Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fly Fishing With Kids ~ Sunday Tippets

For the longest time, I have wanted to do a post on the benefits  of teaching kids how to fly fish.  Well, now I finally have the opportunity to share someone's experiences with this!  I have been following a blog that represents "family fishing" to the max...  Brian Bradfield, of brianontheflybrings fun and family togetherness to the outdoors.  A western New Yorker, his home fishing includes trophy lake run brown trout, salmon and steelhead.  They have it all!  It has been a delight to follow him on his journeys through his writings and pictures.  He's one of those guys that you feel like you know him, even though you have never met.  It is my pleasure to have an amazing post today from "the family fly guy", Brian Bradfield.  Thanks, Brian!!

By Brian Bradfield

Here is Ethan with a 4th lake Rock bass caught on the fly

Fly fishing with kids can be a chore. Sure there are plenty of beautiful photos of parents taking their kids out fishing or of their child holding their first fish while smiling ear to ear. But let’s be honest here…there is a lot of work that goes into making each trip a success, especially when you take more than one of them out for an afternoon of fishing.

Ethan hold his first ever solo caught brown trout on the fly!

There are snacks to pack, extra clothes for when they fall in, sweatshirts, backpacks to put it all in, sunscreen, a back-up plan to devise just in case the fishing is poor, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. And that can and will change as they get older. In fact, I used to carry extra diapers when they were still in pull ups.

Jonathan holds one of many tributary trout we caught
 on this spring day, with Ethan looking on.

But now that my kids are six, eight, and ten years old, they can go find a spot back in the brush and take care of business all by themselves. Which reminds me - Make sure to know your local flora. Poison ivy and kids don’t mix!!!!!


Jonathan with a rather large
 pond caught blue gill

There are other dangers as well. Try to navigate in and around three kids all casting flies at the same time, and you will soon realize how important it is to separate them by at least three rod lengths, or more. Even a thorough and highly entertaining lecture on safety from Dad won’t and can’t change the overwhelming enthusiasm kids will feel when you put a fly rod in their hand. Creating distance is important!

Jonathan holds a very nice lake run
 brown we took last year

This brings me to the actual “fishing with kids” part of this blog. I began taking my kids with me when they were very young. Sometimes I would take just one, sometimes all three. In those first years I had a kid carrier that I would put them in up until they pushed the 35-40lb. weight limit (I’m very glad those days are over with.) I also chose spots that I could wade safely with a kid on my back and yet still catch a few fish.

Katie with a late spring smallmouth bass
 taken on a woolly bugger!

As they got older I began to set them up with their own rod, and fish with them. We would fish local ponds and other small creeks that hosted tons of easy to catch warm water fish like smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, rock bass. These are fish that don’t require precision drifts or perfect casts, Ideal for young kids to cut their teeth on.

Katie and I went fishing on a cold
 February day on one of
 Lake Ontario's WNY tributaries....
this is just one of the brown trout
we caught on that day.

As their skills improved I began to take them to spots that Dad likes to fish, spots that did require more attention to detail, spots that were challenging, spots that didn’t give up their fish so easily, spots that they saw Dad holding a big fish. This is when frustration would set in and they would always want to go home within the first half hour of not getting any bites. So we would work together to get our fish. I would guide their hand as they made a drift, or hook a fish and let them reel it in. The point was that we were figuring out this challenge together. And that made all the difference!

They can all catch their own fish now, although they have yet to master the tougher places, like a local spring creek or Lake Ontario tributaries. But my oldest son Jonathan is well on his way! He can now dead drift a nymph at our local trout stream and pick up a few fish before I can have everyone else set up. 

Here, Jonathan fishes a fall down where we hooked a large female lake run brown trout, but couldn't seal the deal.

We enjoy tying flies at the kitchen table from time to time. And let me tell you my eight year old Katie is the best fly tier out of all of them!

My youngest son Ethan may be the best caster out of the three of them. He can roll cast like a champ. Maybe I should introduce him to the switch rod? 

Here is Ethan getting ready to release a wild WNY small stream brown trout...

Sunday Tippet ~ Like I said, it’s a chore. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides I’m still looking to add too my collection of photos with kids smiling while holding a fish.

On a recent tributary fly fishing trip,
 Ethan found the snake,
 Jonathan caught the snake,
and Katie holds the snake before its release!

RD:   When there is a little work involved in usually find out that it is worth doing.  Satisfaction comes from going the extra mile and seeing a smile on a child's face from your efforts makes it all the better.  Not to mention the lifetime memories that your children will have...
And for holding this snake...Katie gets the "Pink Hat" award for finding an "adventure in every riffle"!!  She is definitely a Lil' River Damsel... =)  We have a thing for other little critters around here...

Be sure to check out Brianontheflydotblogspotdotcom...


  1. Great post, RD... I love fly fishing with my grandchildren. I often use the expression, The Tug Is The Drug... and they love the tug!

    1. I'm glad to here you get to fish with your grandchildren....I bet they love going with Grandpa! And I agree....the tug is the drug....and it's on here in WNY.

  2. Good going! I tip my hat to anyone with the patience to take kids fishing. That being said, they make wonderful small pack animals out West. ;-)

    1. Patience for kids...yes! Patience for small pack animals...No! But that might change with a trip out West.

  3. Great write up Brian! I know Emily appreciates it.
    Thanks for the inspiration and information, I have a three year old daughter that I am hoping will be my best fishing buddy in the next few years and beyond.

    1. Brian - You will always remember those trips with her, have fun, I can;t wait to see those photos!!!!

  4. RD
    Thanks for sharing a great post with the kids. Believe me there is nothing like taking a child fishing and watching their eyes as they land that their first fish. I can't wait for Spring because my Grandson Bryson will be 3 1/2 and ready for his first outing with his Pops. He is already talking about our trip to one of my friends local ponds. Super Post!!!

    1. Well..Bill, I think that I found the perfect guest writer for the subject!

    2. Bill - I guarantee that your Grandson will remember everything about that that trip you have planned for him! He will love you for ever....keep up the great work!....thank you for reading@

  5. That's really cute. I can't wait to get my girls a set up to fish with me. A couple more years only!