When a child learns to ride a bike, it’s something that’s never forgotten and he or she has a method of transportation aside from walking. When you teach a child to fish, they not only develop that life long skill, they may learn a lot more than they ever imagined. A lot more than you could imagine, too. Catching and releasing can teach care of wildlife. Seeing a fish, even small as a bluegill, in their own hands can make them realize textures and colors that are like living gems. Even if you’re on a bank or in a boat not catching a thing, the surroundings can be full of life experiences.
There are a lot of products on the market with kids in mind. Fishing is no exception. There’s cute, little tackle boxes with characters on them and poles to match. These are okay if the child is very young and isn’t too interested in what’s going on, but an older child will probably get frustrated. When you fish with a young person, do both yourselves a favor and get decent equipment that won’t break or fall apart at the slightest wrong move. Your instruction will be better communicated and the frustration will be less. If a personal tackle box is desired for the young person, get an adult type box and let them decorate it with stickers or put their name on it before it’s used. Use a permanent marker and help them write the date and type of their first catch. It may become a treasure of memories they use many years later.
Poles come in all sizes. A sturdy pole that’s not oversized will make a good first pole for a youngster. It will be less awkward and lines and hooks won’t be as dangerous to you and others nearby. Small fish are good starter fish. Something like blue gill, crappie, or small catfish are fun for kids to catch and they will get a little play from the fish, but not so much that it will be hard to manage. A light weight pole is good for these. It won’t be as flexible and whip-like as an ultralight and less apt to bend and break if it’s mishandled while learning.
A closed, bait casting reel is a good choice to begin fishing with whether it’s a child or adult. The line is less apt to get tangled or come off the reel than with a spinning reel especially if there’s no weight on the end of the line. For a slightly older child learning different knots can be fun. This can be taught prior to the fishing trip using larger sized rope for manipulation ease.
Hooks come in both barbed and barbless. Some anglers prefer barbed, but in case of an accident, barbless are easier to remove. Stress that if there is an accident to stay calm. Sometimes this is hard to get across to a little one, but it’s important if they are old enough to use sharp, pointed hooks. If they get wild with their casting just take the hook off and they will be practicing casting.
Bobbers come in all sizes and various shapes. Explain how they work and give a demonstration. Styrofoam bobbers can handle more abuse than plastic counterparts which can crack, but both can be adequate for a child to use. Showing the child the difference in visibility in different light conditions is a little more advanced in technique.
Worms are the most popular live bait and many a child has gone out after dark with flashlight in hand with an adult to look for nightcrawlers with a parent. Some children may not like to bait their own hook with live bait. Make an allowance and teach them with artificial bait. They may transition as they get older.
Use the same type of equipment that you would use. It doesn’t have to be high dollar, but something that will give an enjoyable fishing experience. They may even ask to go again real soon and you’ll have a buddy hooked for life on one of the most popular sports.