Top 5 Best Kids Fishing Pole Reviews (2021 Buyer’s Guide)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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When it comes to getting kids into fishing, making sure they have a rod they can handle is the best way to keep them interested.

Any kind of frustration with the gear, and you’re already in a losing battle.

Here are our favorites from the kids fishing pole reviews…

It’s got to be fun, easy, and hopefully, they’ll be hooked for life when they are catching fish.

Finding the best kids fishing pole isn’t so easy though and there are a lot of things to consider.

The Top Three…

Here are our top three choices from the lineup, each one in its own category.

This is so you can have a variety to choose from depending on your needs.

Top Pick

Zebco Dock Demon Combo

Casts really nicely, comes in one piece for easy setup, and is almost unbreakable. It’s the ideal kids fishing pole for both salt and freshwater, plus it can also handle some large fish.

Zebco Dock Demon Combo

The best kids fishing rod is the Zebco Dock Demon Combo.

Incredibly affordable, unbreakable, and a joy to fish with, it’s hard to go wrong.

It’s the ideal size for any child and adults have a lot of fun with it as well.

Adding one of these to your fishing store is only a good thing. 

Best Value

Ugly Stik Dock Runner

The Dock Runner fishing rod and reel is easy to use and is a lot of fun for kids. This fishing pole for kids is only 3’6 feet long and is ideal for any child as a starting rod.

Ugly Stik Dock Runner

The best fishing pole for kids on a budget is the Dock Runner from the Ugly Stick series.

It’s tough as nails, easy to cast with, a lot of fun.

It’s also exceptionally strong and thus will last no matter how mean it is treated.

You’re getting Shakespeare Ugly Stik for life that’s perfect for any aged fisherman for an incredible price.

Editor’s Choice

Shakespeare Youth Ugly Stik GX2 Combo

An ideal choice for a little pro angler to upgrade to or a teenager to start out fishing with.

Shakespeare Youth Ugly Stik GX2 Combo

If it was me, I’d pick the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2, as it is the closest thing to an adult set-up and it’s best to learn as you mean to go on in my experience.

The GX2 is light, durable, affordable and it’ll teach your kids how to do it properly from day one.

Our Best Fishing Poles For Kids

Here are all the top fishing poles for kids we reviewed…

Best Value

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Dock Runner Spinning Combo

The Ugly Stick Dock Runner rod and reel combo is easy to use and is a lot of fun for kids. The rod is only 3’6 feet long and is ideal for any child as a starting rod.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Dock Runner Spinning Combo

Shakespeare is one of the most trusted rod makers around, and their Ugly Stiks are one of the most renowned fishing rods on the market.

The Ugly Stix comes in every shape and size, and this model is probably one of the best kids fishing pole around.

Beginner Friendly

The rod and reel combo is easy to use and is a lot of fun for kids.

The rod is only 3’6 feet long and is ideal for any child as a starting rod.

Even adults use it to try to catch large fish on a light rod while fishing because it’s so much fun. 

Build

The rod is made from a combination of fiberglass and graphite, making it almost unbreakable.

You can pretty much bend it in two without it breaking, so your kids’ chances of fishing pole breaking are slim, no matter what they do with it.

It’s lovely to cast with and it can handle some large fish too. 

Reel and Line

Unfortunately, the reel attached and fishing line that come with it aren’t of the same quality as the pole.

The fishing line will need replacing immediately; otherwise, you’ll end up in an instant tangle and with a frustrated child who was just looking forward to trying out their new pole.

You may also need to replace it, but give it a shot before you buy one.

It will typically last long enough to know if your kid is into fishing or not, and if they are, it’s time to grab a better reel so they can keep enjoying and not get frustrated with the sport. 

Overall this combo gives you an excellent rod for a very inexpensive price.

