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Train Your Kids All the Basics of Fishing: A Full Guide

Learn how to easily introduce the little ones to this exciting activity.
William Brown


As kids, we grew up looking at picture books showing fishermen on boats dreaming of doing it ourselves. In some families going fishing is a rite of passage, while other parents don’t know where to start.

In this guide, we will try to make your little kiddo’s dreams come true, and you the fisherman they look up to. So let's start learning!

Different Age Groups

12 to 24 months: Your child should be starting basic motor skills. Attention spans won’t be too high but if you bring bicycles with that will help them to interact and break from normal routine, make sure to have bike racks for storage (check this article). Around this time children aren’t likely to be able to hold a fishing rod so the job rests on you.
24 to 36 months: Around this time your child will be walking around easily and following you around.

As a three-year-old, they are likely to have enough strength and patience to help you reel a fish in. Their concentration span isn’t that long, so try making fishing a side activity.
3 - 5 years old: Your children will now be able to form memories and get more involved in fishing. They should be able to understand what the goal is and you’ll likely be able to plan a full excursion around it.

This is also the time you could take them on the boat with you (remember lifejackets), as they may be learning how to swim too.
Ages 6 and up: Finally, your kids are old enough to enjoy the full experience of fishing. They are ready to be anglers, their muscles are now strong enough to cast a rod and reel a fish in.

This is where it gets exciting!

Choosing Gear

Choose your children’s fishing gear wisely. Many stores stock reliable and affordable equipment. You don’t want to buy something cheap and ruin their first experience with the rod breaking in half. With that said, avoid overpriced goods, where the ‘kids fishing package’ has their favorite cartoon on.
These short rods make casting tough as kids generally have weaker casts with their little arms. The reels are known for jamming and getting stuck with their cheap design.

Don’t be fooled by all extra added bonuses in your ‘cartoon package’, it might advertise a set of small lures and a nice little carry case.
The solution would, therefore, be to get an ultralight rod and reel. These poles and reels are common around anglers who focus on smaller game fish, and are perfect for kids six and up.

When choosing, find one that has a rod length between five to six feet, that’s very flexible and has a simple well-made reel.


On your first fishing adventure with your child, you might have hopes to catch a massive whopper to impress them and make their experience memorable. This shouldn’t be the case however, the plan should be to catch anything.

They will have the same amount of fun catching a small fish as they would a trophy one. Get small lures and target panfish!
Panfish will generally bite at anything, so don’t waste your money on expensive lures. Size should be at around 1/32 - 1/16 ounces. To catch a panfish, cast your line into shallow waters and along the side of weed beds.

Next, adjust the reeling speed with each cast to attract a potential bite. If you’re unsuccessful, move to another area after a few casts.

Live Bait

Maybe lures aren’t for you and you’re more successful using live bait. However, you’re fishing with your kid now so they might think it gross. Live bait requires that you use a barbed hook.

These hooks can be very dangerous and painful to remove and a major no-no for young children to handle.
The solution would be to use small lures with de-barbed hooks, which is a safer method for kids. Next, you’ll need something to use as bait. Worms are a good option and can be bought conveniently at a fishing store. If you plan to buy them a day in advance, store them in your fridge as this puts them into a state of hibernation.

Getting Your Kids Ready To Cast

The premise of a fishing trip is exciting, but there’s a mission, you want to actually catch a fish. While catching a fish isn’t always guaranteed, and other factors being out of your control, you can certainly increase the chances.
Start off with the basics before you get into the water by finding a method that is most comfortable.
The first method is overhand cast, which is most common in children. It needs strength. The alternative is the sidearm cast, this method offers the benefit of the line staying low and lessens the risk of it hitting nearby branches. The drawback being if the release is too early or late, the lure will be off-target.

In the Water And Ready to Go

Once you have thought of a method to use when casting, it’s time to go into the water with your child and allow them to cast their first fishing pole. The child will most likely have sloppy casts that cause them to lose many lures, scare the fish, and possibly deter them into handing the rod to you.
Let them do a few casts with the rod, encourage them. If the method doesn’t work, revert to another one until they get comfortable. Keep them motivated and encourage them to keep casting until they get the hang of it, they’ll start feeling less anxious, and with practice, they’ll be reeling in their first fish soon.

Remember To Have Fun

Instill in your child the belief that not catching any fish isn’t the end of the world. Teach them to enjoy outdoors and teach them about the wilderness.

Point things out and add as much enthusiasm as possible when teaching them about the different gear. Half of the fun is being shown something cool by their parents.


There are many fun things that go together with fishing, your child might enjoy the boat ride more than the casting itself. Fishing is a great activity to do while growing up, and can be passed down from generation to generation.

Be sure to keep the camera ready to capture those precious moments.