In our family, we had an informal rule about kids fishing on their own—you started out by fishing wet flies downstream, and once you reached a certain age, you got to turn upstream and fish dry flies. It was a tiny, gentle river, really, and there was always an adult looking on, even if we didn’t realize it. This was Grandpa’s rule, and it makes good sense for a few reasons.
First was safety. If you don’t weigh very much, it’s hard to plug upstream, even in a few inches of water. Even now, if I’m crossing a current, I always work a downstream angle. Falls often happen when you literally take the current on, head-on, and the current often wins. It’s smart to have younger anglers feel the power of the water as it works with them and not against them.
Same is true for fishing! When you casts aren’t all that red-hot, and you’re rolling and flopping and such, it’s pretty nice to have the river working with you to straighten things out. The drag-free drift and upstream casts will develop in time.
And wet flies work! Like mini streamers, you can swing them, drift them, lift them, let the current swirl them around, and you feel the take when a trout eats them. I’d rather feel the take than stare at a bobber. I’ve been spending time now and then going back to the “roots” and fishing flies like Mickey Finns, or wet Royal Coachmen… just roll casting an swinging them around rocks and stumps and such… and I sometimes feel like a kid again. And there’s nothing wrong with that.