3 Best Fishing Rods For Kids

Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today we will take a look at getting the little ones set up with my 3 best fishing rods for kids to grow with in 2021. Again, this has come about a real life experience as we went fishing on the weekend with some friends of ours with the kids in tow. Sean was talking about how the rod and reel combos that he bought for his kids kept breaking – I watched a reel actually disintegrate as he cast it!

“Last time I buy those ‘ $20 kids specials’ from the department store” lamented Sean as another reel went into the bin. So, me being me, I have had a look around to see if there are some better options for kids fishing poles out there that may better suit than the ones Sean has been buying.

So, let’s see what we can come up with in terms of some solid setups for the kids…

 

My 3 recommended fishing rods for kids

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

 Rod and Reel ComboPriceGet it
fishing rods for kids - option 1Wakeman Swarm Series Spinning Rod and Reel Combo$CURRENT PRICE
fishing rods for kids - option 2Abu Garcia Youth Reel and Fishing Rod Combo$$CURRENT PRICE
fishing rods for kids - option 3KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combo$$$CURRENT PRICE

What should you be looking for?

When it comes to fishing rods for kids, there are a real lot of super cheap options available. Which I have to admit make sense as children tend to not only be a little harsh on them, but some also often lose interest after 5 minutes and go and do something else. I have bought a few of these cheap rigs in my time and, although the reels tended to stay intact, I found rust was an issue as well. This just meant that every time the kids wanted to fish, I was up for $20 for another setup.

So, in my opinion, I would recommend looking for a decent small adult or better quality kid’s setup that will last more than one trip and if your other fishing exploits suit, can be used by yourself as well. This may cost you a little more, however you won’t be having to re-stock every 6 months or so either.

I have found three options below that I think meet these needs, however as usual, let’s just check out some of the influences that my affect your choice.

fishing rods for kids - stripe 2

Location

I am starting with the location as it can definitely have an effect on the type of kids fishing rod and reel combos that you could choose and will determine your answers to many of the variants I have listed below. If you and the family are going to be fishing in a particular waterway more often than others then take that into consideration as you read on. Otherwise, if you are planning to try a number of different areas, I will try and outline middle of the range options for you as well.

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Some location considerations include:

  • Holes/Gutters: If there are any holes or gutters that you like to fish into then that will reduce casting requirements – great for kids.
  • Rocks and other obstacles: Will you want to the kids to cast into them our over them – my son can snag a line on a pin head.
  • Current: Is there a strong tidal current running? If so, larger tackle may be needed.

There is more to this but from a general point of view, when it comes to fishing with inexperienced kids (I am probably being a bit harsh on all young fisherman here), you generally want to look for places that have few snags where they can learn to cast without too many problems. This means that most smaller rods will work well. However, if current or tides are an issue then a larger rod and a reel with a line capacity to accommodate a heavier sinker may be needed.

Rods

First we will look at the rod side of things – To keep this post from getting out of hand length wise I have tried to keep things brief here. However if you are after more information you can check out my post covering kayak fishing rods for closed waters.

Composition

In general, fishing rods are made from one of three main materials, Fiberglass, Graphite and Carbon Fibre with qualities as follows:

  • Fiberglass – Very strong and durable with very little maintenance required (rinse off after fishing is generally all that is needed).
  • Graphite – Graphite rods are generally more rigid with higher power ratings (see below) however tend to have greater sensitivity than their fiberglass cousins.
  • Glass Tip – Glass Tips orHybrid’ rods are made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass. These are designed to give the best of both worlds with extra strength of the graphite rod added to the sensitivity of the glass tip.
  • Carbon Fibre – This is a newer compound in fishing rods being more rigid than the fiberglass/ composite rods but also lighter. These types are becoming more and more popular for all levels of experience due to their toughness and versatility.

When it comes to kids, there is not really anything that I can think about from the above that you should avoid. I guess for little arms, the lighter the rod the better.

fishing rods for kids - stripe

Length

Depending on where you are fishing, I have found with my kids that shorter rods are a good choice as they are easier to cast and provide for greater accuracy which can be helpful if they are fishing in any areas where snags are evident.

