Choosing The Best Push Pole

Choosing The Best Push Pole

Today, it has become more and more common to see a push pole on a non-poling boat. Fishermen, duck hunters, boaters, kayakers, even stand-up paddle boarders all over the world are beginning to see the benefits of having a push pole at their disposal, even if they’re not a hardcore flats fisherman. Whether it is pushing off a dock, pushing a few yards to get closer to fish without spooking them, navigating a vessel around a log or away from shallow water to keep from being stranded, or easing over to decoys after a duck hunt, push poles are now showing up everywhere on all types of boats. Are you choosing a push pole in the near future?

I am often asked, “What’s the best push pole for my boat or kayak?” Well, that’s a tough question to answer without more information. The first two questions I ask are, “Are you fishing out of a boat with a poling platform? If so, do you plan on poling from it?” (Believe it or not, a lot of people own flats boats or technical flats skiffs, but have no interest in setting foot on a poling platform (like my daddy). If you fish from a kayak, do you feel safe enough in it to stand up and pole it? If so, you need to be poling the flats in you kayak and learn the art of sight fishing! Are you a freshwater bass fisherman? If so, you need to get yourself a push pole like my good friend Kevin VanDam and sneak up on those bedding fish like a professional bass fishermen! Over 90% of the Bassmaster Elite Anglers won’t leave the boat ramp without one on their boat. They’re all using push poles. (Most of them use shorter poles that can store in their rod lockers. They typically pole from the front of their boats, pushing themselves forward.) The final question is… Do you see yourself poling over fairly long distances?

Some Basics:

If you are poling from a poling platform, choosing a push pole that is longer than 15 or 16 feet is very important. Basically, the longer the push pole, especially while poling from a poling platform, the easier it is to pole over greater distances. However, when choosing a push pole, length is not the only factor. An equally or more important factor is weight. There is a fine line here. I would never sacrifice length over too much weight. Use a weight to length ratio of about .3 lbs/ft and try not to exceed it. I believe, if you use this ratio, the above average poling angler will be happy.

Real Life Scenario:

If I were going to pole a boat from a poling platform and had two push poles to choose from: one at 20 ft, 8 lbs, the other 17 ft, 5 lbs, the immediate though would be to grab the 20 ft one, but I believe the better choice is the 17 footer. The 20 ft pole weighs .4 lbs/ft, while the 17 ft pole weighs .3 lbs/ft. That doesn’t seem like much, but after poling as little as 50 yards you’ll realize a big difference in that 3 extra pounds you’re pushing and poling around. Do not underestimate the difficulty of use and awkwardness of a long, heavy push pole. It will leave you frustrated and sore in the neck and shoulders. Choosing a push pole that fits your usage is very beneficial. If you are not poling significant distances from a poling platform in shallow water, then a light-weight shorter pole (under 18 ft) may suit you well. Also, if you are not poling from a poling platform, in most cases a shorter pole (under 18 ft) may work well.

There are a few choices of materials to choose from too. Fiberglass, aluminum, and carbon fiber are the most common choices. Most consumers eliminate the carbon fiber poles due to price. Carbon fiber push poles are usually $600 or more. Aluminum is fairly strong, but aluminum push poles are very loud, have a shorter lifespan in salt marshes, and often cause damage to boats (scratches, etc.). Most mid-range consumers find fiberglass the material of choice as it is strong, durable, reasonably lightweight, and doesn’t resonate sound in water like aluminum. (Sound travels 4.3 times faster in water than in the air, so remember this the next time you are fishing and banging around in the boat!)

Another important thing to keep in mind when choosing a push pole is storage. Where are going to store a push pole on your boat? Ask yourself, “Will it be in the way when I’m not using it?” The shorter pole obviously has the distinct advantage here over the longer pole, so this is another factor to consider when choosing the right push pole for your needs. Typically, only technical flats skiffs have specific mounting brackets for storing a long push pole.

~Brad Cromartie
President & CEO Superstick Push Poles and Shallow Water Anchors
Choosing A Push Pole