Initiation to poling...

Had what we call a “sun break” and HAD to get out in the canoe, despite temperature in the high 30’s. I’ve decided to learn to pole before I’m 70, so I put my Spring Creek floats on (I can hear the screams from the Real Paddler corner), and used my 9’ double paddle to experiment in a quiet corner of a river/lake (Deschutes/Capitol, for those who know Olympia). 12-24" of water, mud bottom. Just a little bit of crouched paddling/poling,experimenting with forward and reverse gear and a little turning. I’m rather stiff, clumsy, and out-of-shape, but by gosh, it worked! Don’t think I needed the floats, but they gave me confidence. Next step, in warmer weather, will be to forsake the floats, perhaps use a tandem canoe, and acquire a real pole. Then on to moving water. Don’t think I’ll try it in Puget Sound. I just wanted to encourage any other hesitant folk to give it a shot-we have nothing to lose but our balance.

Sounds interesting and
I totally agree with the Spring Creek Stabilizers, as you never know. The heck with what other’s think. I might try that in a much warmer situation though! Pole on, paddle on… however you can get on the water.

I’m excited too!
After TexasLady brought up poling here a few weeks ago, I retreaved from my parents’ house the pole I’d used with my jonboat 20 years ago.

In a fit of foolishness the otherday when I was out on the Guadalupe River, I stood up in the canoe and gave it a try. Worked great. In no time, heading upstream in a shallow rocky current was actually easy and fun. A humbling spill is no doubt in store for the next trip, but so far so good.

Here are a couple of articles, one on building a cheap pole and one on technigue. Be careful and enjoy.

What kind of canoe?
Did you do that in your Vagabond? I haven’t tried standing up and poling in mine yet, but eventually I will. I have half a notion to make a pair of short poles for manuevering while sitting down when in tight spots among fallen trees. I also might make a short pole with a sharp hook for grabbing downed trees and pulling.

Good to know you got some tolerable weather and got out in the boat!

Yep, in the Vagabond…
…and I think a better-balanced person could do it easily without floats-I’ll try eventually. I’m sure that I couldn’t have done it in the Sandpiper, although others might.

I looked at that pole-making site, by the way, and it’s excellent. I’m going to give it a try.

thank you
very cool information, thank you for the links

last season, several times as I was paddling upstream on the Huron River during a time of year when the water was very low (6 inches in the deeper areas) in my Merlin II, a guy would occasionally cruise right by in an Old Town Canadian 17…standing up and poling and looking totally relaxed

hard not to conclude that he might be using the right technique for the conditions!

Speaking of Puget Sound and other non-
rivers, one can pole around the margins of lakes and ocean inlets, even along the shore of the ocean if the surf is light. If your pole is light (mine is the Syl Beletz 12 foot aluminum), and you find yourself temporarily in water too deep to reach the bottom, you can sit and use the pole like a kayak paddle.

anyone tried poling a kayak?
I was out in the South Platte yesterday in my kayak…all 120cfs of it (it typically runs over 1000cfs in the spring). I first went upstream before turning around to head back to the put-in. It was fun (in a perverse sort of way) with lots of high effort sprints through high current areas. Lots of “shoveling gravel” with my paddle as I made my way upstream. A few times I was able to best make my way upstream by pushing along the bank with my paddle.

Can you ‘pole’ while sitting down? The spnsn approach would allow me to stand — has anyone tried this in a kayak?

You’re right…
…about the fringes. I was thinking of the deep water, where the giant octopi roam.

I have a New World wooden paddle
with stainless steel top cover and sharp 90 degree corners on the blades. Much better than later paddles for shoving the boat upstream through shallows, and up small drops where there is no way to get paddle purchase on the water.

I’m not standing in kayaks, though. By contrast, standing to pole in any normal sized canoe is easy. I had the hang of it the first time I tried, and I’m big and clumsy. Also, canoe floats would not be much help if you make a big mistake while poling. You’ll just fall sideways over the float.

Pole Pics
I’m jealous of all you folks who can still make water move. All of ours is that nice thick hard stuff that ya slide on.

I’ve put up a few pics of my poles. One is one inch diameter with an epoxy plug in the end. It has a nice rounded end from years of use. This is my favorite. The other with a bolt at the end is an Ed Hayden pole. Guy is 70 yrs old champion poler and makes me look like a slobbering fool out there. That pole is one inch and 5/8’s I think and is great for use in the rocky areas. Coming to like this pole a whole lot!

I’ve included some pics of how I attach my pole to my canoe to keep it out of the way. This is very simple but does involve drilling into your gunwale. I do have a pole clip that attaches to my thwart but I can’t find the damn thing to take pics of. This is recommended for aluminum poles only as a wood pole has memory and will retain the shape of the bend of the canoe. I’ve tried that with 3 wooden poles and I’ll tell ya, it is a bi%^h to try to pole with something curved like that.

The pole clip is nothing more then a hunk of wood with a U shape sanded into it on one side. Then I drill down through it and the thwart and use a long thin bolt with a wingnut at the bottom of the thwart to hold it into place. This way I can take it off when I want to. When I find it I’ll put it back on and submit some pics of it.

Oh yeah, the link is:

Jeez, can’t believe I’m posting pics of poles, I gotta get a life or move to warmer climates. :wink:


Hey Doug, nice poling pics!
Scooterrides2 was great. I’d label that one “HOLY GOD@#$AM!” Did the guy live?


Great Pictures
Thanks Doug it looks like you guys are having a blast.

Hey, where’d you get buddies named Scooter and Carp! :slight_smile:

To Tell Ya The Truth
If you hang around some of the croonies I paddle with you’ll end up with some kind of a name whether ya like it or not! :slight_smile:

Carp came up with his own name, and is a damn good poler. Only guy I’ve ever seen in a class I poling upstream, catching a wave to surf while doing it on one leg. No s&@t, I saw it and couldn’t believe it.

As for Scooter, well that might just be my alter ego for poling. Long story but the moniker stuck! Other characters in the list would be Shackleboy (pls don’t ask), Brother Dick, Nanookie, Pajama Bob to name a few. Makes for an interesting evening around the fire!




Good crew…
it sounds like. Haven’t known anyone named Scooter since childhood, other than a neighbor’s dog.:slight_smile: Good name.

This is not asking, but…Shackleboy? LOL

going to try making that pole…
and this year I will try to pole. May need to use my smaller canoe and leave the dogs home but I love trying new things.

happy paddling,