So, depending on your location and casting requirements, I recommend that you can choose from the following lengths:

  • 4 – 5 foot – these are generally the size that the budget kid’s rods come in. If you can find them in better quality models then they are great if the kids are quite young and/or they will be the only one using it (I actually sneak my son’s 4.5ft model into the kayak every now and then too).
  • 5 – 6 foot – short, light and the easy to maneuver this length is great for kids but maybe a little short if you plan to use it yourself as well. 6 ft would be my limit for smaller children.
  • 6 – 7 foot – These are a good middle of the road rod – especially if you have purchased one that you plan to have around for a while as your child grows – I would be looking for something in this area for slightly older kids.
  • 7 – 8 foot – You are getting to the absolute end of length suitability here but these can work well if you are dealing with teenagers who want to use in a number of locations or have longer casting requirements. My tip here… make sure it is a light to medium action (see below) and you could also look at this length if they wanted to use it for surf fishing as well.

Power

There are plenty of technical terms for the power settings of a fishing rod but in simple language, I have always known the power rating as a measure of how ‘bendy’ it is. Light power rods bend with little force and heavy need a lot of pressure to bend. So, in short:

  • Light – very bendy – even whippy – will bend a lot with even the smallest fish. These are good for kids as they are easier to cast however they will feel everything – “I have a bite!!”
  • Medium – needs a bit more pressure to bend – In general, this is a good measure for a general fishing rod and my suggestion for all round use.
  • Heavy – takes a lot to make it bend – I would only recommend these for older children in areas where the current is quite strong or they want to use particularly heavy sinkers etc.

There is also a measurement that some rods have in regards to what they call Action or Speed. This is determined by where the rod bends. Fast action bends from the top third whereas slow rods bend down towards the reel. For general use, I would go moderate or medium.

Handle/Grip

This has nothing to do with the art of catching fish rather than the comfort of it. Some common options include:

  • Hard foam – sort of like a very hard version of a pool noodle.
  • EVA – Soft Rubbery stuff.
  • Cork.
  • Rubber Shrink Tube – soft and extremely durable.

I like the Rubber shrink tube or EVA handles myself as they are comfortable and will last well in saltwater conditions.

Split/one piece

When it comes to fishing rods, whether you have a full piece or a split piece (where the rod pulls apart into two or more pieces) is, in my opinion, a matter of circumstance… I have used both and if I am being brutally honest, I really don’t see enough of a difference when it comes to catching fish.

Ask yourself how you are going to transport the rod to your preferred fishing spot? If you are dragging it on your kayak and trolley or have a rod holder on your SUV etc., then a full piece will be fine. If you need to put it in the boot or back seat of the car, then go the two piece.

Reels

And now for the reels. If you are purchasing your reel as part of a combo with the rod, then you may not have a lot of choice but there are some things to ensure are in place before you purchase. Again, I have included a lot more information in my post on kayak fishing reels for beginners so here are the basics to consider for your combo…

Types

There are a number of reel types available however for ease of use with kids, I really really recommend you go for a spinning reel. Also known as ‘open face’ reels or ‘eggbeaters’, these reel types wind the line onto a front spool which is held on by a ‘bail’. Line is wound in via a handle on the side which is ratioed to bring the line in faster than the handle is turned.

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They are easy to use without a lot of maintenance and can be purchased over a good number of line strength specification ranges as well.

Note: Many rod and reel combos aimed at children come with ‘spincast’ reels where the user simply has to press a button at the back to cast. These can work, but in my experience jam and fall apart easily – probably as they are usually cheap. If you can find a more expensive, better built model then in theory they should be ok, but my advice is to avoid them if possible.

fishing rods for kids - stripe 3

Composition

In general, spinning reels suitable for kids are made from a corrosion-resistant metal, carbon fiber and/or aluminum body with variations of the following:

