I grew up doing a lot of fishing with my dad and grandpa. My grandpa was an expert fisherman, and he owned top of the line gear. Unfortunately, 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. It was like a scene out of “The Andy Griffith Show”. After my grandpa died, I continued fishing with my dad and eventually tried out deep sea fishing, which was incredible.
Dealing with the Fishing Nightmare
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. I was ready to call it quits and wait until they were much older.
A Beginner Fishing Pole Makes All the Difference
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. It also helps to have some good beginning fishing tips.
11 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
|Zebco Star Wars R2-D2 Spincast 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
|YONGZHI Kids Fishing Pole|
|Lanaak Kids Fishing Pole Kit|
|Shakespeare Youth Fishing Kit|
|Kid Casters Youth Fishing Kit|
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 begging 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 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!
Zebco Star Wars R2-D2 Spincast Combo
My son loves both Star Wars and fishing, so this was the perfect birthday gift for him. He has loved fishing with this pole. It is a great themed pole, with the closed reel being R2-D2. The reel is a right hand retrieve and is not changeable, so if you have a lefty this is not the pole you want.
When assembled, the Zebco Star Wars R2-D2 Spincast Combo measures 5’6″, which is a good for both kids and adults.
This pole comes with a very small tackle box and includes a couple bobbers, sinkers, jig heads, and curly tail grubs.
This pole isn’t as good quality as the other Zebco poles on this list, but the Star Wars theme makes this a fun pole for kids.
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.
YONGZHI Kids Fishing Pole with Spinning Reels,Telescopic Fishing Rod
The YONGZHI Kids Fishing Pole is made of a carbon fiber/fiberglass composite material. A telescoping rod, it extends to 5.2 feet and collapses down to 14″, small enough to fit in a backpack.
This comes with an open reel, so it is probably better suited to a tween or teen angler. A changeable retrieve makes it a good option for either a left or right handed child.
In addition to the fishing rod, this kit includes basic tackle (spinners, lures, hooks) and a drawstring bag to carry it in. Like most of the other tackle included with the kits on this list, this tackle isn’t great quality.
YONGZHI offers a 1-year warranty on the rod.
Lanaak Kids Fishing Pole and Tackle Box
If you are looking for a good fishing package, the Lanaak Kids Fishing Pole and Tackle Box is a good option. This 37-piece set comes with a rod and reel as well as a tackle box containing hooks, bobbers, sinkers, swivels, and plastic worms.
It also comes with a net so your kiddo can catch minnows or other small fish or insects to use as bait. A small beginner’s guidebook is also included. All parts of the set fit nicely into the included carrying case.
The rod in this set is a good quality telescopic one; it extends from 17″ to 65″. The closed reel has a right-handed retrieve (so look for a different pole if you have a lefty). It comes pre-spooled with 200 feet of 8-lb line. Since it is easy to cast, your child shouldn’t get frustrated easily with this pole.
Be aware that the included hooks are quite large, and the tackle isn’t great quality. Most kids love having their own equipment, though.
Fishing Poles for Pre-Schoolers or Pets
Shakespeare Youth Fishing Kits
This option is for very young beginning anglers and is not meant to catch big fish. It is more of a practice pole. Kids can learn to cast without the danger of a hook, as this pole comes with a small plastic fish.
The Shakespeare Youth Fishing Kits make fun gifts for kids 2-5 years old. These kits come with a character pole. Options include Ironman, Captain America, Moana, Frozen, and Thomas the Train, among others.
Don’t expect the same quality from this pole as the others on this list. It measures 2’6″ and comes with a pre-spooled reel. If you want a pole that your 4-year-old can use to get excited about fishing, this is an excellent choice. It is inexpensive and fun. Compared to other similar preschool fishing kits, the Shakespeare Youth Fishing Kits are superior.
This pole also makes a great fishing pole to play with your pet. Your cat or dog would love to fetch a plastic fish.
Kid Casters Youth Fishing Kits
Here is another option for preschoolers who are interested in fishing. Like the Shakespeare kits, these are not for serious fishing. The Kid Casters come in character versions including Minions, Paw Patrol, Shimmer and Shine, Ninja Turtles, and more.
The closed reel comes pre-spooled with 6-lb line. It also includes a caster plug in the shape of a fish. This is fun for young kids to practice casting. Pets also love chasing around the caster plug!
If you are looking for more of a toy fishing pole, this is a good option. However, it is not as high quality as the Shakespeare kits above.
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. Don’t forget your life jacket if you need one.