Best Fishing Pole for Kids
The Zebco Roam has a 6ft 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 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 is potentially too long for younger users. It also didn't come with any accessories, but given that the accessories included with the competitors 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 contenders in this lineup, we can't say enough good things about this impressive rod and reel. We recommend this for anyone who wants to enjoy fishing without all the hassle.
The Ugly Stik Dock Runner is a shorter 3-foot 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, there is a higher level of hand/eye coordination and muscle memory necessary to effectively use this reel, 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 becoming a family favorite.
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 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.
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 of the competitors we tested. 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. 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 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 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 subpar, 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 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, 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 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 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.
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.
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.
Some of the poles in this review come pre-assembled, unlike many poles for adults that require adding the reel to the rod or spooling the line so you can build your own setup. 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.
Of those that required assembly, the Kalex Kit was easy and straightforward with little effort, which is impressive given that ours lacked a detailed manual. Perhaps the manufacturer assumes everyone knows the process or pole setup, but 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 recommend sticking to the Zebco products, which come already assembled, or the Plussino, which is almost ready to use after threading the line through the eyelets and adding accessories.
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.
Ease of Use
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 easiest fishing pole to use, hands down, is the Zebco Roam. From ignorant parents to newbie youngsters, this pole was straightforward and 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 style of reel and casting was easy enough for even our youngest tester to quickly master, getting him casting in no time. All you need to do is 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. We cannot overstate how simple and straightforward this pole is and how much our testers enjoyed it.
The Plusinno (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 fishers. 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.
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 tangled easily and repeatedly. 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.
We considered and selected several of the most popular and well-regarded kids' fishing poles for testing after much research and consult with avid fishermen. We were surprised that many of the highly kid-centric poles offered disappointing quality and less-than-impressive features and were easy to break (one arrived broken). This unfortunate reality means that finding an exceptional or even useful pole for kids is more challenging than we expected. We believe our review gives you the details required to choose the right pole for your kids and avoid some of the hiccups we encountered. We hope you can experience fishing fun with your budding fisherman using a child-suitable pole that will last through the fishing season. Don't get "caught" with a poor quality pole again!
— Wendy Schmitz