footer, but again, your child’s safety is your first priority.

3. Plan Your Fishing Outing to Suit Your Baby’s Daily Schedule

Ryan Kaufman, fly fishing guide Headwaters Outfitters with child

Timing is critical.

I like heading out right after a feeding that might transition into a little nap in the car and on the water.

A sleeping baby is not an upset baby, which means you can focus on fishing.

4. Be Ready To Take a Break if Necessary

This can be hard for a dedicated fly angler, but you might squeeze in more time on the water by taking a little break here and there.

Pull out a blanket and some toys, change a diaper, give your baby a little snack, and then get back to the action.

This will hopefully keep your little guy or girl happy and extend your fishing trip.

5. Don’t Push It Too Hard

Remember, fishing with a baby is better than no fishing at all.

Keep your expectations low for the first few outings. The last thing you want to do is traumatize the poor kid by pushing on through hours of misery on their part.

Teaching fly tying to kids: Where to begin?

Shoot for an hour and try to end it before things go downhill. As you both get more comfortable with the routine, try for longer trips.

Quick Review

You can’t start too early when it comes to cultivating a good little fishing buddy.

Is it kind of a hassle taking your baby fishing?


Can you fish as hard with a baby as you can without one?


Will you feel awesome when you hold up a fish and see your baby smile and reach out to touch it?

You better believe it.

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About Ryan Kaufman:

Ryan Kaufman, fly fishing guide Headwaters OutfittersRyan is head fly fishing guide at Headwaters Outfitters in Western North Carolina. From stalking wild brookies to chasing smallmouth and musky, Ryan enjoys a variety of opportunities presented by living and fishing in the Southeast. He's currently making preparations to instruct his most important future “client,” his eleven-month-old son, Sawyer. 

  • Post author
    Ryan Kaufman
  • fly fishing

Comments on this post (7)

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Both my husband and I look forward to getting out with our baby asap and I took some good tips from this!

    Looks like this was a few years ago… would love to see updated pics of you and Sawyer fly fishing! Does he love it now that he’s a little older?

    — Christy

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Excellent article. Just moved to Idaho with my wife and 18 month old son. I took him to the local pond and balanced fishing with him in the stroller. My mom was kind enough to buy us an osprey Poco AG and man is it a game changer! My wife and I both work and watch our son so fishing with him is going to be a common activity. Your article gives me hope and reassurance and I appreciate your consideration for safety. You can’t ever be too careful. I signed up for the mailing list because of this article. Keep up the excellent work! Fish on!

    — Kris Miller

  • Dec 03, 2020

    I’m currently 29 weeks pregnant with my husband and I’s first baby. His goal is to get out on the water with her as soon as she is old enough. I love reading other dads do this with their baby!

    Too many people stop living once they have children, but it can be so beneficial for the little ones to see your dedication and love for a hobby. Being out in nature. There are dangers all around. It’s silly to think that the baby is in any more danger fly fishing with dad than playing on a playground.

    Life is unpredictable. The point of living is not to live in a bubble. I’m going to be a mom and I get so excited to hear about how my husband looks forward to taking our girl out with him on the river. I’m a bit surprised by the comment questioning if mom knows you are out on the river. I’m sure she knows! If she knows you and your passion, I’m sure she shares in the same excitement I do – that you have a loving partner who is introducing your little one into the joys of living! Risks and all.

    I’m a tomboy and have countless stories of injuring myself doing something risky. I’m also a nurse who has seen horrible outcomes of rare accidents that probably could have been avoided. In the end though, you can’t live in a bubble. Risks are all around us as soon as we walk out the door.

    Keep it up! I think this shows you are a great father and I can tell from reading that you would never risk your baby’s life. Thank you for sharing.

    — Candice Kline

  • Dec 03, 2020

    I just checked the comments of the post of the article I submitted a few weeks ago. I feel as though the comments of Mr. Fatino are 100% justified but I would like to elaborate on seriousness of the issue of safety. First of all, yes, mama does know about our fishing adventures and certainly joins us every chance she gets! Secondly, as a full time guide and avid angler, I spend at least 250 days per year wading mountain streams. I know which streams to fish and which to avoid and that should be a very serious consideration for anybody looking to take a small child on the river for the day. Any stream I’m willing to take Sawyer out on is one I have been on countless times before. This should be true with any parent thinking about doing such a thing. The article was not meant to encourage inexperienced anglers to tromp out into the river with their young child but to advise avid anglers about strategies to safely include their child in an activity that holds a special place in their life, and one that hopefully will the life of the child. Thanks for your comments Henry and tight lines! Also, thanks to the Flymen team for a poignant response before I had a chance. See you guys on the water!

    — Ryan Kaufman

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Hi Henry,

    We agree that the child’s safety should be the parent’s top priority.

    By following Ryan’s advice on keeping the child safe and secure, only fishing the smallest of streams, and paying attention to the child’s well-being on the outing, a conscientious parent can give their child the gift of the outdoors without putting them in any more danger than a leisurely hike.

    — The Flymen team

  • Dec 03, 2020

    I gotta say this has got to be a serious error in judgement. There are so many safety issues on display here, too many to list. I have one question, Does the Mother of this child know you are in a river with un predictable current and depths as well as the inherent dangers with just Fly Fishing in any river.

    — Henry Fatino

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Great article Ryan!

    — Jess Westbrook

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