I have written here before re my own transgressions in teaching my sons how to fly fish. Just a friendly reminder to make it a relaxed, initially simple outing. Do not bring your own competitive, impatient style to the water. Be patient with the child’s own impatience and competitive streak. Teach them, mentor them with an eye toward the realities of the sport: things do not always go as planned or desired. Tangles, snags, collapsed casts are all to be expected and fixed. Like in life……..
If you are teaching your own acquaintances, then remember they will be watching your style and how you handle all manner of problems and successes. We do tend to be on our good behavior while teaching strangers, but less so around our own family.
Children will bring to the table all manner of emotions they have developed through sports or self -imposed assessments. Don’t add to their load with too much negativity or too much “here let me show you”. Keep it simple and fun.
Pick a quiet expanse of lawn at a park or school. Starting at the edge of a stream can be ok, but back casts, mending, roll casts etc. will require patience. At the end of a session, you will know if the child is relaxed, happy, excited or handing that rod to you like it is charged with bad ju ju.
Once you think they have a simple grasp of the basics, a casting class or beginner’s class may be in order, but make sure they are up to it and that you have a sense if the instructor is up to teaching kids. Watch for kid’s classes or introduction to fly fishing casting ponds at sportsmen’s shows /expositions.
Above everything, make it something they will want to still be doing for the rest of their life. Check out FlyFishingPhil for a casting technique drill to adapt to teaching young ones: