Every study is clear. If you want to create an angler, you need to start young. Nearly every licensed angler in America started fishing before the age of 12.

Sure, there are exceptions, but the data is clear. Getting youngsters started in high school or college is typically late to create an avid angler.

And a very big part of creating interest in fishing is having the right gear. The right stuff and a little success go a long way to building a passion. The wrong stuff and hours without a bite will kill it for all but the most avid.

A handful of manufacturers are known for their youth gear. They— and you—are our “boots on the ground” when it comes to building the sport. If you’ll carry the right stuff for your market and the new anglers in your area, you’ll not only be growing the sport, but you’ll be also growing your market, your sales, and your profits.

Here’s what’s new for youth anglers as we head into 2023.

Ugly Stik

Continuing the Ugly Stik tradition of rugged and durable rods at a great value, the new Ugly Tuff Youth Combo is designed for kids and parents who demand durability from their gear. This sturdy combo is equipped with kid-friendly features and comes pre-spooled with 6-pound test line. The easy-to-use spinning combo reel contains one ball bearing and one-way instant clutch anti-reverse for a smooth feel. With rubber shrink tube handles for an easy grip, the rod features the best Ugly Stik components. The combo is available in both spinning and spincast models. MSRP $59.99.

The GX2 Youth Combo combines heritage and tradition while maintaining the strength and durability that Ugly Stik is known for. The GX2 rods offer better balance for lighter feel, improved components, and eye-catching cosmetics for a more modern look versus the previous generation. With Ugly Tech construction throughout, the combos feature Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless-steel guides, Ugly Stik Clear Tip design for strength and sensitivity, full EVA grips and come with a seven-year rod warranty. MSRP $49.95.

Zebco

Targeted to anglers in the 10- to 18-year-old range, the Zebco Roam baitcast reels and combos are designed to take those youngsters to the next level. The reels are engineered to reduce the chance of backlash, making them ideal for anglers just starting to use revolving-spool reels. The DynaMag cast control and Zebco’s shallow spool design work together for backlash prevention and outstanding accuracy. The reel has five bearings for smooth operation along with a 90mm handle for extra cranking power. For the combo, the reels are mounted on durable fiberglass rods with a pro-style MaxTac Grip handle for all-day comfort, even when wet.

American Tackle Company

American Tackle has partnered with Autism Anglers to design and present a special youth rod and reel combo. Using over 37 years of component design, American Tackle worked with Don Morse, an accomplished rod builder and the founder of Autism Anglers, to develop a 5-foot-6 two-piece moderate-fast action graphite rod combo for youth anglers. Differing from other kids’ combos, this design focuses on solid performance with a medium-light power blank and ergonomic handle fitted specifically for youth angler hands. It also incorporates award-winning guide technology with the ringless MicroWave Air guides for durability and longer controlled casting. This combo includes an easy-to-use spincast reel with a 3:1 gear ratio, upgraded double knob handle in right-hand retrieve, and is spooled with 10-pound monofilament line. In addition, each purchase of this combo benefits the Autism Anglers mission of bringing awareness and acceptance to those on the autism spectrum through the sport of fishing.

Kid Casters

The Krazy Tangle-FREE Fishing Combo comes equipped with a 34-inch inline rod and reel. The innovative Tangle-FREE design feeds the line through the center of the shaft of the rod rather than through traditional guides, allowing for a smooth Tangle-FREE cast every time. The reel features a 3.3:1 gear ratio and comes pre-spooled with 6-pound test fishing line. The combo includes a plastic casting plug, rattle bobber, and a pre-rigged snap swivel. It’s great for teaching kids how to fish without driving the teachers crazy! The combos also come in Snake and Leopard patterns.

You—or your children—may know that Minecraft is one of the best-selling games of all time. Now little anglers can create their own adventure with the Minecraft Youth Fishing Kit. The kit features a 29.5-inch all-in-one rod and reel, plus an 8-bit fish casting plug. The spincast reel has a 3.1:1 gear ratio and comes pre-spooled with 6-pound-test fishing line. The durable fiberglass rod has a light action, perfect for panfish. Kid Casters also offers comparable combos in their Nerf Fishing Kit, Rainbow High Youth Fishing Kit, and Blippi Youth Fishing Kit.

The Youth Fishing Kit is fun for all little anglers. This kit features a 29.5-inch light action all-in-one rod and reel, plus four practice casting plugs, each representing a different fish species. The spincast reel has a 3.1:1. gear ratio and comes pre-spooled with 6-pound-test line.

The Fun Bag Fishing Kit comes equipped with a 28- inch telescopic Tangle-FREE rod and reel combo that retracts to 17 inches, a plastic casting plug, tackle box, and plastic safety hook. The reel has a 3.3:1 gear ratio and comes equipped with 6-pound-test fishing line. It’s great for teaching kids how to fish and it all packs down to fit in an easy to carry bag with all the essentials needed to have a great experience on the water.

Kistler Rods

Kistler Rods founder Trey Kistler believes that the love of fishing can be woven into the very fabric of one’s soul. He knows the future legacy of a fishing family begins with taking our kids and grandkids fishing. That’s why he introduced the new Grasshopper Rod for kids and adults. It’s probably the first premium 4-foot-6 one-piece graphite fishing rod specifically designed for kids yet built to the same standards adult anglers could benefit from. The fast tip action assists with casting most lures while the backbone is stout enough to handle a lunker. The Grasshopper Rod will help your family create more lasting memories with big smiles. And they’re built by hand in Texas.

Simms

The Kid’s Tributary Stockingfoot Wader from Simms took honors at ICAST 2022 for Best Kids Tackle. They’re waders built to keep the next generation of anglers hooked. Constructed from breathable and comfortable, waterproof polyester (three-layer upper, four-layer lower), they feature adjustable suspenders, built in gravel guards with gathered elastic bottom hems, and anatomically engineered left and right stocking feet. In addition to a wading belt that comes included, a grab handle has been included on the back of the wader to keep young anglers close during deeper wades. They’re available sizes S-L. MSRP $179.95.

This article also appears in the November/December 2022 issue of Fishing Tackle Retailer.