Tips for fishing with a 13 yr old?


Active Member
My friend's son turns 13 tomorrow, and I'm taking him out fly fishing on Sunday morning. He's been fishing since he was 8, but never with a fly rod. He is real excited, been reading a lot and he's even tied a few of his own flies that he wants to try, and he's been practicing his casting in the yard. Actually being on the river is going to be a bit of a humbling experience for him, I suspect, but I want to do everything I can to make sure he has a good time.
I plan on going to some nice, easy wading sections of the South Fork, in and around Olallie State Park. Pack a lunch and bring plenty of snacks. Going to let him use one of my set-ups, but not the nice one. Bring a camera, hoping to get a picture of him with his first fish caught on a fly.
Any tips for adding to the experience?


Active Member
I would video tape some of his cast and evaluate them with him. I do very well correcting myself using video footage( mostly for my golf swing). I would not say a word if and when he hooks a fish. Let it happen and do a recap when its done. Since you mentioned snacks, find out his favorite soda and candy bar.... they can mend a broken heart when a fish is lost,or the fish are not cooperating. Good luck!


Gnu to the board
My only advice is to realize that you are guiding, not fishing. Don't plan on fishing yourself and you will both have a better experience. Sounds like you are prepared so probably already know this.

Greg Price

Love da little fishies
Accentuate the positive. Roll cast if he is has difficulty with normal cast. Realize he will make many mistakes, loose lots of flies in the brush/ wood and you will spend most of your time undoing wind knots and tangles. I find it is easier to loose multiple $1 flies from sportco/outdoor emporium or sportsman's wearhouse than $3-45 dollar flies from a regular fly shop. Good on you for taking him. The work and effort you put into him will more than be worth it knowing you are passing a passion on to another generation. If you can get one 13 year old away from the video screen for one hour in the woods you can feel like your day is a success! My 13 year old has a way nice sage fly rod outfit that I purchased for him with bonus $ over a year ago, and he has used it maybe 2x.


I hope she likes whitefish
Take him on a float. Let him throw the line out 4 feet from the boat, row him into the fish. He'll catch fish and it will be a positive experience that he'll want to repeat.

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wadin' boot

Donny, you're out of your element...
If you can get one 13 year old away from the video screen for one hour in the woods you can feel like your day is a success! .

Ain't that the truth! Another idea, hire a guide, have your son bring a friend, make it about the friend, your son and the guide and not you...13-year-olds think their dads are the most clueless dipshits in all the world. Better to focus that energy away from you, paying cold hard cash if need be...
When I started teaching my son to ski at a very young age, an older friend cautioned me to consider it an adventure, enjoy quality time together and fresh air. Skiing is just an excuse to do that. He advised frequent breaks and a pocket full of Halloween candy.I relish the impromptu discussions we had on the chairlift.

Last year I started to introduce my son to fly fishing. Lots of false casting from my son, very little actual presentation. It can be frustrating to me because he is not really "fishing". But he is out of the city, we get to camp and have smores around the fire. The technical aspects will come, in the mean time he loves eating gummi bears riverside and has nothing better to do than talk to me. I know if I'm patient I'll have a fishing partner for life.

It is rarely about the actual fishing, that's just the excuse we give ourselves.


Active Member
You are a guide so let him catch the fish. I enjoy fishing through the eyes of my son when I take him out.

Be excited. Give him lots of encouragement. "Nice Cast" "so close" (on misses), "perfect drift". I also talk to the fish telling them to "eat it" on good drifts.

Keep casting simple. 15 feet of line with flippy roll casts and high sticking behind the boulders and in the pockets. Don't let him get caught up in bombing tons of line out.

Nymph under an indicator or dry fly dropper. I use a barbed size 16 pheasant tail nymph because it will hold the fish but not really harm it (if legal to do so).

Have fun, make it fun for him. Take breaks if he is getting frustrated or tired and look for bugs, pan for gold, sit and talk what ever, let him set the pace. You want him to walk away thinking it was a good experience.


Spey casting for Steelies year round
Patience! I've been teaching my 8 year old daughter to spey cast for about 2 months now. So far she can get the line out with a Double Spey and a Snap "C". She has caught a few smolts and trout on the swing; her eyes have never been bigger :D.

I can't wait for the first steelie to grab her fly.
I wouldn't go trout fishing until you give some lessons on casting

Once he spends few hours on casting take him to the local pond for some warmwater fishing.

Put a popper and the kid would have a blast

My daughter (she is 6 and already tying some flies with me time to time) caught few sunnies the other day.

All her by herself, including casting and retrieving the fish. For the warmwater you don't really need nice cast, all you need is 4 feet of line upfront of you and a small popper


Active Member
Kids will catch on faster than you think. Pick a short drift and take your time. Use a big ass fly and row him into fish. Have at least three rods strung up and be prepared to swap them out when he messes them up. Start out on the beach casting to a hula hoop and just make a game out of it with a lot of laughs. Pack a spinning rod and a bubble in case shit hits the fan so all's not lost.

Buy him the biggest Monster energy drink they make and you'll have his undivided attention and energy focused. Caffeine does the same thing as Ritalin.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and any and all advice about medicating children should be disregarded as ignorant guidance. I am not personally responsible for soiled waders, caffeine induced anuerisms, seizures, loss of eyesight, or permanent nervous system damage caused by an inadvertent overdose of guarna extract.
While this does not help with you on the upcoming trip, I would highly recommend talking him into applying for the Northwest Fly Fishing Academy next Summer.