The 8 Best Kids’ Fishing Poles of 2021

Help children learn a new pastime with these fishing poles

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The Rundown

Best Overall: PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Pole Combo for Youth Fishing at Amazon

"Includes almost everything you need to introduce your little one to the sport."

Best for Beginners: Shakespeare Catch a Monster Spincast Combo at Amazon

"The eye-turning graphics are sure to appeal to young anglers looking to dip their toe into the sport."

Best for Older Kids: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Youth 2-Piece Fishing Rod/Reel at Amazon

"Increases the chance of your kid becoming a lifelong fishing fan."

Best Complete Kit: Lanaak Kids Fishing Rod & Reel Combo Kit at Amazon

"Incorporates everything your child could need for a fun-filled day by the water."

Best for Skill Progression: Abu Garcia Ike Dude Spinning Rod & Reel Combo at Bass Pro Shops

"Reviewers noted that this fishing pole is great for catching different types of fish."

Best Tangle-Free: Kid Casters Tangle-Free Fishing Combo at Target

"Feeds the line through the center of the shaft."

Most Durable: Zemco Dock Demon Spincast Combo at Amazon

"Constructed of solid fiberglass that’s virtually indestructible, the Spincast Combo will stand up to serious punishment."

Best for Fly Fishing: Echo Gecko Fly Rod at Amazon

"The Echo Gecko Fly Rod Kit makes for the perfect set-up to help children learn fly fishing."

Teaching a kid to fish might be one of the most quintessential adult/youth experiences. There’s the joy of landing that first fish—and all the other fish that will follow. But it’s also about the experience of the whole activity. Learning to cast, baiting the hook, waiting and watching the line, and enjoying simply being on the water with friends and family before you have to deal with the first strike. Angling also teaches kids the core values of learning a skill set that requires dexterity and patience, which is why you want to find a rod that will encourage them to love the sport, rather than frustrating them into quitting after the first miscast.

Read on to learn more about the best kids fishing poles, as determined by the kit, cost, and special features.

Best Overall: PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Pole Combo for Youth Fishing

Portable Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combos for Youth Fishing by PLUSINNO
Courtesy of Amazon.com
What We Like
  • Comes with all the gear

  • Foldable

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic

  • Not meant for medium to large fish

One of the most popular options on Amazon, the PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Pole Combo includes almost everything you need to introduce your little one to the sport. The highlight is the telescopic fishing rod, which measures 3.94 feet in length and weighs just 2.2 ounces. It features a non-slip EVA foam handle that’s just the right size for little hands; and folds down into a compact 14.5-inch package perfect for storing in the toy cupboard back home. The combo also includes a spincast reel, which can be mounted for right or left-hand use.

The reel’s simple design is ideally suited to teaching young kids to cast. It’s less complex than a baitcaster and less prone to line twists and tangles than a traditional open-faced spinning reel. The 5.2:1 gear ratio gives budding anglers just the right blend of power and speed. The combo also comes with fishing line and tackle, including a selection of crankbaits, float bobbers, jig heads, soft lures, swivels and sinkers suited to a range of different fishing situations. A tackle box is also offered for an additional fee.

Size: 3.94 ft. | Reel Type: Spincast | Line Weight: 3-5 lbs.

Best for Beginners: Shakespeare Catch a Monster Spincast Combo

What We Like
  • Kid-friendly colors and graphics

  • Includes practice casting minnow

  • Finger guard

What We Don't Like
  • No extra tackle or box

The bright, eye-turning graphics of the Catch a Monster Spincast Combo from Shakespeare are sure to appeal to young anglers looking to dip their big toe into the sport. Available in either purple or orange with a fun monster graphic illustration on the pre-spooled reel, this all-in-one combo comes with a 2 foot, 6-inch rod and clean spincast reel with an easy-to-operate round knob. An extended thumb button that you press to cast and then release to lock isn’t easy to accidentally trigger, while the finger loop at the handle provides comfortable control over the rod.

It even includes a bright blue practice casting minnow to get the kids used to the idea of casting before they handle hooks or bait. The included line is rated to 6 pounds, and provides a moderate overall action that’ll foster easy fishing, rather than frustration.

