Start kids with a decent rod and reel as soon as they are old enough to cast. The inexpensive blister packed, cartoon character outfits will only frustrate you and the child. Spend a little more and get a reel that will cast smooth and far without tangling.
Spincast Reel Recommendations:
Zebco: The Zebco spincast reels have been a first reel for many fisherman for decades. The design is proven. I recommend the “T” versions as they will get the kids on their way to the basic casting principles of their next reel. A true spinning reel. (Small children may need a traditional spincast reel with the reel on top of the rod and a push button to release the line)
- Zebco 11, Zebco 11T – For small panfish
- Zebco 33, Zebco 33T – Larger fish like bass and pickerel
Abu Garcia, Daiwa and Pfleuger also make excellent spincast reels but they are priced a little higher than the Zebco brand models and might be more than folks are willing to spend on the kids just starting off.
Rod names and models change too often so I wont specify. I would suggest getting a combo reel and rod from some place like Cabelas or Bass Pro Shops. They will have the above mentioned reels on the correct rods at a better price than than buying them separately.
Please do not buy junk cheap stuff or select a line weight that’s too heavy. See my above comments about frustration. Purchase name brand line such as Suffix, Trilene, Stren and Berkely. Avoid South Bend anything
For the smaller reels use 4-6 pound test. The bigger reels use 6-8 pound test. By using the light line the kids will cast farther and more accurately without needing a 1/4 pound of lead on the line. The idea is to catch fish on a hook, not knock them unconscious with lead weights. Yes the line will break easily but trust me kids learn quick when equipment works properly.