Selecting a Push Pole

Daniel Freer
Selecting a Push Pole

Push pole length. An old adage says; your push pole should be about the same length as your boat. In practical application, the length of your push pole has very little to do with the length of your boat.

If you are poling from a platform, we recommend at least 18 feet, although a 16-ft pole will suffice for platforms less than 24 inches. Rarely has anyone ever stood on a platform and complained, "This push pole is too long." This is hard to understand until you climb up and start poling. The longer the pole, the fewer times you have to lift and replant it. Each time you pick up the pole you lose forward momentum. Momentum is crucial when poling into the wind or over soft bottoms. Longer poles allow you to maintain momentum while poling. Loss of momentum means that you have to work harder and you will tire sooner. Also, every time you replant the pole, you become more of a threat to spooky fish. So let me break it down: Longer Pole = More Fish.

If you are poling from the deck, 16-ft and under should do just fine. Usually when people pole from the deck they are not interested in stalking fish. The pole can be used for positioning the boat quietly, such as nudging into a shallow flat. People also use push poles to get out of tight spots. So many times we stretch our drifts to the last second, and usually end up too skinny for the big motor. A push pole can be used to get back to water deep enough to chug out or get on plane. This is especially important in protected waters such as Redfish Bay area where uprooting seagrass can be a costly mistake.

Now you have to decide what kind of pole is best for you. Fiberglass push poles are considered entry-level equipment. If you do not plan on poling often or poling extended distances, the fiberglass pole is likely all you need. Next in line are poles of dual-composition construction, usually E-glass and graphite. Poles like these can vary in the amount of each material. Our Hybrid is 20% E-glass and 80% graphite. The outer layer of E-glass helps provide impact resistance. This particular pole is less than half the weight of a fiberglass pole and twice as stiff. Poles of 100% graphite construction are top of the line. They weigh about one-third as much as fiberglass and are the stiffest poles available. Our lightest pole is made with high modulus HR40 graphite. The Stiffy Extreme 20-footer weighs in at 2.5 pounds and is only recommended for technical poling skiffs and people experienced in poling.

Push poles come in several types of textures and finishes. Our Hybrid and Graphite poles have a ribbed, slick finish. The Guide Series and Extreme have a flatter, matte finish. There is no real technical advantage in either; it is strictly the preference of the user.

Why is stiffness important? Without getting too involved with physics; when you "load" or bend a pole it stores energy, the same as stretching a rubber band. A loose and stretchy rubber band will not shoot as far or as fast as a smaller, tighter band. A stiffer pole will give you back more of the energy you put in. Imagine pushing a boat with a floppy piece of PVC pipe. The pipe can store very little energy and will bend until it breaks, or until your boat begins to move.

"Controlled Drifting" is a term that describes using your push pole to control the speed and direction of your drift. Quietly turning the bow slows your drift and allows drifting at various angles to the general direction of the wind. You can also use the pole to bounce off shorelines that run diagonally with the wind. This allows you to cover a shoreline from the boat without a trolling motor.

"Staking out" is a risky deal when it comes to push poles. Keep in mind; it is a push pole, not an anchor. When done correctly, the risk of breaking the pole is greatly reduced. The pole should always be stabbed at a 35 degree angle, upwind from the boat, and tied off at the top to distribute load evenly. The best example is a fishing rod. They are only effective when you use the entire rod. Do you only feed your line through half the guides? A medium light rod can easily handle a twenty-pound redfish, and it can also be broken on a one-pound trout. When you put too much pressure on any one point of the push pole, it will break. This obviously also applies to using your push pole as a pry bar. We, and several other manufacturers, make poles designed exclusively for staking out. These poles are solid rods and nearly indestructible. Our version is called the Stiffy RamRod.

Take care of your push pole. UV rays can degrade just about anything. Store your pole out of the sun when off the water. Graphite push poles are very strong, light, and brittle at the same time. Treat your push pole as carefully as your favorite fishing rod.

Hopefully, many of your push pole questions have been answered. We got a great response on last month's cavitation plate article turned infomercial. If you have any questions please give us a call or send an e-mail. We are happy to help you determine if a product is right for you and your boat.

Go Fishin' Y'all

FiberTex & Supply Manufacturers of Stiffy Brand Products
7533 Bay Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78414 Telephone: 361-991-5956
Email: [email protected]