Size: 2.5 ft. | Reel Type: Spincast | Line Weight: 6 lbs.

Best for Older Kids: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Youth 2-Piece Fishing Rod/Reel

What We Like
  • High-quality materials

  • Similar to adult rod

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly more expensive

  • Can be susceptible to line twist

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Youth Two-Piece Fishing Rod is a 5 foot, 6-inch medium-action spinning rod ideally sized for older kids. Its graphite and fiberglass construction makes it both durable and lightweight; while the brand’s Clear Tip design allows for added responsiveness to even the lightest nibbles and strikes. The latter leads to a better success rate, increased confidence and a greater chance of your kid becoming a lifelong fishing fan.

The EVA split grip is specially designed for smaller hands. The rod breaks down into two pieces for easy transport and storage and includes a spinning reel with a sturdy anodized aluminum spool and one ball bearing for smoother casting and retrieval. You can adapt the handle to suit right or left-handed users. With a 6-pound line, the reel has a maximum capacity of 145 yards. This increases to 255 yards when using lighter found-pound line. 

Size: 5.5 ft. | Reel Type: Spinning | Line Weight: 6-12 lbs.

Best Complete Kit: Lanaak Kids Fishing Rod & Reel Combo Kit

What We Like
  • Complete kit

  • Pre-spooled

What We Don't Like
  • Can be susceptible to line twist

  • Too long for small children

While all rods on this list include a reel and various accessories, the Lanaak Kids Fishing Rod Combo Kit incorporates everything your child could need for a fun-filled day by the water. As well as a telescoping rod and spincast reel, this 47-piece set includes a minnow net, a beginner’s guide to fishing and a tackle box with equipment to suit all occasions.

Little ones will love learning when to use the floating bobbers, jig heads, plastic worms and crank baits; while hooks, swivels and split sinkers make up their tackle box essentials. The net can be used for catching live bait. The rod measures 5 feet, 1 inch in length but folds away to just 17 inches for storage in the included carry bag. 

Size: 5.12 ft. | Reel Type: Spincast | Line Weight: 5-10 lbs.

Best for Skill Progression: Abu Garcia Ike Dude Spinning Rod & Reel Combo

Abu Garcia Ike Dude Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

 Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

What We Like
  • Quality materials

  • Pre-spooled

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Fairly long for small children

  • Can be susceptible to line twist

If your child has outgrown their beginner fishing poles in terms of skill but is still too small physically for a standard adult rod, consider the Abu Garcia Ika Dude Spinning Rod & Reel Combo. Designed by Mike "Ike" Iaconelli, a successful angler on the Bassmaster Elite tour circuit, it's made from durable graphite. The EVA foam handle makes the rod comfortable and lightweight to handle.

The rod comes with a two-ball-bearing drive system, pre-loaded with a 6-pound line. The drive system is designed for smooth operation and is ideal for teaching your kid a more controlled casting technique. The reel has a maximum capacity for 110 yards, which is enough to catch larger species, and reviewers noted that this fishing pole is great for catching different types of fish.

Size: 5.6 ft. | Reel Type: Spincast | Line Weight: 6-12 lbs.

Best Tangle-Free: Kid Casters Tangle-Free Fishing Combo

Kid Casters Tangle-Free Fishing Combo

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Safety hook

  • Pre-spooled

What We Don't Like
  • No tackle box

Repeated line tangles are a surefire way to make bonding time at the lake both stressful and frustrating. Keep things fun with the Kid Casters Tangle-Free Fishing Combo, which feeds the line through the center of the shaft instead of through guides mounted on the exterior to reduce your kid’s chances of getting tangled.

Available in four different colors, the 41-inch rod also telescopically folds for easy transport. The attached spincast reel comes with a 6-pound line already spooled and has a gear ratio of 3.1:1.

Size: 3.4 ft. | Reel Type: Spincasting | Line Weight: 6 lbs.

