Paying it forward?

Paying it forward?

Viking Lars | Saturday, 8 July 2023

I’m not entirely sure that “paying it forward” is the right term, so I’ll stick to “passing it on”. Do you pass on fly fishing to others? I remember many years ago (20 years ago, in fact), Paul and I were at the British Fly Fair together. We slept in a tent at the fair grounds - a completely useless and out-of-context fact. At one point we were standing inside, I had just finished a casting demo and Paul had met one of his old friends. There we were, chatting away and Paul and his friend, whose name I don’t remember, were talking about old times. You know, when everything was better. Paul’s friend remarked: “Hey, Paul - do you remember when we were the young lads in this game?” Looking around at the guests I couldn’t help but say: “Hey guys - you still are!”
They say its’s hard to get youngsters interested in fishing, because video games, internet and computers are more appealing to them. I think to an extent that’s true, but one thing I *know* to be true is that fishing is just as appealing to youngsters now as it’s always been. The challenge lies in getting them out there. But it’s so important that we do so. They are the ones that will be taking care of the rivers when we’re old enough to realise that we’re no longer the young lads in the game.

In Denmark there’s a long and well established tradition for clubs. Soccer clubs, handball, martial arts, bridge, billiards and many, many more, And fishing clubs, of course. There are fishing clubs all over the World, I know, but 90% of the ones in Denmark are open, you don’t need to be King Charles’ nephew’s driver’s dog trainer to get in. Just get in and most of them are very affordable. Most of them have access to nice waters, rivers and lakes. Almost all of the river restoration and annual care is also done by the clubs, on the sparetime of the members.

And the best ones have active members working for and with the youngsters, actively working to attract youngsters to fishing. Most of them do an incredible job. As a youngster, I was in the fishing club in my home town. We made spinners, fished, watched movies, heard talks from older members who’d been to Norway and much more. Sometimes one of us young ones (you know, when we really were young) was invited to go fishing with one of the older guys. I remember one of them. Carsten, was his name, but he was old (probably younger than I am now). He had a 6’6” Hardy FibaTube light spinning rod and fished only Mepps spinners size 0 and 1. Gold leaf with red spots exclusively. He caught trout - many trout, so there was respect around him. We learned a lot.

If you are in a club, you can help the young members in many ways. I became a certified casting instructor in 2002, an FFI Master Instructor I 2007. Since 2002 I have given many lessons and demos. But since 2002 I’ve made a point of giving casting lessons to youngsters in clubs and always for free. I enjoy teaching the youngsters. They adapt to changes and suggestions so fast and rarely have ingrained muscle memory that takes for ever to change. I’ve had youngsters who’ve never held a fly rod carrying reasonable loops within an hour. And the next time I meet them, double hauling within 15 minutes (if you don’t use it already, get aquatinted with Lee Cumming’s triangle method - it’s excellent). There’s so much satisfaction in seeing improvement for every 15 minutes and I really enjoy helping the young ones.

When you were a kid, did get instruction, were you invited on a trip, taught how to build a rod, get advice on how to dress on a cold day, borrow a spinner when you lost the last one… Pay it back by helping other kids.
Did you miss all of the above? Help a kid get into and understand why fly fishing will some day rule the World.

Have a great weekend,


PoD: From an afternoon of teacing casting to the youngsters at one of the clubs, I belong to. There were six of them on this cold after noon.