By Mike Pogoda, Winston Pro Staff
Father’s Day is right around the corner.
As I’m writing this, my son is napping and I’m enjoying some quiet time. Any fellow parents can relate to that big exhalation of relief when you have some time to yourself. My son turns two this year, so I’m still pretty new to being a dad. What I’m not new to is spending most of my time in the outdoors. Naturally, when he was born, I couldn’t wait to share my love for the outdoors and fly fishing with him. When he was only a few days old, I put a Winston rod in his hands, hoping that he’ll grow up to be a Winston guy like his dad. Fast forward a month and we packed up the camper, hooked up the drift boat, and headed to the Henry’s Fork. His middle name is actually Henry, so you can tell that it’s a special place to our family. That weekend, we did his first float and the rest is history.
This year, we are coming up on our third summer. It’s all been worth it. We’re at the point were he loves hanging by the river, by the campfire, or simply doing anything outdoors. I’ve noticed all the little things that we have exposed him to are starting to show themselves. He’s already started building up his own rod collection—that includes a Snoopy rod that he carries around everywhere—and an old glass fly rod that he can swing around outside.
My best advice for dads or families that want to spend time in the outdoors is to be ready for anything and keep things simple. Start small with a trip to the river. Our first river outing we didn’t even fish, we just sat by the river for a few hours. You want to set yourself up for success as much as you can, so we had to change the way we do things to make it more kid-friendly. Between working in a fly shop and spending time guiding, I’ve had a lot of practice managing expectations. That first year, we did more family-friendly floats; we did a lot of small-stream fishing on days when we only had a short amount of time or the weather was going to be unpredictable. A lot of the time, it meant packing more toys than fishing gear and playing on the bank more than fishing. Also having a “team” is huge help, whether it’s your wife, grandparents, or friends. I know this is a Father’s Day post, but I couldn’t have done any of this without the help and support from my wife. Being fishing-focused, I was always packing the gear and she was always packing the important stuff, such as diapers and snacks!
We all know that it’s somewhat inevitable that your fishing time will be a lot more limited after having kids. Whether it’s fishing with your kids or on your own, your fishing time gets more precious and you want to be as successful as possible. I personally started European-style nymphing, which is basically a fancy way of tight-line nymphing. It’s extremely effective, super fun, and very easy to learn. I can go out for a few hours and catch a good amount of fish and get my fishing fix.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have a lot of mentors to show me the way of being a great outdoors dad—from family members to old bosses and colleagues. The main thing I’ve learned from all their stories and advice is that just being there is a huge factor. Share your passions with your children and make it fun!
Sure, there were days when it seemed a lot easier to stay home and not go on a river trip with a kid. However, after it was all said and done, those are the days that seem the most worth it. So here’s to all the dads that are getting out there and sharing this amazing sport of fly fishing with future anglers!
Mike’s recommended gear for New Dads:
The Winston Super 10 matched with the Bauer EN reel is my go-to combo. The rod is super responsive and the EN drag is the best on the the market for protecting light tippet. Its a great gift idea for the busy dad that has everything!
Mike Pogoda is a Winston Pro Staffer, Fly Fishing instructor, fly fishing guide and a stay-at-home dad based in the Belgrade, Montana area. Mike had previously worked for Winston Dealer, River’s Edge West in Bozeman Montana.