Set-ups for kids
  |  First Published: November 2004

Having appropriate gear maximises your chances of catching fish, and in this month’s article I’ll review the different types of rods and reels currently available. It’s important for junior anglers to be set up with a combo that’s both easy to use and suited to the conditions.


Although the use of baitcasters and spin gear is commonplace these days, it’s important not to underestimate the effectiveness of a handline. For junior anglers, a handline is perfect as it is easy to handle and is quite straightforward. Also, if it’s dropped in sand or saltwater there is no damage to any bearings or washers. Handlines are available from almost all tackle stores and retail between $5 and $30.


Since Charles Alvey’s first reel was released in 1920, these reels have stood the test of time, adapting to modern applications. These reels provide junior anglers with an uncomplicated fishing reel that’s almost indestructible. If they’re dropped in sand they are easily cleaned and the washers and components within the reel are unaffected. This is also the case with saltwater. When cleaned with freshwater they are still easily operated.

Basic Alvey reels suited to younger anglers include the 40B/40BXL. For the older beginners I recommend the 5000XT. The reels I’ve mentioned range from $22 to $48, a cheap price to pay for a top notch reel. (Prices from ausfish.com.au.

Spinning Reels

Whether it’s flicking plastics for flathead or just tantalising the local bream with strip baits, threadlines have all bases covered. Threadlines (eggbeaters) are ideal for the junior angler, mainly due to their easy operation and affordability. Spinning reels are great for flicking plastics and lures in almost all conditions. It’s imperative that after use, you clean the reel down with some warm soapy water to remove all salt from the reel.

There is an enormous range to choose from – everything from Abu Garcia to Penn. For a good entry-level reel for estuary and boat applications, I recommend the Daiwa Samurai as it contains seven ball bearings for smooth operation and a top notch drag to boot. These reels retail for around the $75 mark, and if properly maintained they’re a worthwhile investment.


Baitcasters are the preferred option for lure casting, and are suited to more experienced anglers. Although baitcasters are more expensive, if looked after and serviced regularly they will provide you with a superior reel for years to come.

Many anglers put baitcasters in the ‘too hard basket’, due to the ever frustrating backlash, but it’s worthwhile to persist with these reels. It’s important to be patient and try different methods of casting. Practice makes perfect.

If you’re keen to give baitcasters a go, try to select reels with a lower number of ball bearings as this will minimise backlashes. An excellent reel to learn on is the Shimano Chromica as it has two ball bearings and a 5.1:1 gear ratio and retails for around the $140 mark. For more experienced anglers looking for something a little better, try the Daiwa Saltiga range or the Shimano Calais or the Shimano Chronarch.


Choosing the right rod for you is often difficult, as you trawl the aisles trying to differentiate between the various compositions and styles. When selecting a rod you need to take many things have into consideration, such as conditions, sensitivity, length and whether to choose a one or two piece combo.

First of all, it’s important to match the rod to your reel and line. For example, purchasing a rod that’s suited for 20lb line is unrealistic for a spin reel spooled with 4lb braid. For most junior applications I recommend a rod of around 3-6kg with fibreglass composition. Graphite rods tend to be not as user-friendly for younger anglers as they are quite brittle and fragile when compared to the more durable fibreglass option.

In terms of length it is hard to judge what would be acceptable for each individual. As a general rule, if it feels good and is light enough for you to cast efficiently, the rod is perfect. A good starting point for junior anglers is the Shimano Technium range, available at your local tackle shop.

Until next month, good fishing to all you junior anglers out there!

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