Best Fishing Rods for Kids: Excellent Options Reviewed

If there’s a little angler in your family, you’re probably counting the days until they catch their first fish. But if you’ve searched the shelves for a kids’ rod that’s more than a cheap toy, you’ve probably come away frustrated.

And if you did pull the trigger on one of these toys, you know all too well the hassle that keeping them fishing entails. Tangles, drags that never tighten, broken gears: you know the drill!

Want to get your little angler caching? We’d like to help!

We’ve done our homework to bring you kid-friendly rods that perform pretty much like the ones you use.

Best Fishing Rods for Kids

Best Fishing For Kids: Reviews

Oddspro Kids Combo

ODDSPRO Kids Fishing Pole, Portable Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Kit - with Spincast Fishing Reel Tackle Box for Boys, Girls, Youth
Available at: Amazon 

Specifications

Length: 3.94’ or 4.92’
Weight: 1.23 or 1.34 lbs.
Material: N/A
Power/action: N/A
Guides: 3 or 4
Line weight: N/A

Pros

  • Sized right for small kids
  • Telescoping, so it’s easy to store
  • Comes with a reel already spooled with line
  • Comes with a storage bag
  • Comes with a plastic storage box and tackle

Cons

  • Almost toy-grade

Summary

Oddspro’s child-friendly rod is a great way to introduce very young anglers to the sport. Sized right, and available in two short lengths, this telescoping rod features three or four eyes, depending on the length you choose.

It also features a camouflage pattern, split EVA-foam grip, providing plenty of non-slip space for small hands.

The rod comes paired with a spincasting reel already spooled with line, and as a bonus, a small tackle box and carrying bag. Kids will be excited to find, among other things, a crankbait, a bobber, a slip float, a number of jig heads and hooks, and a small selection of soft plastic grubs.

To be fair, this is a gap-filler between the toy Disney rods and the other options on our list, but it’s an ideal place to start for small kids who want a piece of the action. And parents who may not be anglers themselves will appreciate that it comes with enough tackle to get a child started, as well as a telescoping design that makes it easy to store.

For older children, I’d recommend giving this combo as pass.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Dock Runner Spinning Combo

Shakespeare UGLYDR36PDQ Ugly Stik Dock Runner Spinning Combo
Available at: Amazon  | FishUSA

Specifications

Length: 3’ (one piece)
Weight: N/A
Material: Fiberglass
Power/action: Medium/fast
Guides: 4
Line weight: 4-8 lbs.

Pros

  • Sized right for small kids
  • This is a real rod that’s truly capable of catching fish
  • Comes with a reel already spooled with line
  • Strong, durable Ugly Stik blank
  • Nice, adult-grade handle

Cons

  • Reel quality–as you’d expect at this price-point–is just acceptable

Summary

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stick Dock Runner is a real rod–not a toy. For young anglers who are serious about fishing, and for parents who are serious as well, this is a great choice.

The heart of this rod is a short fiberglass blank. Composed of Ugly Stik’s fiberglass, it’s tough as nails–as you’d expect. For kids, that’s a big plus, as banging this rod around isn’t going to do much to it.

Four stainless steel guides distribute the pressure of a fish across the blank, and it’s plenty sensitive at the tip to detect tiny nibbles.

Perfect for short, precision casts, it’s a great tool to teach the basics of fishing, too, and it’s more than capable of landing everything from panfish to bass.

It features a short cork/EVA-combination handle with plenty of space for small hands.

And it comes equipped with a decent spinning reel that’s pre-spooled with line! Don’t expect much from this reel, though, and if your little anger sticks with fishing, we recommend upgrading to a nice ultralight reel.

Overall, it’s best to think of this little rod as a real piece of tackle, just sized down for kids.

Ugly Stik Spinning Combo

Ugly Stik Spinning Combo
Available at: Amazon  | FishUSA

Specifications

Length: 5’ (two pieces)
Weight: N/A
Material: Fiberglass
Power/action: Light/fast
Guides: 4
Line weight: 2-6 lbs.

Pros

  • Sized right for kids
  • This is a real rod that’s truly capable of catching fish
  • Comes with a reel already spooled with line
  • Strong, durable Ugly Stik blank
  • Nice, adult-grade handle

Cons

  • Reel quality–as you’d expect at this price-point–is just acceptable

Summary

Ugly Stick’s Spinning Combo is a great alternative to their Dock Runner if you’re looking for a longer, lighter action rod for panfish. That extra length will translate into longer casts, and if you’ve got a kid who’s really into fishing but not quite big enough for adult tackle, this combo is an awesome choice.

Like the excellent Dock Runner, expect Ugly Stik’s legendary toughness. A whack or two on a pier or rail will do nothing to this rod. Moreover, the light, fast blank will make catching every bluegill, perch, or sunfish feel like Moby Dick!

Casting is pretty good for such a short rod, and it’s a fantastic option for teaching fishing fundamentals.

Equipped with a nice EVA-foam handle, it’s essentially an adult rod cut down to kid proportions.