Most Durable: Zemco Dock Demon Spincast Combo

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Durable

  • Pre-spooled

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for lefties

  • Best for very young children

Constructed of solid fiberglass that’s virtually indestructible, the 30-inch Zemco Dock Demon Spincast Combo will stand up to serious punishment. All-metal gears reinforce the reel’s durability, with an EVA-padded handle and a patented no-tangle design that’ll let kids focus on the fishing, not the line spool. It comes with dial-adjustable drag and QuickSet Anti-Reverse casting button that makes firing out a line a breeze. The pre-spooled line is rated to 6 pounds and can handle panfish, trout, bass, and walleyes. But lefties take note: it only has a right-handed retrieve configuration.

Size: 2.5 ft. | Reel Type: Spincast | Line Weight: 6 lbs.

Best for Fly Fishing: Echo Gecko Fly Rod

What We Like
  • Easy to level up from

  • Packable

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Better for older kids

Learning to fly-fish requires patience and persistence—not necessarily the dominant traits of most kids. But if your young angler possesses those qualities, the Echo Gecko Fly Rod Kit makes for the perfect set-up to help them learn—and fall in love—with the sport. Measuring in at 7 feet and 9 inches, it’s ideal for kids between the ages of six and nine (or older), with a lower-position EVA handle that’s sized for smaller hands and works with either one- or two-handed casting. The modest action is forgiving, making it easy for anglers to level up as their skills improve. It comes with hard chrome snake guides for smooth line travel and a bright yellow gloss blank that breaks down into four pieces so you can haul it in the included bag.

Size: 7.75 ft. | Reel Type: Fly | Line Weight: 5 lbs.

Final Verdict

The telescoping rod included in the PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Pole Combo for Youth Fishing (view at Amazon) already qualifies as one of the industry’s best options, with a length just shy of 4 feet and a humble weight of 2.2 ounces. But the fact that the kit comes with everything your young angler might need—crankbaits, float bobbers, jig heads, soft lures, swivels, and sinkers—means they’re ready for all variety of fishing excursions. But if you’re looking to outfit a more experienced, older kid, go with the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Youth 2-Piece (view at Amazon), a rod-and-reel combo made of graphite and fiberglass that’s durable and lightweight.

What to Look for in Kids' Fishing Poles

Special Features

Fishing can be a frustrating experience for kids just starting out, thanks to tangling lines and, well, the patience (and quiet) it takes to reel in a fish. Some poles have features like no-tangle casting that help cut down on these little frustrations to help make the overall experience more encouraging and fun.

Cost

If you’re just starting out with your little one or don’t plan on fishing a lot during the year, it's probably best to save a little money where you can on gear. There’s a whole range of price options out there, so pick one that you’ll get good cost-per-use out of for the best value.

Kit

If your child is truly just starting out, it makes sense to get a combination kit that comes with everything from the pole to the line, tackle, bobbers, and lures. From there, you can customize and add on as you like. However, a kit's basics might not offer the quality or specifics more advanced fishers want.

FAQs

What size fishing pole do you need?

Much of that depends on the size of the target angler, but in general poles between 3 to 4 feet in length should be easily handled by most children. For little ones, go smaller so they don’t feel overwhelmed handling a longer pole. And for those with more experience, you can upgrade to longer poles, especially if they’re into fly fishing.

Which reel type should you consider?

For toddlers, go with a tangle-free design, which typically feeds the line through the rod to keep everything neat and tidy. Older kids can upgrade to a push-button spincast design, with the line encased inside. This will let them learn the basics of casting and grow into the sport. For kids older than seven, or those with more fishing experience, you can go with standard spinwheel casting.

What line weight should kids use?

All kids may have visions of hauling in a fish that dwarfs them in size, but most kid-specific rods are equipped to handle fish that weigh 6 pounds or less, so go with a fishing line weight that maxes out at 6 pounds. It’s a good idea to use monofilament lines because they’re inexpensive, reliable in almost all fishing conditions, and don’t tangle too easily.

What materials should you look for in a rod?

Kids—how can we put this delicately?—break stuff. So, if you’re convinced that your kid is going to be into fishing for more than one or two days, invest in a rod that’s made of graphite, fiberglass, or composite blends to let the rod (and reel) stand up to several seasons. Toddler-specific and intro rods, however, can be made of less expensive materials as they basically serve as a gateway into the sport, which hopefully will encourage a love to fishing and a good reason to upgrade to a more performant model.

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