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5 Best Kids Fishing Poles & Fishing Rods

Teaching a child to fish is one of the most rewarding experiences a parent can have. The fun and excitement of this pastime makes it an important part of anyone's life.

Diving into the world of teaching a kid to fish can be daunting. A quick online search brings up thousands of articles, and the amount of information is at times intimidating. Just remember, fishing, at its heart, is a fun activity to do with the family. As long as the child has fun fishing, they will continue to do so for a lifetime.

Using the right fishing rod is crucial and not doing so will make teaching any child that much harder.

Difference Between a Fishing Rod and Fishing Pole

When fishing, the most important tool to have on the water is a rod/pole. This acts as a lever, allowing the fisherman to play a fish and ultimately bring it to shore. Both words, rod, and pole are sometimes used interchangeably, many fishermen use both terms ubiquitously when describing their gear. There are differences, and if we dig deeper into the definitions, the contrast begins to make sense.

  • A pole describes fishing with a fixed amount of line, tied to the end of a long stick. Most poles are made from natural materials like bamboo, cane, and can even be fashioned from a stick found at the water's edge. It is the simple design and lack of moving parts that makes pole fishing so unique.

    The fishing line is tied to the tip of the pole and is cast with a simple swaying motion. A quick pull from the base of the pole acts a fulcrum, lifting the fish out of the water. This may seem antiquated but there is a new phenomenon called Tenkara fishing that involves using a pole made from space age materials just like you would a bamboo stick.
  • A rod describes fishing using a long lever with eyes to guide the line and a reel at the base. Rods are normally made from graphite, fiberglass, or carbon fiber, making them flexible and lightweight. The unique feature called eyes are small metal loops which the line passes through.

    By constructing eyes on the rod, it allows for the lure to be guided when casting. The reel on the butt end of a rod hold line that can be cast and retrieved by the fisherman. A rod is more versatile than a pole, allowing the fisherman to cast great distances and catch larger fish that would have been impossible otherwise.

Knowing the difference between a rod and a pole will help you determine which method to use when teaching children how to fish.

The Main Difference Between Kids and Adults Fishing Rods

Kids and adults use the same basic techniques while fishing but their gear is different. Teaching children to fish is time-consuming and must be done correctly. If a child has a bad experience, they will most likely never want to do it again. Children's rods are built to mitigate negative experiences and maximize the catching of fish. This is done by eliminating most moving parts and keeping the size of the rod and reel small.

For the most part, kids fishing rods are not any longer than 3ft. The shorter length makes handling the rod much easier, especially if there is a fish at the end. The stout construction gives a rod very little play in the hands of a small child. The stiffness allows the hook to be set efficiently in a fish’s mouth, meaning there is less of a chance for a fish to throw the bait.

Knots are a fisherman’s nightmare and can be the end of a fishing trip. Most tangles and knots are caused by slack in the line while casting. The reduced length of a kids rod makes casting long distances impossible, but it also lessens the chances of line tangles for the same reason. The simple construction of children’s reels also lessens the chance for tangles and bad memories.

Our Favorite Kids Fishing Rods

B'n'M TL-Series Rigged Cane Fishing Pole for Kids

B'n'M TL-Series Rigged Cane Pole

A basic cane pole, made with natural materials with an overall length of 12ft. It breaks into 3 pieces, making it easy to pack and store. Walking through the woods to your secret fishing hole will not be impeded by its 12foot length. Everything you need to fish is here, including line, hook, and float.

What I like

The simplicity of the product is what makes it appealing. At 12 feet long, it is ample enough to reach those hard to get places. The ability to break it down into 3 parts means it can be used for kids as well. If its length makes it too unwieldy for your child to hold, simply forego the final piece to shorten its length. Another benefit to this product is that the fishing line, hook, and float and all included. The product can be used for fishing the moment it arrives, saving time when packing the car to go fishing.

What I Don't like

The cane used to build the pole looks brittle. I am nervous about its longevity; the material can crack easily if dropped onto rocks or by slamming a car door on it.

Zebco Fishing Dock Demon Kids Fishing Pole

Zebco Fishing Dock Demon Rod

A 30-inch fiberglass rod with a small reel attached. It features a foam handle which offers a comfortable grip. The foam is also nonslip, even when wet, letting kids play in the water without dropping their rod. The 3 eye construction on the body of the rod guides the line and allows for short casting distances.

