A Dying Art?

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Now I am not sure if Fly Fishing is an Art or a Craft or a Pastime, a Hobby or a Sport.

However I am fairly sure that the participants are a group of people that are progressively getting older.

There are less and less youngsters getting into fishing in general and possibly fly fishing in particular.

At the recent Lads and Dads Charity Competition at Coldingham Loch we only had two youngsters fishing and although it is open to Lads and their Dads of any age a few of the boats were filled by two people of similar ages to make up the numbers

The competition is also very welcoming to Girls and their Dads or Mums and whilst we have had some young Ladies fish it in the past there were none this year.

So what can we do?

Well maybe it is up to all of us to try and get a youngster into the fishing.

Have a look around and see if there is someone you can take.

A son or daughter or a grandchild is the obvious choice but what about a niece or nephew or a neighbour.

Perhaps a work colleague’s son or an old friend’s grandson?

You could get a cheap spinning rod and take them down the local estuary and try and create the interest.

Most of the people I give instruction to are in there 40s, 50s and 60s but many of them dabbled in some sort of fishing as a youngster. Then as they get older and their children leave home or they retire they start looking for an interest.

If you want to take youngster out Fly Fishing it is not that difficult.

Almost all of us will have a spare rod and reel.

The easiest way I have found to start youngsters is in a boat at the Loch.

Use your own electric motor or hire one and get them to drive the boat which always puts a smile on their faces.

Anchor up and then cast their line out for them. Pass the rod over and teach them to do a very slow figure of eight retrieve and then cast out again for them.

Once you get this on the go you can then have a cast yourself whilst they are retrieving. If you hook a fish pass the rod over and get them to play it.

There are some safety considerations.

They must be wearing a lifejacket at all times.

They must wear safety glasses, prescription glasses or sunglasses at all times.

 Cheap glasses are available at the Pound Shop but I am not sure how much they cost…………?!!!

Now a few recommendations;

Make sure you are casting both rods outside the boat. So if you are right handed they should be sitting on your left.

Use Barbless flies which are much easier to remove from anything they catch on.

Keep the first fish they catch and help them prepare and cook it.

Have a four hour session so as they do not get bored with perhaps a break for a brew.

 Move around every hour so they get a few chances to drive the boat.

Use 10 pound leader so they do not snap off.

A hat is also recommended as well as warm clothing.


This is how I started off my own son when he was 8 years old.

I did this for a couple of years and then taught him how to cast.

I would recommend that you do this in the Easter holidays or the autumn half term as then you should be able to get a midweek boat easily and the fishing is usually good then.

In the summer months when the fishing is a bit harder why not do an evening session. A Friday night with no school the next day is best and the young ones usually love the chance to stay up late!

If you need any more advice please get in touch.

Now for this year’s Lads and Dads Charity Competition I offered a prize of a day out in the boat with myself as an Instructor. This was for the best catch for any Angler under 18 years of age.

The winner on the day was young Corben Skene.

 Fairly appropriate as his Grandfather is Gus Skene who is a stalwart of the St Abbs Lifeboat which is the benefactor of the Charity Day.

In order to give him the best chance of catching a trout I set up one of my own rods with a 21 foot leader and four flies with a washing line configuration

I cast this out and passed the rod over and suggested he try a figure of eight retrieve which he already knew how to do.  Twenty seconds into the retrieve and fish on. A full tailed 2lb+ fish in the net and the pressure is off!

Next cast and a fish lost!

By the end of the day Corben had 11 trout in the net. One for every year of his young life and it included one on his last cast of the day.

These fish included a nice Brownie of almost 2 pounds and a cracking three pound Blue Trout. He caught around half of his total with his own casting with only a slightly shortened leader and still four flies.

Well done Corben. It was a real pleasure to have very polite, exceptionally enthusiastic and very talented young man in the boat with me.