So a few weeks ago Emilie said she wanted to start coming fishing with me, wanting to come to the shows and learn all about it. So the plan is to get on to the river for a few trout, look at some bugs and all the things that go along with fishing. Before we even start casting a fly on the river we have been doing a few bits of casting practice on the grass and its not with lightweight 7 footers.
Switch rods, the best tool to get kids into fly fishing!
The traditional approach to teaching children fly fishing is to let them use lightweight rods. 6-9’ rods casting #3-5 lines are the norm with the idea being to make it as light as possible for them to use, I can see the thinking. A child isn’t very strong so a heavyweight rod will be hard to work for them, true, but we will break this down into two components that make the switch rod ideal for getting that young angler started on their fly fishing journey.
The length of the rod makes all the difference when starting off. Ever notice how casting when standing in water up to your ankles is easy, yet when wading up to your waist casting becomes much more difficult. The reason is the distance between the rod tip and the waters surface. The longer the rod the greater the distance between the rod tip and the waters surface, so a short rod for a child is making it hard for them on two fronts. Firstly a shorter rod is hard to cast and secondly a youngster is shorter again so imagine yourself using a short rod when constantly waded into the water, not ideal circumstances, so make it as easy for them as possible. Now you can’t make them taller, i’m pretty sure stretching them is illegal but, you can let them use a longer rod, this is what makes the switch rod ideal for your young fishing companion.
The simple fact a switch rod allows the less physically developed to use two hands is without doubt the biggest blessing for the young angler. A child dosnt’t have the strength to effectively stop the rods momentum (check out last weeks blog about the stop) and all this pressure is placed on their wrist. There is no need for wrist straps or fancy devices to allow them to keep the rod close to the forearm, simply let them use two hands, ingrain that pull motion on the bottom hand from the very beginning and they won’t carry over and single handed habits if they progress in the future. Although maybe not, I am still using switch rods constantly, they are a great fishing tool!
As mentioned before about the line weights, make sure its a ‘true switch’ you start them off with and not some seven weight casting 27 grams, remember the rod might be light but its the actual line they have to lift and stop continually, there’s a lot of casting when practicing and the difference casting 16 or 27 grams is remarkable.
Please don’t take this closing statement as a sales pitch, it’s not intended. But, for Emilie, I set her up with the Shakespeare Agility 2 11’ #6 rod, this comes with an extension handle that lets her use the rod with two hands, its casting a 16 gram short cut head, a short line is giving her every advantage possible, she can feel the rod loading 100% with the head just outside the rod tip, the fact its a shooting head makes the teaching of the weight of the line even easier. With another few short sessions I know I will be able to take her to a river to start catching a few trout, then in the summer we will be ready for a salmon!
We are truly spoilt with our choice of tackle now, fly fishing has never been easier!