Beginner tacklebox

One of the easiest ways to get children interested in fishing is to give them a set of supplies that is 100% theirs — a growing collection of items they can use, show off and take pride in.

One of the easiest ways to get children interested in fishing is to give them a set of supplies that is 100% theirs — a growing collection of items they can use, show off and take pride in.

Just being able to say the words “my tacklebox” keeps children thinking about fishing while they’re carrying the box around the house, when they’re walking down the fishing aisle at any store that sells tackle and then, of course, when it’s time to head to the water with “their stuff.”

But buying tackle for a youngster who is new to the sport can be a tricky pursuit.

Here are seven simple tips for putting together a child’s first tacklebox.

The tacklebox 

Obviously, you don’t want them choosing a $300 tackle system designed for serious tournament anglers. But within reason, let them choose something they like and will enjoy showing off to Grandma and Grandpa. Another great option is a hand-me-down box from when you were younger. I recommend going with small, single-compartment boxes that are easy to carry and offer quick access to every piece of tackle they own with the flip of one buckle.

Buy hooks, but store safely

You want your little ones to have hooks that will catch fish, but you want to store them in a way that keeps your child from being his or her own biggest catch. The most practical hooks for beginners are No. 6 and No. 8 short- and long-shank models designed for panfish. Either pass a rule that the hooks have to be kept in their original packages unless you’re on the water or remove the hooks from their packages and store them in old pill bottles that have ready-made child locks.

Think light with weights 

Chances are slim your young beginner will ever be fishing water much deeper than 10 feet. That means he or she won’t need giant heavy weights to get to the bottom. So, don’t weigh down their tackleboxes with big egg sinkers created to keep bait on the bottom in 60 feet of swift water. They serve little purpose and can become weapons in a fight with a brother or sister. Stick with small split shots and egg sinkers — and even though they won’t pierce skin, remember they’re harmful if swallowed.

Buy a good float selection

Another reason you won’t need big, heavy weights is because your child will likely often be using a float. One of the biggest selling points for getting a child hooked on fishing is seeing a fish sink a float. Buy them in all different shapes and sizes — the more outlandish the color, the better. Just be sure to think small. Your youngster will likely be fishing for small fish, and the smaller ones can’t sink the bigger floats sold at your local tackle store.

Don’t forget tools

Anglers of all ages should own certain miscellaneous necessities like pliers, scissors and nail clippers. Look for models aimed at youngsters — those with plastic, easy-to-grip handles and duller metal edges that aren’t as likely to cause injury. A small set of scales for weighing fish and a measuring tape can also add interest to every trip. It’s easier to exaggerate when you know exactly how big a fish really was.

Buy something they want

If you’re building a tacklebox for a 4-year-old, that angler is probably a few years away from fishing a Texas-rigged lizard or soft-plastic crawfish. But they’ll love those baits just the same. Don’t overdo it, but let them pick out a few packs of plastics you know they’ll enjoy playing with when the fish aren’t biting — and don’t turn up your nose if they want a hot pink worm with a chartreuse tail. The baits are for them — not for the fish and certainly not for you.

Buy a stringer 

Catch and release is one of the finest conservation practices on the planet. But sooner or later, every angler wants to keep a few fish to take home for the skillet. A simple rope stringer is an easy way for young anglers to collect the fish they intend to take home — and few things make a better photo than a young child holding a stringer full of fish.