Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Buying the Little One a Rod and Reel- Ocean City, MD Fishing
Buying the Little One a Rod and Reel- Ocean City, MD Fishing

Buying the Little One a rod and reel...

Sometimes parents want to buy a young child a fishing rod more than the young child wants one! Just be patient, get the child a fishing rod and reel you think they can handle and take them fishing with you. If you are buying for twins, and I see that all the time, decide for yourself in advance. Do I buy two that are exactly the same or do I get two that are different so they can tell them apart? That has to be your call, since you know their personalities!!!

Children who are under 5 or 6 years old do best with the push-button type of reel. Zebco and Shakespeare makes a lot of these in a variety of colors and fancy designs to catch the eye of kids and parents. The child simply pushes the button, the line comes out, and falls into the water (when you have a sinker on the reel.) When the child wants to reel in, they simply crank it in. What the parent needs to do is this: 1) Make sure it is working correctly when you buy it. 2) Set the drag (a little wheel on the side of the reel) and attach a sinker to it so there will be tension on the line when it comes in the little hole. If the kids play with it without a sinker on it, the line can get tangled inside.

A lot of big flounder have been caught on little Zebco 202 combos! Setting the drag is important to get a big fish in with light line. Not all kids are excited about a big fish on the other end of the line, so make sure someone is helping them. One of my first fishing memories is being in the boat with my Mom and Dad. I hooked a big ray that dragged us all over the bay. My Mom had both arms wrapped around me so I wouldn’t fall overboard and helped me hold the rod. My Dad cranked up the engine and followed the ray. Eventually we got it to the side of the boat. They snapped a picture of me and I was smiling ear-to-ear. I guess that’s when I got “hooked” on fishing!

Anyway, some kids might be more interested than others. Sword fighting with the new fishing rods are common sights in our tackle stores. Just be patient and try to find some fishing places where the action is fast. In the summer, small hooks and a pack of bloodworms, night crawlers or Fishbite Bloodworms will usually catch something! Northside Park (at high tide), 9th Street Pier, 2nd thru 4th Street Bulkhead and the Oceanic Pier are popular places to take children.

As children get older, their coordination skills improve and their attention spans are longer. It’s important to switch them over to a spinning rod and reel combination when they reach around 7 years old. Spinning reels are easier to get the snarls out of, are stronger and last longer. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. There’s plenty of combos out there between $20 and $30 bucks for young children. If you yourself do not know how to fish, it’s really important to head into a tackle store and get someone to show you how to use the rod and reel. It’s a lot easier for those working in the tackle shop if you come in by yourself or have a friend or spouse watch the children while you are getting a lesson.

The most common problem anglers have with a new spinning reel is to switch on and off the anti-reverse switch. This little switch makes the reel crank both ways. Some people think you have to flip the switch to cast. Not true. Sometimes the combos are sitting out on the shelf with the switch turned off because that’s the way they were shipped! Factories often have them turned off so they can adjust the handles in a certain way to fit 5 or 6 combos snugly in a box for shipping purposes. I always try to make sure the switch is on when I put them on the rack, but sometimes we miss one. Make sure the switch is turned on so the reel can’t go backwards when you crank, and tell the children to leave that switch alone.

Another common problem for a total newbie is for the line to be run through the guides without first running the line under the bail wire. Ask the clerk at the tackle store to attach the line to your new reel, run it through the guides and attach a swivel to the end of the line.
Set the drag using the little knob on top of the reel. Some reels have rear drags. Wherever it is, adjust it so you can pull line off the reel with a little tension. That’s so you can catch a bigger fish with lighter line!

Once you know how to use a rod and reel, you can show the youngsters. Don’t be afraid to ask us questions. That’s what we are there for. Just remember, one-on-one with the parent is a lot easier for us.

Surf fishing! Yes, surf fishing is good for youngsters since they can run around on the beach and have a good old time while you are fishing. You will probably have to cast the rod out for the really young ones and set it in a sand spike, but that’s OK. If you use kingfish rigs with bloodworms, Fishbite bloodworms and/or squid, you can catch sand sharks, kingfish, spot, croaker and all kinds of fun fish during the summer. It’s hard for a youngster to handle a big, 10-foot combo with a long butt, so get yourself an 8-foot combo with a shorter butt section so the younger ones can handle it and bring in a fish. Just be sure to use the sand spikes and don’t let the reels fall in the sand!

As Buddy Seigel of Fenwick Tackle always says “The youngsters faces will glow when they catch their first fish! “

Good fishing….

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and co-owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.