Specs

  • Model: UGLYDR36PDQ
  • Length: 3’6 feet
  • Reel Included: Yes – Spinning
  • Line: 6lb pre-spooled

Pros

  • The ideal length for young kids
  • Excellent lightweight and easy for kids to use
  • Strong enough to handle some larger species
  • Rod comes with a 7-year warranty
  • Durable and almost impossible to break
  • Amazing price for the quality of the pole
  • Eva Foam Handle Grips for comfort
  • One-piece so no set-up required

Cons

  • Arrives without a handle quite often
  • Line it comes with is not the best and will need replacing
  • The reel isn’t the best quality
  • Needs greasing when it arrives

Top Pick

Zebco Dock Demon Rod Reel Combo

Casts really nicely, comes in one piece for easy setup, and is almost unbreakable. It’s the ideal kids fishing rod for both salt and freshwater, plus it can also handle some large fish.

Zebco Dock Demon Rod Reel Combo

The Zebco Dock Demon rod and reel combo is one of the best combos around. 

You get a decent stick with a more than adequate reel, something that is pretty hard to find. 

Build

The Dock Demon is just 30 inches long, the perfect length for any child starting out or adult who wants a challenge.

Pieces

It casts really nicely, comes in one piece for easy setup, and is almost unbreakable. Your child will not be able to break this thing unless they slam it in a car door.

It’s the ideal kids fishing pole for both salt and freshwater, plus it can also handle some large fish.

Available Options

The fishing pole for kids comes with a choice of either a spincast reel or a spinning reel. Both are great for a beginner and I would recommend the spinning variant as it is the next step in terms of learning, and you may as well start there. 

Line

The spinning reel is ok and gets the job done but it will need upgrading eventually.

The fishing line that comes with it should be replaced before you use it; otherwise it’ll be tangles and frustrations.

Specs

  • Model: Dock Demon
  • Length: 30 inch
  • Reel Included: Yes, Spinacast or Spinning
  • Line: 6lb pre-spooled

Pros

  • Very durable and is hard to break
  • Great strength and can handle big fish
  • Can be mistreated without breaking
  • Easy rod to cast with
  • Ideal length for any aged child
  • Comes in 1-piece so no setup required

Cons

  • The included line will need replacing on arrival
  • The reel will need replacing eventually

Zebco 33 Spincast Combo

An ideal choice for an older child of around 8 or young kids who have the skills and needs an upgrade in length.

Zebco 33 Spincast Combo

The Zebco 33 Spincast reel and rod combo is an ideal choice for an older child of around 8 or young anglers who have the skills and needs an upgrade in length.

Build

The Zebco 33 kids fishing rods are 6ft long, made from fiberglass, and will bend almost in half. This makes them very durable and hard to break, ideal for a beginner.

It casts extremely well, so nicely that adults are taking them to see how big a fish they can catch on a little fishing pole.

Pieces

It comes in 2 pieces which will need assembling on arrival (just make sure the eyes/guides line up straight).

This is a valuable lesson for kids to learn, especially if they have always had a 1-piece. 

Reel

The combo includes a trigger-spin or spincast reel.

Both are simple to use and best for complete beginners before upgrading to spinning.

The quality is decent, but you will most likely need to upgrade before long. If you plan to have a spare reel just in case you wish to upgrade your gear, here’s a link to our review of the best trigger-spin reels.

Line

They come with line on them, again its best to take it off and add new line before its used to avoid any tangles and grumpiness. 

Overall, a great combo for an older child or a youngster who has some experience and is looking for the next level.

Specs

  • Model: ZB33
  • Length: 6 ft
  • Reel Included: Yes, spincast reel
  • Line: 10 lb prespooled
  • Action: Medium

Pros

  • Ideal size for older and taller kids, plus experienced little ones too
  • Fantastic price for the quality
  • A great quality rod that will last a while
  • Casts nicely and is fun to use

Cons

  • Rod comes with poor quality line and will tangle, that is best replaced
  • Check everything on arrival as it can be shipped damaged or without everything you need

PLUSINNO Rod Reel Combos For Kids

The combo gives you everything you need, including lures and a tackle box.

PLUSINNO Rod Reel Combos For Kids

Plusinno are all about making quality fishing gear that everyone can afford, and they have done their best with this kids combo.

Inclusions

The combo gives you everything you need, including crankbaits, float bobbers, jig heads, soft lures, swivels, sinkers and a tackle box.

I find kids love this, I spent a lot of time organizing my tackle box as a child. 

Size

The rod that comes with the combo is a telescopic fishing pole and 59 inches long.

It’s a solid length for any child under 11 and being a telescopic fishing pole makes it very portable.

