You’ve probably heard of Zebco fishing equipment, but did you know the company started out making bombs?
As 2020 winds down, many of us won’t be sorry to see this year end. But even with all the craziness, one thing hasn’t changed.
Fishing is a great sport for all ages!
Are you thinking of buying a rod and reel combination outfit for yourself or as a gift, but you’re not sure where to start? I extensively tested Zebco rod and reel combos made for kids and adults. Here’s what you need to know:
Zebco is a well-established name in fishing, long known for good quality fishing gear at an affordable price. Your first fishing experience as a kid may have been with the iconic Zebco 33 Reel; they have been making fishing equipment since 1954.
The forerunner of Zebco started in 1932 as the Zero Hour Bomb Company making not fishing reels, but electronic time bombs. The primary use of the bombs was to break up underground structures, so crude oil could be accessed.
When the bomb company’s explosive patent expired in 1948, they purchased a new reel design that allowed line to spool off without backlash. This was to become the Zebco 33 Reel.
That type of longevity and affordability, combined with the nostalgia of fishing trips gone by, make Zebco a good choice if you are in the market for a new rod and reel.
Most Zebco rods are made of durable fiberglass, and many of the reels have all-metal gears. Outfit rods and reels are paired to be a balanced unit, so you don’t have to guess which rod to buy with which reel.
Outfit reels are pre-spooled with the appropriate weight and length of line. Almost all of the reels can be easily switched from left- to right-handed retrieve. Most Zebco reels have either Instant or Quickset Anti-Reverse, a dial-adjustable drag, ceramic pick-up pins, and the patented No-Tangle Design.
Bite Alert is a feature available on some Zebco reels. Bite Alert is especially helpful when you are fishing in the dark and can’t see the fish pull on the line. The electronic Bite Alert system uses a battery and has lights and beeping sounds. The non-electronic Bite Alert produces a clicking noise when a fish takes your line.
Zebco products have a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
FIT-TO-FISH KIDS’ RODS
If you are buying a rod and reel outfit for a youngster, Zebco has made the right choice easier with their “Fit-to-Fish” categories.
Zebco has designated rods up to 30″ for kids 3-5 years old.
Rods up to 4’3″ are made for youth 6-9 years old.
Rods up to 5’3″ are for the targeted ages 10-14.
For the youngest fishers, the 30”, one-piece, Zebco Splash is a great first rod and reel outfit. The spincast reel is built right into the rod handle of the Splash, and features an oversized reel handle knob and line release button, and a thumb-dial drag. The Splash reel is pre-spooled with 6 lb line, just right for pan fish and trout. A practice casting plug is included. One of my favorite features of the Splash outfit is that it floats!
Zebco’s Wilder is a nice little spinning reel outfit for the kid who is ready to graduate from a push-button spincast reel. Flipping the bail can require some practice for the novice angler, and the Wilder is a great outfit to learn on. The moderate action, 2-piece rod is 4’3″, to be more easily handled by kids aged six to nine-years-old.
The Wilder reels are pre-spooled with 6 lb line, which works well for trout and panfish. The color scheme is a flashy orange and blue (perfect for a Wahoo). The Wilder’s price point is in line with a kid’s rod as well; you can take a kid fishing without breaking the bank.
The next size up in Zebco’s lineup of kids’ rod outfits is the Rambler, made for ages 10-14. The 2-piece Rambler rod is a foot longer than the Wilder, at 5’3”. The action for all the Rambler rods is considered moderate. The Rambler reels are pre-spooled with 8 lb line, but will accommodate 4-8 lb test. Either the Rambler Spincast Reel or the Rambler Spinning Reel will yield 20” per turn of the handle. The Rambler outfit comes in three models: telescopic, spincast and spinning reel. The Rambler color scheme is black and seafoam green.
The Rambler outfit with the spincast reel is a good combo for an older kid who is a first-time fisher.
The Rambler outfit with the spinning reel requires slightly more skill and will work well for the serious teen angler. I found this to be a good rod for flipping jigs.
The Telescopic Rambler comes as an outfit with either the spincast reel or the spinning reel. The biggest advantage of a telescoping rod is its easy portability. It expands from 23.6” (spinning) or 24.6” (spincast) to 5’3”. That means it is a convenient rod to take on a trip, carry in a backpack, or handle in a kayak.
Zebco Roam rods have a medium action and are built for targeting mid to large fresh water species, such as walleye and bass. Roam rods have the ComfortGrip handle which is molded EVA with a patterned texture for a firmer grip. The handle is more comfortable than using a solid hard handle, especially over several hours.
I don’t consider the Roam to be strictly a kid’s rod. It dosn’t feel undersized and it performed well.
The Roam Telescoping rods expand to 6’ and are paired with a reel pre-spooled with 8 lb (spinning) or 10 lb (spincast) line. It comes in four configurations:
The Zebco Roam two-piece Spinning Reel Outfits come in these sizes and colors:
Themed Kid’s Rods
I also tested the Zebco Kylo Ren Star Wars Combo with the Light-Up Rod. This must be for the kid who isn’t sure if he wants to be a Jedi or a fisher, or maybe he loves both equally!
This black and red, 29” one-piece rod lights up like a light saber. The light is activated by a push button in the butt of the rod. One push will light the entire shaft and the tip for about 20 seconds. The batteries – which are included – are replaceable. The rod is recommended for pan fish, trout, walleye, and bass. A practice casting plug is included.
In construction similar to the kid’s Splash Combo, the Kylo reel is integrated into the handle of the rod. The line release button is way oversized. The single-paddle handle is right-hand retrieve only. This reel has QuickSet Anti-Reverse, which is handy for a Jedi just learning to set the hook. A thumb-adjust drag sits atop the reel. The reel is loaded with 100 yards of 6 lb test.
