Cheap Canoe Poles

After spending some time with Dougd at Raystown I have totally been bitten by the poling bug. I have actually dreamed of it on two seperate nights.

I did some internet research and came across these plans.

Total cost was $27.19 and the construction took less than an hour.

Tomorrow will start the field tests, but so far it looks like a great pole to start with.

For my next project I may grab the two 6’ lengts of carbon fibre shaft that have been aroung BMO for ages.

Any body know where to get ahold of some decent aluminum tubing?

That is what I’m using

– Last Updated: Oct-22-04 4:29 PM EST –

Topher, It was amazing how well that point grabbed on rock and gravel bottoms. It made a huge difference over another pole I have with just bare wood ends. Got to remember to fix that one cause it is a better pole otherwise because it is lighter and longer. For me 12' works beter than 10'. That is about the extent of my poling wisdom. I'm jealous that you got to learn from Doug.

Home Depot Pole
I made one of those and I have an aluminum pole made by Ed Hayden of Rhode Island.

I like the wood better for going down stream and the aluminum for going upstream. Unfortunately my aluminum pole is developing a curve on one end fom getting stuck in the rocks so I too am looking for an inexpensive source of tubing.

If I find something I’ll post it.

Hey did Doug teach you gunnel dancing?

Gunnel Dancing…
… I already knew. I spent 5 summers at a camp that stressed the bible and mostly inane sports. The only thing I accelled at was the canoe jousting. I am well versed at standing on the bow gunnels and swinging about a pole…it just never occured to me to try to move that way.

The other training tip I had was the fact that I’m often too damn lazy to pull the boat over to take a piss…so again I’m used to swing about a pole while standing in a canoe…hahahah

Topher, My paddling buddy Hal the Gullboy got me my first aluminum pole, don’t know where though. CanoeSherpa order his from “somewhere” but it cost him about 100$. I don’t have a source around here. Maybe check some local metal stores?! If you get one you’ll need to plug the ends. I use plumbers epoxy. It’s like clay that you need to mix/roll with your hands to mix the 2 parts of the epoxy. Jam it in the ends of your pole and let set. You can add a bolt if you want.

I really love my aluminum poles but I think I’m going to be going back to wood as it’s not as noisy, is warmer in the colder weather, and I just like the looks of it better. If you go the Home Depot route look for the clearest peice you can find. I’m actually thinking of a 12’ and an 8’. I already have the 10’. After watching Nanook of the Naswaak run a set of boney rapids with his 8 footer I was impressed enough to want to try that.

Just remember to store it straight, even in your boat as if it takes a bend to it the wood will keep that in its memory. Glad to see another convert! Keep us posted, pics if ya can, on your poling adventures.


I have one of the Beletz aluminum poles.
Worked very well, although at my height (6’5") I think 14’ would have been better than 12".

I always wanted to find a supplier for a titanium pole.

Doug what is the outside diameter of
your best aluminum pole ?

The Beletz aluminum poles were 1".
For my large hands, I might have preferred 1 1/8" or so.

Found 1"x 12’X 1/16 aluminum poles
look very much like the one Doug had at Raystown, Only wish they were hard anodized (will turn your hand black) 9.50 ea. let me know if you want one.

Not-so-cheap canoe pole
The ‘standard’ aluminum pole, at least here in New England, is seamless, drawn (avoid extrusions or sections intended for architectural trim) 6000-series in a hard condition (I think the easiest (only?) alloys/tempers to find are 6061-T6 or -T651). Compared to the 2000-series, they’ll have better corrosion resistance, and they’ll be weldable, if that’s in your plan.

7075 would be better for a pole, I think, but I’ve never seen 1.125 tubing made from it. Too, if I poked around enough, I’m afraid I’d get busted by Homeland Security for trying to enrich uranium.

The size seems to have homed in on a universal compromise 1.125"OD x .058" wall x 12 feet long. Any significant departure from this norm degrades performance in some significant way - weight, stiffness, strength, etc.

It turns out to be devilishly difficult to get material for canoe poles in small quantities. First, suppliers aren’t making any money on quantity 2 or 3 transactions, so be happy if they don’t hang up on you and don’t complain about the premium you will pay. Second neither UPS nor USPS will ship anything 12 feet long. Third, trucking companies don’t like to make deliveries to residences. Fourth, even if you can sweet talk your neighborhood fab shop into receiving your tubing the next time the truck makes a delivery, the supplier might not deliver to an address that doesn’t match the one on your credit card. Never mind how far I got into the process before I got bitten by this one.

