Best Fishing Poles for Kids and Young Adults (Updated: May 2020)
The excitement of buying your first kids fishing pole cannot be replaced! There’s nothing that beats the feeling of bonding as you teach your kids the art of fishing – a skill that involves control and patience. When you spend time with them on the water, the memories can never be replaced!
Depending on how old your child is, there are a handful of what we consider to be the “best” fishing poles. We have recommendations for everyone from the youngest anglers (toddlers to 3-4 year olds), their older siblings (5-7 year olds) and some of the best for the bigger kids, too.
The Best Fishing Rods for Children (3 – Young Adult)
What makes a kid’s fishing pole different than ours? What do you need to look for to make sure they’re going to stay comfortable and relaxed, instead of scaring all your fish away? We’ve done the hard work for you!
*** Due to COVID-19 and decreased production, some products may not be available ***
Best Fishing Poles for 3 – 4 Year Olds and Toddlers
|1||Kid Casters JHKCGNTS1 No Tangle Fishing Rod||from $14.99||Amazon|
|2||Kid Casters Telescopic Paw Patrol No Tangle Fishing Rod/Reel Combo||Currently not available||Amazon|
|3||Kid Casters Telescopic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle No Tangle Fishing Rod/Reel Combo , Green||$21.01||Amazon|
Lil Anglers Casting Combo – Perfect for 3 and 4 Year Olds
The Lil Anglers Combo is perfect for your beginner angler. It features a soft sponge fish lure so they can practice casting at you indoors (you know they’re gonna!) but also works great for catching real fish.
The sponge instantly transforms into a larger, more colorful fish so your child can see where it lands, and see other fish begin to mess with it. The patented snap swivel keeps the line from twisting up, too.
You can swap out the sponge for a small plastic hook and teach your child how to tie knots that will keep fish from breaking off, while also giving them the confidence to go out and practice on their own.
If your children love the colors and “flashy stuff”, they’ll be in love. Teaching them to catch fish with you on the weekends has never been easier, especially for the younger ones in the bunch
- 34″ youth size, 3.1:1 gear ratio reel, with 6 lb line. Great for catching real fish, sponge fish, or just practice casting a plug
- 1 sponge fish training lure that instantly transform into large colorful sponge fish after being cast into water
- Pretied snap swivel prevents line twisting
- Practice casting plug with a large hole for simple clip on attachment to plastic hook
- Safe Plastic Hook that ties to any line and clips easily to casting plug and training lures
The rods also comes with a safe plastic hook that can be attached to any line, even by your child. Plus, it’s easy to cast, and even a beginner would have no problems using it.
Last but not least, its colorful design makes it perfect for children who like “flashy” stuff. They’ll be catching fish and feel cool at the same time. It’s the perfect gift to offer to your 3-4 year old.
Best Fishing Rods for Ages 5-7
Once your child outgrows the playful stages, understands how to cast, and can put the lure where they think the fish are… it’s time for them to upgrade.
These are some of the best rods we’ve found for kids in the 5-7 year old category, because what they need from a rod is still significantly different than what you and I need.
|1||Zebco 1245LFTKF 202 Flatboard Spincast Packaged Combo With Line||$21.75||Amazon|
|2||Zebco Fishing 404 Spincast Combo||from $44.35||Amazon|
|3||Zebco 33PL602M, 10C, NS3 Zebco 33Pl/plc602m Platinum Combo||$43.99||Amazon|
Kids in this bracket need action. And lots of it. The longer you have them out with you, without catching fish, the more impatient they’re going to get!
You can’t just give them any action, though. You need to make sure their rod and reel is up to the challenge, because kids in this age group tend to get frustrated fast and if their gear lets them down… you’re gonna hear about it!
- Built with a proven Zebco 202 5’6” two-piece rod, and battleborn Zebco 202 spincast reel, along with a convenient tackle wallet.
- The 2.8:1 gear ratio helps your child pick up line fast, and the all-metal gears combined with the ABS housing offer rock-solid durability.
- A stainless steel pickup pin, built-in hook keeper, and adjustable drag with easy-to-use star knob help keep the preloaded 10lb monofilament line in order.
- The rod is a medium action Z-glass construction with an EVA handle.
|Zebco 1245LFTKF 202 Flatboard Spincast Packaged Combo With Line||$21.75||Amazon|
Thanks to the Twist-Lock reel seating feature, you can lock the line into a certain distance so you don’t have to cast it over and over again. This is perfect when you’re out fishing on the bank and want to avoid having to untangle lines.
The Zebco 202 is built with a comfortable EVA handle that won’t rub your child’s sensitive skin raw after a long day, even if it gets wet or dirty. It’s non-slip and will stay in your child’s hands, even under the most aggressive casting.
