Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kids and Fly Tying



     Over the last few weeks I’ve learned a lot about teaching very young children how to tie flies.  With my oldest daughter (now five), she was easy… a couple times playing with all the tools and materials, then learning to wrap thread, and finally onto specific techniques of tying materials on.  She wanted to learn how to do things the right way, and much of the motivation internal making my job a breeze.  At a little over a year old she was wrapping thread and sitting alone at the bench a few times a week. 


     My youngest daughter (now 18 months) is a completely different story.  The fly tying vise is the last thing she wants to deal with, and wrapping thread seems an impossible task for her.  I almost gave up at this point, and figured, I’d try again in a few more months, but I found if I take away the vise, she loves to sit and play with all the other (safe) tools and materials.  She spends 10-30 minutes at the desk, moving bobbins around, playing with the hair stacker, checking out all the feathers and fur, etc..  This is a victory in my book!  She’s getting familiar with fly tying, and she is excited for her time at the desk.  This will all translate nicely when she's ready to start tying. 


     If you’ve never tried to tie flies with your children, please do it!  You can never start too young (or too old for that matter), it doesn't take a lot of time or effort either (seriously just a bit of extra clean up that's it!).  Start small and do not expect much.  Find ways to make it fun, and most importantly find ways to make it their own.  They will thank you in the end, and it will help establish fly fishing roots deep into their lives and give you a better connection with them as well.  


11 comments:

Shannon said...

I love these photos.... Inspires me to try to teach the little ones in my life. Stupid question maybe: do you give them something other than a hook or even a de-pointed hook to put in the vise? What works best when they're old enough to use the vise and wrap thread?

Lucas Carroll said...

Shannon thanks for stopping in! Not a stupid question at all. My advice is to use a streamer hook and with wire cutters (be careful as it can go flying) and snip the hook point off leaving just a bit of the curve to put in the vise. With baby/toddle age, let them practice with heavy thread, and when you are done unwrap the 'fly' and save the cut hook for next time.

3-4 years old you may want to keep cutting the hooks, or give tube flies a try, super safe for kids and all around fun to tie on! Here's an older post of mine on cheap tube fly tying.. http://provenpatterns.blogspot.com/2012/01/tube-flies-101.html

Kids 5 and up I'd sit with them and observe for the first few sessions with regular old hooks (debarbed of course), teaching them how dangerous the hooks are is part of the experience, plus kids feel special you'd let them work with something sharp like a hook!

Good luck and if you give it a try let me know how it goes!

Jeff said...

Nice post! I'm trying to get my kids, twin 8 year olds and a 2 year old, into tying a little more so any tips you have are appreciated. They ask to do it frequently but lose interest very quickly. If I sit with them and go step by step the whole way they do well but I'm trying to get them interested in exploring a little on their own.

Lucas Carroll said...

Thanks Jeff! For the 8 year olds I would try a couple things.. One maybe a fly tying contest, you give specific materials to each and have them create a masterpiece (completely freestyle!), judge and give them both encouragement ie most creative, neatest tie, most likely to fish, etc. Also try capturing some insects and other fish food (or better yet have them capture them) show how the flies are made to imitate the living things. At 8 I think you need to be very creative to keep their attention, but also having them lose interest I think is normal at that age so I wouldn't worry too much. Take each minute at the bench as a victory!

The 2 year old should be easier. Basically dole out some safe materials and let them make a mess. Focus on great textured and brightly color materials and thread. Keep trying to get the vise and bobbin in the equation but don't push it. Just let em play!

If you really want to get the most out of the experience I would invest in a second vise (or two), nothing fancy just a couple of cheap ones. Giving them their own little station can go a long way. Especially when you can tie along side of them and they see how much you love it!

Jeff said...

I have a couple of extra vises that we tie on now. Thanks for the tips. I figure I need to get them more involved in the whole process to keep their interest up.

I'll sit down with the 2 year old tonight with a big cut streamer hook and try wrapping a little thread. She already loves playing with the feathers and looking at the big streamers and bugs I tie up. We'll see how it goes.

Stephen said...

Wow my grand daughters are very smart. They must take after their Grammy. Wonderful Pics Luke

Joel D said...

You have inspired me. Mine are 4 and 6 and I've been waiting till a time that was right but I guess I don't need to wait any longer. Time to give them the bobbin and let them go to town. Thanks

Lucas Carroll said...

Jeff, sounds great man. Good luck!

THanks Steve!

Joel ~ Really appreciate you stopping in... your comment made my day!

Kevin Frank said...

This is great. I've been wanting to do this with my kids for awhile. I'm always afraid they will hook themselves or super glue their fingers together. Your post has inspired me to let my daughter try it out.

Lucas Carroll said...

Kevin ~ Big thanks man, let me know how it goes and best of luck tying with your daughter!

Loon Outdoors said...

Thanks for this post and all the accompanying photos. I also just so happen to spy some Loon products on your bench. Nice!