First time poling!

First let me thank all you P.netters who discuss poling and post photos and videos of your sport. I would probably have never even been aware of such a thing if I had not read about it here first. It’s not something you see being done in my neck o’ the woods.

I had hoped that I would get to try out my pole (Thanks to whoever posted the link to Fred Klingener’s “Home Depot Canoe Pole” instructions!) on a weekday, so there would be fewer witnesses if I made a fool of myself - but the weather hasn’t co-operated on that. So I made it to the nearby lake with some pretty good conditions today (Saturday). Just a little breeze - enough to make me have to put some effort into keeping my Camper pointed where I wanted to go.

I’d already done some paddling while standing, so I wasn’t too nervous about my balance, but I was surprised at just how much work my legs were doing. I’m delighted that I’ve found another fun “full-body” workout. Really didn’t appreciate what my legs were doing though until I got back on land. Wow!

So, I think I did okay. I only dropped my pole once when it stuck in a muddy spot, and managed to avoid any unintentional exits. I’m sure I looked very ungraceful though to the rec kayakers who paddled by. One mentioned my “unique” method of canoing and asked what it was called. I claimed it was called “poling”, but it surely must have looked like something else. :0

I tried all the beginner stuff I could remember from my reading (The Basic Essentials of Canoe Poling, by Harry Rock), but I’m sure I forgot a lot. Felt pretty darn klutzy, but I think I improved significantly over a couple hours. I was surprised at how fast I could go without much effort, once I smoothed out a little. And even more surprising, was how well the boat moved while “kayak-paddling” in deep water. :slight_smile: And turning…OH!

So now I’m anxious to try poling up some moving water, but I think I’ll spend some more time on the lake first. This is gonna be great!

you gave me goosebumps!!
Just read Strings post about feedback, now yours giving feedback :-).Enjoy the poling and remember, we’re all between swims.

you’re too scared to paddle or just full of #$%^#, we all fall out, even on some of our best days.

Have fun and be safe!


– Last Updated: Apr-28-08 1:26 PM EST –

Get your legs under you on the lake, experiment with the pole to find out how to turn, etc., but I don't think you'll get much more out of lake practice after a couple three times. Once you get out on a shallow river, you will really discover what poling is all about! You can then experiment with standing further forward or back to adjust your trim (bow-light going upstream, bow-heavy going down), and using boat leans and pole placement to direct the boat where you want to go.

Good luck and spread the knowledge!!


Congrats on taking the plunge (&not)
Glad you enjoyed your poling excursion. It really changed canoeing for me, because with the pole I can find more challenge in streams that had ceased being challenging when paddled, I can have great fun in some little diddly waterways where I might not otherwise go, and I can get out on streams with current and not worry about setting shuttle. There are other advantages. I see way more fish and bottom features when I am standing. I see over the banks of the channelized river where I do a lot of paddling. I can get to places where people rarely go. If you stay at it, you have a lot to look forward to.

Your Camper is the descendant of the the Chipewan I rehabbed as a poling boat last year. The boat is very flat and stable, which makes it a fine boat to learn poling. You might eventually want to move into something with a bit of arch and rocker to enhance your ability to control the canoe with lean. But you don’t need to, you can have fun in the Camper for the rest of your life. And the Chipewan, and I suspect your camper, draws less water than any boat of it’s size.

If you see you are gonna hit something, get down! Standing up is not the best way to absorb impacts.

Welcome to polling.


Let the FUN Begin

– Last Updated: Apr-28-08 4:08 PM EST –

Steve, Congrats on taking up poling. It will be your new addiction, trust me on this! When you hit the river for the first time stick to the edges for a bit until you get the feel for the current. Try a bunch of moves, peeling out, just plain making headway with your pole, turning, etc. You will be amazed at how much you want to try.

A few things to think of. First keep something that you can put some weight in, water jug or something as you might want to play around with adjusting weight for trim. This is always a crap shoot, for me anyway. If you have a spare pole bring it and if not bring a beater paddle for at some point in time you will get your pole stuck. I don't care how advance anyone is with poling IT IS going to happen! Just let go when it does. That is my theory anyway. Oh and yes, pack a drybag of spare cloths.

I don't know if this will make sense but your hips are the pivot point, keep loose, keep your knees bent and let them help you with stability. When ascending rapids/current using short "jabs" with your pole will get you there quicker and with much more control. As you mentioned your legs will begin to feel like rubber bands after a while, it is demanding physically this poling thing. I have had the day after a hard poling session where my thighs felt like I could hardly support my weight! It aint for the faint of heart if you get into it. Try it hauling a 100 pds of gear upstream and the next day you will know what the stretching rack felt like...just kiddin'...kinda! ;-)

There are a lot of different approaches to poling IMO. I do what works for me. For instance I do not use the Harry Rock throw the pole up your hand for re-entry, I like to place it especially on the rocky streams. Find what works for you and make it your own style. Just cause one person does it one way doesn't mean that is THE way to do it. At Raystown 2 years ago I had the pleasure of watching something like 14 different polers on the Juniata. It was amazing to watch all the different styles!!

Keep us informed, it's always great to see and hear about someone getting into it.


Thanks for the comments & tips, guys!
I was hoping to get after it again today - but we have hazardous wind warnings for the rest of the day, so I think I’ll mow the lawn instead. :frowning:

Maybe tomorrow…

I live about 15 minutes away from the lower Boise river. I’ve been down quite a bit of it, and it seems like it might be a perfect place for poling. Like one of you advised - once I can get in a couple more days on the lake, I’ll probably head for an easy stretch of the Boise next.

I’ll be sticking to parts that are not popular for running downstream for now, but at some point I’d like to be able to pole up the stretch that runs through the city. Other than avoiding weekends and afternoons - Is there anything I should know about interacting pleasantly with the “floaters”? Mostly, they’re on inner-tubes and small rafts, with the occasional rec kayak (I don’t recall ever seeing more than a couple of canoes there).

ah Steve, you’ll be the king!!

– Last Updated: Apr-29-08 2:39 PM EST –

I pole amongst the tubers, kayakers and fly fishermen a lot. Generally with the yakkers we're in the same group so no issue there, although if I'm going upstream the yakkers just get real curious. The tubers get really inquisitive(rafters too)and are quite friendly. "Is that called upstreaming?" said a little cutie in a bikini last year :-). I fell in from laughing so hard, and replied, "no it's called swimming!!". Main thing with the tubers is to realize they have no control, so if you see them coming, it's best to eddy behind a rock or at least stay out of their path. Worst issue I have on my local river is the trout fishermen, Orvis clad, fly rods, from all over the east coast and some from Europe as well (Farmington is a BIG TIME trout river).
When paddling discretely through the groups we'll get dirty looks, rude comments etc...When poling I often go up to the most crowded area
I'll start off with Aaron and we'll be clanking copper clad aluminum poles on granite, trying to get a head of steam up, deafening every trout for miles around. The comments I've gotten from the fishermen are "wow, you must be strong" and "that looks hard." Quite a more friendly group when you're standing with a 12' metal or wood pole in your hand. Sometimes I'll go along with a group of friends in their yaks, and we've noticed no rude comments when I lead the gang thru the fishermen. It's everybodys river and so much nicer when everyones chilled out, enjoying the day.
Looking forward to poling season, managed 2 snubbing trips with paddling buddies
and managed one swim chasing my son up through some rapids in this area.
Poling the deerfield with Riverstrider last year, a rafter asked him why he was going "That way". Chuck responded "'Cuz you're going THAT way!!" Almost fell out then too :-).