Priced right, this is one of the best beginner’s rod and reel combos we’ve found for kids in the 5-7 year old age range. It helps you teach them the basics of fishing, without costing you an arm and a leg.
Plus, it’s small enough that you can take it with you, stowing it behind your truck seat, in the trunk of the car, or attached to a backpack when you’re out camping.
Zebco 33 Platinum Spin cast Combos – For 6-7 year Olds
Like the Zebco 202, you can lock the line in place on this reel, too, so if you have a troublesome caster you can easily get them where the fish are sitting — then, all they have to do is keep their lure in place.
- Features a 4.1:1 High-Speed Gear Ratio
- All-Metal Body and Handle with 5 Bearings and Continuous Anti-Reverse
- Easily swap the handle for left-handed casters.
- Comes spooled with 100 yards of 10lb test Cajun Line
- 6’2” medium-action design, graphite rod, with stainless steel rod seats.
|Zebco 33PL602M, 10C, NS3 Zebco 33Pl/plc602m Platinum Combo||$43.99||Amazon|
With built-in metal gears, the Zebco family name, stainless steel reel seats and proven Zebco graphite construction, the 33 Platinum can withstand even the biggest catches, making it great for catfish and other freshwater species.
Plus, you can adjust the handle for both right and left-handed anglers, making it comfortable regardless with your child prefers. Lightweight and portable, it’s designed to make sure your kids don’t get tired from holding it all day.
The Platinum Spincast reel is what really sets this apart for the youngsters. It doesnt have any extra or unneeded features making it perfect for beginners that you don’t want getting bogged down with stuff to play with.
Some customers reported that their newer anglers did experience minor hiccups with the casting button, due to their smaller hands, but the Stay-In-Place lock lets you keep their line right where you want it.
Runner-Up: Zebco 404 Spincast Combo
The two-piece Zebco 404, while an amazing rod and reel setup, landed on our Runner’s Up list for one simple reason… while it works great, some customers have complained it feels cheap. This is only compounded in saltwater.
We’re on the fence. On one hand, we know Zebco quality. On the other hand, we tend to agree. This is one of those combos that didn’t necessarily get the best-of-the-best, but it is a time-proven design, regardless what one customer said about their experience.
- Features a quick anti-reverse to help you free snags.
- The Magnum drag is easily adjusted for bigger fish.
- All-metal gears and stainless steel pickup pin are bulletproof.
- Comes pre-spooled with 15lb test Cajun monofilament line.
- Comfortable EVA handle, durable fiberglass construction.
- Twist-lock reel seat makes swapping reels a cinch.
It’s built from sturdy fiberglass, giving it an elegant look, while baking in Zebco’s proven durability. The internal gears are stainless steel helping them resist rust, in case your young angler ever soaks their rod and reel.
Weighing in at less than 13 ounces, it’s incredibly lightweight and won’t have your child’s hands and wrists hurting. Thanks to the adjustable length, your child can grow into it as their skills grow.
Best Fishing Rods for Young Adults / Beginners
Once your kid has a handle on casting and catching, they’re going to want something more suited to their skills. That’s when upgrading them to a combo more suited for young adults and beginning teens is a better option.
Shakespeare Youth Ugly Stik GX2 – Best Youth Fishing Combos
The Ugly Stik GX2 helps build their legacy in the youth department, focusing more on kids in the 8 to 12-year old ranges. Teens have reported great success with the Ugly Stik GX2, too.
- Perfectly priced for family fishing trips, if you have more than 1 child.
- Graphite and fiberglass construction makes it lightweight and durable.
- Increased sensitivity and clear tip helps your child’s response times.
- Lightweight EVA grips make it great for smaller, sensitive hands.
- Machined aluminum spool and ball bearings ensure smooth operation.
It features a clear-tip design that contrasts against the background (water, landscape, etc) to help your child see the exact moment a strike happens — instead of them watching a black rod tip against the black surface of the water.
|Shakespeare USYTHSP30CBO Youth Ugly Stik GX2 2-Piece Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo, 5 Feet 6...||$39.95||Amazon|
Another feature of the reel is the unlockable swivel that allows you to drop the lure without actually casting. Getting the lure into the right spot and handing it off to your child is a convenience some rods fail to include.
This is perfect for times when you’re in a boat and either don’t want your child casting into the trees or when you want them fishing close to the boat, instead of casting over and over again.
While you make think the Steinhauser isn’t a household name like Zebco and Ugly Stik, you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. The spring-loaded break-action technology makes casting a cinch — almost like shooting a gun.
The price is average, compared to others in the same quality bracket, which means you’ll be choosing it based on the extra features.
