by Angling Times |

Thinking of buying a new fishing pole? Have you found a great deal on a fishing pole, but aren’t sure whether it’s the right one for you? Well here are lots of tips to help you decide which pole you should buy.

We think buying a pole the right pole is quite tough because they all look the same, apart from the graphics of course. After all, they are just featureless lengths of carbon that stick together to produce one long length of tapered carbon.

The important things that go towards creating a good pole, and the right pole for you, are hidden from view. Things like the weight, the strength and the balance are all invisible, and that’s what makes picking the right pole difficult.

The spares package that is supplied with most poles is definitely something that you must take into consideration, but if the pole itself is droopy, heavy, unwieldy and weak, what’s the point in having masses of spare top kits? No amount of spare sections is going to hide the fact that the pole you bought is a crap one!

Why buy a pole anyway?


This is a question that many anglers ask themselves. They see poles as match angler’s equipment that is best left to the professionals. But that’s wrong.

Poles are a real joy to use. Once you get used to using one, a pole will definitely help you catch more fish for a number of reasons:-

Accuracy – When you’re using a pole you can place your baited rig exactly where you want it. You couldn’t ever achieve that with a rod and reel.

Simplicity – There’s not a lot that can go wrong with a pole, and very rarely do you suffer tangles once you’ve had a little practice.

Depth finding – With a pole you can search the depths with a higher degree of accuracy than you ever could with a rod and reel, helping you to find gentle slopes and underwater ledges.

Proximity – Poles can place your rig within inches of a feature like lilies or reeds. You can’t do that with a waggler or a feeder rig.

Control – You can hold a pole rig back against the undertow of a lake or the flow of a river, meaning your bait acts more natural.

Speed – if you miss a bite when pole fishing, you can simply lift your rig out to see if your bait’s still on the hook and drop it back in again. There’s no need to reel the rig in and re-cast.

All those things combine to open up a whole new world to the angler, meaning more fish can be caught. That isn’t a bad thing when the reason we go fishing is to catch fish!

But of course it’s not all positives. There are some bad points involved in pole fishing:-

Range – You’re limited to the distance you can fish from the bank.

Expense – A decent pole and pole package can cost many more times that of a decent rod and reel.

Stigma – Most people regard poles as a match angler’s tool.

Back ache – It’s true that using poles at their full length can cause back ache, but that’s only because the pole isn’t being held correctly.

Types of poles

Types of poles

There are three types of poles to choose from: margin poles, carp poles and match poles (sometimes still called roach poles). