In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Best Fishing Pole for Kids

We tested the top kids' fishing poles from Zebco, Ugly Stik, Kalex, Plussino, and others to find the best
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff
By Wendy Schmitz ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday June 29, 2021
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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


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

The Zebco Roam has a 6 ft solid core, two-part fiberglass rod with a push-button reel. This pole comes with a 10-lb line pre-spooled and has a comfortable sponge-type grip that is easy to hold and an excellent 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 older 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 6 ft in length, which we think is too long for younger users to manage, and it didn't come with any accessories. But, considering that the accessories included with some contenders were terrible, this was a relief. Overall, it is hard not to love this pole, and after much testing and headaches at the lake re-stringing and untangling other products in our lineup, we can't say enough good things about this impressive rod and reel. We recommend this pole for anyone who wants to enjoy fishing without all the hassle. Plus, at 6 ft, there's plenty of room for your older child to grow and perfect their skills.

Nothing beats the Zebco Roam for ease of use and a quick start-up...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

2

Best Budget-Friendly Pole


Ugly Stik Dock Runner


Reel Style: Spinning | Pole Type: Graphite/Fiberglass
Good price
Nice quality
Cheap line
No accessories

The Ugly Stik Dock Runner is a shorter 3 ft rod with a 30-size spinning reel pre-spooled with a 6 lb line. It has a cork grip and is excellent for younger fishers or in tight spaces like a 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 of better quality than much of the child-centric competition in our lineup. Testers liked this pole's size and think it is easy enough to use after practicing the reel type, which is a higher degree of difficulty over the push-button reel.

Given the reel style and design, a higher level of hand/eye coordination and muscle memory is necessary to effectively cast, which could elude some 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. However, 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, becoming a family favorite.

The Dock Runner is a nice pole with a spinning reel, but younger...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

3

Perfect for Tight Spaces


Zebco Dock Demon


Reel Style: Spinning | Pole Type: Solid core/Glass rod
Shorter rod
Nice quality
Included line breaks easily
Harder to use reel

The Zebco Dock Demon is a short rod pole with a spinning reel. This 30" shorter, solid core rod is perfect for kid anglers 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 was problematic in our testing 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 reel style 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 if you buy some higher quality line, we think older 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...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

4

Best Quality Pole and Reel


Kalex Telescopic Fishing Kit


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 accessories. This rod comes well packaged in several boxes with bubble wrap, unlike any other contenders we tested. The pole has an EVA handle that feels good in the hand, and the reel spins smoothly. This rod telescopes in to ease 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, and young kids may struggle to hold and operate it. However, these minor concerns aside, we think this is one of the best quality products in this review. A switch to a higher quality line will solve most of your troubles, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a quality, solid feeling reel.

The length of the Kalex handle could cause problems for little kids...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

5

Best Kit for Kids


Plussino Kids Fishing Pole


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 one-and-done fishing kit for kids. Plus, it even 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 anglers. 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.

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 pole's eyelets 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 sub-par, and while the bobbers in this kit actually bob, they aren't the best. However, it is easy to see why our 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...
The Plussino kit is better than the similar ODDSPRO thanks to the EVA wrapped handle and a more solid feeling button.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

6

Good Kit but Harder to Hold


ODDSPRO Kids Fishing Pole


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, various weights, bobbers, 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 them. 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...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

7

Not Recommended: Disappointing in Every Way


Lanaak Kids Fishing Pole and Tackle Box


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 that parents might consider as it seems to include everything you'll need to get your little one 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 most significant 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 of 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 feel the quality is so bad that most of the poles will 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...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

Tip: Fishing can be a fun experience, and to maintain your younger child's interest, keep it positive, simple, and short. As your child grows and their attention span lengthens, increase the time spent fishing. We also suggest researching which lakes near you have been well-stocked with fish, which will increase your chances of catching a fish.

Most of the testing poles have manageable handle lengths, but the...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

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 a long-time fisherman's help, 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...
We tested 7 of the top poles on the market with several kid-centric...

