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Teaching Kids to Fish

There’s only one thing better than enjoying a relaxing day fishing – a relaxing day fishing with your niece, grandson, or that other special kid in your life. Watching a kid jump with joy as they wrangle in their first catch is priceless, but you need some patience and resources to get to that point.

If you’re going fishing with your daughter or nephew for the first time, there are some great tips that everyone wished they’d known before taking a kid fishing. Let’s learn some of the best methods and lessons for teaching kids to fish and some equipment recommendations that can make your life easier.

Teaching Kids to Fish

Teaching a kid to fish is an incredibly rewarding experience that can ignite a lifetime angler. Let’s learn how to make it easy as possible then look at 5 great products for teaching kids to fish.

3 Key Tips for Teaching Kids to Fish

Keep it Simple

You’re not going to be able to explain everything a kid needs to know about fishing in one day – or several days. You might want to discuss everything from tying knots to color selection, but a kid’s brain can only handle so much new information at a time, especially if they’re younger.

Keep lessons simple. Start with the bare basics like how to cast, how to reel the line in, and maybe a few lessons on where to find fish. The simpler the lessons, the more likely the kid will retain the information and be excited for another day on the water.

Keep it simple with equipment too. No kid wants to learn to fish on a baitcaster or spend their day untangling line so keep the rod and reel setup simple, the bait easy, and don’t try anything fancy like casting under docks. Aim for easy and eager panfish like bream and have a blast.

Patience is Key

We don’t need to tell this to anyone that has experience with kids but if you don’t hit the water with prepared patience you’re going to be in for a long day. Let’s be honest – fishing can be boring. You’re asking a lot of a kid to sit in a boat in the middle of a lake on a sunny day if you aren’t catching anything.

Remember if the kid isn’t 100% interested or committing to learn everything right then and there – so what? Your goal is not to create the next Bassmaster champion but to make a new fishing buddy who enjoys the fun parts of angling. If you see the kid’s attention shift from their line to a turtle on a log, talk about the turtle for a bit then return to your lesson. The goal is fun but sometimes fun takes some time.

Don’t Force Anything

Forcing a small angler to do something is an easy way to get them to never fish again. Little kids might be grossed out by live bait, de-hooking the fish, or might be petrified of the fish itself. That’s okay – they’re kids. Help bait the hook if the kid is grossed out by the worm or show them getting them how to get the hook out without touching the fish. Keep it exciting instead of gross and the kid is more likely to have fun than be scared.

5 Great Products for Teaching Kids to Fish

A Note About Age Levels: We’ve included age recommendations, but these are only recommendations. Older kids can use kid equipment if they’re having fun. We don’t recommend these products for anglers under 5 due to choking hazards.

Shakespeare Disney Fishing Kit ($12.99)

Appropriate Ages: 5-8

What kid doesn’t like Pixar? For teaching you the youngest kids to fish you need the simplest setup possible which the Shakespeare Cars Fishing Kit gives you. Not many bells and whistles here but that’s the idea. The rod and reel are surprisingly strong for mishaps and a reel guard keeps little thumbs from getting caught while reeling. This rod and reel are based on Cars but there are many Pixar options.

Zebco 33 Spincast Rod and Reel ($42.45)

Appropriate Ages: 5-12

If you surveyed ten random anglers at least half of them would tell you their first rod and reel was a Zebco. Zebco has been manufacturing reliable equipment since 1949 and make a great first time rod and reel combo with the classic 2-piece Zebco 33. This timeless push-button cast closed-face reel is easy to use and lightweight. The Anti-Reverse helps excited kids and it’s available in both spincast and micro spincast in multiple colors.

ODDSPRO Kids Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Kit ($29.99-$39.99)

Appropriate Ages: 5-12

The ODDSPRO Kid’s Fishing Pole and accompanying kit have everything you need to get your little angler started. The telescoping rod (available in 3 lengths) is built with a push-button cast closed face reel for easy casting and avoiding tangles. The kit comes with over a dozen items including plastic baits, hooks, tackle box, bobber, weights, and more. You can put everything in the carrying case so your fishing champion can feel proud carrying their own equipment to and from the water.

Sougayilang Rod and Reel Combo ($22.99 – $75.99)

Appropriate Ages: 9-15

If you have an older kid that wants to learn using an open-faced reel and setup the Sougayilang Rod and Reel Combo is the perfect start. The full kit starts with a telescoping rod (available in 3 sizes) and Sougayilang interchangeable open-faced reel. On top of the rod and reel you get jig heads, weights, barrel swivels, braided line, and a carrying case to put it all in.

Ugly Stik GX2 Rod and Reel Combo ($39.95 – $99.99)

Appropriate Ages: 11-99

Our most advanced ‘beginner’ rod and reel combo, the Ugly Stik can be purchased as a rod and reel only or with a travel kit for portability. The setup starts with top brand Shakespeare’s graphite / fiberglass GX2 Ugly Stik and is accompanied by a Shakespeare open-faced reel. The reel is constructed with a double-anodized aluminum spool and oversized bail wire for kids who don’t always firm control of their technique.

Bonus: The Three Little Bass and the Big Bad Gar ($9.99)

This charming, illustrated story tells the story of the three little pigs but with a fishy update. A fun and quick read to get little ones excited about learning more about freshwater fish.

Let Your Inner Kid Out

Nothing brings back the fun of your first day fishing by passing on that memory to another kid. Arm yourself with patience, kid-friendly fishing equipment, keep lessons light, and you’re sure to have a blast reeling in some lunkers.