Setup

Kids may struggle with the setup of the telescopic rod initially, so be a little patient and help them work it out. Make sure the sections are tight or they could collapse while fishing.

The telescopic rod is fun to cast with and can handle small fish species.

Reel & Line

The telescopic fishing rod combo includes one spinning reel; this will be usable at first but will need replacing.

Again, remove the included line and put fresh quality line on to avoid any upsets. 

Overall a good kids telescopic pole combo that just needs some tweaks.

Specs

  • Model: Kid Combo
  • Length: 59” telescopic rod
  • Reel Included: Yes, spinning
  • Line: 6lb prespooled
  • Tackle Included: Yes, a variety with a tackle box

Pros

  • Great size for young anglers under 11
  • One easy combo and you get almost everything you need in it
  • Kids enjoy having one tackle box with everything in it
  • Comes with a portable case

Cons

  • The reel included is not the best and will need replacing
  • The telescopic rod design can be a bit challenging for beginners
  • The line included isn’t great and you’ll need to change it

Editor’s Choice

Shakespeare Youth Ugly Stik GX2 Rod and Reel Combo

An ideal choice for a little pro angler to upgrade to or a teenager to start out fishing with.

Shakespeare Youth Ugly Stik GX2 Rod and Reel Combo

The GX2 Ugly Stick is the upgraded version of the Runner at the top.

It’s one of the best fishing rods in the review and is an ideal choice for a little pro angler to upgrade to or a teenager to start out fishing with. 

Build

Like all Ugly Stiks, the GX2 is almost unbreakable thanks to the combination of fiberglass and graphite used in the blank.

It’ll bend in half and handle some big fish and be sensitive enough for smaller ones.

The GX2 is light in the hand, durable, and the best thing is that it’s a pleasure to go fishing with.

Reel

The reel included is aluminum and pretty awesome for a combo. It’ll last a while and has all the features needed for a beginner to progress from.

Specs

  • Model: USYTHSP30CBO
  • Length: 5’6”
  • Reel Included: Yes, spinnin
  • Yards/ Line: 145/6
  • Power: Medium

Pros

  • Clear tip with the rod for added sensitivity
  • Nice length for any child over 7 years old
  • An extremely durable rod for the price
  • A light fishing pole for kids that is easy to use
  • One nicely balanced combo, easy to cast with

Cons

  • Reel may need replacing in future

What Is A Kids Fishing Pole? 

Fishing poles for kids are the same as a standard fishing rod, just shorter and lighter than usual, making the fishing pole easy to use and simple for them to handle.

Some fishing poles for kids also come as a rod and reel combo, along with some lures in a tackle box to get them started. You can upgrade them to a proper beginner’s fishing pole if they decide they want to get into the hobby more.

The reels are often a bit simpler to help kids avoid tangles too. 

What’s The Difference Between A Rod And A Pole? 

To be quite frank, nothing. A fishing rod is a fishing pole and a fishing pole is a rod.

People just use the different terms as they like, but they usually mean the same thing. 

In some UK pole fishing, you don’t use a reel and the line is tied to the end of the fishing pole.

Instead, you have to break the fishing pole down in sections as you fight the fish to land it.

But let’s not confuse ourselves with that.

It is best you think of poles and rods as the same thing because 90% of the time, they are. 

The Differences Between Kids, Youth, and Adult Fishing Poles 

To start off with, let’s discuss what’s similar.

All of them are normal rods with guides and have a reel seat at the bottom.

What will differ is the length and weight of the fishing rod.

The younger the fisherman, the shorter the fishing pole will be.

Child Fishing at a Lake

Fishing Pole Length

Kids

A kids fishing pole is likely to be around 3-5 feet long, very light, and simple to use.

Youth

A youth fishing rod is going to be a little longer rod because they are a little taller and stronger than kids.

They are usually around 5-8 feet in length, a little heavier, and start to be quite similar to an adult rod.

Adult

Adult fishing poles can be anything from 5-12 ft long, depending on the type of fishing being done, and the longer the rod the heavier it will be.

So the only differences between kids, youth, and adult fishing rods are their length and weight. The rule is; the shorter the fisherman, the lighter and shorter the fishing pole should be.

