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My wife and I welcomed a new baby boy this fall and of course I have already been scheming all of the epic fishing trips he and I will go on when he gets older. While he is a couple years off from picking up a rod, I am wondering how and when those of you with kids introduced them to fishing. Did you start them with a worm and a bobber or get them right into fly fishing? How old were they? Any other recommendations to help make sure they want to go more than once?
 

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The biggest thing to remember when introducing children to any sport is that when young they only have a short attention span.
Starting off limit the activity to twenty minutes. After this they get bored and it becomes a chore.
When I introduced my children to fishing I always took them to places with easy access so that after a short time we could go back to the car, have a drink, something to eat and sit down. When they were a bit older we used to break up the fishing sessions with a game of cards or bocce. Once the break time is over then another session of fishing.

Kids need to be active, so casting and walking, not standing and definitely not just watching.

If you want a full on fishing session lasting hours, then leave the kids at home or risk fishing alone the rest of your life. When they get older and start relishing the actual fishing and get into the technique, then start the more hard on stuff.

At the end of the day, the best fish you catch in your life will be when you help your son/daughter land their first fish and watch the smile on their face.
 

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Bring snacks and keep it light. I started my daughter off tying flies at age 5. She and my son were little when they tied flies in our local sportsman’s show. Here little fingers could whip finish flies better than most!

Both enjoy fly fishing to this day and my son has taken up tying flies while on his most recent deployment with the military.

Mark
 

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I started my daughters fishing by rowing them around in my drift boat trolling lures for pellet head trout. They were probably 6 or 7 and 4. My youngest daughter could do it for about 30 minutes, my oldest until all the fish in the lake were caught.

They are now 25 and 22, both chase steelhead with me and are more than proficient with a switch rod and Commando Head.

Those early fishing trips may be one of the best investments you ever make!

Oh....take them camping when they are old enough. A great way to get them into the outdoors.....even if it is some campground a few miles from town.

Now both camp and fish with me on the NU.
 

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Like Moethedog I started both my boys in the driftboat on local lakes casting bobbers and powerboat for stocked trout.

My oldest never really took to it but the younger one did. When the oldest was eleven he got his first Spey rod. - a hand me down CND 14’3” Solstice (he still has it and fished it). He started going with me on my fall trip and then when he was in HS and college he and I would have a spring break trip every year. Until Covid, we kept that tradition up and are already talking about this spring.

My youngest started also at 11 going on the fall trip. He is 18 now and was back East in college this fall and the trip seemed really empty without either him or his brother there. He still goes with me from time to time always complaining about rising before 10:00 but I treasure the limited time we get together on the water.

I started both boys with a Skagit line and within a couple years had transitioned them to longer bellies.
 

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Congratulations on the new addition - nice to hear some joy in a miserable time.

I started my older son when he was 3, at a local pay to play pond and on some Sierra creeks loaded with brookies. Both offered lots of bugs, ducks, and other things to chase, discover, etc, as well as lots of willing fish. The important thing is that they are finding SOMETHING interesting. While both my sons, now 21 and 15, are very competent fishermen, neither has been bitten like I was. Both love the outdoors, and we do lots of extended (20-70 mile) backpacking trips most summers. Which, of course, still involve the small but stupid trout I started them on.

One bonus has been that the older one is now a firefighter and knows how to identify good water. He’s tipped me off on two beautiful, remote streams that he stumbled on while on wildfire strike teams this past summer that we plan on exploring.
 

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Congrats on the new addition! That's great. I have 4 kids. My oldest is our only boy and he's 16 now. I tried to get my three girls into fishing, but they had no interest. My son, however, has been my constant fishing companion since about a year old. I would carry him in a backpack and fish the ranch section of the Henry's Fork at least a couple times a week for a few years. He started casting a fly rod as soon as he was able too. From 5 to 14 he wanted to go fishing every chance we got. He seemed to love it almost as much as I did. At 14 we went on our first salt water flats trip to Ascension Bay and he absolutely loved it. Over the last two years he's really turned down a lot of opportunites to go fishing with me. I think between school, friends and other interests, fishing has really taken a back seat in his world. I took him spey fishing for the first time this last fall. I would cast and he would swing the fly. He's a great single hand rod caster, but the spey rod was giving him troubles, so to keep him interested I would cast the line and hand him the rod. We alternated drifts and he hooked and landed 3 steelhead and lost a fourth that was just a monster. Since then I've invited him to go back, but he keeps turning me down. I think through all this is I've learned not to pressure them into going. If they want to, great! If not, let them make the decision, but keep the offer open. I'm sure he's not done with fishing in his life. When he gets a real world job and needs some way to unwind, he'll come back.

Jake
 

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Congratulations man!
I started putting the fishing bug in my sons ears when he was about 2. We would play fishing in the house and I took the tip section of a old rod and tied some string on it for him. Then we started driveway casting with a beater line and rod. A few rows around the lake dragging leeches and bobber fishing worms. Trips to the river as well. He’s now five and Santa brought him his first pair of waders this Christmas. It’s the best thing when I kid discovers they can’t fill there gum boots with water anymore! Lol. I’d definitely agree with everything said above.keep it light and make it more than just being about fishing. The attention span for the actual fishing is still pretty short.Bring some good snacks and a blanket and some toys. I often find myself building a camp with my son and boiling up water to make tea. Also exploring the local area and checking out the bugs and other wildlife and picking mushrooms when in season. Personally I think just getting your child enthusiastic about being outside and learning about nature and to respect it is the most important thing. It’s a sad state of affairs how detached from our natural world we’ve become. Probably why there’s so little respect for our environment in this crazy world now. Imagine we live our lives like how we go camping. Leaving the campsite cleaner and in better shape than when we showed up there. There’s still hope in the youth just have to show them the right ways so they can show others.
 

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I started them with zebeco spin casting reels, tossing anything and everything. Worms, grasshoppers, spinner, and flies. All three of my kids loved it. For an afternoon, on week long canoe trips. And none fish as adults. I was disappointed, but not surprised- I'm one of seven, and the only one interested in the outdoors much at all, let alone fishing. I'm aiming for one or more of my grandkids now- I gotta admit I think tenkara for smallmouth or panfish could grab a kids attention.

I coached all my kids soccer teams, too- and same as fishing, be ready for short attentions spans, and have lots of snacks.

I also think when they're little, leave your own stuff at home. If it's your rare chance to go fishing, and you take them along, you'll be frustrated, and then patience wanes. And patience is everything.
 

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Congrats! My daughter is 17mo and is already fishing...in the bath:D I don't plan on pushing it on her, but I'm prepared, start with spin caster and maybe a small tenkara rod to introduce her to fly fishing. I also have a practice rod to fool around with in the house. But yeah, expectations, first trip should be a local dock, not a 5 hour stint in a boat :) I have much younger sibling, so I've been through it already.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone for the congrats and thoughts. I took to fishing at a pretty young age (I couldn't get enough by the time I was five) so I need to keep in mind that it might take more time for him, if he even has an interest at all. Lots of good suggestions!
 

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Congratulations! I took my son fishing around 3 years old. Kept it light. Caught some bluegill and did a lot of exploring. Did much more running around and goofing off rather than fishing.

He’s 15 now and wants to outdoors all the time, specially if it involves fly fishing. Any time he sees a body of water, he wonders if there is anything to be caught in those mysterious depths.
 
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