Three Things to Consider When Buying Fishing Rods For Your Kids

A kid’s first fishing rod has a big impact on whether or not he or she will take to the sport. Here’s how to make sure you get the right one.

Kids walking down dock to fish
"Where's MY rod, Dad?"Katherine Chase/Unsplash

If you fish and have young children, it’s just about certain that you want to introduce your kids to the sport. You’ll have a chance to spend time on the water with your son or daughter, and if they take to the sport, you’ll wind up having a fishing partner for life. And that’s a gift you can’t buy.

But you can buy the gear that your kid will use…and the rod and reel you choose will have a big impact on whether or not those first few trips are enjoyable. Here are three tips to make sure you choose the right outfit:

1. Make the rod itself fun and compelling.

Shakespeare Youth Fishing Kits
Give your kid a fun, compelling image of fishing with a rod and reel adorned with a favorite character.Shakespeare

Some kids take to fishing from the very first cast. Others need some time. To increase the odds of your child liking the sport, choose a rod that is fun in and of itself. You already know what cartoon or movie character your kid likes, and chances are, there's a youth-model fishing rod adorned with that character's likeness. While you may think that it's wrong to meld an outdoor sport with an animated character or a popular line of dolls, the kid won't think so. The rod itself is automatically something that's made for your kid's enjoyment—and he or she will look to you to learn how to use it.

2. Give the kid tackle to go with the rod.

PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Pole Kit
A rod and reel packaged with lures, hooks, and other terminal tackle signals to your kid that he or she is old enough to be trusted with "grown-up" gear.Plussino

Your child has probably seen all the fishing tackle you own---tackle boxes and bags, lures and hooks, sinkers and swivels and pliers. By giving the kid some tackle, you're signaling that he or she is an angler too. It gives the kid something to carry and be responsible for, just like you are with your gear. And if your kid catches a fish with her own fishing rod and with her own tackle? That's an adult accomplishment he or she will brag about all week. Some youth-model rods and reels come pre-packaged with gear, making the selection easy.

3. Introduce spinning gear at an early age.

Portable Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
The Plussino spinning rod for kids is lightweight and scaled down for use with smaller hands.Plussino

It's easy for a kid to learn how to use a spincasting rod. But that kid will be growing up quickly, and will eventually be clamoring for an "adult" rod like yours--which is probably a spinning rod. You can ease this transition—or skip that push-button stage entirely—by getting the child a downsized spinning rod and reel, one that is bigger than a typical kid spincaster but still easy to hold and manipulate. Such outfits are ideal for teaching how to cast a spinning rod because the kid won't feel physically overwhelmed by it…and when he or she outgrows that downsized version, you can get adult-sized rod with the confidence that your child will know how to use it.

Bonus tip: Buy a backup outfit.
Those first few fishing trips will determine whether or not a kid will take to the sport, so it's important to make the experience as pleasant as possible. Even the most responsible kid can accidentally jam a reel, break a rod or drop the whole thing overboard, which can quickly generate tears and ruin a trip. Kids fishing rods are inexpensive, and keeping a backup on hand will ensure that you'll be able to keep on fishing if the first rod breaks or disappears. If it never gets used, you can always give it to another adult to give to his or her child.