Welcome to Panfish!

Part Eighty-four

Fries and Flies
(Small fry that is)

By John McBride

When I start a child fishing, I buy a cheap twelve-foot telescoping cane pole, and a push button reel for them. (About twenty-five dollars total, if you are a smart shopper.)

If the child is say five to seven years old, take off the butt cap and pull the pole inside out so you can take off the three biggest sections ( leaving a four section - five foot rod.) Put a kitchen table leg rubber on the end, and tape the reel on about sixteen inches from the butt. (If they need a finger hook under the reel, bend one out of a coat hanger, and tape it on first.) Use electricians tape and tape eyes onto each section.

This gives the child a pole that will grow as they do, (put the sections back on one at a time.) Their little hands can handle the small diameter pole, it is easier to push-button-cast than strip line cast, IT'S THEIR POLE, and most importantly they can catch fish!

Also I use small chunks of bait on brightly colored floating flies on a two foot leader, behind a torpedo-style bubble. This teaches them how to watch the movement of the flies and the strikes. (I start them out on bluegills, they bite always!)

Later on this allows the option of them helping tie the fly - that catches the fish - which they can show to the proud parent!!

As they get older and want to try out a fly rod, they are already used to a long and limber pole they have been using to fight the bluegills.

Then the teaching the use of the fly reel, and casting technique has a basis they are half used to. (Tape a fly reel onto their pole.)

Hopefully they have been catching fish, and watching how you play fish enough to know how to net their own whoppers with the long pole. (Trust me if they lose one, they are very determined NOT to do it the same way ever again!)

Ours is a sport you don't have to spend as much as a new bike, or a video game to get started. (Both of which they do alone!)

What did you learn on, and who helped you start?

I was taught with an old shortened bamboo cane pole that hung in the garage, by my dad and grandad, and when I could cast every time into a car tire, I could tag along.

When I could cast into a flower pot, I got a real pole. (People really stare when they drive by and you are practicing in the yard!)

Times change, but the expression on a child's face when they have landed the whopper does not! Check out some of the kids pictures on Reel Fish Tails for yourself.

In my opinion, fishing is a lifestyle and not a sport . . . pass it on!! ~ John McBride

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