How to Choose the Right Fishing Rod for Kids


Updated on November 10, 2022 by
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You should consider the length, weight, user-friendliness, and durability when choosing a fishing rod for kids.

Like any other gear or tackle item in fishing, you must go through a process of elimination and determine just what qualities and standards you want your kids’ fishing pole to have. If your youngster has trouble using the pole and finds it difficult, or the pole malfunctions, it can make fishing much less enjoyable and possibly lead to the child not wanting to fish as there’s simply too much frustration involved. 

You must select a fishing pole that is very easy to use and feels just right in the hands of your child so that they are comfortable and having fun by being able to focus their attention on catching fish. If your child is a bit older, or they’ve been fishing for a few years already, you might want to select a rod that’s slightly longer and heavier, or go with a combo that is a bit more advanced than your average spincast model

Kids Fishing Pole 

In either case, there are a few specific qualities and characteristics that you’ll want to pay close attention to as you shop for the best kids fishing pole that is just right for their age, skill level, and size. 

In this article, we will refer to different aspects of a kids fishing pole, but essentially we are going to be discussing both the rod and reel together since most brands produce rods for kids in a combo model that features a readymade fishing reel with line already spooled on. The following guide should help you select the kids fishing pole that is ideal for your youngster this upcoming season. 

User Friendliness 

One of the most important aspects of any kids fishing pole is going to be the ease with which they are able to use the pole to catch fish. If it’s not the right fit or features a confusing layout with a reel that’s too advanced, your kid might feel overwhelmed and not enjoy the time they spend fishing as much as they would with a more simple rod and reel combo. 

If your kid is brand new to the sport of fishing, or at a very young age, you can usually bet that going with a spinning reel or especially a baitcasting model will be much too advanced for them initially. These reels are mostly geared toward anglers who have a few years of experience under their belt and beginners are not encouraged to go with these more advanced reel designs as it will only cause more headache than is needed. 

Your best option when it comes to choosing a kids fishing pole is to get one that offers a simple and straightforward spincast reel. This reel will be much easier for them to get the hang of as it features a push-button design that very easily allows them to understand the basics that are involved with casting your rod and reel with its line out into the water. 

The fewer moving parts and adjustments that need to be made on the reel, the better as it relates to a fishing pole specifically-made for kids. Spincast reels will help prevent tangles much better than spinning and especially baitcasting reels would. If your kid has a poor quality rod and reel that often results in their line being tangled up when they try to cast, you can bet that they won’t have much fun and will view fishing as more of a frustrating chore than an adventurous pastime that they enjoy with you. 

Spincast rods also usually offer a trigger finger grip that helps your young angler get a better hold of the rod and maintain more control over it as they are casting, reeling in, or fighting a fish and trying to land it. When it comes to selecting the best kids fishing pole, be sure to pick one that’s very simple to use or one that will fit their skill set if they are a bit more advanced. 

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Length 

Another aspect that you should pay close attention to is the overall length of the fishing pole. This one might seem like it should be obvious as you don’t want to give a small child a 7-foot fishing rod that they can’t handle and will end up breaking or getting snagged when they try to cast. If your kid is very young, it’s best to select a youth model rod that is very short. This will ensure that there is a much less chance of them hooking themselves or anyone around them and they will be able to learn and understand how to use the rod’s leverage to both cast their lure out and reel their fish into the boat or onto the bank. 

Some kids fishing poles are significantly shorter than you might want for a child that’s age 10 or above. If the rod is too short, your child might experience frustration in casting their lure out. They’ll also feel like they’re ill-equipped if your kid is watching you or their older sibling fish with a longer rod. You certainly don’t ever want them to feel left-out or like they cannot move up and learn to use bigger and more advanced tackle items. 

Here is my recommendations for the ideal fishing rod length for the average kid by age:

Child’s AgeRecommended Fishing Rod Length
3 Years Old3 feet
5 Years Old3-4 feet
8 Years Old3-5 feet
10 Years Old4-5 feet
12 Years Old5-6 feet
15 Years Old6-8 feet
Table of recommendation fishing rod lengths by child’s age

Weight 

Our next point of focus when it comes to selecting the best kids fishing pole is very closely tied in with the length and size of the rod and reel combo. The rod’s weight, especially the rod and reel combined, is going to be extremely important for making sure your kid is comfortable when handling the rod and that it’s not going to be too cumbersome for them to use, especially on an all-day fishing trip. 

