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.