With the reel’s no-tangle feature you and your kid can cast all day without the frustrations, aches, and pains of tangled lines.
- Engineered for Spincast reels (Standard and Micro-sized.)
- 41-inch length, medium action fiberglass rod construction.
- Adjustable reel seat with comfortable EVA handle.
- Spring-loaded break-action technology enables easy rethreading.
- Comes preloaded with 6lb line on the 3.1:1 gear ratio reel.
|Steinhauser No Tangle Deluxe in Line Fishing Rod & Reel Combo, Gunsmoke||$27.12||Amazon|
This is one of the more high-tech rods we’ve featured but the technology isn’t just another marketing gimmick. Your younger teen and tweens will have an easier time with this, if they’re a beginner, than most other combos we’ve listed here.
It’s highly versatile and can be used by both young kids and adults. Granted, it is a bit more professional than other combos, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that beginners can’t use it — and catch a ton of fish with it.
Plusinno Youth Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
Your kids will enjoy hours of nonstop fishing with the kit. It includes everything you need to get started, right out of the box — the rod, spincast reel, durable line, and extra tackle.
It features a handle that’s comfortable enough for even the smallest hands and littlest fingers to use, with an easy-to-grip handle for retrieving line quickly.
The rod is just under 4 feet long and 2.2 ounces in weight, with a telescopic design making it easy to carry, and store, even for longer fishing trips.
- Kids will enjoy hours of angling fun with this PLUSINNO Fishing Kit. It comes complete with a telescopic fishing rod,spincast reel, line and fishing tackle.necessary fishing gear provided by plusinno.
- kit.The plusinno kit has a handle that fits comfortably in children’s little fingers and winds for retrieving the line. The rod is 3.94ft long and 2.2oz heavy. The telescopic design of the rod makes it easy to carry and store.
|PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Pole,Light and Portable Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Telescopic Fishing Rod for...||$23.99||Amazon|
At just over 4.5 feet in length, the Shakespeare Salamander is slightly larger than most beginner’s rod and reel combos, but perfect for kids that are outgrowing the smaller stuff and wanting something with a bit more durability and comfort.
Made from tubular constructed fiberglass, the Salamander is highly resistant to damage and corrosion, meaning it will be around for years. Its two-piece design makes it easy to break down and carry, or stow in a backpack while you’re on the go.
- Rocket Rod casts the line more than 30 feet out.
- Pump-and-launch action eliminates tangles.
- Patented Safety Bobber hides the hook until it hits the water.
- Built-in storage for smaller tackle pack and bobber.
- Recommended for kids 8-years and up.
At 1.5 meters, the Shakespear salamander is a bit larger than your average model for beginners – which is why it is more suitable for those of intermediate or advanced level. It feels less like a toy and more like the real thing. It’s more appropriate for those who already know how to swing a cast or don’t have any problems maneuvering a bigger rod.
- Shakespeare SALSCPCBO pink
- Salamander Combo SC w/6lbs line
- Reel tubular glass 4’6 inch
|Shakespeare 1367024 Salamander Spincast Combo, 6, 1 Bearing, 4'6" Length, 2Piece Rod, Light, Pink,...||$20.49||Amazon|
Made from tubular glass, this tool is highly resistant to damage and is certain to last quite a while. Attached to the rods you have a push button reel that your kid can use to cast the bait. This is actually a feature that can be used by a beginner as well.
The rod comes in two pieces, which means you can easily break it down and store it in a more compact form. This makes it easier to carry around since it can be easily packed in a backpack.
Fly Fishing Rods for Children
Martin Fly Complete Fly Fishing Kit 6 Lb
This is a bit of a bonus, or a runner up, if you will. While most people could never imagine taking their kid fly fishing, Martin Fly saw a new opening in the industry…
If you’re wanting to teach your kid how to toss and tie their own flies, getting out on the water with the stalker mindset, and enjoying the great outdoors with you, the Martin Fly Kid’s Fly Fishing Rod & Reel Combo is amazing.
- It comes pre-spooled with 5wt line for average fish.
- The metal clicker features an on/off control.
- Holds up to 50 yards of 20lb backing and the fly line.
- 9ft 3-piece design features a 5/6 weight construction.
- Includes assorted flies and a beginner’s guide.
At this price range, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find another fly fishing combo that can stand up to your kid’s abuse and still keep them on the fish with you. Since you already know how peaceful fly fishing can be, and what your kids can learn from it, this is the perfect combo for transitioning them from a rod and reel to a fly and backwaters.
Before you spend your money, take into account the recommendations we’ve made here. We have poured countless hours into uncovering only the best-of-the-best to save you time, money, and the frustration of a kid with a broken combo in their hands while you’re out on the water.
