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dirtycamprunner 10-20-2004 07:27 PM

Building a child's first rod
 
I'm thinking of building up a first fly rod as a Christmas present for my partner's very eager to fish seven year old boy. Any thoughts on the right line weight, length, etc.? I can form the grip to suit his hand. Could be a fun project. Has anyone done this for a child this young? He enjoyed fishing his little spinner outfit this past summer. I prefer rivers, but could take him to lakes if that's a better start. Thanks!

SparseHairHackl 10-21-2004 01:48 AM

I built a fly rod for my kids when they were 6 and 7. My belief is that kids of that age lack the hand size and wrist strength to cast a single hand rod of any reasonable size (>=7 feet). Perhaps even more important, they could not fight a fish because the hand strength is inadequate to keep a bend in the rod and pressure on the fish. So, I built a mini 2-hander of 9.5 feet, rated for a 4 wt.

The blank I used was 9 foot, and I added a bit of fiberglass rod scrap that the bottom cork would go on. This way, when they outgrew the usefulness of the 2-hand design in this size, I could just cut off the bottom cork, and a great 9-foot single hand rod would remain.

The rod worked great. The bottom cork was used for 2-hand casting and for a fighting butt, giving them the leverage they needed.

--Bill

dirtycamprunner 10-21-2004 12:34 PM

Great Idea!
 
Great thinking! Responding to his interest without frustrating him has been my goal, and I think you've hit on it. Very clever, and I'm going to plan it right away. Do you think a fiberglass rod with a slower action would work best or did you build a graphite rod, and how has it worked for them?

flytyer 10-21-2004 02:18 PM

Why not do what I did for my kids. I got a 7'6" 6 wt fiberglass blank (I know noone makes them in 6wt anymore; but the 5 wt is so close it words just as well) and built the rod with a short, rather thin 4" front grip and a thin 2.5" rear "fighting butt". I did this for my daughter so she could cast it 2 handed when she was 6 years old. The rod was passed on to our two boys (there is 8 years between Mel and Derek and another 4 between Derek and Reuben), and her brothers started to use it when they were 5 years old. It worked out very well for the intended purpose and the fuller flexing, more flexible fibergalss blank made it easier for them to feel the rod bend and load.

Unfortunately, the rod got broken by the boys when they had a fight over who would use it when the youngest one was 8. The older one still liked it eventhough he was 12 at the time and had a 9' graphite rod of his own. He thought it was cool to have a small 2-hand rod like Dad's long 2-handers.

SparseHairHackl 10-25-2004 08:58 PM

I built a slow-action graphite rod. Weight is a primary issue with young kids, so graphite is the way to go, IMO. One could build a rod smaller than I did, but kids generally like things as big or "bigger than Dad's", so that was part of my impetus for the longer rod. Smaller rods could be interpreted as lesser, or as a toy, rather than something like Dad's (or Mom's).

But I agree that slower action is generally better for learning, so I used an inexpensive graphite I or IM6 blank. ($45 back then--7 or 8 years ago.)

When the kids got a bit older, I had them use a 7-foot graphite rod for casting, then a 7'9" rod that I intended for myself.

Now, at ages 14 and 13, they are still fishing, especially with "real" 2-handers--my daughter with a 13-foot rod and my son with a 12.5 footer. Test-casting rods this weekend, I was surprised my daughter could handle a 10 foot 7 wt single-hander pretty well--her hands are so tiny, I didn't think she had the hand strength, but she was throwing some nice tight loops.

So, I consider the original rod a success. I'm the one who fishes it now, even though I haven't yet cut off the lower cork, because I enjoy the rod, and as a single-hander it's still a bit much for either kid.

--Bill


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