One of my oldest childhood memories is sitting out on a dock at the lake with my dad digging out a slimy worm from a muck-filled Styrofoam cup crawling with red wrigglers. Following a quick lesson on baiting a hook, I carefully impaled a worm and casted. Maybe 20 minutes later my rod bowed and my line began to pour off the reel. An epic tug-of-war between boy and gill-breathing pond creature ensued and roughly 20 seconds later I pulled up a bony sunfish. It was all of six inches, but to my eyes, it might as well have been a scale-tipping blue marlin. I succeeded because my dad was patient and clear. But also because he equipped me with the right kids fishing gear.
Now listen, all you really need for a fishing trip is a rudimentary fishing pole, a hook, and some bait. But there’s a lot of gear out there that not only helps kids get the hang of fishing but also make the experience one that kids are going to want to repeat. You never know, it might even give them more luck on the water. Here, then, are eight pieces of fishing gear for kids. Are all of the items necessary? No. But they’re all useful, affordable, and can help lure kids into the age-old pastime
Starter Rod & Reel Combo
What You Should Look For: A lightweight, application agnostic spinning pre-spooled rod + reel combo. The mechanics should be simple and straightforward so that your ‘lil angler can master the basics without getting frustrated.
We Like: Kid Casters Youth Fishing Kits. The 29.5-inch fiberglass roads come ready to fish right out of the packaging and have a medium/light action. Plus, the reel is spooled with a six-pound monofilament line, perfect for lake fishing.
Kid’s Tackle Box
What You Should Look For: Something lightweight and secure that not only comes with a beginners set of tools but has enough space for the jigs, spinners, plugs, spoons, and crankbaits they’ll inevitably acquire as they progress.
We Like: Plano’s “Take Me Fishing” Tackle Box. It gets young fishermen and women started with a simple single tray box which comes stocked with the essentials: hooks, bobbers, sinkers and some soft body jigs. Bonus: A portion of company proceeds are donated to the Future Fisherman Foundation.
What You Should Look For: Snap-on bobbers, which are a lot easier for kids to attach as they don’t have to tie them onto the line. Also keep an eye out for bright, fun designs. Fisherman spend a lot of time staring at bobbers — they’re a great visual indicator, yanking down when a fish bites — and you’ll want something that keeps kids engaged.
We Like: Kid Casters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rattle bobbers. They snap on easily and, well, they’re styled like Ninja Turtles.
What You Should Look For: Soft plastics are an excellent foray into lure fishing. Their wiggly nature and lifelike looks should also help curb fishing ADD. You want a single hooked jig head, which is a safer option than a lure with trebles.
We Like: Storm WildEye Swim Shad. It has a single hooked jig head, and kids will be tantalized by the holographic flash foil body.
What You Should Look For: Rubber coated mesh will prevent harm to fish scales and lessen the chance of a hook sticking or getting tangled in the net.
We Like: MadBite’s Foldable and Retractable Landing Nets. The hoop is built tough with e-glass, a composite material that won’t get dinged up like aluminum.
What You Should Look For: Whether you’re big-game bonefishing in the Bahamas or trolling for crappie in Wisconsin, you’ll need a pair of fishing pliers to save you a whole lot of grief when unhooking catches and they also come in handy for securing hooks to tighten knots and to cut lines. Go for pliers that fit nicely in the palm of your hands with jaws suitable for both fresh and saltwater usage.
We Like: Bass Pro Shops XPS Aluminum Pliers. They’ve got spring-loaded handles and tungsten carbide cutters with an anodized finish to prevent corrosion.
What You Should Look For: Three-fingerless gloves free up the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger for maximum casting dexterity, so fishermen can feel the line and the bite.
We Like: You are reeling in a bargain with these stocking stuffer priced Isafish gloves.
Fishing Life Jacket
What You Should Look For: In addition to life preservation bona fides, the best PFD’s aimed at anglers should have pockets, loops, and mounting points for stowing gear.
We Like: Stohlquist Spinner Youth Life Jacket which weighs only 2.5 pounds and won’t compromise range of motion while reeling in big ones.