  • Bearings – As with a car wheel, the spinning mechanisms inside a spinning fishing reel generally incorporate ball bearings for smoother operation. From my experience, most come with between 3 and 10 and I was always told that the more you can get for the price, the better. The smoother the wind the easier it will be for little ones to wind in – especially if they have hooked a larger catch.
  • Rotation – One advantage of a spinning fishing reel is the winding rotation. This is usually set anywhere for 3:1 up to 6 or 7:1 (often listed as 6.0:1 etc.) This simply means that for every time the handle is turned a full rotation, the spool holding the line has actually turned 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 times meaning less winding for faster line retrieval – again, this just makes it easier for kids to get the line in.
  • Drag – The drag of a fishing reel is its ability to release a little bit of line when a fish strikes or is being pulled in. This is in place to reduce the chances of a bigger fish snapping the line as it fights. You could argue whether this is worth it or not for the younger ones however my rule of thumb is always that if the reel you are looking at doesn’t have a drag system on it – put it down.
  • Casing: This is the part of the reel that contains the springs, levers, gear cogs etc. that make much of the stuff above work. For a basic combo, avoid any reel that doesn’t have this all housed in a sealed, waterproof casing. These are low maintenance and the components will not rust.

Line capacity

In this section, we will actually discuss two elements: spool size and line capacity. This is because the size of the spool generally determines the strength of the line that you can load into it. The problem we face here is that manufacturers don’t use a common specification when it comes to their reel capacities.

There is however a simple way to work this all out which via the first number. You see a fishing reel may be rated as a ’20’ or a ‘2000’. If this is the case, the ‘2’ is the common denominator and what you match the line to (this is not an exact science but it works for me). So, then all you need to do is match the line kilogram/pound strength to the spool.

To make this easier, I have whipped up a little table below (I have not included all sizes here but you can see that generally, the lower suggested mono line weight matches the first number of the reel size):

Reel SizeSuggested MonoSuggested BraidSuggested Rod Length*
10 or 10001- 2 kg/2 – 4 lb4 – 8 lb6-7 ft (line rating 1-4kg)
20 or 20002- 3 kg/4 – 6 lb5 – 10 lb6-7 ft (line rating 2-5kg)
25 or 25002.5- 4 kg/5 – 8 lb5 – 12 lb6-7 ft (line rating 2-5kg)
40 or 40004- 6 kg/8 – 12 lb8 – 12 lb8-10 ft (line rating 3-10kg)
60 or 60006- 8 kg/12 – 16 lb12 – 30 lb8-10 ft (line rating 4-10kg)

As always, as long as you match the size of the line to the size of the reel, you will reduce the chance of bird’s nests etc as the little ones cast. By design reels aimed at children tend to be a smaller size which is ok as they can have some fun with smaller tackle and fish and they are easier to cast too.

Other Influences

There are some other areas to consider as well when looking at a fishing reel. These don’t effect the outcomes as much as the above however they are worth considering:

  • Handle – Most are plastic but make sure it fits comfortably in their hand – some come with large handles which can make it harder for little fingers to hold.
  • Weight – As with the rod, then the lighter the reel, the better.
  • Anti reverse switch – These are usually found in the underbelly of the reel and simply put, will stop the reel going backwards. Great for kids as it will reduce their chances of getting snagged.
  • Line holder – This is the little tab on the side of the reel housing that holds the end of the fishing line if it is not rigged up. These are not often thought of when a reel is purchased but something that is really missed if it is not there.
  • Interchangeable winder – There are not many that don’t do this these days however this is the ability to swap the winder handle around to allow for left or right-handed use.

What do I use?

After a number of cheap setup rod and reel combo purchases ended in similar to experiences to Sean’s above, I have to admit that I went the separate purchase option for my son’s rod and reel. Where we fish there can be stronger currents but if we choose the right tides he generally doesn’t have to cast too far so I just went for a small rod and a middle of the range light reel. He doesn’t like fishing in the surf (he would rather swim) so I could keep the rod a little shorter for ease of use as well.

fishing rods for kids - what i use

So, at the end of the day, here is what I got for him.

