There are a lot of great options for kids fishing rods. Here are five that should do the trick.
Some of the most fun that a child can have is to go fishing with mom and dad or grandma and grandpa. Many of the best moments in a child's life come at the edge of a pond or from the side of a boat, watching a fish that they hooked themselves come to the net.
The stereotype involves a kid using a rod and reel combo catered specifically for them (such as the inimitable Spiderman rod), but when it comes right down to it, a child needs a fishing pole that won't let them down at the moment of truth.
It can have much to do with the choice of line that a parent spools the reel with, the right terminal tackle, and choice of baits, but the bottom line is what they will fill their hands with: a good quality rod and reel combo.
First, we'll cover a few attributes to keep in mind, then share a few suggestions for the best kids fishing rods and reels.
What to Look for in Kids Rod & Reel Combos
Often times when buying a kids fishing rod, you'll find that a rod and reel combo is the most common choice. A combo like that is the best option for your child because they'll be perfectly matched to accompany each other.
Reels that come pre-spooled with line are convenient, but there's usually no telling the quality of it, whatever brand it might be. If you are serious about your young angler's success, don't be afraid to take the time to re-spool it with some fishing line that you trust. The last thing that you want is a nice fish to break off right when they're about to land it. Heck, no one can predict when a pike, walleye, or even a big lunker largemouth bass will strike a kid's bait! It's worth it to upgrade things like line or hooks if they come as part of a combo kit, but inexpensive bobbers (floats) and sinkers can typically be relied upon.
A push button spincast reel with a good anti-reverse mechanism is most common for kids, mainly because they are easy to operate and less prone to tangles or malfunctions. A spinning combo as a youth fishing kit is better suited for those kids that are a little older, say a 5 or 6 year old and above, who can handle a spinning reel by themselves. Larger hands are a definite advantage, and there's a bit more of a learning curve. A baitcasting reel is for kids who've mastered the other reel options and desire even more control, but they can be more problematic for those without experience. If you're equipping a first-timer, don't opt for the baitcasting reel.
Rod material has advanced well enough to know that anything, especially something built for a kid, will be reasonably sturdy. You don't have to seek some fancy carbon fiber spinning rod if it's for a youngster. A telescopic fishing rod can work well for youth, but after a while, they can get dirt and grime in between the rod blanks and stop working so well. A one-piece rod is best, and though it may be a pain to pack in the car at times, youth rods are typically shorter in length and not quite so hard to manage. There there are two- or three-piece rods, which fall in the middle.
Here are three good picks that represent the ideal kids fishing rod and reel.
Zebco Dock Demon
Zebco has been a big name in kids fishing for a long time. I started off my fishing career with the 202 and 404 model reels, but Zebco has since come a long way since then. This Dock Demon combo usually comes with either a spincasting or a spinning reel, and we're opting for the spincast reel as a great fishing pole fir kids that are just starting out.
It is a 30-inch rod with a one piece design which is great for beginning fishermen. It has a right-hand retrieve, is pre-spooled with 6-pound line, and features a comfy EVA handle for good grip.
Abu Garcia IKE Dude
The Abu Garcia IKE Dude Spinning Combo is a collaboration between a leading fishing gear company and a top pro angler, as Mike "Ike" Iaconelli joined forces with Abu Garcia to provide youngsters with a go-to fishing rod and reel. The two-piece composite rod and pre-spooled, graphite reel are heavy duty enough to handle whatever a young angler can dish out, and it's priced well for the quality.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spincast Combo
Backed by a seven-year warranty, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 can be paired with your choice of a Shakespeare Synergy Steel 10 Spincasting Reel, Synergy TI Micro Spincasting Reel or Synergy Titanium Microspin Underspin Reel. Availability will depend on where you find it, but it's definitely a good option for kids.
At five feet, six-inches long, this sturdy two-piece rod is ready for a kid's hand, and the choice of fishing reels will let you easily pick one out that matches your youth angler's tastes. As any of us who have owned Ugly Sticks in our lives will tell you: they are the real deal and super tough when it comes to fast and heavy angling, just like a good fishing rod should be.
Just remember that a youth fishing pole needs to be a purpose-built system that works the best for their skill level, one that helps make them successful, and leaves them wanting more. A fishing trip should be predicated on having fun, and if your youth angler is set up with great gear, they are going to be lined up to succeed for what's hopefully a lifetime of great experiences.
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