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Rod and reel combinations on kids fishing poles make it easy to get any young person started fishing. They take the guesswork out of matching a rod, a reel, and a line. Fishing poles for kids come in various sizes to fit kids of different ages, with types suitable for all kinds of fishing.

How do you know which kid’s fishing poles are right for your future fishing buddy? Look for ease of use is key, but also durability, length, weight, ergonomics, and budget. We rounded up seven of the best kid’s fishing poles available today and the attributes of each one to help you narrow down the options for your little one.

Best Kids Fishing Poles

Best Overall: Zebco Dock Demon Spincast Rod and Reel Combo

Specs

  • Materials: Solid fiberglass rod for durability
  • Length and Action: 30 inches overall length, medium action
  • Reel: Right-hand retrieve spincaster with anti-reverse setting, spooled with 6-pound-test line

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable rod and reel that’s dependable
  • Fiberglass rod construction offers both sensitivity and backbone
  • Economically priced, leaving plenty of cash for hooks, bobbers, and bait

Cons

  • 30-inch rod limits casting distance
  • Pre-spooled fishing line is not the best quality
  • No hooks, bobbers, or sinkers are included with the combo

Zebco’s Dock Demon rod and reel combo is small but mighty. The 30-inch fiberglass rod is short in length, but virtually unbreakable while still sensitive enough to detect light bites. Paired with the Zebco entry-level push button spincast reel, the Dock Demon rod and reel combo is perfect for any new angler.

Child fishing with Zebco Dock Demon on side of lake
The Dock Demon is easy for kids of all skill levels to use. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

The no-frills Zebco spincast reel has a simple push button design that’s easy to cast, and pre-spooled with 6-pound-test line. The grip is sized for a kid’s hands, so he or she will always have control of the rod. This one is just right for introducing the youngest anglers to fishing.

Best Budget: Wakeman Spincast Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Specs

  • Materials: Solid fiberglass rod for durability
  • Length: Medium-light action 4’2” overall rod length
  • Reel: Right hand retrieve with anti-reverse setting, spooled with 6-pound-test line

Pros

  • 4-foot 2-inch fiberglass rod helps with making longer casts
  • Rod and reel combo kit comes with a small selection of tackle & a plastic casting weight for building confidence
  • Available in pink or blue

Cons

  • Plastic rod handle may not be ultra-durable
  • The reel drag system is ineffective
  • Two-piece design may cause issues for beginners

Wakeman offers a terrific rod and reel combination for youth anglers at an affordable price. Their Youth Fishing Rod & Reel Combo consists of a 4 foot 2 inch rod built of durable fiberglass, an easy-to-use spincasting reel spooled with 6-pound-test line, and hooks, weights, and a bobber. It’s all a young person needs to drop some bait in front of a bluegill, trout, or bass at a pond, creek, stream, or dock. A practice casting weight is ideal for teaching your young person how to cast. And you have a choice of colors.

Best Casting: Zebco 33 Micro Spincast Combo

Specs

  • Materials: Fiberglass rod
  • Length: 4 foot, 6 inches
  • Reel: Changeable right- or left-hand retrieve, lightweight graphite frame, spooled with 4-pound-test Cajun line.

Pros

  • Teaches the mechanics of spinning with the convenience of closed-faced reels
  • Built-in bite alert
  • Smooth, adjustable drag
  • Includes 9-piece tackle kit

Cons

  • Too light to handle large bass
  • Can only cast lures up to 1/8-ounce

Zebco’s 33 Micro Spincast Combo is the perfect kids’ fishing pole for small ponds and lakes. The design of the underspin reel teaches beginning anglers the mechanics of casting a spinning reel while maintaining the tangle-free nature of a closed-faced reel. All the angler has to do is activate the trigger and send baits up to 1/8-ounce sailing across the lake. The easy casting helps anglers cover more water while preparing for the next phase of their angling journey.

You can tackle panfish and stocker trout with the moderate action and ultra-light power of the fiberglass rod. The included nine-piece Northland Tackle kit gives you everything you need to target panfish and trout right out of the box. The reel features a built-in bite alert, so even inattentive anglers will be clued in on strikes.