It comes with a spinning reel that’s pre-spooled with line, a small plastic storage box with assorted jigs and jig heads, and two bobbers. Like the other Ugly Stik combo, don’t expect miracles from the reel.

This combo is another excellent piece of real tackle, and any young angler will be excited to take this rod and reel fishing.

Zebco Dock Demon Spincast Combo

Zebco Dock Demon Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo
Available at: Amazon 

Specifications

Length: 2’ 6” (one piece)
Weight: N/A
Material: Fiberglass
Power/action: Medium
Guides: 3
Line weight: 2-6 lbs.

Pros

  • Sized right for kids
  • This is a real rod that’s truly capable of catching fish
  • Comes with a reel already spooled with line
  • Strong, durable blank
  • Nice handle

Cons

  • Reel quality–as you’d expect at this price-point–is just acceptable

Summary

Zebco’s Dock Demon is essentially their answer to the Ugly Stik Dock Runner. And much like its competition, you can expect a real rod that your young angler can actually catch fish with.

A tad shorter than the Dock Runner, the Dock Demon sports a 2-foot, 6-inch fiberglass blank, and three guides. It should be plenty tough, but I’d give the nod to the Ugly Stik here, as they’re simply legendary for durability.

Designed to handle lines between 2 and 6 pounds, everything from crappie to bass will leave in fear of your young angler!

A comfortable EVA handle provides plenty of grip for small hands.

If casting with a spinning reel is perhaps a bit too advanced for your child, the Dock Demon is ideal. Equipped with a pre-spooled spincasting reel, it’s very easy to use, making it an excellent first rod.

Like all inexpensive combos, though, don’t demand too much from the included reel.

Zebco Z-Cast

Zebco ZCASTS502UL Z-Cast 5-Foot Casting Rod, Ultra-Light Action, Black and Red Finish
Available at: Amazon 

Specifications

Length: 5’ (two pieces)
Weight: N/A
Material: Fiberglass
Power/action: Ultralight/fast
Guides: 5
Line weight: 2-6 lbs.

Pros

  • Sized right for kids
  • This is a real rod that’s truly capable of catching fish
  • Strong, durable blank
  • Nice, adult-grade handle

Cons

  • You’ll need to supply a reel

Summary

Zebco’s Z-Cast ultralight is designed to accommodate a spinning reel. Though inexpensive, this is an adult rod that’s the right size for older kids and a capable alternative to the Ugly Stik spinning combo (albeit without the included reel).

The Z-Cast offers a 5-foot fiberglass blank that’s ideal for catching panfish like crappie, perch, and sunfish, and with line on the heavier end of it’s recommended range, it’ll be more than capable on small bass, too. Given the power and action of this blank, you can expect the Z-Cast to lead to memorable moments your child will describe to all their friends!

Four guides plus the tip distribute the force of a fight across the blank. The tip is plenty sensitive enough to feel light strikes, while the rod closer to the handle still provides sufficient backbone to muscle a fat crappie.

It casts pretty well for its length, too, making it a good choice to teach young anglers the basic skills they need.

A nice EVA-foam handle provides all-day comfort, too, making this an excellent choice for more advanced kids.

What We Consider When Selecting a Fishing Rod for Kids

Size, Age, and Skill

You take your children fishing so they can have fun, and when they do, they’re more likely to fall in love with the sport than when they’re frustrated by a broken fishing toy or an adult rod they just can’t handle.

Most young children lack the coordination needed to cast with spinning tackle, making a spincasting rod and reel a great choice. Armed with a rod that’s not much taller than they are, or perhaps one that’s not quite as tall, you can teach them the fundamentals of casting, hook-setting, and fighting without frustration.

For them, something like the Zebco Dock Demon is ideal. It’s short enough for most kids to handle–only a bit longer than many toy rods–but still absolutely capable of detecting strikes, setting the hook, and fighting a crappie or sunfish to the bank.

But older kids may want to graduate to spinning tackle and longer rods that offer longer casts. And for more capable young anglers, something like the Ugly Stik Spinning Combo is pretty much ideal.

Long enough to allow real casting, it’s still short and light enough for small hands and arms. And upgraded with a good ultralight reel, it’s a rod I wouldn’t hesitate to fish myself–and you might just find yourself giving it a try, too!

The idea is to match your angler’s age, size, and skill to the rod and reel to keep things fun.

Quality

If Spiderman or a princess from Frozen is the only thing that’ll get a rod in your kid’s hand, well, go ahead!

But keep in mind that most of the children’s rods you’ll find are just toys. The reels will rarely cast, and it’ll take some luck to hook–let alone catch–a fish with the rod.

Instead, we’ve focused on rods that really can fish, and even the Oddspro Kids Combo–by far the least capable rod on our list– can catch fish.

The more serious your young angler, the stronger our recommendation to start them off with a capable combo.

Final Thoughts

Sharing the excitement of angling with a kid is nothing short of magical. To get the most from these shared memories, a good rod is essential.

We hope that our reviews have helped you make the right choice for your young angler, and we’d love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment below.

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