I grew up doing a lot of fishing with my dad and grandpa. My grandpa was an expert fisherman, but he passed away when I was only nine-years-old. My most treasured memories of my grandpa were of spending hours together on a boat or on a beautiful shore talking while we fished.
When I had kids of my own, I looked forward to creating our own special memories as we fished together. However, our first couple fishing trips with our kids were a total nightmare. We took my grandpa’s old fishing gear, which happens to be great still if you know what you’re doing.
For my kids, though, it meant they couldn’t possibly cast on their own, and once my husband and I finally untangled their mess from failed casting attempts, they couldn’t reel the line in. It was frustrating for all of us. This definitely was not the experience I had hoped for when I took my kids fishing.
Our oldest son, in spite of our failed fishing attempts, loved to fish. One day he received a beginner fishing pole as a prize from school. He took it out of the packaging and began to practice casting. I was surprised at how easy it was for him to cast, and it made me realize there is an option between a toy fishing pole and an expert level pole.
This discovery has led to many more family fishing outings which have resulted in great memories and lots of fish caught. Rather than dreading going fishing, my kids now are constantly begging to go. Here is what we have discovered is most beneficial when looking for a fishing pole for kids.
6 Good Beginner Fishing Poles for Kids Under $50
|Zebco 404 Spincast Combo |
|Zebco 33 Spincast Combo|
|Zebco 202 Slingshot Spincast |
Lady Rod and Reel Combo
|Shakespeare Ugly Stik |
Spinning Fishing Kit
|Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Rod|
and Spincast Reel Combo
When a Fish is On the Line
|Eagle Claw Pack-It |
Telescopic Rod Combo
What to Look for in a Kids’ Fishing Pole
- Closed reel for beginners. I typically don’t love open reels for kids because it is easier for them to tangle up the line (and I don’t have the patience for extra tangles). Some people argue that starting a child out with an open reel forces them to be more careful. Those people haven’t met my kids…
- Lightweight rod and reel. You don’t want to have extra weight to haul around when fishing with your kids so stick with a lightweight pole and reel.
- Push-button spin cast. This makes casting so much easier for kids. Simply push the button to release the line and cast. That is a definite plus!
- 2-piece rod. This is a must for kids. You want the option of pulling the rod apart while your child is walking to or from your fishing spot. With my energetic boys, I can’t imagine how many broken poles we would have had without a 2-piece rod.
- Rod length. Technically, the fishing “rule” is that the taller you are the longer your rod should be. There are other factors to take into account, though (what type of fishing you are doing, the weight of the fish, etc.). Basically, you want something short enough to let you have good control but long enough to give you a good cast capability. The poles on this list are good for kids about 6 and older. They would even work for adults.
- Pre-spooled reel. If your kids are anything like mine, as soon as they get a new fishing pole they will be beginning to go fishing immediately. Buying a pre-spooled reel saves you the time and added expense of changing out the line. All the poles on this list come with fishing line that is adequate for a child to use.
- Changeable retrieve. If you have a left-handed child, make sure you get a pole with a changeable retrieve so your lefty doesn’t have to fish right-handed.
Here are five good beginner fishing poles that will do the job and not break the bank.
Zebco 404 Spincast Combo (Under $25)
This is a great choice for a beginner fisherman, especially for a child. The rod comes in two pieces, totaling 5’6” long.
It comes with 75 yards of 15-lb line.
Unlike some other rods in this price range, the 404 Spincast Combo has adjustable drag and an on/off anti-reverse, which are great to help kids become more independent anglers.
It is very lightweight, which is a nice bonus when you are hauling fishing gear for the entire family.
The 404 Spincast Combo is easy for kids to cast and reel. This fishing pole is comparable in price to a toy pole, but it is so superior. It comes with a small filled tackle box. However, the tackle is quite cheap and doesn’t equal the quality of the pole. The tackle aside, this is an excellent pole at this price.
Zebco 33 Spincast Combo
The Zebco brand lives up to its quality reputation with the 33 Spincast Combo.
This is a step up from the Zebco 404. It comes with 100 yards of 10-lb line.
The retrieve can be changed for right or left-handed anglers.
Like the 404, the 33 comes with all metal gears and quality housing. Smooth and easy casting are another plus that makes the 33 Spincast Combo a good option for a kid’s fishing pole. The Zebco 33 also comes in a lady version that is pink, which would make a great fishing pole for a young girl.
The 33 also comes with a cheap small tackle box with low-quality tackle.
Zebco 202 Slingshot Spincast Lady Rod and Reel Combo
This is another good option for a beginner fishing pole, but built perfectly for the girl or young woman in your life who wants to learn to fish. It comes with push-button spin cast reel, which makes casting easy. The closed reel makes it easier for a beginning angler to avoid tangles. This pole has an auto bait alert that lets you know when a fish is on the line.
Don’t let the pink color fool you into thinking this pole is just a toy. The Zebco 202 Slingshot can handle any freshwater fish. Like the other two poles listed above, this one comes in two pieces, and extends to 5’6” when assembled. Any girl would have a good fishing experience with this pole. You can’t go wrong with a Zebco!
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Spinning Fishing Kit
The Shakespeare Ugly Stick Spinning Fishing Kit includes a lightweight, graphite fishing rod that is geared for kids. It comes in two pieces and is five feet long when assembled.
The Ugly Stick has an open reel which can be switched from left to right-handed. A downside to this pole: It is very much a kid’s pole. The other poles on this list are for any beginning fisherman and can be used for a child or adult.
This one isn’t so versatile. It is shorter than the others and is suited to catching smaller fish. It comes with a 64-piece tackle set, but once again, the tackle is very cheap. Be careful when casting this one. The rod can separate so be sure to check that the pieces are assembled tightly before casting or you will have a surprise (and possibly a big tangle) on your hands.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Rod and Spincast Reel Combo
The Ugly Stick GX2 is made of lightweight graphite and fiberglass. The grip is designed specifically for a child’s smaller hand. The tip is very responsive, so your angler will know when a fish is on the line.
It comes with a pre-spooled, closed right-handed reel and cannot be changed to be left-handed, so go with a different option if your child is left-handed. This reel is not super high quality, but it is removable so if you decided to change it to a different reel it is easy to do so.
The pole, however, is great quality and will last for years. It is a 2-piece rod that measures 5’6″ when assembled.
Eagle Claw Pack-It Telescopic Rod Combo
This is another good option for someone who likes to go hiking or take their fishing pole with them over a long distance. It’s also a good one for a family that is going on a short fishing trip. A telescopic rod is a one piece fishing pole that goes from a small length to full length. This Eagle Claw Rod goes from about a foot to a full 5′ 6″, which is a great length for kids or adults.
The reel is made of fiberglass and lightweight aluminum and comes pre-spooled with 10-lb line. Because this doesn’t have a push button for casting, it is much harder for kids to cast with this pole. It is probably better suited for an older child or teenager.
What to get for your first fishing pole
Fishing with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Spend a little money to get a good quality fishing pole and reel combo, and you can be making great memories fishing as a family. Don’t forget to get a license before you go fishing, go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site to find a license near you. If your infant or youth needs a jacket check out our life jacket review.