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March 2011 cover image The Best of Texas, Naturally!

Skill Builder: Getting Kids Rigged

The right gear helps young anglers succeed.

By Danno Wise

Even advanced anglers are sometimes at a loss when it comes to properly outfitting their children to take up the sport of fishing. However, by following a few simple steps, it is relatively simple — and affordable — to ensure that kids are set up with the right equipment to make their introduction to fishing safe, fun and productive. And, with spring on the horizon, now is a great time to get kids rigged to fish.

Reels. The first step in outfitting a youngster for fishing is selecting the right reel. When choosing a reel for a child, there is no room for vanity. Kids want — and need — reels that are functional and user-friendly. For all practical purposes, there are two types of reels that should be considered for kids: spincast, or “push button,” reels and spinning reels. Spincast reels are the easiest of all to use. Spinning reels are more durable and have far better drag systems.

When choosing a reel, consider how old the children are, whether they’ll be fishing mostly in fresh water or salt water, how often they fish and how often they’ll be able to practice.

Kids under 6 are best suited for spincast reels. Kids 7 and up can use either. Spinning reels last longer and perform better in salt water than do spincast, although several manufacturers now offer spincast reels for use in salt water.

The biggest consideration is how often they’ll be fishing. Spinning reels take a bit more practice. And, remember, you want a reel that’s functional for the child’s skill level so that the trips are fun, not frustrating. If kids are able to fish and/or practice fairly often, a spinning reel is probably the best bet. If they get out only occasionally, go with a spincast reel.

Rods. To begin with, a rod must match the reel type: casting rods for spincast reels and spinning rods for spinning reels. The length of the rod depends on the child’s size and the type of fishing he or she will be doing. In general, a rod between 5 and 7 feet is best. Choose the longest rod the child can easily handle. If traveling is a concern, choose a multi-piece rod. Rods for kids do not have to be expensive, but make sure they have a solid backbone and flexible tip to help with casting and fighting fish. Durability of rods is also a concern, so rather than high-end graphite, choose a more durable graphite composite rod.

Tackle boxes. Kids love tackle boxes. It’s great for them to have some place to store their stuff. All that’s needed is a simple, durable box with ample room for their tackle. Some come loaded with tackle, but stocking it is usually a big part of the fun for kids. Tackle. Regardless of the type of fishing they’ll be doing, having their own selection of tackle makes fishing much more interesting and enjoyable for kids. Usually, a handful of tackle is enough. Here are some basics.

Bass: spinner baits, lipless crankbaits, worm weights, worm hooks, soft-plastic worms. Panfish: marabou jigs, jig heads and bodies, hooks, bobbers, split shot sinkers. Catfish: bottom sinkers, split shot sinkers, hooks, bobbers. Saltwater: spoons, jig heads, jig bodies, popping corks, split shots, hooks, bottom sinkers.

Accessories. Many accessories are for safety as much as performance. These are some of the must-haves to make fishing fun and safe for kids: sunglasses, cap, long-sleeve shirt, forceps or needle-nose pliers, snips and stringer.

Of course, as they continue to pursue the sport of fishing, kids will collect more tackle. However, having these basics at the outset will ensure they enjoy their initial foray into the world of fishing.

 

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