who does it? wood,metal? spike tip? closet rod?

I have a 12ft ash pole made by laminating strips together. The ash pole has metal on ends to protect from spliting, no spikes on mine. I also have a 3 pc. take apart carbon fiber pole. Made by Lendal. Price was about 150 dollars. It is worth every penny. Light wieght,strong, breaks down to 3 - 4ft pcs. I tried a piece of closet rod that my friend was using. After 2 seconds of that I gave it back to him and said I am afraid I would snap that in two and injur myself. I hope this helps.

I have an old Beletz aluminum pole
It’s a very good pole, and if I were replacing it, I would get a piece of T6061 aluminum. The Beletz pole breaks down into two pieces for transport. They haven’t been available for some time. I believe Ed Hayden supplies aluminum poles but I don’t have his address. I’d like to have a titanium pole.

I have a 12’ aluminum pole (Ed Hayden made). Nice and lightweight, excellent for upstream work, but it is damn noisy, and very cold in the winter.

My other pole is a 12’ spruce pole with a pointed steel shoe on one end. Much quieter, and warmer to hold in the winter, but with only one shoe it requires quite a bit of attention for upstream work.


Cut my own
I quartered a 10" Ash with my chain saw, then put it on my table saw, to get a 2" blank, From there cut it down round from there with a drawknife handplane, and belt sander.

I cut an 1 1/2" piece of black pipe and made a 1" band on the end.

Coated it with a Mineral Spirits & Honey mixture

From my readings I still need to work on the tip.


1.125" diameter 0.058" wall.

Delrin plugs with stainless bolts set in each end.

12’ long. One piece. A pair of 12’ poles store and travel quite nicely in a 15’ -17’ canoe.

They are noisy and cold in the winter but they are light, strong and springy.

I use wood, never aluminum.
Not here in the lightning capitol of the US (west-central FL). 12.5’ long made from an 1.5" spruce dowel. Painted myself in eastern coral snake pattern & colors (metal-flake red, metallic black, day-glo yellow). Final coating in WEST epoxy, triple coating mixed w/ beach sand on 6" of both ends.

Pros: Quiter than any al. pole, allowing me to tto work the fishing flats; far better at not attracting lightning; feels warm, even on cold days; lots of positive comments on appearence.

Cons: Draws the attention of big bull gators (wanting to make a snack of it I guess).

then i’ll have to stripe my red pole
into a candy cane.

I’m not sure that I believe
That a wet wooden pole is less of a lightning rod than an aluminum pole.

Seems like plenty of trees get hit.

I don’t guess I’d care to be waving either around in a storm.

wet wood works as a lightning rod
if i see lightning then it time to get ashore 4:20

gulfcoaster, how did you determine
that your pole is far better than an aluminum pole at not attracting lightning?

That must have been one electrifying study, with shocking results!

One might argue that the safest pole would be one with a bunch of electron discharging spikes on the top end. That’s how companies guarantee no strikes whatsoever on properly fitted buildings.

wore it down!
8 days poling down the st.john in maine at very low levels. wore 1" off of a 3/8 stud on the end of my pole. my poles are double tipped but i did use this worn one 95% of the time. it also has copper caps that have been nicely rounded. the pole came from the home de pot its a 12" closet rod! costs about 23$.

had me a visit to pole and paddle
it was a beuatiful sight to see so many pole being made1 tight grain and smooth as your ***. three choices of tips all hand made. steel,steel with aluminum and steel with brass tips. gonna get a nice touring pole and a free style pole for competition. pole and paddle in limerick maine.

Late response but…
Strange no one questioning the quietness of wood or the warmth of its feel on a cold day but you do question as to what makes a better conductor. Skipped a lot of science classes I take it. I’ll try to cure your ignorance.

  1. Aluminum is a far better conductor than wood.
  2. The reason lightning rods work is not just what’s in the air but also in the ground (or water) & what’s in between. It’s called conductivity.
  3. Please come to central Florida during the summer and perform the experiment during a thunderstorm with your metal pole and I’ll be about 100 feet away using my wood pole. Let’s see who gets zapped first. I’m willing to chance it, how about you doubters?

