Poles and tape?

I have noticed a lot of photos showing multi-colored canoe poles. I assume this was done (on aluminum poles anyway) with colored plastic tape. I would like to try taping one of my aluminum poles so I use it with bare hands, and I would like some color scheme to mark off depth and center - but all I can find is clear plastic (packing) tape.

Where do y’all find colored plastic tape?

You can get colored plastic tape…

– Last Updated: Dec-31-08 1:22 AM EST –

... just about anywhere that sells office supplies, but I don't know if that stuff is the best choice. I used to use it for a lot of things, and it held up pretty well. I taped a home-built double-blade paddle with cloth tape made for bicycle handlebars, and that stuff was pretty nice. I think all bike tape is plastic now. Anyway, it needs to be anchored at the free end. They have colored duct tape too, at hardware stores. I'm sure that stuff would be pretty durable.

Naw, duct tape isn’t good for stuff you handle a lot - unless maybe I used the wrong kind. I tried it once, wrapped a paddle shaft, and after a couple months the glue started to creep out and make the whole thing a sticky mess. Then it was a PITA to remove it and clean up the shaft again.

I think the same thing would happen with any kind of adhesive tape. For example, electrical tape comes in all colors and has a soft kind of feel that might seem attractive, but I bet the glue would leak on that too.

Handlebar wrap sounds good, I hadn’t thought of that. Or auto steering wheel wrap. Something that is intended to have sweaty hands tugging on it in all weathers.

For distance markers, how about just painting them on? Alternatively, if you are good at eye-balling distances, you could use any type of adhesive tape but only put one mark on each end where your hands don’t usually go, say at the 2-foot mark, and one more in the middle. Then use multiples and fractions of that distance to estimate depths. For example, my kayak paddle has an 18-inch blade and a 4-foot midpoint. By sticking it in and touching bottom then pulling it out and eyeballing it, I can estimate any depth from 6 inches to 9 feet and get within a few inches.

Careful, there.
Too many decorations and it’ll look like FE’s Festivus pole!

stick tape?
How would hockey stick tape work? pretty durable and comes in different colors now. It is a bit sticky for a little while but once that wears off it should be OK.

Paint it
I would expect tape to get quickly torn-up on rocks and get annoying.

Why not use paint? Or if you want something more tactile, the paint-on rubber tool grip stuff.

If you really want tape, or tape-like stuff, electrical tape is available in many colors, as is heat-shrink tubing.

You want colored tape…

– Last Updated: Dec-31-08 1:06 PM EST –


Self-fusing electrical tape might work without leaving a residue.

I never had any luck getting paint to stick to aluminum for long. But it’s been a log time since I tried. What works without costing an arm & a leg?

Thanks for the idea…
…but I can’t think of any part of my pole that doesn’t get gripped at some time - except the spikes. :wink:

My beard is going white and I am losing hair - so, what the heck.

Electrical tape

I put yellow electrical tape on my aluminum pole when I first got it. It’s a two-piece pole, and I was afraid I’d dump the boat one day with the pole halves lying in the bottom, and the pole would sink. The spiral of bright yellow tape was intended to make it more visible in case I was trying to find it on the bottom of some river.

Colored electrical tape is available at many hardware stores and I expect you could find it at electrical suppliers. After a few years use I have had no issues with glue seepage. The tape has adhered well, but shows a lot of wear and tear towards the ends where it has been chewed up by rocks.

I currently have two wood poles. Frankenstick was a closet pole that snapped and has gotten resurrected, including some fiberglass/epoxy reenforcement. The FG/E needed paint to delay UV degradation and it rec’d a white-red barber-polish paint job. My reasoning was the paint job should make it easier to spot your pole in the event you get separated from it on the river. Plain old weathered wood is going to look a lot like river rubbish and could be hard to spot if it is lying along the bank or entwined in a strainer.

The second wood pole is watco’d ash. If I loose track of it, could be hard to find with it’s wood grain camo.

Anyhow, you asked about tape. I wouldn’t use bike tape, although it would be the best insulator. Well, maybe I would. But it would have to be nonabsorbant, and I think you’d want to glue it on, else if it breaks anywhere it all unwinds and becomes a pia if not a hazard. Friction tape (hockey sticks) might work well. I don’t think I’d like it because I often use a vigorous “pool-cue” return, almost throw the pole from bottom hand to top hand and I think the friction tape would impede that–I kind of want the pole to slide through my hands.

Let us know what you come up with and how it works.

Happy poling in 2009, and I hope you find yourself up many a creek without a paddle. May yer poling line be fine in oh-oh nine!


Try using a brush-wheel attachment
on a drill (or hand sand w/ fine grit sandpaper) to remove the aluminum oxide. Put down a coat or two of primer, let dry then paint.

Thanks, all.
I’ll do some experimenting (again).

Chip - gotcha on the “pool cue” return. I find myself doing that too now. Any kind of aggressive friction enhancement on the pole is out.

I might try paint first. I wonder if paint has the same insulating quality that tape does?

floor marking tape
Office supply catalogs have floor marking tape. You could try Grainger. Comes in many colors. It’s what we use on the East Coast. Some people spiral it on, some put two long strips. Improves grip, but a lot of us are going to Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax.

Electrical tape
Its cheap. It comes in all kinds of colors. It comes off without leaving any residue.