A job relocation to Sheridan, Wyoming and river research has dominated my summer this year. I've started doing some guiding for Clark Smyth at Rock Creek Anglers. They're mostly weekend wade trips, but I will be taking on some Montana floats next spring and summer on the Bighorn as well as North Platte Rivers in Wyoming.
My son celebrated his tenth birthday this earlier this fall. I had been chomping at the bit anticipating it for some time. The reason is simple. This turned into the summer of his introduction to full on DIY fly fishing. Turning ten, I figured it was time we got on with it and outfitted him with a new rig that would perform as a kid would fish. The result has been some high quality alone time for both me and the kiddo, and we're having a blast together on the water! His birthday hadn't quite arrived when I got the call from the local fly shop that his new rig had arrived. There are still skid marks in the driveway.
After getting home to "test" the outfit I had selected for my son, it quickly became apparent that I wouldn't be able to wait until his birthday, so I ruined the surprise, gave it to him before his mom got home and immediately departed for the river first thing the very next morning. That first float was eight hours of bliss. I'm still paying for it with Mom though.
A lot of thought and consideration was put toward the rig that would work best for him. For most of the summer, he's been using a 9' Cortland #5, but it was proving difficult for him to manage and the grip was just too big for his small hands, particularly in a dry fly boat fishing situation. After a good deal of time spent crawling around the inter-webs and talking with a few manufacturers, I settled on an Echo Gecko from Rajeff Sports matched with an Airflo WF5 40+ fly line (Rio Outbound would be the equivalent if you're a Rio Products fan).
Choosing a fly rod for a kid is no different than selecting the right combination for an adult. Once I determine a specific fly fishing application to assemble an outfit, I start with the most important ingredient of the system, the fly line. Then I build it out from there. In this case, I wanted something with a short belly and reasonably heavy weight forward taper that would move the weight of the entire cast forward. This accomplishes two things. First, it allows the caster to load the rod quickly and feel the deep bend of the rod on the back cast. Second, with a youngster, casting distance will be shorter so I wanted the belly of the line to be deployed in the cast at a shorter total length. To accomplish both of these objectives, I settled on a line that is considered to be an extreme distance casting line. This may seem like an oxymoron at first, but upon closer inspection, the short belly of 30' on the Airflo 40+ combined with the heavy tip generated the feel and load of a full length cast that I wanted when reaching out only 20-30' from the boat. In addition, a line that is designed to cast big bait plugs turns out to do a wonderful job of turning over great big Chubby Chernobyls trailed with a heavily weighted tungsten nymph.
|Rajeff Sports Echo Gecko, 7.9' 4/5 weight|
The last and most important quality of this rod is in its handle. Small hands simply demand a smaller grip. This rod has a very durable wildly colored EVA full well handle. The full well encourages proper grip holding technique and its small diameter makes it incredibly easy to cast the rod all day, even for a ten year old.