Stan Fagerstrom

Stan Fagerstrom is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. Stan welcomes your e-mail comments at

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December 06, 2011

Closed Face Spinning Reels - The Best For Kids

by Stan Fagerstrom

I'm one lucky guy.

Why? Because I'm one of those fortunate few who for the most part have been able to make a living doing something they love. In my case what that's boiled down to has been fishing and writing about it or demonstrating how best to use the tools---the rods, reels and lines---associated with the sport.

It's essential that youngsters have closed face spinning reels that are small enough for them to handle. This Daiwa Goldcast GC80 is a dandy for the little guys and gals.

I started getting paid for writing my first fishing columns way back in 1946, just a few months after I'd returned from serving in an infantry rifle company for almost two years in the South Pacific during World War 11.

The very first casting demonstrations that amounted to much I did at the old Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles in April of 1952. The Ambassadeur 5000 level wind casting reel had just been introduced to American anglers. The people who were selling the reel in the western United States hired me to come to California and demonstrate their new product for visitors to the 11 day Los Angeles outdoor show.

That was the beginning. I've been at it to one degree or another ever since. The fishing and writing about it have taken me from the Amazon to Alaska and the casting exhibitions have provided airline tickets from Tulsa to Tokyo and both activities have brought countless trips elsewhere in this country as well as out of it.

Kids like to be able to do their own thing when they go fishing with you. Here I'm teaching youngsters who came to visit with me at an outdoor show how they can do that easily with a closed face spinning reel.

Get up to your bellybutton in such activities for more than half a century and a variety of experiences are certain to be a part of the package. I recall, for example, what transpired after I gave a casting demonstration at an outdoor show in Victoria, Texas a couple of years ago.

I always sign my Bass Hall of Fame fishing cards for those who want them following my demonstrations. One of those who then asked for an autographed card was a little boy who said he really wanted to learn how to cast. He also had a comment and a question. "Mister," he said, "you're sure a good caster but you're really old. When did you start fishing"?

"Son," I replied, "do you remember what you learned in Sunday School about how they found the baby Moses in the bulrushes by the river"?
"Yes sir," the kid replied, "I remember that."
"Well son," I responded, "when they pulled young Moses out of the bulrushes I was right around the corner throwing a spinnerbait into the river."

For a heartbeat or two I think that little boy wasn't too sure but what I was telling the truth. But we both had a good chuckle before our brief time together was over. I also had opportunity to explain to that youngster and his companions certain details associated with the use of the closed face spinning reel. I had touched on those details as I always do during my actual casting exhibition.

Parents who fish usually want their youngsters to enjoy the sport as much as they do. No matter where my thousands of casting exhibitions have taken me over the years, I always get questions in this regard.

I share this little story about the closed face spinning reel for a purpose. The purpose is this: There is no finer tool with which to get young boys or girls into fishing than the closed face spinning reel. Provided, that is, you know the right way to go about showing them how to use it.

Got a child you want to get interested in fishing? Then listen up because I can tell you the best way to go about fostering that interest. I know my friends who call the shots here at Ifish are just as interested in this as I am. That's why they encouraged me to go ahead with this column approach.

How can I be so sure I know the single best way to foster interest in fishing among youngsters? It's because of one of the questions that come my way again and again in the countless hours I've spent giving those casting demonstrations I've mentioned. That question usually goes something like this: "I want to teach my little boy and girl how to fish. What kind of a reel would you recommend for them to start with?"

My recommendation is the same today as it was darn near half a century ago. There is no better reel for a child to get a "feel" for casting than the closed-faced spinning reel and a lightweight rod to go with it. I'm talking now about smaller kids, not those who are old enough to use more sophisticated equipment.

But just saying that a closed-face is best doesn't tell the whole story. Not all closed-face reels are the same and there are a couple I especially favor for kids. One is a Zebco Pro Staff 2010. The other is a Daiwa Goldcast Model GC80.

Kids aren't that different no matter where they are located. This little girl I shared some time with at an outdoor show in Tokyo was just as interested in learning about the closed face spinning reel as are the kids I've encountered here in the United States.

I mention these reels primarily because they're small enough for a child to handle. Both reels are made in different sizes. The ones I've listed are the smallest and that's what you'll want for your youngsters. The reel's small size is important. There are big closed-faced reels out there that I have a hard time trying to grip comfortably myself. For a child with small hands it's next to impossible.

They won't have that problem with the reels I've named. I teach a technique, and it's one you should teach your own youngsters, where the line is actually controlled with the forefinger of the left hand. I'll give you the exact details on how to go about this in my next column. Watch for it starting __________.
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