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  • Updated: 07/26/04

  • Your Child’s First Rod and Reel Really is a Big Deal

    A child’s first rod and reel is an important milestone on life’s journey 
    say the people who run the Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby. Here 
    are some tips to help parents get it right.

    KETCHUM, Okla. Some gifts children receive are more than gifts; they are 
    milestones, proud installments in life’s journey that say -- with 
    feeling  “You’re a big person now.”

    A child’s first pair of lace-up shoes or a bicycle without training wheels 
    are those kinds of milestones. In many families, the milestone gift that 
    remains a fond memory for the giver and the givee is a youngster’s first 
    rod and reel.

    So, don’t blow it.

    To help parents make the right call on this all-important decision are 
    these gems of advice from the people who run the Wal-Mart Kids All-American 
    Fishing Derby, the world’s largest youth fishing program.  Every year 
    Hooked on Fishing International of Ketchum, Okla. produces close to 2,000 
    events for over 300,000 young anglers from ages 5 to 16.

    Buy a short rod, about the same height as the young angler.

    A short rod is not only easier for the young angler to cast, it’s easier to 
    carry and, therefore, less likely to break. Dear parent, expect that from 
    time to time the rod tip will be dragged through the gravel of a parking 
    lot. “Kids don’t comprehend that rods and reels can break. Rough treatment 
    is the rule, not the exception,” says M. Scott Smith, director of marketing 
    for Zebco, the fishing tackle company. His other job  parent and “proud 
    father of three case studies,” underscores this all-important tip.

    Equip the rod with a push-button reel.

    Line tangles may be frustrating for a parent but they can be tragic for a 
    kid and could even end a life of fishing enjoyment before it starts. Head 
    off that kind of trouble by equipping the rod with a closed-face spin-cast 
    reel, about as trouble-free as they come. ”The closed cover keeps the line 
    in check and doesn't expose it to curious hands like a spinning reel 
    would,” said Smith.

    The rod handle should be designed for two-handed casting.

    Zebco studied the casting actions of kids as they learned to cast and noted 
    that those from four to six were more likely to use both hands when casting 
    the rod. This information led them to design beginner combo rods so that 
    the young consumers could grip the handle with both hands.  It’s not a 
    coincidence that these two-handed beginner combos also sport the image of 
    cartoon characters admired by four to six year old anglers, characters like 
    Mickey Mouse, Sponge Bob and Tigger.  Smith notes that if your child 
    accidentally drops his Zebco Character combo into the water, the rod does 
    not sink. Zebco’s Character combos have a patented system that allow them 
    to float and to be retrieved.

    Practice makes a difference.

    Practice doesn't always make perfect at this stage in an angler’s life but 
    practice with a patient parent can make the difference between a tearful 
    episode and big fun on the bayou. Casting is not easy for little persons 
    but a good cast is immensely satisfying to two people  parent and 
    child  who work together from start to satisfaction.

    Some young people may dream about sugarplums but young anglers with a rod 
    and reel combo have visions of fish dancing on the end of the line. Give 
    them that opportunity by taking them fishing and helping them achieve 
    another milestone -- their first fish.  Many communities participate in the 
    Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby, a structured half-day of free 
    fishing with grown up supervision and fun contests. Parents can go to the 
    official website, www.kids-fishing.com, and search the “Derby Locator” 
    sponsored by Fisher Boy for the location and date of the derby nearest to you.

    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the title sponsor of Hooked on Fishing 
    International’s very successful program, which includes contests, 
    giveaways, prizes and even a hot dog roast. It is supported financially and 
    otherwise by a growing list of corporate partners such as DMF Bait Co., 
    Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, PURELL® Instant Hand Sanitizer from GOJO Industries, 
    Repel Insect Repellent from Spectrum Brands and Nestle Waters North 
    America, which markets the natural spring water brands of Arrowhead, Deer 
    Park, Ice Mountain, Ozarka, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills, and Nestle Pure 
    Life, BAND-AID® BRAND ADHESIVE BANDAGES, Bar-S Foods Co., Berkley 
    PowerBait, Berkley Trilene, Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum, Eagle Claw, EverStart 
    Batteries, Fisher Boy, FishingWorld.com, Fujifilm, Kraft Foods, Laker 
    Fishing Tackle, and Zebco.
    # # #

    To catch more fish, fish with a bobber. That way you’ll be able to see when 
    a fish is nibbling at your bait. But be patient. Wait for the fish to take 
    the bobber completely under the water before you start to reel it in. I’ve 
    got more fishing tips for you on the Internet. Visit me at Sebastian’s 
    Corner at www.kids-fishing.com.

    WHAT IS 9,000,000, ALEX?
    Nine-million: that’s the number of young anglers, family members and 
    volunteers who have participated in the Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing 
    Derby program since it began in 1986. These factoids are courtesy of Hooked 
    on Fishing International, Ketchum, Okla., the company that started and has 
    managed the successful program since the beginning.

    Note to media:
    For more information, contact: Gordon Holland, executive director, (918) 
    782-4313,  Email, info@kids-fishing.com

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