For example, take my nine-year-old son, Paul. I started him out with the Old Orvis 8-foot 6-weight that I started with (at the age of 18). For kids, I think the number one criteria for a starter rod is that it has a slower-to-medium action. I've often thought that fast
rods, while wonderful in many ways (and I prefer them myself now) can be a crutch that covers up casting flaws. In my opinion, it's important to develop a feel for the cast, and instill a natural sense of timing and tempo, especially with younger anglers. You can build up to fast rods once you have that feel. Slower is better for starters. I often dedicate days on the water to fishing with slower, softer rods, just to polish my own casting during the season. I also think 8-foot rods are plenty challenging for people who are only half that tall--no need to go with a 9-foot rod off the bat.