Planning to take some kids fishing? Don’t worry—this list of kiddie fishing tips will help you avoid the many trials and tribulations that can occur when you arm young children with poles and hooks.
1. Start with the shortest rods possible. This minimizes the “arc of death” created when a kid flings lead weights and hooks from the end of a pole. If your boat is armed only with a set of seven or seven-and-a-half foot casting rods, add a few down-sized versions in the five to six foot range.
2. Ensure you have plenty of reliable rodholders within reach. When a kid gets bored—which usually happens every five minutes or so, unless the fish are on a feeding spree—he or she will often set their rod down. If there’s no rodholder handy, they may lean the rod against a gunwale (which is usually when a big fish eats the bait, and yanks the rod over the side); lay it on the deck (and then step on the tip, snapping it); or set it down on a chair (and then sit on it).
3. Banish treble hooks from the boat. Simply put, they’re just too dangerous, and all too often those sticky barbs end up planted in a hand or a foot. If you fish with lures that have trebles, you can remove them by sliding the hook eye through the split ring that attaches it. Replace it with a single hook and you will catch fewer fish, but you’ll also rest a lot easier knowing the danger-factor has been reduced significantly.
4. Use monofilament line, not braid. Braid’s low-diameter, no-stretch characteristics may make it great for some types of angling, but it also makes it dangerous. If it becomes wrapped around a finger and then tensioned, it’ll cut right to the bone. Mono, on the other hand, will usually stretch and break before breaking the skin.
5. Grease ‘em up with sunscreen. You might think this is for your kids’ benefit, but actually, you’ll want to do this purely out of self-preservation. Bring little Precious back home all burned to a crisp, and Mom will throttle you with a landing net.
BONUS TIP: Stick with spinning gear. Baitcasting reels require a lot of practice, and if you hand one to an inexperienced kid, chances are it’ll be tangled beyond all repair in a matter of minutes. Closed-faced reels, meanwhile, are usually poorly built and break often (which is why they’re also the cheapest option—get that kiddie something decent, you skinflint!).