I have been trying to encourage my son Peter to develop an interest in fishing. I took him bait fishing at a small stillwater near us a year or two ago but he got bored holding the rod and waiting, I ended up letting him reel the fish in when I hooked a few small perch and he enjoyed that part but couldn’t be persuaded to sit and hold the rod himself. He is of the nintendo DS generation and sitting without doing much is OK as long as you are watching a screen and pressing buttons !
After I bought a Tanago rod (essentially a Tenkara rod but in a length shorter than would normally be called Tenkara) and tried it out I was struck by the simplicity of the technique and the way it teaches you to fish closer than you would normally dare and present the fly more naturally. Working at close quarters its easy to hold your line off the water so it doesn’t drag and track it as it follows the current eddies. The smaller size of tanago rods immediately struck me as being ideal for smaller hands with Harry Potter wand like appeal !
The idea of using it to teach Peter fly fishing started to take shape in my mind and I thought about the best place to try this. It had to be quite close so it would be possible to get there easily, and ideally full of lots of small and hungry fish to give him a fighting chance of his first fly caught trout. I had one place in mind that fit the bill perfectly, a small beck with lots of eager little fish and only a mile or so from our house. Next to the hard part – making him want to try it. I showed Peter the Tanago rod, it seemed to immediately appeal to him he agreed he’d like to try it out sometime.
The summer holidays had now started and one day the conditions looked good to me so I asked him if he wanted to go and try the rod. He wasn’t immediately keen and asked “what chance have I got of catching a fish“. I told him 100%. “100% !”he exclaimed and I said “Yes, I’ve never been to this place and not caught a fish“. He perked up at this and agreed to try it, putting on a pair of shorts and some beach shoes.
Arriving at the beck I had Peter practice flicking the flies, a dry sedge dropper and small bead fly point up from where he was standing. It took a few goes but after about 5-10 minutes I thought it looked smooth enough that he was in with a chance in the pool about 10 metres ahead so I instructed him to carefully wade up the edge. Once we had moved to the right spot I indicated to him where to aim the flies and he immediately rose a small trout but didn’t hook it. I explained about striking to hook the fish and within a few more casts he had a trout on that was making the rod bend like crazy “I’m having to use both hands !” he exclaimed excitedly. Eventually the fish was subdued, a rainbow which seem to breed wild in this beck and I got the picture at the top which is now framed in our living room.