Most fishing poles and combos that are specially designed for kids are often made of a more lightweight material than other rods are. This is because kids don’t usually have the strength and hand-eye coordination needed to adequately cast or retrieve a full sized rod. The weight of the rod and reel combo should feel comparably light related to the feel that an adult has with a full-size rod and reel. 

If the rod and reel is too big and heavy, you can expect your kid to have significant amounts of trouble when trying to cast the rod and reel. A good way to understand the relation of the weight and size of the rod and reel combo and how it affects your ability to handle the rod is to imagine yourself, as an adult, using a long, heavy surf fishing rod with a lure that you’ll be continually casting out and reeling in. If a child quickly becomes fatigued and has trouble handling their pole, they certainly won’t have much fun while fishing and will quickly lose interest. 

Child’s AgeRecommended Fishing Rod Weight
3 Years Old0.4 pounds
5 Years Old0.5 pounds
8 Years Old0.6 pounds
10 Years Old0.7 pounds
12 Years Old0.8 pounds
15 Years Old1 pound
Table of recommendation fishing rod weights by child’s age

Age of the Kid 

Not every type of kid’s model fishing rod is meant to be used by youngsters of any age. If you’re relatively familiar with kids fishing poles and the many different sizes and lengths of rods in the industry, you are aware that you need to get a rod that is the right fit and feel for your child’s specific age. 

If the kid is very young and just starting out, you can usually go with a small spincast rod and reel that’s obviously made for kids under the age of about 6 years old. These rods and reels are usually no more than about 30 inches and will usually feature a popular kid’s cartoon character, which is a little added bonus that might help your youngster take interest in fishing better than they would if you bought them a plain fishing rod and reel. 

Kids who are about 8 to 10 years old and just getting started in fishing will need a rod and reel combo that’s a bit bigger and more capable of fitting the length and weight they need. It’s still advisable to go with a spincast reel for any child that’s just getting started, but kids who have spent a few years fishing and are very proficient with a spincast rod and reel combo might be ready to graduate up to a spinning reel. The spinning reel is one that will allow them to cast the line out much farther than they could with a simple spincast model. 

Once a child reaches about 12 or 13 years old, they are usually big enough to handle most full-size fishing rods that are of medium length. If your kid has been fishing for a number of years when they reach this age, they might be ready to step up and start fishing with a baitcasting reel. 

Portability 

You should look for a fishing rod for your child that is fairly easy to transport as well. It is important to easily pack the rod and reel along with your other gear or even for your kid to carry it to the lake with them. You should usually look for a rod that’s a two-piece construction as this will allow you to break it down and store it in a vehicle or other compartment much more easily. 

Sometimes a telescopic rod is the most portable type of fishing rod as it can easily be folded down into just several inches of length. The only downside to using a telescopic rod is that it can be much more difficult for a young child to handle. 

Durability 

Another important characteristic you’ll want to have in your kid’s next fishing pole is solid durability. If you’re a parent or grandparent, you’re already aware that children have a unique ability to tear up and break things, especially fragile items that should be used with more caution. If you decide to purchase a kid’s fishing pole that is relatively cheap and made of a more lightweight and nimble material, don’t be surprised if the rod breaks or the reel happens to malfunction. 

Just like anything else in the fishing industry, you’ll usually get what you pay for, or in other words, the more expensive a kids fishing pole is typically more reliable than cheaper models. The best kids fishing poles should have a decent level of durability. This also helps the child retrieve their lure and reel in their catch without fear that the rod will snap or the reel might break loose. 

Most of the more popular kids fishing poles will be made with a fiberglass or graphite rod blank. These are often much more reliable than any sort of composite material as fishing rods have been manufactured using fiberglass or graphite, or even a combination of the two, for many decades now. If you purchase a highly-durable fishing rod for your kid, you can usually rest assured that they will get many years of use out of it and will be able to confidently land almost any type of fish they happen to catch. 


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.