This rule ensures that the fisherman can handle their rod properly. Imagine a 4-foot child trying to cast 12-foot poles , it’s a recipe for disaster, better to have a 5-foot rod and enjoy it. 

Are Kids Fishing Poles Safe To Use?

Yes, they are absolutely safe, the only real danger is a kid hooking themselves.

This can happen for several reasons, and we’ve all been there.

Hooks have been in my ears, hands, and once even in a stranger’s sweatshirt which was very embarrassing for my dad who was fishing next to me. 

Part of the Learning Process

Hooking yourself is just part of learning to fish, and it doesn’t take long for you to stop doing it because it does hurt.

The times when this is most likely to happen is when a kid is casting, landing a fish, or pulling their hooks out of a snag.

Proper Guidance

But, under proper supervision, this can all be avoided. 

It tends to happen more once a kid or youth is more confident and starts to fish on their own.

I would recommend de-barbing the hooks, that way if they do end up in the wrong place, they’ll be easy to take out. 

Can A Fish Pull A Child Into The Water? 

Yes, a child can get pulled into the water by a fish, but a lot has to go wrong for this to happen.

When a child hooks a fish and the fish runs, the line will come off the reel, therefore, ensuring the child stays on land. 

If the line was to tangle around the child’s hand, and the fish was considerably stronger than them, they could be pulled in the water.

Child Fishing on a Boat
Child Fishing on a Boat

Unlikely Scenario

But, chances are the line will be very light and snap before this happens. 

Another scenario is that if the line tangles around the fish rod when the fish pulls and the child chooses not to let go, they could get pulled in.

But again, the light line should break before this happens. 

The chances of a child being pulled in are minimal, and I have never in my 20 plus years of experience seen a child get pulled in by a fish. 

A Buyer’s Guide For Kids Fishing Poles

What Kind Of Fish Should Kids Target? 

The best species of fish for kids to target are small ones they are likely to catch.

This way, they will get a feel for fishing and the joy of the success that goes with it.

The best fish to go after are crappies, bluegills, trout, and bass.

If you’re sea fishing, fish off a pier or go bottom fishing from a boat to target snappers and other small species. 

What Environments Should Kids Fish In?

The environment should be kind and gentle, not a raging river, rough seas, or giant surf.

The last thing you want is for a young angler to be scared of his environment.

RECOMMENDATION

Target freshwater fish that live in slow-flowing rivers or lakes, and if you’re sea fishing, go into some inshore lagoons, off a pier, or go bottom fishing from a boat on a calm day. 

How Old Is Your Child? How Big Are They? 

The size of your child will dictate what size fishing pole they can handle.

The taller a kid is, the longer the fishing pole they can confidently use.

And as they grow taller, they should progress to larger rods, allowing them to improve their skill level.

Young Man Fishing at a Lake
Young Man Fishing at a Lake

Age

As a general rule, kids between the ages of 3-7 years old should start with a fishing rod around 3 feet long.

Between 7-13 years of age, you can hop up the ladder a bit to a 5-6 feet fishing pole.

From 13 onwards, it’s time to use an adult rod ranging between 8-10 feet long depending on the kind of fishing they are doing.

NOTE

Naturally, these rules aren’t set in stone and if your kid gets the hang of fishing quickly or is particularly tall, you can progress them up the ladder a bit faster than usual. 

Does Your Child Have Any Fishing Experience? 

I started fishing when I was 3 and if you had tried to hand me a 3ft kids fishing pole when I was 5, I would have been quite insulted.

The key to ensuring your child loves to fish is by showing them good fishing and ensuring their fishing gear matches their skill level. 

Match Their Level

You need to keep them interested and one can do this by ensuring their tackle is upgraded now and then, that they use their tackle often and that they are successful when fishing.

The best kids fishing poles are the ones they get satisfaction from using, can cast well with, and catch fish with. 

NOTE

Make sure to watch your kid’s skill level and as they progress, ensure they are challenged. A new rod, a new species, a new environment are all things that will keep their appetite flowing. 

What To Look For In The Best Kids Fishing Poles 

Rod Reel Combos

You’ll quite often find a rod reel combo when searching for a kids rod.