Best Collapsible: Zebco Rambler Spincast Rod and Reel Combo

Specs

  • Materials: Fiberglass rod
  • Length: 5 foot 3 inches when extended for fishing; 24.5 inches collapsed
  • Reel: Changeable right- or left-hand retrieve, all-metal gears for durability spooled with 8-pound-test Cajun line

Pros

  • Rod and reel combo designed for travel
  • Sturdy construction while retaining sensitivity
  • Robust reel with reversible handle, all-metal gears, and pre-spooled line

Cons

  • Hard plastic handle not comfortable for use over long periods
  • Telescoping rods don’t feel as balanced in the hands as non-telescoping rods

The Zebco Rambler, a telescoping rod and reel combination with a built-in carabiner, is made for travel. It collapses down to a  suitcase-friendly 24 1/2 inches, and you can hang the combo on a backpack for hiking into a remote lake or pond. Designed for anglers between 10 and 14 years of age, it’s easy to cast and strong. The reel features a patented “no-tangle” design so that you can spend more time fishing and less time pulling apart bird’s nests created in the mono. At 5’3” long when extended, the Rambler is long enough for great casting and sturdy enough to fight a big bass, but still sensitive enough to make reeling a panfish a lot of fun.

Best For Little Kids: Kid Casters Tangle-Free Youth Spincast Combo

Specs

  • Materials: Fiberglass
  • Length: 34 inches
  • Reel: Spincast

Pros

  • Tangle-free design is perfect for toddlers and young children
  • Durable design
  • Short easy-to-manage rod length

Cons

  • Kids will quickly outgrow this one
  • Bright colors make it look like a toy

This all-in-one, tangle-free combo is perfect for teaching the tiniest anglers the coordination, patience, and confidence necessary for successful fishing. The 34-inch rod doesn’t have traditional line guides. Instead, the fishing line goes through the rod shaft to prevent frustrating line tangles. That means kids can spend more time fishing, and you’ll spend less time fixing messy snarls. The combo also comes with a safety hook and a practice casting plug, so kids can practice casting basics right in the backyard. No water required.

Best for Older Kids: Zebco Roam Spinning Combo

Specs

  • Materials: Fiberglass rod
  • Length: 6 foot 6 inches
  • Reel: Instant anti-reverse, changeable right- or left-hand retrieve, all-metal gears for durability spooled with 10-pound-test Cajun line.

Pros

  • Instant anti-reverse provides solid hooksets
  • Shock Ring guides resist the damage kids often inflict
  • Durable fiberglass rod features ComfortGrip handle perfect for kid’s hands

Cons

  • Too long for the youngest anglers
  • Ten-pound test line is a little heavy for panfish

When your little guy has started to bud into an experienced angler and is ready to start chasing larger fish such as bass and walleye, consider the Zebco Roam kids fishing pole. This combo features a durable fiberglass rod with enough backbone to handle bigger fish, but isn’t so expensive that you’d be upset if it went overboard or lost a fight with the car door. Shock Ring guides stand up to abuse, so you won’t have to worry about losing an insert if the rod is dropped. A soft, ComfortGrip handle conforms to small hands to provide plenty of purchase to keep it topside. The reel has an instant anti-reverse system, so junior can send the hook home as soon as the bobber dips. The reel comes pre-spooled with 10-pound-test Cajun line, which is sufficient to handle just about anything in the local lake.

Best for Ice Fishing: Ugly Stik Dock Runner Spinning Combo

Specs

  • Materials: Graphite and fiberglass combo
  • Length: 3 feet
  • Reel: 30 size spinning reel (spincast option available)

Pros

  • Super affordable
  • Reel is easy to cast
  • Strong yet sensitive rod

Cons

  • Too light for larger fish
  • Kids will quickly outgrow the short, 3-foot rod

This rod and reel combo from Ugly Stik was a major hit among young anglers on hard water. It is incredibly durable, and the short rod is easy for small bodies to handle, even in the compact confines of an ice shanty. The size 30 spinning reel from Shakespeare comes pre-spooled with 6 pound test line. The reel casts like a dream, and the short rod length also makes this combo perfect for dock or kayak fishing, whether or not you’re over eighteen. 

