In fishing, as in life, there are stretches of sheer bliss, moments of utter despair, and, in between, untold hours of anticipation, swearing, and small talk. Add kids, and you’re sure to run into a higher volume of snags, both literal and figurative — but the character-building potential of learning to fish as a kid is off the charts. Armed with some kids fishing rods, you turn casual naturalists into keen observers who learn the power of patience, focus, concentration, and delayed gratification.
“There’s just no better way to build a child’s confidence and get them to be more independent,” says Hernan Santiestaban, owner of the fishing authority ReelGame.com.
The Best Kids Fishing Poles: What to Look For
When introducing kids to fishing, focus on making the experience as positive as possible — and be patient with the initial interest level. “If you can incorporate other activities like swimming or boating, great, because the progress on the fishing side might be slow at first,” says Santiestaban. Second, don’t get too intimidated by all the jargon and gear out there — you can have an amazing day on the water (and still catch a lot of fish) with a basic setup. Start with finding a good kids fishing pole.
When choosing a kids fishing rod, pay attention to length. It should be just long enough for your little angler to handle it with ease, so about 3-4 feet in length. And because kids break stuff, get them rods made of graphite, fiberglass, and composite blends, so you won’t need to replace them every month.
For toddlers, consider a “no-tangle” kids fishing rod with a line that runs inside the shaft rather than along the exterior via stubborn metal eyelets. For kids in the four to six range, think about a rod with a closed-face, push-button “spincast” design — this will teach your child a modified but effective casting technique. For coordinated seven-year-olds and above, the sky’s the limit as long as they’re willing to put up with the occasional few minutes of frustration. But hey, that’s fishing.
Above all else, make fishing a fun, holistic experience for your child. These kid’s fishing rods will help things go a little smoother.
The Best Kids Fishing Poles for Small Children
With playful graphics and a big fat button for easy casting, spincast combos like this one are the gateway drug to real fishing. The finger guard keeps little digits out of harm’s way, and it comes with a plastic minnow so your kid can practice launching man-sized casts into the middle of the lake
This 29-inch Rey Skywalker kids’ fishing pole comes with a single-piece rod and quickset anti-reversing reel combo that illuminates (sort of like a lightsaber) each time it's cast. A great incentive to keep young anglers going even when the fish aren't biting. Suitable for catching actual (small) fish.
The Best Kids Fishing Poles for Bigger Kids
Many a kid, beginning in the late 1940s, has learned to fish on a classic Zebco rod and reel. At 6 feet, this is a heftier rod but still manageable for older kids and gives them plenty of room to grow, as they hone their skills.
This fully-loaded kit is a lifelong fishing fixation waiting to happen. The sturdy telescoping rod extends to 65” for fishing, then collapses all the way down to 17 inches for maximum portability. A formidable tackle box includes a starter selection of hooks, bobbers, sinkers, swivels and plastic worms.
Made of a combination of graphite and fiberglass, this rod is easy for kids to handle. It comes pre-spooled with six pound line. It's 5 feet 6 inches long, so this one is better for older kids with some level of experience.
Let’s be clear: Fly fishing requires special equipment and a back-and-forth casting technique that can be tricky for kids under ten. With delicate action (ie. flexibility in the shaft) plus a grip that can accommodate one or two little hands, the Gecko is a solid entry point for this unique discipline. It comes with a carrying case and breaks down into four pieces for easy travel.
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