What I like

The materials that make this rod are similar to those used in larger rods. Not as stiff as some other beginner rods on the market, the fiberglass construction will let kids learn how to play a fish. This is an excellent skill to learn so that when they are older, they can easily use larger gear.

I also like the open faced reel included as many kids rods use a push button reel instead. The open face tangles less frequently and it teaches the kid how to fish using the same technology as the person teaching them. Teaching a young child to cast with an open face reel can be rewarding because of how far the lure can be thrown. It even comes with line pre-spooled, making it dummy proof.

What I Don't like

The rod may be too flexible, especially for first-time users. Young children may not have the strength needed to set the hook in a fish's mouth. Unlike other kids rods, this one does not come with tackle. When learning a new pastime, sometimes it is nice not to worry about the proper hook size and compiling a tackle box.

Overall, this basic rod offers a great training tool, although some assembly and knowledge of fishing is required.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 - Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

Ugly Stik is a classic fishing brand, specializing in hybrid fiberglass/graphite rods that are nearly indestructible. I personally use an Ugly Stik on all my trips and I enjoy not having to worry about it breaking on me, especially while backpacking.

At 6 feet, the length of the rod is perfect for kids who have graduated from the smallest of rods. This pole can be used to fish for trout, bass, and panfish. It’s two piece construction means it can be split in two, making it easy to bring along. A Shakespeare spinning reel comes attached, completing the combo.

What I like

The length of the rod makes it useful for almost any trip. Whether camping on a lake or going trout fishing on a river, this rod can handle it. Lures can be cast at great enough distances, and large fish can successfully be brought to shore.

I like that the combo includes a reel, open faced, making it easy for first timers to use. It is very user-friendly and hard to break, making it a great first time rod.

What I Don't like

The long foam handle at the bottom is bulkier than it needs to be. It also desensitizes the anglers feel of the lure in the water. Cork handles are much better for fishing, but Ugly Stik is a budget brand.

The reel mount is made from a thin plastic and putting too great a force while screwing on the reel can break it. Ugly Stik makes great rods, but I wish they spent a little extra on the part that houses the reel.

All in all, the no-frills design of this combo offers an excellent tool to learn how to fish. If you are looking for a first time rod or simply looking for a good deal, this is the combo for you.

Shakespeare Disney Frozen Fishing Kit, Blue, Right

Shakespeare Disney Fishing Rod

At 2 feet 6 inches, this rod is the ultimate beginner's tool. Much shorter than most on the market, its plastic construction makes it more of a pole than a rod. It comes with a push button reel making it extremely user-friendly.

It also comes with a weighted plastic fish that can be tied to the end of the line and used to practice casting. Very good for kids who have just started walking, this rod offers the most basic of features.

What I like

What I like: I like how short it is, perfect for tiny hands. The plastic construction also gives me peace of mind, knowing it will be very hard to break. The marketing is funny and could attract young girls to the sport.

What I Don't like

What I don’t like: The push button reel is very cheaply constructed, and I doubt any casting can be done with it. The lack of flexibility in the rod means any actual fishing done with this product will be more akin to using a pole. Don’t spend the extra money for a reel if the reel won’t work anyways.

Unless your child won’t even think about fishing unless there are princesses involved, there is no need to spend money on this product.

Shakespeare Salamander Spincast Combo Childrens Fishing Rod

Shakespeare Salamander Spincast Combo

This option is a good one for young children who may have some experience with fishing. Larger than most kids rods, it is big enough to offer more enjoyment. At 4 feet 6 inches, the rod starts to feel less like a toy. A push button reel is included that can actually cast bait.

What I like

Usually I am opposed to the push button style reels, they tangle easily and cannot cast very far. But the sleek design can be more kid-friendly, and this model will allow for casting. The simple one push button prevents most line from tangling and will enable a child to focus more on the casting than the untangling of knots.

What I Don't like

I don’t like the material the rod is made from, tubular glass. It is heavy and very stiff. If a fish is on the other side, a child may not even know. I am also unenthusiastic about the length of the rod. 4 feet 6 inches is too short to allow for good casting, but it is long enough to make the rod impossible for small children.

Kids and Fishing

Teaching a child to fish can be one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting. There are plenty of products on the market that will facilitate this process. Taking a kid fishing can feel overwhelming but having a basic understanding of poles and rods will help. It is up to you to choose the right combo, but as long as the kid is fishing, then something is going right.

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