I’ve heard a couple people mention poling in canoes… what is it, and how does it work?

All you need are two things: 1.) a stick, and 2.) something that floats.

Propel the boat up, down, flat, anywhere you want to go. No shuttle? Put-in, pole up, pole down, take-out. Want to run WW? With practice and experience, you can get up WWII. If there’s a sneak route around that IIIish section, you can maybe just drag up that. Then you can snub down stuff you couldn’t paddle through.

There’s a pretty active group of polers who hang out at the Northeast Paddlers Message Board, Tripping, Camping, Poling, etc.


They’ll be happy to help.

The Maine poling clinic and championship races (slalom and wildwater) are in Bangor this weekend. The weekend after that, we’re cruising on the Farmington in CT. The Nationals are on the Hudson in early June.

Do it.



one more item
besides a stick and a floating thing that you need is a pretty good sense of balance. Basically a poler stands up in the stern of the boat and uses a pole to push his/her way along. Usually done upstream but some who are good at it would rather pole in either direction than paddle. Advantage is that if the pole is pushed 3 feet, the boat moves 3 feet, unlike a paddle which is not ‘positive displacement’.

Attempted it a couple of times. Didn’t get wet but tried. Practice makes pretty good.