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Families who love to fish will know that there’s no greater pleasure than passing that passion down to the next generation. However, adult fishing rods are too heavy and unwieldy for little hands, and their complexity can lead to more frustration than fun. The best way to get children interested in fishing is to buy them their own, child-friendly rod. Kids’ fishing poles are typically short, light, inexpensive and simply designed. Look out for clever features such as no-tangle casting mechanisms and collapsible shafts; as well as budget-friendly packages that include a rod and tackle as well.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Pole Combo for Youth Fishing
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.
Best for Toddlers: Shakespeare Youth Fishing Kit
An Amazon’s Choice product with an exceptionally affordable price-tag, the Shakespeare Youth Fishing Kit is a great choice for active toddlers whose toys tend to need frequent replacing. At two feet, six inches in length, the rod is scaled down to suit even the smallest anglers, while kid-friendly design options include motifs from Frozen, Cars, Toy Story, Barbie, Spiderman and more. The rod includes a finger guard to encourage proper hand placement and an EVA foam handle for added comfort.
Your purchase also includes a reel and fishing line. A thumb button extension on the reel helps to make casting easier, while the aluminum spool is compatible with nylon or braid. The instant anti-reverse bearing prevents fish from gaining slack and escaping if your child forgets to sink the hook immediately, resulting in fewer lost catches and more fun on the water. Before you head to your nearest lake, make time to work on your casting together using the included fish-shaped practice plug.
Best for Skill Progression: Zebco Fishing Dock Demon Spinning Combo
If your child has outgrown toddler fishing poles in terms of skill but is still physically too small for a standard adult rod, consider the Zebco Fishing Dock Demon Spinning Combo. Designed for vertical fishing in tight spaces, it’s geared towards adults but is also great for giving kids their first taste of a grown-up set-up. Made of solid Z-glass with an EVA foam handle, the 30-inch rod is both durable and lightweight. Reviewers say that kids as young as two can handle it without assistance.
The rod comes with a removable spinning reel, pre-loaded with a six-pound line. The open-faced design allows for better accuracy and distance than your average child-friendly spincast reel, and is ideal for teaching your kid a more sophisticated casting technique. With the included six-pound line, the reel has a maximum capacity of 135 yards - enough to fight and land larger species than one would usually target with a kids’ fishing pole.
Best for Older Kids: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Youth 2-Piece Fishing Rod/Reel
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Youth Two-Piece Fishing Rod is a five-foot, six-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 six-pound line, the reel has a maximum capacity of 145 yards. This increases to 255 yards when using lighter found-pound line.
Best Tangle-Free: Kid Casters Tangle-Free Fishing Combo
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 six-pound line already spooled and has a gear ratio of 3.1:1.
Best Compact: IEBIYO Fishing Pole for Kids
The IEBIYO Fishing Pole for Kids is the perfect companion on long-distance trips. It’s also compact enough to keep in the car so that your child can cast a line whenever the opportunity arises. Measuring four feet, six inches in length, the rod features six adjustable sections that collapse to just 13.7 inches. The rod’s fiberglass, ABS and silicone construction keeps it lightweight, tipping the scales at 4.7 ounces.
When not in use, your child can keep their rod in the included sleek black carry case. Made from 600-denier Oxford fabric, it features convenient handles and a side pocket perfect for storing tackle, line and other fishing accessories. The package also includes an easy-to-use spincast reel, fishing line and a plastic cap that fits over the rod to protect the guide rings in transit.
Best Complete Kit: Lanaak Kids Fishing Rod & Reel Combo Kit with Tackle Box
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 five feet, one inch in length but folds away to just 17 inches for storage in the included carry bag.
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 vs. pole 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.