If you need even more help, here’s a quick Buyer’s Guide that will help you figure out what you need to look for, which features are important, and how to spot those troublesome buys that will end up costing you more than they’re worth.
Kids Fishing Pole Buyers Guide
Before you go shopping, stop and ask yourself a few questions…
- What kind of fish are you planning to target?
- Which types of water do you plan to fish in?
- How old is your child? How “big” are they?
- How much experience does your kid have?
- Are they complete beginners? Or average users?
- How often are they going to be using the rod.
- Are they usually destructive with their stuff?
Fishing Combos vs Other Styles Of Fishing
If you’ve already taken your kid out on other fishing expeditions, like cane pole fishing, net fishing, hand casting, cast netting, or float and trotline fishing, making the switch to a rod and reel should be easy.
Here’s a few key benefits the rod and reel has over more traditional styles:
- You get more accuracy and enjoyment. With more traditional styles you’re moving around (yourself) to find the fish. A rod and reel lets you scan an area with more efficiency — which leads to more enjoyment.
- There’s less gear and tech to deal with. With traditional styles of fishing you’re typically dragging out more gear than you need, in case you stumble on a new situation. The rod, reel, and a small tackle bag is all that’s required when you’re taking a kid out for the day!
- You are in full control of the rig and action. Depending on where you go fishing at most often, having a rod and reel will give your child the control they crave, and you the peace of mind knowing they are responsible for their fishing stories… and you didn’t have to do it all for them.
- You get maximum bite responsiveness. Most other methods of fishing require you to sit and wait… something children are NOT known for enjoying. With a rod and reel, though, they can cast all day and if they miss a bite they can put their lure right back in the same spot. Try that with a trotline or a castnet.
What To Look For In A Fishing Rod For Kids
Here’s a few terms that you might find yourself running into while you’re out shopping for a new fishing combo for your kids. If you’re not familiar with them you could end up buying gear that isn’t well-suited to the types of fishing you do!
First, you don’t want to try sticking them with a rod that you’d find comfortable. It will wear them out, leaving them frustrated and complaining… which is the worst situation possible for you, and them.
Ideally, you should choose a rod that’s near your child’s height. This will make it easier for them to cast while making sure it’s not so short that they cannot get enough distance with each cast they make. Shorter rods also have your child standing close to the water — which can be dangerous in some situations.
For the most part, a spinning reel is going to be the safest bet. However, if your child is prone to figuring out how not to use the equipment you give them, a spinning reel could be a recipe for disaster, snags, tangles, and undoing line.
For those, a spincasting or closed face reel is going to be a safer bet. All your child has to do is push the button and sling the lure, compared to operating the bail on the reel and managing the pickup of the line on the lure retrieval.
Also, kids are going to be more attracted to colors and features than they will the rod and reel, itself. Picking up a combo that includes extra tackle to get them started with is a great choice, as well.
Stick with models that are smaller in stature and lighter in weight if you want your child to have a good time. Especially if it’s their first time out. As they gain experience they’ll start looking at your gear… then you’ll know it’s time to upgrade.
Differences Between Kids, Youth, and Adult Fishing Poles
If you’re like so many others, you may think you can just stick one of your combos in a kid’s hands and let them have fun. You’ll quickly realize that the time you spend after you’re done greatly outweighs simply buying them a combo of their own. The amount of tangles and fixing of gear you’ll have to do is insane.
A different setup is going to be required for children and the youth that love getting out with us. They need lightweight materials, smaller handles, easier-to-use reels, and designs that take into account how many tangles a child usually gets when they’re on the water.
Generally speaking, combos designed for younger audiences have less features and are less susceptible to breakage in areas where adults may tend to take better care of their gear and not experience faults associated with carelessness.
There are less moving parts for your child to break, the lightweight internal mechanisms are easier to operate, and the sizes are more suited to the size of your child — smaller hands and frames need smaller equipment.
What To Avoid In A Kid’s Fishing Pole
How hard could it actually be to choose a new rod and reel for your child?
If you are anything like we were when we started, pretty difficult. We made the mistake of thinking our kids could use our gear, too, and it ended… badly.
Once we made the shift to getting them a “them-sized” setup, our fishing trips became a lot more enjoyable, and the smiles on their face lit up every time they caught a fish. Compare that to the look on their face turning sad every time they had to explain they got another tangle or “broke” something!
You do want to avoid getting them something that’s marketed as a toy, because toy-grade equipment is just that… a toy. And it will break sooner than later, effectively wasting your money and ruining the trip!
Spend time going through the models that we’ve featured here, instead, and you’ll have a lot more fun, for a lot less money.
And isn’t that the goal of getting out on the water with our kids, anyways?