There often comes a time in every parent’s life when your child says “I want to go fishing.” For parents with little or no fishing experience, this request may seem a daunting task. Step into any well stocked bait and tackle shop and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the vast array of rods, reels, hooks, lines, and sinkers. Most tackle shop owners are friendly and knowledgeable, and will steer you in the right direction. But if you decide to purchase your new fishing equipment at a mass retailer, you may not receive the information you need, which will result in buying the wrong equipment, ultimately ending in a horrible fishing trip. Fishing is a wonderful activity the whole family can enjoy, and it builds lasting memories you and your kids will treasure. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way in making your child’s first fishing trip a success, and one they will remember.
The most important goal for a first fishing trip is catching fish. Panfish such as Bluegills, Sunfish, Crappie Bass, and Perch are perfect targets for a first fishing trip because they are plentiful and always eager to bite. Also panfish can be found just about anywhere there is freshwater be it a creek, river, lake, or small farm pond. If you are looking for a good place to catch panfish try asking a local fishing store employee, or you can call your state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission and they will give you tips on places to take the kids.
Now that you have a place in mind to go fishing, the next step is purchasing fishing equipment. The first items you will need are a rod and reel. Very often, you will see packaged rod and reel combos marketed towards small kids. While these combos look fun, often times they are very poor quality. A better choice is to buy the rod and reel separately. For small kids you will want a Spin-Cast reel, also called a Closed-Face reel. This type of reel is easy for small kids to use and more than adequate for catching panfish. If your child is 10 years or older, you may want to buy a Spinning reel, also called an Open-Faced reel. This style of reel can cast a lure or bait much further, but it requires more coordination. Regardless of the type of reel you purchase make sure it is suitable to handle 6 pound test fishing line.
When looking at buying a kid’s fishing outfit it is important to buy a good reel. It is fine to skimp a little on the rod. When picking out a rod look for something around 5 to 5 ½ feet long and preferably with some stiffness. You don’t want a rod that bends like a wet noodle. Also you will want to make sure it is the right type of rod for the reel you buy. Rods designed for a spin-cast reel have a small trigger on the handle.
If you do not buy a prepackaged fishing rod and reel combo, it is likely that the reel will not come with line. Picking the right line is important, and this is one area that you don’t want to skimp on. Spend the money and buy good 6 pound test monofilament fishing line. Cheap fishing line has a tendency to twist and knot, and can ruin a good day.
Once you have a rod and reel picked out you will need to buy some tackle and bait. Catching panfish is easy with the right set-up and fortunately the right set-up is fairly straightforward. You will only need to purchase bobbers, also called floats and hooks. For bobbers look for either spring-loaded pencil floats or weighted foam torpedo floats. Both types of bobbers are easy for kids to see. For the business end of the fishing outfit you will want to purchase either panfish jigs or crappie jigs. Panfish or crappie jigs are usually small hooks with a small round head made of lead. Typically these jigs weigh between 1/32 ounce and 1/8 ounce, and have bright colored feathers or synthetic materials tied to the hook. These bright colored jigs are great for attracting panfish, but it is best to add some bait to the hook. Any type of worm is fine for bait, but if you can find them, wax worms are the best.
Now you have everything you need to take your kids fishing. If you are unsure about how to cast your new rod and reel, tie on hooks, or take fish off the line stop in and speak with an employee at a local fishing shop. They will be more than willing to help. Fishing is a great activity for kids because it gets them outdoors and they often develop a great appreciation for nature and the environment as a result. Fishing is also an activity that all family members can enjoy and it’s sure to provide many great memories.