A rod reel combo is a great place to start for any beginner as you get a rod with a reel that is quite often pre spooled with line.

Great for Beginners

This makes starting out really easy, and all they have to learn is how to set-up the pole, thread the line through the eyes and tie on a lure before they start fishing.

In fact, quite often the rod reel combo will come with lures and a tackle box too. 

The reel that usually comes in a combo will usually be a spinning reel or a push-button spincast reel, both of which are very easy to use. 

Things To Watch Out For In Combos 

In essence, a combo is a great idea…

I mean, what beginner wouldn’t want to get everything they need with one purchase, it makes life easy. But, not all parts of a combo are created equal.

Person Holding on a Casting Rod
Person Holding on a Casting Rod

Mismatch

Quite often you get a great fishing pole and a terrible reel.

So don’t be surprised if you have to upgrade your reel. In fact in some cases, it’s better to just buy a separate reel with it. 

Weak Lines

Also, be wary of reels that come pre-filled with line.

The line is usually terrible quality and will have sat on the reels for a long time. As soon as your kid goes to use it, it’ll start coiling around itself and the reels body, causing tangles and frustration.

Not the ideal start for any child using their new fishing pole.

RECOMMENDATION

Make sure to take any pre-filled line off and add some new, quality line. I would recommend braid or mono with low memory. 

Cost

Luckily most kids or youth fishing rods aren’t costly and you should expect to spend between $15 and $50 on a fishing pole or rod reel combo with lures.

This is ideal as kids can lose interest quite quickly or break their tackle by mistake.

So, whatever happens, you haven’t broken the bank on a nonstarter, and replacing any tackle won’t be expensive either. 

Length

We have already discussed what length a kids fishing pole should be depending on their age, size, and skill level.

  • For young, small beginners, start with a short fishing pole (3 feet).
  • Taller, older, or more experienced kids can hit the middle ground (5-7 feet).
  • And any child becoming a teenager should be using a light adult fishing pole and progress from there (8 feet plus).

Durability 

The materials for the best fishing pole for kids are carbon fiber, graphite, and fiberglass.

Carbon fiber is a little too expensive for a kids fishing pole so graphite and fiberglass are the main players.

Both fiberglass and graphite are great materials and will last a long time if treated well. Fiberglass is a little bit bendier and heavier than graphite, which is light and stiff. 

Prioritize Fishing Rod Length

I wouldn’t focus too much on the materials to start with and would advise you to choose the best fishing pole for your child based on length.

Once they progress, then it’s definitely time to ensure they have a graphite rod over fiberglass, and it will perform a lot better.

Reeling Up

These are all good fishing poles for kids. Just follow my tips before purchasing a kids fishing pole then you won’t run into a problem and remember to keep the fishing fun for the kids.

If you haven’t made a decision yet, here’s a quick look at our top three poles to help you with your decision.

Top Pick

If you’re after an all-rounder that is fun for the whole family then the Zebco Dock Demon is the one for you.

Light, fun, good for casting, simple to use, and durable as hell, it’ll endure whatever your kids put it through and come back for more. 

Best Value

If you’re looking for a value kid fishing pole, then the Dock Runner rod is a good place to start for a youth fishing pole.

You get a stik that’s pretty much unbreakable for a fantastic price, that can be used by any child no matter their age or height. The Runner is a lot of fun to fish with and will teach a beginner the core basics of fishing.

Editor’s Choice

I enjoy throwing everything into the deep end and would pick the Ugly Stick GX2.

Also unbreakable like the Dock Runner, it’s as close to an adult set-up as you can get, so the learning curve might be steep at the beginning, but it’s all clear from there.

It’s the right size for any child to use, but some extra time and instruction will be needed at the start.

There is no bad purchase among the best fishing poles included in the review. Choose the best kids fishing pole according to your needs. Also you might also need the best fishing rod, you wouldn’t want a bad fishing rod that would ruin your fishing trip with the kids, right?

I hope you enjoyed reading my article and learned a thing or two. You can also read my article about the best kids fly rod if you’re taking your kid on a fly fishing trip.

Don’t forget to share this with other adult anglers who want to take their kids on their next fishing trip and feel free to check out my other reviews and guides about fishing.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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