Experience Fishing – How to Teach Your Child to Cast

The Value of Experience of Fishing

Have you watched the excitement in a child’s eyes when you share the experience of fishing?  They are overjoyed with the opportunity to learn how to fish.  Of course, fishing does not mean they will catch a fish. Rather, a child’s excitement glows at the opportunity to learn something new.

Fresh air, a new “toy”, something that mom or dad have talked about awaits. Pride and joy abound in the great outdoors.  Water has a sense of refreshing and relaxing.  And then, that first yank on their rod.  The rod bends and it is an event to get hooked.  They squeal or cheer at the sight of their first fish and then they want to catch another. They want to cast the line; they want to bait their own hook and it is the beginning of a lifetime of pleasure.

There is nothing like the thrill of catching your first fish.  “I caught a fish.” screamed Jimmy as he reeled in a small sunfish with the help of Joe, guide at Bear’s Den Lodge.  A child can only catch their first fish once, but this experience can have a lifetime opportunity that will last a lifetime for love of the outdoor sports.

The social activity is an event that parents can do while continuing to help with the mechanism of casting.  It’s also an opportunity to learn about fish, conservation, and care of our environment.

For those who want to learn, here is a step by step simple training for the beginning fisherman who has never fished before.  Step right up and you will be on your way to Experience Fishing on the French River.

Safety First

Here are some simple suggestions to make a special experience memorable and keep the children safe and eager to more fishing trips:

  1. Life Jackets PFD must be properly fitted and worn around water at all times.
  2. Hats with large brims prevent hooks that may fly plus it will protect your children from direct sunlight.
  3. Sunglasses for sun glare from reflective surfaces and as a shield for flying objects.
  4. Appropriate footwear to prevent slips and falls are required.
  5. Sunscreen and bug spray to protect from sun exposure and insect bites will make for a more pleasurable experience.
  6. Surface areas with shallow, gradual slopes are much safer and very helpful for children. It will provide wading during slower fishing times and possibility of exploring the ecosystem, or chasing bait fish.

Tips on How to Select the Proper Rod and Equipment

Select a rod that is small or age appropriate in size – children rods or a light 4 ½ – 5-foot rod with a light reel spooled with 6 to 10 lb. monofilament are best for smaller children.  Youth may use a light and small adult rod. Avoid purchasing cheap equipment.

Spinning reels are the simplest to use and are mounted on the bottom of the rod. See what hand the child tends to use and have the handle on the opposite side of preference.  This will place the rod in the dominate hand which controls the trigger for casting. The cast is controlled by a trigger release or lever to control the cast.   Secure a lure without hooks on the line to begin learning to cast more safely.

Teach a Child to Cast

First, practice on land or in an open area where they can focus on the skill of casting. This eliminates concern for trying to catch a fish before they learn casting. 

Start off with building accuracy by casting short distances and having large target areas. You can turn this into a game with your child to maintain their enthusiasm as your child becomes better at casting. Remember to reward and praise them as you slowly reduce the target zones as their coordination increases.

Using a plastic or rubber casting plug, that is hookless, will allow for safety while becoming more proficient in controlling their cast. 

Next, move to a lure style that you will use for fishing, but without hooks for practice.

Educate your child to always be aware of what is behind, in front and around them prior to each cast. Make sure they look behind them prior to casting.

When comfortable, move to the shallows and allow them to get familiar with their surroundings before adding the hook.  They need to be aware of other people on the shore, in the boat or structures that are around them in the new settings.

Along with safety, be sure you know the angling laws of the area, if a license is necessary, they must be obtained to being the angling experience.

Mechanics of the Cast

Hold the rod with hookless lure.  Reel the lure up to the rod tip.

Pull the release and let the lure fall to the ground.

Begin to reel the line in and you will hear it click.  This engages the tension on the drag to keep the line from spooling out more line.

Reel the lure to within 6 inches of the rod tip to prepare for the actual cast.  (Avoid reeling lure into the tip of the rod which may damage the eye of the rod or catch the lure during the cast).

Now, hold the rod in front of you at about 10 or 11 o’clock while keeping the elbow at a 90-degree angle. Place your finger on the release. Look over your shoulder before moving the rod behind your head. The rod tip will move over your shoulder to about 1 or 2 o’clock.

Flip or snap your arm and wrist forward, looking and pointing your rod tip toward the target. Remove your finger from the release at 10 or 11 o’clock.  The lure will arc toward the target smoothly.

To correct an overthrow, press down on the spool or release.  This will top the arc and make the lure drop to the ground.

Should the lure arc too high and drop short of your planned target, you released too soon.

If it does not arch and drives straight to the ground, you released too late.

Practice your cast until you can proficiently drop the lure into a designated 6-foot target from a variety of distances.

Most of all, have fun and be safe! Get outdoors.

Brenda Barefoot, Tourism Outfitter, Outdoor Consultant and Photographer