Rod

  • Made from: Fiberglass
  • Length: 6ft
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: Moderate/fast
  • Composition: Two piece
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 2000
  • Bearings: 5 + 1
  • Ratio: 5.1:1
  • Composition: Stainless Steel, synthetic housing and fully enclose casing
  • Drag: front of spool – I set it fairly tight
  • Anti-reverse switch: – yes

This setup works extremely well for what we want in an estuary and I often sneak out for some kayak fishing with it as well. The rod is 6ft which admittedly he struggled a little with until he got to about 7 or 8 however it is easy to work with and sensitive enough to feel it when the fish nibble at the bait. The only issue I have noticed with it is that the reel is physically small which makes it a little difficult for him to land a larger fish on when he catches one.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following fishing combos for children:

1. Wakeman Swarm Series Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

This first rod and reel combo for kids is a great little option for those who really don’t want to spend a lot or just want something that will work whenever their child wants to fish. It is a good, solid and durable product that is light to hold with specifications as follows:

Rod

  • Length: 5.5ft
  • Power: Not stated
  • Composition: 2 piece fiberglass build
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 2000
  • Bearings: 2
  • Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Composition: Aluminum
  • Drag: On front of spool
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight composition.
  • Stainless Steel Guides w/O-Rings

Why have I chosen it?

This is a good little rod and reel for a good price as it is lightweight, sensitive and easy to handle. I couldn’t find the power rating however there are enough other advantages that I don’t see this being an issue in most conditions. It will take a good range of line strength (2 – 6 lb) and comes in a number of colour options as well (my son would love the ability to choose the colour). The only concern I have found in the reviews is that the pre-spooled line is not the best so replacement is probably recommended before use.


2. Abu Garcia Youth Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

My second rod is a good one for the both the beginner and more experienced younger angler who is planning to do a little more fishing and hence wants something that will do the job with great durability and usability. With a good length rod with lightweight design which can handle most locations and line/tackle requirements. Its specifications include:

Rod

  • Length: 5.5ft
  • Power: Light-Medium
  • Composition: 1 piece fiberglass build
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 2000
  • Bearings: 2
  • Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Composition: Lightweight graphite body and rotor
  • Drag: On front of spool
  • Anti reverse switch: No
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight composition.
  • Stainless Steel Guides w/O-Rings
  • Low maintenance requirements

Why have I chosen it?

I like this one as it is a good lightweight, durable rod for a decent price. It will handle all levels of use as the child grows and abilities improve. I would maybe like to see this one come in at 6ft (and an anti-reverse level too) however it will handle slightly heavier line and tackle setup requirements without becoming too cumbersome. Again, as with the model above I would maybe look at replacing the pre-spooled line prior to use.


3. KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combo

This third option is not kids categorised setup as such and is a little more expensive however it is a good option for older kids and teenagers who are either just starting out or looking to get amongst it a bit more. It is an extremely versatile rig that will work well in all conditions including bank, estuary, kayak, surf or boat. It is lightweight but will handle the bigger catches whilst maintaining sensitivity. Its specifications include:

Rod

  • Length: 6ft (there are longer options for larger teenagers)
  • Power: Medium (fast action)
  • Composition: 2 piece graphite
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 2000
  • Bearings: 9+1
  • Ratio: 4.5:1
  • Composition: Graphite frame and aluminum spool
  • Drag: On front of spool – triple disk system
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight graphite composition.
  • Stainless Steel Guides w/O-Rings – 8+1
  • Contoured handles and fighting butt

Why have I chosen it?

As mentioned above, this rod is a great one for older children and will last them well into adulthood. The graphite build and specifications make it a very versatile option for most conditions and needs with the ability to handle most applicable line strengths as well. Stick to the 6ft – 7ft models unless you need to cast longer or fish more so in the surf than closed waters. Keep in mind however that the larger rod models do come with larger reels to match which might make handling a little more difficult for the younger ones.

 

Conclusion

And there it is – my 3 best fishing rods for kids to grow with in 2021. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

Note: If you make a purchase from this page, there is a very good chance that I make a commission from it – these commissions do not increase your sale price. This may include sales made via Amazon.

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