How We Tested Kids Fishing Poles

After decades of fishing with kids in various capacities, including as parents, scout leaders, and volunteering at kids’ summer fishing clinics, we learned that down-sized rod and reel combos are great for teaching young anglers the ins and outs of fishing. For this article, we combed hundreds of options to find the best rods for the youngest anglers. We pared down the vast selection by focusing on models that could withstand tough treatment and catch fish. These are the qualities we looked for during our search:

  • Durable Rods: Kids can be harsh on tackle, and these rod and reel combos are designed to withstand that abuse. We focused on rods built from fiberglass. Graphite rods may be more responsive, but fiberglass’s durability can handle the bumps and bruises youngsters often dish out. We also looked for rods with sturdy guides that won’t lose inserts or bend easily if they get dropped on a deck or dock.
  • Sturdy Reels: Reels have many moving parts, so we selected models from manufacturers with proven track records for durability. Each reel had to have quality components, such as all-metal gears, whenever possible. 
  • Ease of Use: Fishing is supposed to be fun, but it can be frustrating if you spend all your time untangling bird nests created by inferior reel mechanisms and mismatched tackle. We chose rod and reel combos that worked well together to offer easy casting for little bodies.
Kid holding fish caught with Zebco Dock Demon rod and reel
One of the fish we caught with the Zebco Dock Demon combo. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

What to Consider When Choosing a Kids Fishing Pole

There are a handful of things that you should consider before buying kids fishing poles for the youngsters in your life. Consider the following when making your selection:

Pole Length

For kids ages 3 to 5, a 2- to 3-foot rod is a good fit. For anglers 6-9 years old, rods 4 to 5 feet are about right. If your fishing adventure includes kids 10 to 14 years old, look for a rod 5 feet and over in length. 

Reel Style

Spincast reels are easiest the use, thanks to their push-button actuation. These are the best choice for those just starting out. As your little angler matures, consider moving over to an underspin reel, which will introduce them to the motions involved in casting a spinning reel. And when they really get the hang of it, grab that spinning combo.

Species Pursued

Panfish are tailor-made for young anglers. Their willingness to bite and scrappy nature make them perfect targets. Just about every kid’s combo can handle bluegills and sunnies, but you’ll need to up-size the tackle a bit if you plan on hooking bass, trout, or catfish.

Visual Appeal

Kids are very visual, so consider looks, too. Remember, this is all about fun, so make the tackle as appealing as it is functional!

FAQs

Q: What kind of fishing pole is best for kids?

Ease of use is the most important quality in a kid’s fishing pole. A short rod of about three or four feet fitted with a spincast reel makes an excellent first combo. The simple push button design of the spincasting reel makes them easy to cast, and the covered reel spool helps keep the line free from tangles.

Q: What size fishing pole does my kid need?

There’s no hard and fast rule about how big a child’s fishing rod should be. If they can handle it with ease, then it’s the right size. For kids ages 3 to 5, a 2- to 3-foot rod is a good fit. For anglers 6-9 years old, rods 4 to 5 feet are about right. If your fishing adventure includes kids 10 to 14 years old, look for a rod 5 feet and over in length.

Q: How much does a good fishing pole cost?

Prices on fishing rods run from less than $20 to over $1,000. You typically get what you pay for, but you don’t need to spend a mint to get a quality rod for your kid. Expect to pay about $25 for a good beginner combo.

Q: What is the best reel for casting long distance?

Revolving spool reels, commonly known as baitcasters, are most often utilized in distance casting competitions. But you need to develop a knack to use those reels efficiently. In most people’s hands, a spinning reel is capable of the most distance.

Choosing a high-quality kid’s fishing pole allows you to focus on teaching young anglers how to cast, retrieve, and reel in a fish—instead of trying to fix a bent rod guide or, worse, go home because something broke. For those just starting, it’s hard to beat Zebco’s Dock Demon combo. The short, nearly unbreakable rod with an easy-to-use reel is perfect for introducing your child to fishing. Any of the rods you choose are sure to brighten up any kid’s day when you can enjoy a day on the water together.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.