Pole tip question

-- Last Updated: Mar-06-07 2:05 PM EST --

To broaden my enjoyment in the never-ending challenges of canoeing I have built my first pole. It is 12ft x 1-5/16in made of ash (lamination of eight pieces) and weighs 5lbs. To protect the ends I have installed 3in brass ferrules. The ferrule slips over a 2-1/2in tenon; it is epoxied and pined with a 1/8in brass rod. The wall thickness of the brass tubing is .045in it projects past the end of the pole 1/2in creating a cupped end. My original thought was that this cup would offer good purchase on gravel river bottoms but I am having additional thoughts and now see this cup becoming bent, distorted and packed with mud. My current thought is to fill this recess with epoxy mixed with high-density filler and/or bits of glass fibers.

What do you experienced polers say? Should I leave it cupped or fill the cup? What would be the most durable filler? I’m familiar with West System Brand epoxies.

Wait a minute, I’m dreaming up new thoughts of interchangeable ends that could slip over the 1-1/4in OD of the ferrule. How about an articulating flat-bottomed foot for soft bottoms, and a pike, I gotta have a pike, ifin I have to defend myself. Maybe I’m having too many thoughts.


Interchangeable feet
You know, if you can find an easy way to outfit that tip with other tips for different uses, that would definitely be cool. Very useful if you can figure out a good fastening system.

As for the use of the pole tip, as is, it should work pretty well on stone, sand & gravel…really good in sand and gravel. If you use it in silty or muddy bottoms, it will pack in. Still useful but without as much bite. It will get a bit beat up and bent, though, depending on the strength of the sidewalls.


Cut it off.

– Last Updated: Mar-06-07 4:48 PM EST –

I would just trim off the 1/2 in. that is hanging off, so it is even with the end of the poll. It will look ugly after one hard day of polling or you will get a rock jammed in the end. I wouldn't try to fill it.


Plumbers Epoxy
I used that stuff in the end of my aluminum pole when I got it back in 99’. It’s still there doing the job and is a whole lot cheaper than epoxy kits. Just food for thought.


Go simple
If the bottom is muddy enough that you need a foot, it is probably gonna be soft enough that the foot sinks in, and then there will be resistance when you go to lift it out. I hate poling in silt. I have found wiggling the pole at the end of the push makes it easier to retrieve the pole, but its still work. I usually give up and switch to a paddle if the water is deep enough. So I recommend against the foot and suggest you keep it simple.

Plus, at five pounds, your pole is already on the heavy side, IMHO. That’s why I like the suggestion of just cutting off the hollow ends of your pole. I wouldn’t want to add another ounce by filling the ends.

Weight in the pole is another one of those trade-off things. For lazy water the rigidity of the pole is not that important, but if the boat is getting pushed around by the current, you will probably appreciate the responsiveness of the ash pole (I assume it is stiffer then a closet pole or my basswood pruning pole.) The 2 lb. basswood pole bends easily, and the river has its way with the boat until the pole is finished bending. At that point, I have probably lost control.

In sum, my suggestion is stay simple and stay light. Good luck with it and I look forward to your poling trip reports.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

Go with the Pike!

– Last Updated: Mar-06-07 3:36 PM EST –

Mine all have a stainless 3/8" bolt set in either delrin or closet pole with a copper band to prevent splitting. The bolt protrudes roughly an inch past the end of the pole.
That works well on rocky to gravely bottoms.
Ed M of the Connecticut ACA crew does not use a bolt. He sets the delrin plug wear into his aluminum pole so that the aluminum grabs the rock. Judging from the way my old aluminum canoe grabbed rocks he may be on to something.
I may remove the bolt from my wood pole. That should make it quieter but I doubt it will improve the purchase.