A slightly different 2-piece 4’, non-light up Kylo Ren model is also available.
The Zebco 33 Platinum Combo is great for tight spaces with a two-piece, 5.5-foot silver fiberglass rod. The cork handle is ergonomically merged with molded EVA. Designed for most fishing applications (pan fish, trout, bass, walleye, catfish, stripers and light saltwater) this combo comes with a bonus, three included lures! You get a top-water popper, a lipless rattle crankbait, and a diving minnow.
A 6′ version of the 33 Platinum Combo has an EVA handle only, no cork.
Pre-spooled with 120 yards of 10 lb test line, this Zebco 33 Platinum Spincast Reel can accommodate line weights from 6-12 lbs. The dual-paddle crank will bring in a whopping 26-inches-per-turn. This reel has a solid brass pinion gear with a gear ratio of 4.7:1. The silver all-metal body is durable.
FUNNY BUT TRUE: While fishing from a canoe, I accidently dropped the The Zebco 33 Platinum Combo in a lake where it is 40-50 feet deep. Fortunately I was fishing a top-water frog. I knew if I could find my frog I could probably recover the rod and reel. I spotted the frog several yards away. After retrieving it, I began hand-pulling line. Eventually I hauled up the slightly muddy – but still in excellent condition – outfit. Only the hand-pulled line had become a bird’s nest and couldn’t be saved.
The 33 Gold MAX Spincast Combo includes a 6.5 foot medium-fast action fiberglass rod with a cork handle. The rod is thick with a substantial feel. I’d have no qualms taking this rod striper fishing or rigging it for big catfish. The blank in the bottom half of this two-piece rod is black with black wraps with pinstripe gold accent wraps. The upper blank is black on the bottom half and gold on the top. The wire guides have metal inserts.
The 33 Gold Max Spincast Reel is mostly silver with a band of gold around the center of the reel, which extends to the handle and reel foot. The brushed metal finish looks sleek. The gears are all-metal. In the combo the reel comes loaded with 100 yards of 20 lb line, and will accept 10- to 20-lb test. The gear ratio is 2.6:1. None of the 33 Gold Spincast Reels have Zebco’s Bite Alert. The 33 Gold Spincast Reels have a dual-paddle handle.
The 33 Gold Spincast Reel also comes in a midsize for light-medium-heavy applications, loaded with 120 yards of 10 lb line. The gear ratio is 4.1:1
For your lightest fishing pursuits I recommend The 33 Gold Micro Spincast Reel, loaded with 90 yards of 4 lb test. The gear ratio is 4.3:1.
The regular (not Gold) 33 Max Spincast Reel does feature the non-electronic Bite Alert.
The Folds of Honor Foundation exists to provide educational scholarships to the spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members. Their logo is a triangular folded American flag.
For every Zebco Folds of Honor Outfit purchased, Zebco donates a dollar to the Folds of Honor Foundation.
The Folds of Honor Rod is medium action, fiberglass, 6′, 2-piece, with gray blanks and darker gray wraps. The EVA molded handle has a cool gray camo pattern. A sentry of three stars flanks both sides of the Zebco name on the rod with the Folds of Honor logo above that.
The rod is paired with a special edition Folds of Honor Zebco 33 Spincast Reel. The reel has the thumb-adjust drag and an on/off switch for Bite Alert. It is pre-spooled with 120 yards of 10 lb test. The dual-paddle handle can be changed to left- or right-hand retrieve.
This is a terrific all-around combo, appropriate for older children and adults. It can be used to target pan fish, trout, bass, and walleye. In fact, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite rods! As for supporting the Folds of Honor Foundation I say, Well Done!
The Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Combo Outfit has a 6.5 foot, two-piece graphite rod with aluminum-oxide guides. The rod has a matte black finish with epoxy coated black wraps with silver pinstripe accent wraps on the hook-keeper and the first guide. Of the multiple Zebco Outfits I tested, the hook-keeper is unique to the Omega Pro Rod.
The Omega Pro Outfit is designed for medium-heavy fishing situations, targeting walleye, bass, catfish, stripers, and light saltwater.
The handle is ComfortGrip EVA, and can be quite nice to hold. However, there isn’t enough clearance between the single-paddle reel handle when it’s in the 7-o’clock position and your hand and forefinger when grasping the grip. It is necessary to readjust the reel handle before making a cast.
The Zebco Omega Pro (Size 30) Spincast Reel has an all-metal frame and comes loaded with 85 yards of 10 lb test line. The verbiage on the reel boasts a Mach3 Gear System. The gear ratio is 3.4:1. The Omega Pro Spincast Reel is smooth-casting. It feels like a precision-crafted piece of equipment. The line release button area is covered with rubber, and I have concerns about the durability of this design over time.
The Zebco 808 Spincast (size 80) Reel comes spooled with 145 yards of 20 lb test line. The single-paddle crank will retrieve 19 inches-per-turn. The matte black finish gives this big reel an understated bold look. A toggle switch easily activates the non-electronic Bite Alert. Use this reel for heavy fishing applications, like catfish, stripers, and saltwater.
Zebco Spyn Spinning Fishing Reel (Size 30) arrived pre-spooled with 12 lb line. In my opinion, it was over-spooled with too much line. Besides that, the line had a lot of memory. Any slack immediately twisted and kinked. I removed some of the excess line and had better results.
The reel itself works well, and allowed for smooth casting. The Spyn Reel has all-metal gears and retrieves 28 inchs (the highest rate of tested reels) per turn of the handle. The gear ratio is 5.3:1. At only $19 this is a terrific deal.
As you can see, there’s a Zebco outfit for just about any fishing situation! I hope this guide will help you select the perfect rod and reel. Be sure to check back; I will be updating this article as new fishing equipment arrives.
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