In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Best Fishing Pole for Kids

By Wendy Schmitz ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday July 22, 2020
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Finding a great kids fishing pole is harder than you might think. We researched over 20 popular options before buying the top 7 for hands-on, side-by-side testing. We purchased every rod in this review and used them in multiple lakes with real kids to see which poles were the easiest to assemble and use. With a wide disparity in quality and useability, there is much to be learned in our insider experience. Read on to find out which poles are the best of the bunch and which options left kid testers crying.

1

Best Overall Kids' Fishing Pole


Zebco Roam


Editors' Choice Award
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$40.00
List Price
See It

Reel Style: Push button | Pole Type: Fiberglass
Easy to use
Simple design
Never failed
No accessories

The Zebco Roam has a 6ft solid core, two part fiberglass rod with a push-button reel. This pole comes with a 10lb line pre-spooled and has a comfortable spongey grip that is easy to hold and a great diameter for kids. Kids love the easy to cast push-button reel, and the rod length was a great length for our 8+ years and over testers. This rod is the only option in the group that didn't result in a broken line or repeated requests for adult help. Little ones were able to cast the line repeatedly without a hiccup.

The Roam is 6ft long, so it might be too long for younger users. It also didn't come with any accessories, but given that the accessories that came with the competition were terrible, this is almost a relief. Overall, it is hard not to love this pole, and after much testing and headaches at the lake re-stringing and untangling the competition, we can't say enough good things about this impressive rod and reel. We recommend this for anyone who wants to enjoy fishing without the hassle.

Nothing beats the Zebco Roam for ease of use and a quick start-up. If your child is old enough to wield the longer rod  and you don't mind buying accessories on the side  then this is the one to buy.
Nothing beats the Zebco Roam for ease of use and a quick start-up. If your child is old enough to wield the longer rod, and you don't mind buying accessories on the side, then this is the one to buy.

2

Best Budget-Friendly Pole


Ugly Stik Dock Runner


Best Value Award
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$16.00
List Price
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Reel Style: Spinning | Pole Type: Graphite/Fiberglass
Good price
Nice quality
Cheap line
No accessories

The Ugly Stik Dock Runner is a shorter 3-foot rod with a 30 size spinning reel pre-spooled with 6 lb line. It has a cork grip and is excellent for younger fishers or in tight spaces like on the dock or a kayak. The Dock Runner comes ready to use with no assembly required besides stringing the line, and you can feel it is better quality than much of the child-centric competition we tested. Testers liked the size of this pole and thought it was easy enough to use after getting used to the higher degree of difficulty required above the push button style.

Given the reel style, there is a higher level of hand/eye coordination and muscle memory necessary to use this reel effectively, which could elude younger users. The line that comes pre-spooled is also sub-par, and we experienced a high frequency of snapping and tangled lines with this setup. It also doesn't come with any accessories, though we can overlook this given the poor quality of accessories we experienced in this lineup. Overall, this is a great budget-friendly, short pole option for older kids who can master the finger skill required to use the reel. It feels like it will last for several seasons and multiple children.

The Dock Runner is a nice pole with a spinning reel  but younger testers were less enchanted with this style reel that requires more practice.
The Dock Runner is a nice pole with a spinning reel, but younger testers were less enchanted with this style reel that requires more practice.

3

Perfect for Tight Spaces


Zebco Dock Demon


Top Pick Award
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$14.99
at Amazon
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Reel Style: Spinning | Pole Type: Solid core/Glass rod
Shorter rod
Nice quality
Bad included line
Harder to use reel

Zebco Dock Demon is a short rod pole with a spinning reel. This 30" shorter, solid core rod is perfect for kid fishermen or where space is limited. It has a quality feel with EVA easy-grip handle, ball bearing drive, and a changeable left/right hand retrieve. Testers liked how easy it was to hold and cast without hitting other people or getting it caught on bushes or rocks nearby.

