Tips for fishing with a 13 yr old?

I'm all for roll casts and lob casts with the inexperienced casters. It can put them on fish like nobody's business without the frustration of back casting and tailing loops. If my 4-year-old could do it with a nymph and indicator on the seams of the Naches, your 13-year-old can do it with dries. Maybe smaller water than Olallie if you're up for this send me a PM and I'll give you a specific location on the upper SF that will treat you both right.
Get him out and remember it is fun and a trip. Not just caughting fish. Show or talk about the plants and animals that are out there. The bugs in the water. Talk about things he likes other then fishing, if you can. Baseball, football, computers, school. Have fun is the main thing. Maybe he will get tried of fishing but want to walk and explore. Hope this helps and have fun!
Make sure of two things: one, that he'll be able to cast without getting hung up in trees/bushes; and two, that (if you're wading) he's got some good waders that'll keep him dry and upright. Nice thing you're doing; good for you!!


Active Member
Well, we got out there yesterday and did it, found a nice section of the South Fork all to ourselves.
It was a pretty frustrating experience for my 13 yr old friend. He is the type of kid who lives a lot in his head, and he has read a lot about fly fishing and learned how to tie some flies and watched a lot of video about fly fishing, and pretty well fashioned himself as an expert without ever having been on a river...but as all of us here can attest to, it's a different experience putting it all into practice.
Personally, I thought he did great. I kept telling him he was doing great. His casting improved as the day went on, and some of the fish were even doing their best to cooperate. I had him drifting a nymph through fishy pockets and that indicator kept moving, but the reaction time was slow and the amount of slack line was large. I showed him what I could when it seemed appropriate, but as those of you out there who have your own 13 yr old know, they don't always listen real well and they want to do things their own way. I let him do that, too. The only time I really corrected him instead of gently offering alternative methods was when I pointed him to some good looking water and then he ended up climbing on top of a huge boulder and 'casting' into small water from 6 feet above it.
Eventually, while I was sitting on the bank untangling the monofilament dreamcatcher he had created, a willing and VERY hungry fish gobbled up his nymph and that indicator went down deep. It was FISH ON and I dropped my tangled mess and grabbed the net.
This little dream of an 8" trout did everything but swim into his pocket. My friend did pretty well, getting line up with his left hand while that little fish swam around him. But then the rod tip went into the river and the line went slack...and the dream swam away.
I was excited. And I mean genuinely excited. I went for the high five, asked him how that felt.
"It got away" he said, dejection all over his face.
In my head...."yeah, but he missed his first 8 or 9 chances to get away, that was pretty impressive"
Out loud..."yeah, that happens. But you had him hooked good, that was nice."
We fished that hole and another one a little longer, but no other hook-ups for him.
After a break for lunch, he told me he was fished out for the day. I pushed a little bit to get back at it for a time, but not too hard, and we called it a day.
Whereas the ride to the river was full of chatter and anticipation, the ride back to his house was quiet.
His assessment on the day, "It's a lot of work to catch a 6" trout." That, at least, is a good thing to understand in the beginning.
Thanks to everyone for the tips, I'd say the thing that worked best was video taping a few of his casts and then reviewing them. It gave us a built in break, and a chance to look at technique. Snacks were helpful, too.
I'll ask him to come out with me again, but my next trip out is going to be by myself, see how many fish I can miss.


Active Member
Good for you to take the time and effort, one more kid outside instead of inside is a good thing. Keep at it, and hopefully he wont end up on the couch in his prime watching life go by in front of a flat screen tv.
I have two nephews that have lived with me for nearly 8 years. They are now 11 and 13. I could take the 11 year old out and he would fish all day and never get discouraged. The 13 year old is a different animal altogether. He gets bored easily though he has caught fish but would just as soon quit after an hour or two and head for the video games. I think it depends on the tempermant of the kids. The key as mentioned is to accentuate the positive and allow the mistakes. I fish with them, not at them and show them how.


Spey casting for Steelies year round
Great story! We all know the heartbreak the kid felt. The hookup is nice but there is a true sense of completion when the fish is landed. I could see where a kid could be pretty crushed by the "loss".

Hopefully he can give it another try with some dry flies. Just watching them rise can be enough some times. You don't feel like your all alone out there with nothing under the water. It's nice to see the life of the river come up and say hi.

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