The 5 Best Fishing Poles for Kids

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Reel Style: Push Button | Pole Type: Telescopic

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 ranked 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.

Reel Style: Push Button | Pole Type: Telescopic

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 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 useless for fishing. However, the most significant problem is that 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 rods 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

With a long-time fisherman’s help, our kid testers used each pole side-by-side and hands-on at multiple locations over several weeks. While fishing might appear to be a straightforward sport, we learned how much there is to learn and how having the right gear can be the difference between fishing fun and ultimate failure. We tested each pole for quality, ease of use, child-friendliness, and more. With more than 10 individual tests, including assembly, line paths, reel smoothness, handle length, and more to determine winners and rank.

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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.

Analysis and Test Results

We purchased and tested 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 vying for the opportunity to use the more straightforward, higher-quality poles.

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 to build your 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 pre-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, the kits in this review were low quality, in our opinion. 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, and all of them had something subpar included in the set. Issues like the misaligned eyelets we encountered during testing could become problematic if you catch an actual fish and put stress on the line reeling it in.

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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 lines, others couldn’t identify which end was which and definitely couldn’t figure out how to cast without losing the fishing line or snapping and tangling it. If you aren’t a fishing master, we recommend keeping this in mind when purchasing a pole.

The most straightforward fishing pole to use, hands down, is the Zebco Roam. This pole was super simple for inexperienced parents and newbie little anglers. 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.

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 excellent 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 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 difficulties with this pole. 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. After mastering the more intricate finger dexterity and mind-muscle control required for casting this reel style, they are easy to use, 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.

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Some 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 more complex things as they progress and develop better control. The push-button ruled the day with kids of all ages during our testing. The spinning reels were “cast” aside quickly and early.

Conclusion

After much discussion with experienced anglers and personal research, we chose several popular kids’ fishing poles for hands-on testing. Unfortunately, we were surprised that most of the kid-centric products were extremely poor quality, had unimpressive features, and were easy to break (one arrived broken). This stark reality means selecting a functional pole suitable for children was more challenging than we expected. Our review provides helpful details so you can find the best rod for your child and their experience or interest level. Plus, you can avoid some of the disappointments we experienced. So, don’t get “caught” with a sub-par fishing pole! Take advantage of our recommendations and experience fun fishing with your budding angler using a child-friendly pole that can last through the fishing season and potentially beyond.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>