Updated on April 24, 2022
The first fishing experience I remember was with a stick, string, bobby pin, and broken Senko that I scavenged from the river bank and my grandparent's garage. While I spent hours harassing bass and sunfish only to have my bait ripped off, I was hooked.
Most kids, however, probably won’t tolerate or be intrigued by that level of frustration. Fishing gear can get expensive and complicated, but a kid's first fishing pole doesn’t have to be. To give your kid an appealing introduction to fishing, here are the best fishing poles for kids.
The classic kids fishing poles that have superhero and cartoon character themes are great for getting a kid engaged with fishing. The short rod is easy to handle, and a simple push-button reel is ideal for learning to cast. While these fishing poles are fairly durable, you will likely have to replace them at some point.
The worst fishing experience I can remember was casting my swanky new Scooby-Doo fishing rod into the lake. I stood there on the corner of a wooden dock in my Scooby-Doo life jacket, sobbing as I watched it sink into the murky water. At six years old, I was quickly consoled with a less cool but sufficient spiderman rod that put me back in action.
These kids' poles are perfect for using nightcrawlers to catch sunfish and catfish, generally guaranteeing nonstop action. The poles sometimes come with a small variety pack of bait, which is useful as your kid becomes more experienced and starts casting. These rods cost anywhere from 10 to 30 dollars, making them worth every penny for an experience that your child will cherish for years.
Canes poles are another perfect option for an easy fishing introduction. While they lack the initial “cool factor” that comes from an animated character or having a reel, the simplicity of cane poles makes catching sunfish easy and minimizes the learning curve.
As a kid, I remember cane poles were always my parent's top choice when there was a group of kids fishing. This was likely done to avoid fixing four tangled rods and to keep the unhooking and baiting operation running smoothly. Another benefit of fishing with cane poles is that they are cheap and accommodate all skill levels. If some kids can cast and others are just learning to watch the bobber, all of them can fish with cane poles.
Cane poles cost five to 15 dollars each and are available almost anywhere fishing gear is sold. Cane poles are hard to beat as an effective entry-level setup that can be used to introduce any kid or group of kids to fishing.
Guided fishing trips can also be an incredible primer for kids and allow you to step back from hook and bait duty. Guides are accommodating and sometimes even offer special kid-friendly trips. If your kid just wants to reel in fish your guide will bait the hook, cast it out, and hand off the rod while you fish or just enjoy the experience. The best trips for new anglers are generally inshore, lake, and river fishing trips, which you can check out here.
Introducing a kid to fishing is a pivotal experience that can launch them into a lifelong passion for the outdoors. Getting them a fishing rod with their favorite character on it is great for getting them on board, but a cane pole will work as well. The key here is to have a pole that is simple to use, yet effective at catching fish. This will give them a fair shot at deciding if fishing is something that interests them.