Gear and tips on fishing with kids
- Most kids do well with an ultra-light spinning or spin-casting rod-and-reel combo. The Avid Angler in Lake Forest Park, Seattle’s Orvis store or any REI can provide gear options and tips from knowledgeable staff.
- Small floats work well for kids. This way there's no casting and re-casting.
- For younger kids, try a simple pole with no reel.
- When it comes to bait, keep it approximately the size of your hook. Avoid hooks larger than size 10 (hooks run backwards in size). Fish won’t readily take large hooks.
- Kids might have fun digging their own bait. They can dig in the garden to find angle worms. Beyond worms, bait can be anything from salmon eggs to marshmallows.
- Kids should always wear a life jacket when around water. By law, children ages 12 and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when in a boat smaller than 19 feet in length. Start things off right by getting your kids familiar with personal flotation devices (also called PFDs).
Tips for a first fishing trip with kids:
- Keep your children's interest levels in mind and aim for an experience that will result in a catch.
- Encourage kids to plan the fishing outing with you. Study a map together, pick the spot, make a list of gear and pack a lunch.
- Give kids things to be responsible for, such as carrying the net or making sure everyone wears a PFD.
- Dress in layers, and be sure to pack rain boots, umbrellas and jackets.
- Be flexible. Cut it short if you see that the kids are done, or extend time if they are having fun.
- Be a good example of conservation and preservation of our fisheries.
- Teach and practice “catch and release” where appropriate.
- Keep kids busy: Look for wildlife, have a picnic or play games.
Editor's note: This article was originally published several years ago and most recently updated in May 2021.