The line that comes with this reel is terrible and regularly snapped without reason. We can't imagine it holding up to a real fish when it struggled to stay in place with a little underwater plant life, but you can buy a higher quality line, and you'll be all set without the worry. Also, this style of reel is harder for kids to master, and some of our younger testers got frustrated using it, preferring the push button style reel instead. Overall, we like this shorter, quality fishing pole, and we think kids with a desire to learn fishing and a little bit of patience will appreciate the shorter length and the easy to use rod.

Kids liked the look and feel of the Dock Demon  but the spinning reel takes more practice to master and younger kids might get frustrated before they figure it out.
Kids liked the look and feel of the Dock Demon, but the spinning reel takes more practice to master and younger kids might get frustrated before they figure it out.

4

Best Quality Pole and Reel


Kalex Telescopic Fishing Kit


Top Pick Award
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$57.31
at Amazon
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Reel Style: Spinning | Pole Type: Telescopic
Higher quality
Telescopes for easier transport
Harder to use reel
Long handle

The Kalex Telescopic Fishing Kit comes unassembled with a rod, reel, extra line, and some accessories. This rod comes well packaged in several boxes with bubble wrap, unlike any of the competitors. The pole has an EVA handle that feels good in the hand, and the reel spins smoothly. This rod telescopes in for easier travel in the included travel bag. Little testers liked the rod, and dads did too.

This rod doesn't fit in the included carry bag with the reel attached, and it isn't practical to remove it every time you go to the lake. It also comes pre-spooled with a thin line that easily snaps and caused more than one occurrence of kid frustration. Last, the handle is oddly long, even for a grown man, which could be hard for younger kids to wield. However, these minor concerns aside, we think this is one of the best quality products in this review, and a switch to a higher quality line will solve most of your troubles, making it a great choice for those looking for a quality, solid feeling reel.

The length of the Kalex handle could cause problems for little kids when they catch a fish and need to hold on while reeling it in.
The length of the Kalex handle could cause problems for little kids when they catch a fish and need to hold on while reeling it in.

5

Best Kit for Kids


Plussino Kids Fishing Pole


Top Pick Award
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$50.99
(4% off)
at Amazon
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Reel Style: Push Button | Pole Type: Telescopic
Padded case
Ease push-button reel
EVA handle
Lower quality
Misaligned eyelets

The Plussino Kids Fishing Pole is a fishing one-and-done kit for kids. This kit includes a padded carry case with a spot for everything. It has a small tackle box with bobbers, weights, and lures. It features a push-button style reel and a telescoping rod. Our testers liked the size, and the push-button style is a favorite with new fishers. The kit provides enough stuff to make kids feel like legitimate professionals and is enough to get little ones started on the path to fishing.

Unfortunately, while kid-friendly and comes with loads of accessories, none of it is outstanding quality and feels like it won't last very long, especially if you have good luck at the local pond. The eyelets on the pole are off-center, which impacts casting and reeling in, and the button feels like it could break if used for more than a handful of outings. The carry bag is nice, but the accessories are all subpar, and while the bobbers in this kit actually bob, they aren't the best. However, we can see why testers liked this setup, and we think it may be a good choice for getting little ones excited about fishing, but there are better poles to be had elsewhere for a lower price. We would recommend this for kids who aren't sure they want to fish and will enjoy having all the accessories they need to get started.

The Plussino kit is better than the similar ODDSPRO thanks to the EVA wrapped handle and a more solid feeling button.
The Plussino kit is better than the similar ODDSPRO thanks to the EVA wrapped handle and a more solid feeling button.

6

Good Kit but Harder to Hold


ODDSPRO Kids Fishing Pole


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$49.99
(9% off)
at Amazon
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Reel Style: Push Button | Pole Type: Telescopic
Easy push button
Padded carry case
Misaligned eyelets
Lower quality

The ODDSPRO Kids Fishing Pole is virtually identical to the Plussino above, except for color pattern and handle style. It comes with a padded carry case, a small tackle box, a variety of weights, bobbers, and lures, and a push-button reel. The telescopic rod is easy to use, and the size is perfect for young children.

