Fly & Tenkara, Stuff we've learnt

9 tips for fly fishing with a baby

Food for a day out (note, bananas are bad luck, but also great baby food. You decide)
Food for a day out (note, bananas are bad luck, but also great baby food. You decide)

The little dude turned one a week ago and after a year of parenthood I feel that its high time that I share what I’ve learnt about fly fishing with infants.

1- Get someone else to look after the baby and leave them at home

Its cheating, but it is by far the easiest, most enjoyable fishing option for both you and the bub

2- Take up spin fishing

Its much much easier. So put the fly rod down and dust off the spin gear. If you are desperate tie on a bubble float, I don’t know, I don’t own any spin gear.

3- Start small with small trips

Micro trips to urban creeks are a great way to test the waters (and may be your only option if the bubs still breastfeeding)

4- Go camping and take someone with you who can look after the baby.

The closer you are to a “safe place” the easier its going to be. Go camping with your partner and when you’ve set up camp and the baby is happy strap them in and go for a fish. When they get bored, head back to camp. Easy. If you are really lucky you might even be able to sneak off fishing without the baby at some point.

5- Be prepared.

To ensure that everything goes smoothly you will need to be prepared. Get a good rucksack and start putting things in it. Nappies. Check. Baby wipes. Check. Breastmilk, some ice packs and a cooler bag. Check. Formula, a bottle and sterilized water (even if they are breastfeeding you will need this just in case). Check. Food. Check. Other food for when they won’t eat the other food you brought. Check. Even more food for when they also refuse to eat the backup food. Check. A mat for them to hang out on for a bit. Check. Sunscreen. Check. Hat. Check. Toys. Check. More toys. Check. Dummy. Check. A few changes of clothes. Check.

The more prepared you are the more likely it is that everyone is going to have a good time.

6- Don’t forget your fly gear and pack light.

You’ll need that as well. Its best to pack light given you’ll be carrying a baby and a whole bunch of baby gear.

7- Don’t fish double tungsten nymph rigs.

I mean you can, but its generally easier not to. De-tangling is exponentially more difficult with a baby attached, especially a grabby one. Also, just in case, its best to fish barbless


8- Don’t get too carried away with actually catching fish.

Truth be told, fly fishing is actually kind of slow and boring if you are a baby. Of course if you have one of those babies that just sleeps all the timeย %$#* you it won’t be a problem and you should be able to fish to your hearts content. ย If you don’t, then its going to be pretty stop and start. Fish a run. Get the baby out. Do some stuff. Fish another run. Get the baby out. Do some stuff. You can fish a remarkably small amount of water in a surprisingly large amount of time this way. But it is much better than not fishing, so you know.

9- Enjoy the bits that aren’t fishing.

These are actually the best bits. There is nothing like a bit of one on one bonding with the bub. It is a lot of fun taking them on adventures and experiencing the world through their eyes. Its not going to be anything like a normal days fishing, so its best to just go with the flow, enjoy the down time and the play and the dirt and the leaves and the trees…. and when you can, enjoy the fishing.

Say hi
Say hi

This is what has worked for me, but all babies are different, with a bit of trial and error you should figure out something that works for you. So get the carrier, time the drive to coincide with a nap and hit up your local. It can be a lot of fun.



Note:ย Dylan Hannahย has set the bar. Be inspired.



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9 thoughts on “9 tips for fly fishing with a baby

  1. Good article, Hamish. It is an investment in your fishing future. Just when you legs are getting old, and you keenness levels are reaching a more sensible level (I’m saying, maybe you wont plough through that blackberry bramble to get to that deep pool), your kid will take up the slack. They will scoff at your old fashion fishing ways (who uses surface lures and articulated flies anymore?), and introduce you to more interesting and emerging fishing styles. They’ll prove you wrong by pulling fish out of places where you didnt think there were fish, and persist and succeed after you have decided that the conditions aren’t conducive.

    That’s what happened with me and my old man anyway, and I hope thats how it works with my kids.

    1. Thanks!

      Thats very similar to me and my dad. Although now that I mainly fly fish, dad has been able to return to being teacher re spin fishing and jigging techniques ๐Ÿ™‚

      Looking forward to the littler tacker being a bit older! Thats going to be a hell of a lot of fun ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. I fly fished on daddy days with my first in a backpack. I found the key was to fit in the sleep. He wouldn’t put up with a careful dry fly approach while he was awake so it was banging the banks with streamers until he fell asleep then out came the dry fly box. Just a note, don’t try and bush bash your way through a teatree mountain side with a 14 month old on your back. They don’t like it and mum will look very closely at all the scratches.

  3. Probably still a while until I have to deal with this situation but none the less this was a good read and I enjoy reading how others deal with this.
    “8- Donโ€™t get too carried away with actually catching fish.” <- Certainly my favorite on this list! ๐Ÿ˜€

    More like that please!

    1. Thanks Sara!

      There will definitely be more fishing with kids posts in the future. Now the little tacker is getting a bit older, trips are becoming easier and a lot more fun for both of us ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait till I can put a fishing rod in his hand


      1. Thanks for your reply Hamish!
        Awesome! The first thing my child would learn after walking would be fishing! If done right there is probably no better hobby you could get your kid started in. Anyway, it’s probably still a while until he can hold a rod, no matter how much talent he has in his genes! ๐Ÿ˜€


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