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How to Get Kids Started with Fly-Fishing

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Colorado’s vibrant rivers and streams, teeming with trout, paint a picture-perfect backdrop for introducing your children to the wonders of fly fishing. This age-old practice isn’t just about catching fish; it is about fostering a connection with nature, learning patience and respect, and creating lasting memories.

Colorado boasts a diverse landscape, offering a plethora of fly-fishing opportunities for all skill levels. From the crystal-clear mountain streams teeming with brook trout to the mighty rivers flowing through valleys rich in brown and rainbow trout populations, Colorado provides the perfect backdrop for your child’s first fly-fishing adventure. 

aerial view of river and highway-colorado

This guide equips you with the knowledge and tools to embark on this exciting journey with your little anglers. We’ll explore the benefits of fly-fishing for kids, delve into the essential gear, and provide practical tips on making your first outing a success. 

Why Fly-Fishing is Perfect for Kids 

boy fishing on bank

Fly fishing offers a unique blend of challenge, reward, and respect for the environment, making it an ideal activity for youngsters. Here’s why it stands out: 

  • A Learning Adventure: From mastering casting techniques to identifying insects, fly-fishing ignites a passion for learning. Kids absorb new skills, better understand the ecosystem, and develop a deeper appreciation for nature.
  • Patience and Focus: Fly-fishing requires patience and focus, skills that benefit children in all aspects of life. Waiting for the perfect cast, reading the water, and anticipating a fish’s strike all demand concentration, a valuable skill they can hone on the riverbank. 
  • A Family Activity: Fly-fishing is a fantastic way to spend quality time outdoors with your kids. It fosters a sense of shared experience, creating lasting memories and strengthening your bond. 
  • Respect for the Environment: Fly-fishing emphasizes responsible practices like catch-and-release fishing  Kids learn the importance of respecting wildlife and protecting their habitat, fostering a sense of environmental stewardship. 

Equipping Your Junior Anglers: Essential Gear for Kids 

Before your first outing, ensure you have the right gear for your little fly fishers. Here’s what you’ll need: 

dad and son holding fishing pole

  • Rod and Reel: Choose a lightweight, shorter fly rod (around 6-7 feet) specifically designed for kids. They’re easier to handle and cast, preventing frustration. Choose a simple single-action reel with minimal moving parts. Local fly-fishing shops can help you select the perfect setup for your child’s size and skill level. 
  • Flies: Keep things simple with a few basic flies like Woolly Buggers and streamers in various colors. These versatile patterns can mimic a variety of insects and are attractive to most trout species.
    Read about our Top 5 Colorado Spring Fly Patterns.
  • Waders and Boots: Waders and boots are essential for wading safely in rivers and streams. Opt for breathable waders designed for kids, ensuring comfort throughout their fishing adventure. Choose boots with good traction to prevent slips in slippery conditions.
    Read more about How to Pick a Summer Fly-Fishing Outfit.
  • Safety Gear: Safety is paramount. A life jacket is a must-have, especially for younger children. Sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent are also crucial to keep your kids protected while enjoying the outdoors.
    One of Trout Unlimited’s Golden Rules for fishing with kids is to let them choose their gear. Outside of essential safety equipment, if a kid is excited about their fly-fishing outfit, they are likely to be even more excited about fishing while wearing it.  

man fly-fishing on river bank

Tips for a Successful First Fly-Fishing Trip 

Now that you have the gear, let’s plan your first fly-fishing expedition with your kids! Here are some valuable tips to ensure a positive and memorable experience: 

  • Go with a Guide: Our guided fly-fishing trips at Colorado Fly Fishing are a fantastic option for families looking for personalized instruction and exploration of new fishing spots. Our guides possess extensive knowledge of local rivers and streams, effective fishing techniques, and responsible practices. They can tailor the experience to your children’s skill level, ensuring a safe, enjoyable, and educational outing.
    Choose from our 4 hour float, 3 hour walk & wade, or our 2-day overnight trips.  
  • Start Local: Choose a location close to home with calm, slow-moving water. Outside Magazine suggests a still water pond or lake for your little one’s first fishing foray. Public fishing areas or private ponds stocked with trout are great options. Avoid fast-flowing rivers initially, as they can be challenging and frustrating for beginners.
    Learn How to Choose the Best Colorado River for Fly-Fishing.
  • Practice Casting in the Backyard: Before venturing to the water, dedicate some time in your backyard or a park to practice casting techniques. Start with simple exercises like roll casting and gradually progress to overhead casts. Make it fun and focus on accuracy over distance.
  • Keep it Short and Sweet: Young children have limited attention spans. Keep your first outing short and engaging, around 30 minutes to an hour. If they start losing interest, wrap it up and reschedule when they’re more eager. Short, successful trips will keep them excited about future adventures. Our shorter, 3 hour walk and wade trip is great for this, and kids will stay entertained the entire time!

kid sticking out tongue holding fishing pole

  • Focus on Fun: Remember, the primary goal is for your kids to have fun and develop a love for fly-fishing. Don’t get bogged down by catching fish. Celebrate every aspect of the experience, from casting accurately to spotting interesting insects or wildlife.
  • Be Patient and Positive: Learning any new skill takes time and patience. Be encouraging and offer assistance when needed. Celebrate their efforts and progress, regardless of whether they catch a fish. Focus on the fun and learning experience.
  • Lead by Example: Demonstrate proper casting techniques, respect for the environment, and responsible fishing practices. By modeling these behaviors, you’ll guide your children towards responsible and ethical fly-fishing. 

Resources and Additional Activities 

As your children progress, there are additional resources to enhance their fly-fishing journey. Consider enrolling them in fly-tying classes. Learning to tie their own flies fosters creativity, problem-solving skills, and a deeper understanding of fly selection. On our guided fishing adventures, our guides are happy to teach these skills, or many fly fishing shops offer beginner-friendly classes specifically designed for kids. 

  • Fishing Tournaments and Events: Many Colorado towns and organizations host fly fishing tournaments and events, such as the Mile High 25 on the Fly. These events offer a fun and competitive atmosphere, encouraging your children to hone their skills and celebrate their achievements. 
  • Turning Passion into Stewardship: As your children’s fly-fishing journey progresses, encourage them to explore the ethics and responsibility associated with the sport. Discuss the importance of leave no trace principles, catch-and-release fishing, proper handling of fish, fly-fishing etiquette, and minimizing environmental impact. Organizations like Trout Unlimited offer fantastic resources and educational programs dedicated to fly-fishing ethics and conservation. 

fish under water

At Colorado Fly Fishing, we’re passionate about sharing the magic of fly-fishing with everyone, especially the next generation of anglers. Choose one of our guided adventures and ensure your kids have a memorable first fishing outing, as our knowledgeable guides offer invaluable advice, while fostering a fun atmosphere.

Written by Rosa Canales, Copywriting Marketing Specialist


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How to Get Kids Started with Fly-Fishing