We raked the twin of this model higher because the EVA handle on the Plussino is easier to hold onto than the broken plain handle on the ODDSPRO. Both kits have the same carry case, accessories, reel, and telescopic rod. Other than the handle style and name embossed on the pole, there are no differences between the two. We aren't a big fan of either, and the quality is subpar, but if having a kit with everything included will get your child jazzed about going fishing, we'd choose the Plussino for the better handle.

The ODDSPRO was well-liked by testers  but it didn't feel like it would last for long if you manage to catch your share of fish.
The ODDSPRO was well-liked by testers, but it didn't feel like it would last for long if you manage to catch your share of fish.

7

Not Recommended: Disappointing in Every Way


Lanaak Kids Fishing Pole and Tackle Box


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$37.99
(5% off)
at Amazon
See It

Reel Style: Push Button | Pole Type: Telescopic
Came with tackle
Carry case
Broken
Faulty tackle

The Lanaak Kids Fishing Pole and Tackle Box is an attractive, all-inclusive kit parents might consider as it seems to include everything you'll need to get your little up and fishing. It has a telescopic pole, push-button reel, and lots of bobbers, weights, and lures in a small tackle box that all comes in a zipper close carry bag.

All this sounds pretty cool until you open the case and get a good look at the supplies. The rod is hard plastic and will not bend if you catch a larger fish. The bobbins are "open" and fill with water quickly, making them utterly useless for fishing. The problem, however, is the pole we purchased came broken. Our young tester didn't even get to cast the reel once, which was hugely disappointing as it was the pole he was most interested in thanks to all the accessories. Luckily, we had multiple poles to test, so our day wasn't a total bust, but most folks will likely end up with a single broken pole and a very sad child. While we can't say that all of the poles will arrive at their destination broken, we do feel the quality is so bad that most of the pole swill likely break in short order, making it a setup we don't recommend.

The Lanaak pole is very low quality with a hard plastic rod that came with a broken reel  disappointing testers who were excited about the accessories it came with.
The Lanaak pole is very low quality with a hard plastic rod that came with a broken reel, disappointing testers who were excited about the accessories it came with.

Most of the testing poles have manageable handle lengths  but the Kalex (top) was significantly longer than the competition and smaller testers struggled with the design.
Most of the testing poles have manageable handle lengths, but the Kalex (top) was significantly longer than the competition and smaller testers struggled with the design.

Why You Should Trust Us


We've been testing gear for babies and kids for over eight years. This review is led by Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz. Wendy is a mother of 2 boys who were game for fishing fun and ready to give each product its opportunity to shine in the water. With the help of a long-time fisherman, the testers used each pole side-by-side and hands-on at multiple locations over several weeks.

Testing the top fishing poles for kids is a winning summer job for just about any kid.
We tested 7 of the top poles on the market with several kid-centric poles and other smaller rods suitable for kids.

Analysis and Test Results


We purchased and tested 7 popular fishing poles for kids in our quest to find the best. Our testers gave feedback on ease of use and weren't shy about condemning the disappointing and less than inspiring rods while fighting for the chance to use the easier, higher-quality options.

Taking the Lanaak out of the package only to discover it is broken could be one of the worst things to happen on a child's first fishing trip.
Taking the Lanaak out of the package only to discover it is broken could be one of the worst things to happen on a child's first fishing trip.

Assembly


Some of the poles come pre-assembled, unlike many poles for adults that require adding the reel to the rod or spooling the line. None of the group required line spooling, but given that much of the provided line was terrible and easily snapped, you'll likely still want to buy some line and learn how to spool your own.

Of those that required assembly, the Kalex Kit was easy and straightforward with little effort, which is impressive given that ours lacked detailed instructions. Perhaps the manufacturer assumes everyone knows how to do this, but we suspect some parents will be as new to fishing as their children and assembly skills will elude them. For those parents, we recommend sticking to the Zebco options, which both come ready to go, or the Plussino, which is also ready to use once you thread the line through the eyelets and add the accessories.

