Aug 22, 2013

Kid’s Rod Shootout

Travis and Austin
What rod did you learn to fly fish with? Chances are if you had one of todays young angler rods it would have made fishing much easier to learn. Todays young anglers rods are real fly rods with actions that are easy to learn with.
We took our top 3 most popular selling kids rods and decided to put them to the test. The Echo Gecko, The Ross Journey and the Redington Minnow. The only plan was to grade these rods from the package to the lawn but also to find out what do kids want. Now our motive was something different. Let’s go have some fun with some kids rods and talk about how cool it would have been to have one of these rods when we were kids.

Redington Minnow Outfit - Package includes a 2 piece Rod, Reel, Line, Leader and soft cloth sock for the rod.

The first look of a Redington Minnow outfit doesn’t really do much to impress. Its department store packaging, lack of rod tube and two piece rod leave a lot out to be desired. But don’t be fooled! After careful unpacking pull the line through the guides and let er rip! The Minnow loads up easy for short cast while equipped with enough power to achieve some impressive distance. Its agreed that the best out of the package rod, reel, line matchup goes to the Minnow and because of this easy loading at short distance would make this outfit well suited for your young angler. The only thing we can fault this outfit with is the lack of rod/reel case.. A Redington rod/reel case could easily be added to complete the package.

Maddie sporting a pink Journey

Ross Journey Outfit - Package includes a 4 piece Rod, Reel, Line, Leader, Rod tube and an instructional DVD. Available in Pink and Blue. Just like the Minnow this rods comes packaged in department store apparel. This outfit is actually very impressive in terms of its casting abilities. It responds much like one would expect from a well tuned Trout rod. You’ve got to get some line out to get the rod to load but once you do it’s quite capable of carrying a lot of line and presents well. While I enjoyed casting this outfit I couldn’t help wondering if this is really the best rod to put in a kids hands. Once experienced is achieved this rod will certainly impress but I feel for our young anglers that it may be best to replace the line with one that would load shorter and slow the rod down a bit to provide a bit more feedback. The Journey outfit cost the most but of the three it also appears the highest quality and is the most complete modern package with its included Ross Flystart reel and 4 piece rod design

Echo Gecko (Rod only) - Includes a 4 piece Rod, Sock and Tube
Echo Gecko
The Gecko is the wild child of the three or at least in appearance but looks can be deceiving. It actually cast quite tame. So tame in fact that it feels like a fiberglass rod. Throw it into a backcast and wait a minute for the rod to load all the way to the grip. Forgiving would be an understatement in the action of this rod. The slow action of the Gecko may be easy for young anglers to cast but with that comes the inability to provide feedback of rod load. Is that good or bad I’m not sure. It is much reminiscent of the rods I learn with many years ago and I can cast okay so why not. While we spared the expense of breaking these rods we tested I would probably put my money on the Gecko to outlive its counterparts due to the almost complete certainty that this is a fiberglass rod. That could be an important factor when you consider the abuse your young angler is going to impart on it. The camo EVA foam grip and yellow color of the rod really set the Gecko apart from the others. A good reel match for the Gecko would be a Echo Solo ⅘ and I would choose a mild line such as a Rio Gold or Trout Lt line.
The Score
Ross Journey
Echo Gecko
Redington Minnow
Line weight
Sections (Pieces)
4 Piece
4 Piece
2 Piece
1) Rod
2) outfit
Rod Tube
Casting Ease
Grip Size
Best Line Match
Rio Grand WF5F
Rio Gold WF5F
The supplied line
Cool factor
final Score
*Prices reflect 2013 current pricing. Subject to change in the future without notice

Quality, Casting ease, Grip size and Cool factor are purely made up of personal opinions and are scored by a rating of 1-5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest).

Conclusion -
We found the Redington Minnow to be the best matched and most enjoyable rod in the kids rod category. Its the rod that everyone wants to keep casting. I like it so much that I am taking it home with me to play with in the yard. It would make a great rod to let a family member or friend give fly casting a try. I may have to take it fishing one day and I have plenty of  confidence in its ability to handle any Trout-Panfish fishing situation all across America.
The Ross Journey comes in on the high end of the price scale but also offers the most in an outfit with the modern four piece rod, included Ross Flystart reel, line and leader and a color matched cordura rod tube (although I would like to see it in a rod/reel case). Also included is an instructional DVD. This outfit also comes in at the high end of technical. It will be a very worthy setup once skill is established until then we would recommend a different line such as a Rio Grand to slow it down and help it cast shorter. If this rod had a normal size grip and no flashy colors it would compare well with many mid-line trout rods.
The Echo Gecko may or may not win your approval with its bold looks and soft fiberglass rod feel. I can see where some buyers would appreciate the action and want their young angler to learn with this type of rod. I have also witnessed adult anglers snub their nose at it with a response of “I would not allow my kids to fish with such an atrocity”. I think they were really saying I will not allow myself to be seen with my child fishing this yellow rod with camo eva grips. I would like to see the rod become a complete outfit. These first purchases should not have complications of deciding on the rest of the pieces to put it together. I will say this for the Echo Gecko, It doesn’t come in a cardboard box!
One upgrade for all three entries I would recommend is a rod/reel case. Every young angler I witnessed with their own complete outfit in one rod/reel tube carries them with a lot of pride as they walk out the shop smiling ear to ear and I have witnessed that sense of pride carry on for lifetimes. I feel that is an important step to teaching young anglers responsibility and respect for their gear as well the gear of others. They don’t quite get the same feeling with a cardboard box. Offenders you know who you are so ditch the box and the department store ethics!
Get them started young

The final say -
We had all kinds of fun casting these rods and hope the info we provided helps you make an informed decision. I feel the only element we can’t provide is what will interest your young anglers to take part in an awesome sport that teaches respect and passion for the wild. The real winner here will ultimately be decided by your young anglers.

Greg Darling  - The Tormented Angler
Gorge Fly Shop Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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