Analysis and Test Results


We purchased and tested 7 popular fishing poles for kids in our quest to find the best. Our testers took notes on their experiences with each product and gave feedback on ease of use. These tot testers 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...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

Assembly


Some of the poles in our review come pre-assembled, unlike many adult fishing poles that require adding the reel to the rod or spooling the line so you can build your own setup. None of the group needed 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.

Of those that required assembly, the Kalex Kit was easy to set up with little effort, which is impressive given that ours lacked a detailed manual. Perhaps the manufacturer assumes everyone knows the process or pole setup. However, we suspect some parents will be as new to fishing as their children, and assembly skills/knowledge will elude them (as it did some of our testers). For those parents, we suggest sticking to the Zebco products as they come already assembled, or the Plussino, which is almost ready to use after threading the line through the eyelets and adding accessories.

The Plussino and the ODDSPRO both have telescoping rods with eyelets...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

While choosing an all-inclusive kit is appealing, especially for parents who know nothing about fishing, we feel the kits in this review were lower in quality. We believe you'll save yourself frustration, time, and money by purchasing supplies separately. While two kits in this lineup worked well enough during testing, they likely won't last through the summer of regular fishing. Issues like the misaligned eyelets we encountered during testing could become a problem if you ever catch an actual fish and put weight on the line reeling it in.

The Dock Demon comes with subpar line that regularly snapped in our...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

Ease of Use


Interestingly, not all of the poles were easy to use, especially for those who lacked prior fishing knowledge. Our assumption that a layperson could pick up any old fishing pole and start fishing was foolhardy at best, especially depending on which pole we tried. 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. If you aren't a fishing master, we recommend you keep this in mind when purchasing a pole.

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

The easiest fishing pole to use, hands down, is the Zebco Roam. From inexperienced parents to newbie little anglers, this pole was simple to use. It comes fully assembled, with a higher quality line than most of the competition that didn't snap or tangle in our tests. The push-button reel and casting were easy enough for even our youngest tester to master quickly. Just run the line through the eyelets, add a weight and a lure, or perhaps a bobber, and you're on your way to a great day of fishing. Easy-peasy. We cannot overstate how straightforward this pole is and how much our testers enjoyed it.

Our testers preferred the push-button reel style over the spinning...
The ODDSPRO is a push-button pole kids liked for its ease of use and...

The Plussino (above left) and ODDSPRO (above right) were close seconds with telescoping rods and attached reels. They have push buttons for easy casting and are the perfect size for eager young anglers. Unfortunately, the quality isn't great with these products, but our kid testers liked them and, like many children, felt the case and tackle boxes were ultra-cool.

The Dock Runner is a great size for kids and testers liked the cork...
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.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff

Depending on the child's age, the spinning reels in this review are far more challenging to use and have a higher learning curve than the competition. We found the Kalex to be the easiest of the spinning reels, and we had the least trouble with this rod. However, the handle is oddly long, and our younger, shorter testers didn't care for it and felt it was harder to cast as they repeatedly hit themselves in the forearm. The Zebco Dock Demon and the Ugly Stick Dock Runner are similar in design and size to the Kalex but have shorter easier-to-manage handles. They are easy to use after mastering the harder finger dexterity and mind-muscle control required for casting this reel style, but both came with a cheap line that repeatedly tangled. However, you can always purchase a higher quality line, and we encourage that no matter which pole you select.

Some of our testers felt the spinning reel wasn't worth the added learning curve and effort. Younger testers were easily frustrated and frequently threatened to quit altogether with these poles. Other parents feel this reel style is the only way to fish and believe children would be more motivated to master it if they were never exposed to the push-button reel. Overall, 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 quickly and early.

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

Conclusion


We considered and selected several of the most popular and well-regarded kids' fishing poles on the market for hands-on testing after much research and consulting with avid anglers. Unfortunately, we were surprised that many of the highly kid-centric poles offered disappointing quality, less-than-impressive features, and were easy to break (one arrived broken). This reality means that finding an exceptional or even useful pole for kids is more challenging than expected. However, our review provides the necessary details you need to choose the right pole for your kids and avoid some of the hiccups we encountered. So, don't get "caught" with a poor-quality fishing pole again! Instead, take advantage of our recommendations and experience fishing fun with your budding fisherman using a child-suitable pole that will last through the fishing season.

Wendy Schmitz