The Plussino and the ODDSPRO both have telescoping rods with eyelets that do not align and this could cause a problem with a fish on the line.
The Plussino and the ODDSPRO both have telescoping rods with eyelets that do not align and this could cause a problem with a fish on the line.

While choosing a kit that includes everything is definitely appealing, especially for parents who know nothing about fishing, we think the kits in this review are all low quality. You'll save frustration, time, and money by buying these supplies separately. While two of them worked well enough during testing, we suspect they wouldn't last the summer of regular fishing, and the misaligned eyelets could become a problem if you ever caught an actual fish and put weight on the line as you tried to reel it in.

The Dock Demon comes with subpar line that regularly snapped in our tests resulting in a tangled and mismanaged line that required regular parent help.
The Dock Demon comes with subpar line that regularly snapped in our tests resulting in a tangled and mismanaged line that required regular parent help.

Ease of Use


Not all of the poles were easy to use, especially for the testers who lacked any fishing knowledge. Our assumption that a layperson could pick up any old fishing pole and start fishing was incorrect, especially depending on which pole you hope to try. While some of our testers knew a thing or two about fishing and had no trouble putting reels on rods and running line, others couldn't identify which end was which and definitely couldn't figure out how to cast without losing line or snapping and tangling it.

The Zebco Roam is the easiest  most straightforward option in the group and works right out of the box.
The Zebco Roam is the easiest, most straightforward option in the group and works right out of the box.

The easiest fishing pole to use, hands down, was the Zebco Roam. From ignorant parents to newbie youngsters, this pole was the easiest option to use. It comes fully assembled, with a higher quality line than most of the competition that didn't snap in our tests. The push-button style of reel and casting was easy enough for even our youngest tester to master casting in short order. All you need to do is run the one through the eyelets, add a weight and a lure, or perhaps a bobbin, and you're on your way to a great day of fishing. We cannot overstate how simple and straightforward this pole is and how much the kids enjoyed using it.

Our testers preferred the push-button reel style over the spinning reel as it takes almost no practice to master.
The ODDSPRO is a push-button pole kids liked for its ease of use and included accessories.

The Plusinno (above left) and ODDSPRO (above right) were close seconds with telescoping rods and attached reels. They also have push buttons for easy casting, and they are just the right size for eager young fishers. Of course, the quality isn't there with these products, but our testers liked them and, like many kids, felt the case and tackle boxes were cool.

The Dock Runner is a great size for kids and testers liked the cork handle  but the spinning reel takes patience and time to master.
The Dock Runner is a great size for kids and testers liked the cork handle, but the spinning reel takes patience and time to master.

The spinning reels are the hardest to use. The Kalex is the easiest of the spinning reels, and we had the least amount of trouble with this rod, but the handle is oddly long, and our younger, shorter testers weren't fans and felt it was harder to cast without hitting themselves in the forearm. The Zebco Dock Demon and the Ugly Stick Dock Runner are similar in design and size. They are easy to use after mastering the harder to manage finger dexterity and mind-muscle control required for casting this style of reel, but both had a cheap line that got tangled regularly.

Some parents felt the spinning reel wasn't worth the effort as the younger testers got frustrated and threatened to quit. Other parents think this style of reel is the only way to fish and thought kids would figure it out if they never saw the push button option. We believe the push button is the way to go if you want to engage kids early and keep them interested. There is always time to learn harder things as they progress and develop better control over their bodies. In our tests, the push button ruled the day, and the spinning reels were "cast" aside early.

Fishing with kids can be fun and provide lasting memories of an afternoon well-spent bonding  even if you never catch a thing.
Fishing with kids can be fun and provide lasting memories of an afternoon well-spent bonding, even if you never catch a thing.

Conclusion


When we embarked on this fishing pole journey, we never thought it would result in such disappointing kid-centric options. After much research, we diligently chose some of the most popular and well-regarded kids fishing poles, so imagine our surprise when so many of the genuinely kid-focused poles were poor quality and easy to break. Our review gives you the details you need to avoid these options, so you can experience fishing fun with your budding fisherman using a child suitable pole that will last all summer and beyond.

Wendy Schmitz