VIDEO above is my son's first experience ice fishing at 3 years old.
At 4-5 years, depending on maturity level, fishing for kids and parents begins to get really exciting. All of the introductory practice and preparations finally start to come together and little fishermen are afforded the opportunity to graduate to becoming big fishermen. During this transition, parents should still closely supervise and direct fishing activities but hooked lines can now be used. (*Of course kids can start MUCH younger using hooked lines, if jigging for sunfish or ice fishing and under direct parental supervision. Casting and retrieving is a completely different skill set, requiring a higher level of muscular control. Younger kids are likely not to have the physical ability to safely cast a hooked line without impaling themselves or others, therefore caution should be exercised.)
Kids are introduced to hooks by allowing them to handle them and practice hooking them into soft plastic lures (like worms, frogs and salamanders) and then removing them. This practice allows them to understand how hooks work and helps to develop the fine motor skills necessary to hook wiggly worms, squirming grubs and soft rubber baits correctly later when in actual fishing scenarios.
Be sure to describe the parts of the hook (Point, shank, barb, eye, etc.) to your child and how different size hooks and styles are used to catch different types of fish and unique fishing situations. Also, describe how a hook can be safely removed from skin and clothes, if an accident occurs, so that children do not panic should there be a mishap. At 5 years old they will be to young to tie mono to the hook so parents can tie the mono to a large swivel and let kids attach the swivel to the eye of the hook. Large hooks are easier for small fingers to manipulate but parents may want to switch to using smaller hooks once the fishing actually begins, depending on fish being targeted.
Casting a Bobber:
When fishing, a large bobber rigged to the line helps with casting distance and allows an excellent visual reference for kids. The anticipation of watching and waiting for the bobber to go under the water is exciting for kids, when the fish decide to cooperate.
For More On Fishing With Kids Check Out These Posts:
1. Hook Kids Into Fishing – Introduction
2. Hook Kids Into Fishing – Hooks and Lures
3. Hook Kids Into Fishing – Putting It All Together
4. Hook Kids Into Fishing – What If We Catch Something
5. Taking A Kid Fishing Yields Happy Memories - http://www.themaineoutdoorsman.com/2011/02/taking-kid-fishing-yields-happy.html
6. Lil Man Catches First Fish