Poling a canoe

What would you look for in a canoe for poling? Intial stability? Wider beam? Tandem/solo? or ?

Normally it is best to use a standard 16
foot tandem or larger.



Poling canoes
I use a Mad River Explorer, 16’ x 34" shallow V with just a touch of rocker.

The 16’ MR Freedom has a bit more rocker so it turns better. Long time poling champion Harry Rock uses one of those. Other folks I know of use Old Town Appliachians, Trippers and 16’ Discovery’s.

Those are all tandems with OK initial and excelent secondary stability.

Tramper Al says he poled his Wildfire some recently. Got me all inspired to try it in my Osprey. Could be a swimming lesson there.


Comfortable foot stance
I’d consider myself a relative newbie to poling – I’ve only swum a half dozen times or so while practicing :slight_smile: . I’d rather have more secondary stability than initial when poling. One thing I found is that the width of the canoe where you are standing plays an important part (at least for me). I’ve practiced in a few canoes, and it seems I can get a proper foot stance in some, but not others. Some are comfortable, others seem too tight. And when you move forward to get mor width, it really affects trim. I favor the MR Explorer I have when poling solo, but with a load I really have trouble poling it. But like I said, I am wet behind the ears (and hair, shorts, sandals, and shirt) when poling.


Agree with Tom
A wider boat, usually a tandem is the preferred boat for polers. My girlfriend has a 12’ x 33" Riverjammer that I’ve poled and that is one tricky boat to stand in.

I like my OT 158 for poling over the MR Explorer or my Malecite due to its flat bottom. I find I can turn much easier than with a V hull but then again that’s just my preference.


Don’t ask me

– Last Updated: Aug-15-05 12:27 PM EST –

Yeah, I've read all the usual sources on poling and my impression is that a 16 ft boat with 36" beam is a good place to start. My limited poling experience comes in the boat I most find myself paddling when the route begins to lend itself to poling.

As far as stability, primary vs. secondary. I can tell you that in the Wildfire, the low primary stabilty (this boat has excellent secondary stability) is a major factor in making it quite challenging to pole. I am far more likely to fall out of the boat than to actually tip it. By the time secondary comes into play, the cat is out of the bag and in the water.

just wondering if you make or buy your poles and where you would buy one and of what material, i saw a post where a person made one out of a closet pole thanks bob


Here’s a link over to making your own pole from a closet rod from Home Depot. I also have 2 aluminum poles I got from Ed Hayden who makes them. I don’t have a link for him though. He charges something like 50-60$. Hope this helps.



– Last Updated: Aug-15-05 1:55 PM EST –

There are a few choices out there. Edit: Ooops, Doug posted while I was still composing.

The "Home Depot" canoe pole is perhaps the cheapest pole you can make, excepting one you cut in the field of course. Googling these key words, I find: http://www.brockeng.com/AmusingRaven/pole.htm
Choosing the right piece of wood from the stock seems to be key.

There is a fellow in Connecticut who makes very nice aluminum poles, in one piece or two. The standard is 12 feet. I use one of his poles and it is great.

Lendal makes a pole, and this is the only commercially-produced synthetic pole I have been able to locate on the web. It's a bit expensive and few Lendal dealers have it.

There are also at least two small companies in Western Maine, findable on the web, making crafted wood "setting poles". These tend to have a foot on one end, generally used for the traditional style of poling, standing diagonally and using one end of the pole only.

Hope that helps get you started.

Home made pole here

– Last Updated: Aug-15-05 2:28 PM EST –

Mark me down as one who went the home made route for a pole. Its cheap and serviceable.


As Al stated, there a couple of companies that make wooden setting poles with foots on the ends. These are made of ash and the foot is kind of heavy. I’ve used one of these, a friend has one, guy drove through a nor’eastern to get it, and I find it heavy. Very durable but I’d hate to pole for a long period of time with it. I also built an ash pole and although it was nice once again weight was the factor.

As for traveling with a load, well, this takes a little practice, at least for me it did. Ascending you want to be bow light. On trips I carry 2 duluth packs, a bucket, and a day pack. The heavier packs go as far back as I can get them. For descending I like still keep the weight off of the bow but can move packs nearer to it. It takes trail and error and frequent stops to shift stuff around in the beginning. Ahhhh Hell, I still futz around with gear on every trip trying to get it right.


Want a laugh? Check out the poles…
used by rich guys who fish the flats.

A “Loomis Push Pole” is 18 ft long, made of carbon fiber, and costs a mere $640.00…

see: http://scottiescanvas.com/products/boating_products/push_poles.htm

Poling Options

– Last Updated: Aug-15-05 10:54 PM EST –

The favored boat of the Pennsylvania Contingencies Stunt Poling Society is the Old Town Appalacian.....but that primarily has to do with the innexpansive aquisition of a number hulls from an updated commercial fleet. It was a lucky break scoring these hulls for next to nothing, because they work fantastic as poling craft. I also have a 14' fiberglass pirogue that works great on the micro creek in my back yard, but I wouldn't run class II with it.

As for poles we currently have 1 curtain rod, 1 homebuilt circa 1975 aluminum, 1 Lendal three part fiberglass, and 2 prototype wood 2 parters from Fox Worx.