Went to MIT. Learned to question
conventional beliefs. Until you have some evidence that aluminum polers are getting struck and wood polers are not, I think we should all assume that there isn’t enough difference to worry about. An active poler should be spilling charge off through his motions.

If you and your boat pass into a big bubble of charge, then it isn’t going to matter whether the highest point is aluminum or wood. Trees, saplings get struck all the time. Properly planned, grounded metal lightning rods DON’T get struck, because they bleed off charge. It isn’t the material, it’s the total configuration and situation.

I will grant you that if lightning is so gracious as to strike nearby, rather than on the pole, then an aluminum pole will conduct amperage up to one’s hands somewhat more readily than a wood pole. But that aluminum pole, if planted on the bottom of the river, may ground more current than a wood pole.

The main plus I see for wooden poles is they are quieter. Somewhat. I don’t think you’ll see a lot of wood poles at poling competitions, but those that are used will be worth inspecting.


– Last Updated: Dec-03-10 10:39 PM EST –

Pretty sure a wet wood pole isn't going to be any safer in a lightning storm than aluminum. I suppose maybe if you use only one end and keep the rest of the pole dry - but that would be pretty limiting...

I have a few poles.

Three aluminum and two wood. One of the aluminum poles is a two-piece. One of the wood poles is a carefully selected closet rod. It is actually pretty strong...very fine, straight grain. I've used it to climb lower cl2 rapids with no problem other than quite a bit of flex.

The other wood pole, I made by hand from an ash plank. Very stiff, but heavy.

All my poles are spiked at both ends except my heavier one-piece aluminum, which has conical bronze shoes at each end. My ash pole wears spiked shoes that consist of about 6" of aluminum tubing, plugged with delrin with threaded-in spike and epoxied over the press-fit end of the wood - it simply looks like a typical aluminum pole end, cut off and fitted to the wood pole.

I have found that each of these poles works better than the others for certain conditions - none is better at all times. As mentioned already, the biggest benefits of wood poles are that they are not as noisy as aluminum and they do not conduct heat (or cold, depending on how you look at it) nearly as much as aluminum. And they do look nicer. My lightest aluminum pole weighs the same as my closet rod pole, but is quite a bit stiffer.

It's a lot easier to make a stiff aluminum pole than a stiff wood one. And for a given stiffness, the aluminum will be lighter. It's arguably a lot cooler to make a nice wood pole by hand and seems to be more pleasant to observers - especially paired with a canoe with nice wood gun'ls.

I find I prefer the wood poles while tripping. Just more pleasant to use when I'm not pushing my limits.

Closet pole stock is often close-grained
douglas fir. I’ve used it to make some paddles.

My Beletz aluminum pole is a 2 piece. I wouldn’t call it particularly stiff. It certainly bends if you drag-stop with it.

An ash pole can be lighter and more flexible if the diameter is reduced, but I wonder if one would begin to notice the difference between bending the pole in the quarter sawn versus the flat sawn axis.

If I knew what I was doing, I would get a titanium pole. But it would be a trick to know what wall thickness to get so that the pole would have a little bend but be safe from getting crimped if caught between rocks.

Doug fir
That is what my closet rod pole came from, I’m sure. Really is a pretty good stick and I wouldn’t hesitate to use another one like it.

I still have a lot of that ash plank left. Next time I want to try a smaller diameter, just as you suggest. Lighter isn’t always better though, I think.

2 piece
I made my two-piece aluminum pole myself, using these instructions as a guide…


I used shouldered delrin plugs (turned on a lathe to fit the tubing ID) and 3/8" bolts with the heads rounded off for spikes.

Since I used slightly thicker walled tubing and the insert for the coupler is probably unnecessarily long, this is without a doubt my stiffest pole. I haven’t yet decided if that’s really an advantage.

Thanks for posting that link. My Beletz
is old, and with Ed Hayden’s passing, I can’t order one from him.

I’d like to make a two piece that’s 13’, even 14’ long. I’m 6’ 5" and a twelve seems a bit short when the water is deeper.