• Beyond the Gear: 3 Important Things to Teach Your Kids On Their First Fly Fishing Trip
  • Post author
    Bret Oeltjenbruns
  • conservationfly fishingfly fishing tips

Beyond the Gear: 3 Important Things to Teach Your Kids On Their First Fly Fishing Trip

Photo by Chris Fowler.

How We Can All Contribute to the Next Generation of Fly Anglers

When we take our kids on their first fly fishing trip, we generally think about things like which areas to fish, what gear we need, and what weather conditions are best, but there are other important things we should be considering as well.

Here are 3 important things to teach your kids when bringing them out fly fishing for their first time...

1. Have Respect

Photo by Grant Moxley.

Teach your kids the value of respecting nature by having them help you pick up trash when any is found. Let them know the importance of leaving the area better than it was when you arrived.

Set a good example for your kids on how to interact with other anglers. Not every outing will be a solo adventure, so it’s valuable for our kids to see us as anglers respecting other anglers when we’re out on the water.

Introducing Your Kids to Fly Fishing: 4 Tips for Success

Some anglers believe it’s good luck to kiss the fish goodbye after catching it, and they thank it for the sport. Teaching something like this to your child may foster an appreciation for the fish and how we should be respecting others and all living things in our local fisheries. This also a perfect time to talk about how and why to properly handle fish.

2. Have Fun

Photo by Chris Fowler.

Hooking a fish is always a thrill, but if fishing is slow, you can find ways to keep your kids interested.

Try taking photos of different aspects of the experience: loading up the gear, tying their first clinch knot onto a fly, casting practice, nearby nature, family selfies, and any opportunity you can take advantage of to capture valuable moments that you and your kids will be able to fondly look back on.

Flip rocks to find out what bugs are in the area at that time. It keeps things interactive, teaches them about bug anatomy and what flies you should be using, and generally maintains children’s curiosity.

Teaching fly tying to kids: Where to begin?

When the dog days of summer kick in and fishing slows, look for a good swimming hole and take a dip. Sometimes it’s nice to take a mental break from constantly focusing on trying to catch something.

3. Have Patience

Photo by Chris Fowler.

Look back at your first fly fishing experience and ask yourself how that went. Did you feel overwhelmed and want to give up? I know I did. Even when things are going wrong, you want your kids to feel encouraged.

We want to make sure our kids are engaged and want to do it again in the future. Maybe they missed the fish of a lifetime, but it’s important to be patient with them and reassure them that it will make catching the next one that much more meaningful.

Bluegill: Fly fishing's little magic bullet

It may go without saying, but it’s equally important to exhibit patience as a parent while fly fishing as well. With every tangle, every tree caught, and every fly lost, we need to be lenient on ourselves. We’re all going to make mistakes, and there is most likely something to learn from whatever that mistake was.

When to take your kids fly fishing

Lastly, don’t be afraid to not catch fish, because there’s so much more to fishing than that. It’s so important to appreciate the fact that you and your family are taking time away from busy day-to-day life and just enjoying the outdoors.

This short fly fishing film that I made with a friend revolves around our two sons and premiered at a Trout Unlimited event.

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About Bret Oeltjenbruns:

Photo by Chris Fowler.

Bret Oeltjenbruns (Instagram: @bretoelt) is a fly fishing guide and instructor for Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop in St. Paul, Minnesota. He grew up conventional fishing for trout in Northeastern Iowa with his dad, but it wasn’t until 2012 that he came to love the sport of fly fishing. In 2017, Bret graduated from the Sweetwater Travel Guide School in Montana. He guides predominantly in the Minnesota and Wisconsin areas for trout and smallmouth bass, but he’s also done some guiding in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He also regularly volunteers for Trout Unlimited’s Trout In The Classroom program for kids. When he’s not guiding, Bret manages a team that builds bicycle wheels, he plays in a band, and most of all he loves fly fishing with his family, friends, and 13-year-old son Payton.

  • Post author
    Bret Oeltjenbruns
  • conservationfly fishingfly fishing tips

Comments on this post (2)

  • Dec 30, 2020

    This is really a wonderful, great article. I am going to tell it and this mail magazine for my Japanese friends.

    Thank you so much!

    Please take care, and have a nice new year holiday.

    — Takeshi "GO" ITO

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Wow! Very impressed with the video! Great to teach your kids the technical aspects of fishing! I love walking the streams with my 5 ft. “Ugly Stick” using small BB split shots and natural bait. Never stuck with the Fly Rod, for me not always able to get out much, time spent getting hung up in trees and losing equiptment wasn’t fun for me so I stuck with a short pole, open face spinning reel, and live bait! That was fun and relaxing for me, and catching a lot of native Trout added to the fun! Great video guys, keep on keeping on!

    — Clarence Shaffer

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