KID OUTCASTS!!!
By Montana Grant

Posted: June 19, 2022

Kids love the outdoors. Even in urban settings, kids can find joy, friends, stress relief, and fun outside. Certainly, supervision and appropriate safety are needed. Fishing is a universally enjoyed kid activity.

Hooking kids onto fishing is a great way to help kids grow up smarter, well behaved, better, and happier. I have yet to see a kid, or an adult, not willing to take a cast! Fishing is about skill, patience, rules, regulations, limits, problem solving, safety, observation, communication and so much more, these are all things that parents want their kids to excel in.

Casting is a required, learned skill for fishing. There are also many other skills that need to be learned including knot tying, fish biology, and other tips and tricks. All are fun and cemented in our memory after catching a fish.

One of my frustrations as a fishing Guide was determining if the days clients could cast. I could put them onto a perfect fish scenario but if they could not perform, no fish would be hooked. Every fisherman seems to think they are great casters. One of my prompts about a Guide trip was that as a teacher, I would assess and teach fishing and casting skills. When we left the boat ramp, I would row to the first field, sandbar, or island where I could see if they could cast. Rarely was I impressed. Once I saw the casting problems, I could tweak and correct errors. In 15 minutes, I could teach a lifelong skill that made the rest of the day better.

Casting requires practice and training. This is not something to do at the lake or stream. Start casting class in the back yard. Kids will wear out a rod and reel once they get the feel for casting. Begin with simple but quality gear. Crappy gear= Crappy casts. You also need reasonable line. Cheapo line tangles quickly turn angling into tangling. Today’s quality modern reels and rods often come as sets already loaded with line. 

I suggest a 6-foot rod with a matched spinning reel and 6-8 lb. test line. If you load your own line, try colored monofilament in yellow or green. Seeing the line helps when casting accurately and untangling bird nests. These outfits can be purchased for well under $50-$100.

Casters should wear eyewear protection from errand casts. A hat can also help. Big hats act like helmets when around crappy casters.

No hooks allowed when practicing casting. Use a lure with hooks removed, a casting dummy lure, or make your own from a wooden dial and eye cup hardware. Now place a bucket 15-20 yards away. Have the casters cast the lure into the bucket. How simple is that?

Once they begin to tire or frustrated, add some candy bars into the bucket. Later toss in a $5 bill. The things casters will do for a buck or a Twix bar. A 5-gallon bucket is fair, but you can also use most anything for a target. Try a fish net, cowboy hat, circle of rocks, crater in the sand, or a hollow stump. Making the casting fun improves everyone’s skills and sets a positive tone for the days fishing.

I have also found that though it is important to teach casting, back away and let the angler’s problem solve and figure it out on their own. Wait for them to ask a question. This is when the learning happens.

You will also need to teach and demonstrate how to undo bird nests and prevent tangling. First, teach the 2-minute rule. If you can’t undo a bird nest in 2 minutes, cut the line and start over. When teaching this skill, have the rookie take responsibility and do the work. A safety pin is a helpful tool for picking away at a bird nest. The colored line also helps. Never pull the line into a knot, kink, or abrasion. Once that happens, break it off and start over. Aways safe and dispose of old line appropriately.

Every fishing practice and trip is an opportunity to learn something new. If you do not learn something new you must have been asleep. You will never master fishing. There is always a new tip, trick, lure, fly, or adventure.

If you are not having fun, you are doing it wrong!

Montana Grant