Finally, last summer I gave up and I paid $130 for three poles from Yarde Metals ( in Southington CT, picking them up at will call.

It’s not too hard to find someone who’ll sell and UPS to you 6’ sections of tubing in suitable alloys (amateur radio guys build antennas out of the stuff), it’s not that easy to make the joint. If you have a lathe and a TIG welder, you’re home free, but making a decent joint without both is tough. If you manage a design, by all means post it. You won’t get rich but you’ll be famous. Ed Hayden’s two piece poles are probably the best available, and if you can track him down and buy one, you’ll be way ahead.

Aluminum poles are lighter than wooden poles of comparable stiffness and strength, so, it’s important to seal them well to maintain the advantage. I don’t trust seals, so I stuff mine with closed cell foam, mostly to avoid the embarrassmnent of watching a waterlogged pole sink to the bottom of the creek. Some people just carve a wooden or nylon plug for the ends, hammer them in, and run a screw in.

Using Plan B, I outfitted an aluminum pole using pipe plugs of the type you can find in those drawer racks in larger hardware stores - a rubber donut that fits the inside of the tube and gets squeezed by a through-bolt. Getting it to work is a little more complicated than that, but it kind of works. “Kind of works” means not well enough to actually write up and post pictures and instructions.

The real way to do it is to own a fabrication shop with a rack of 6061 scrap, a lathe, and a TIG welder.

Hope this helps,


Home depot pole
Yep, got one o’ those meself! 12 feet of closet pole with a big fat washer bolted to the business end as a pathetic shoe.

Since I don’t spend nearly enough quality time with my canoe, it works for me (Too much SK, not enough canoe). Someday, I might even get competent with it.

Now, if I can just remember to bring it on trips with me, so I don’t have to borrow Doug’s pole…


Yeah Poling! A favorite subject!

– Last Updated: Nov-01-04 10:29 AM EST –

"An Aluminum Poling Pole For Big Hands or Those That Like Fat Poles."

It just so happens that I am in possession of a sectioned aluminum mil spec antenna. I picked it up for possible use as base camp tarp poles, but found adjustable aluminum painter's poles to be better. These sections would make an aluminum poling pole for big hands or those that like a fat pole.

For those of you that do not know what "mil spec" means it stands for "Military Specifications" It means over engineered, over built, and over charged for; in other wards much stronger than the job called for!

The skinny (er...Fat info):

The OD of the sections is 1-3/4".
Wall is approx 1/8" thick.
Each section is 47.75" long with the end 3.25" of each section slipping into the next section.
Each section weighs 2 lb 9 oz.
I have ten sections.

These sections could be bolted as I believe the joint is strong enough to take that, but ouch, could be rough in the hands.
Best way would probably be to have sections permanently tig welded and ground/sanded smooth.

A two section pole would create a 7' pole weighing 5 lb 3 oz.
A three section pole would be 11' 3" at 7 lb 12 oz.
A combination of these would make 2 each 7' poles and 2 each 11' 3" poles.

Probably a better choice would be 3 each 12' 7" poles at 8 lb 10 oz by using the extra section cut in thirds.

These would be a bit heavy, but that might be a advantage too. I have read about light aluminum poles having to be forced down in a little deeper water as they tent to be too buoyant. Most indicate they add weight to the ends. So that means (unlike in my paddles) light is only as good as light does. I guess in this situation there is such a thing as too light. These would not need that!

As a comparison in weights my wooden poles are heavily oiled and weigh:
12' x 1-1/4" is 4 lb 4 oz.
12' x 1-1/2" is 6 lb 8 oz.
I personally prefer the feel of the 1-1/4" over the 1-1/2" pole. AND definitely prefer the feel of wood over aluminum any day!

At 12' 7"" an aluminum pole out of these antenna sections would actually be proportionally a little lighter than well oiled wooden poles.

If anyone would really like to have some of these sections answer here or drop me an e-mail.

Happy Pol'n!



Linseed oil
just a safety note. Linseed oil is notorious for igniting without a heat source. I you use it, make sure you dispose of any rags safely.

Clothsline Them
Whenever I use linseed oil, on my pole and gunwales, I setup an old dogrun, cable, and then hang them on that to dry out before disposing of them. Works great and if they drop they are out in the open and not in the shop somewhere.

NT, my first aluminum pole is 1" diameter and the other is 1 5/8". I have come to prefer the wider one, feels better in my hands.