Pro Tips: How to Introduce Kids to Trout Fishing

Written By: Vincent Renda, 5280 Angler

Introducing your kid to fly fishing can open up a whole new world for both of you.
All photos by Vince Renda

In a world that seems increasingly disconnected, I really enjoy sharing fly fishing with my daughter. This sport is a great way to reconnect with the world–and with each other–so I was careful to introduce it in a way that was positive and fun, and ensured she’d want to go fishing again. You only get one chance to make that all-important first impression, so it’s a good idea to have a plan that helps to hold your child’s interest while respecting their limits. This will help you to connect with the moment more completely, resulting in a better experience for you both. Here are 5 suggestions from my own plan, which was focused exclusively on trout fishing because that’s what she likes to catch.

1. Use a Hoppper-Dropper Rig

Having a fly floating on the surface has been a saving grace for me. It gives your kid something to focus on and look forward to, and the excitement of watching that trout rise–or watching that hopper suddenly dip–helps to hold their interest. This style rig is also fairly easy for kids to cast, while still covering multiple areas of the water column.

Small, eager brook trout like this one make excellent targets for kids who just want to catch something.

2. Target Brook Trout

Not only will you get away from the crowd by pursuing higher-elevation brook trout, but their famous willingness to eat a fly ensures a good time for kids of all ages (including parents). It’s also nice to fish the smaller creeks and ponds that brookies tend to inhabit because your kids can roam the shallower waters a bit more safely on their own.

3. Fish Pay-to-Play Ponds

We live near a great stocked fishing pond, and since my daughter was a toddler, we have gone up there and caught a few in early spring each year. This usually got her excited to fish when I would ask her again in the summer. I think it’s incredibly important to get kids on fish the first time. If your financial situation allows it, fishing private water is a great way to get your kids started.

Standing up on a rock helps your kids to see better and have more room to swing the fly rod.

4. Book a Guide

I often take guided trout trips myself, and I’ve already booked my daughter’s first float trip this coming summer. The right guide will allow you to kick back and watch your child’s eyes light up like a kid on Christmas as they catch their first trout, so that you can enjoy the moment instead of worrying about tangles or keeping the peace if they’re struggling. 

5. Know when to Switch to the Entomology Lesson

We all know that a kids’ attention span can be a problem, but don’t push their limits. Expect that you will drive for an hour and fish for thirty minutes. The vibe you put out on the first few trips will be the most important part of continuing their interest. I like to bring a bucket, show my kid where the bugs are and what they look like, and then have her stock up our bug “aquarium.” She loves it. Sometimes we even bring the little buggies home and feed them to the fish in our actual aquarium.

Vincent Renda guides for 5280 Angler in Arvada, Colorado.

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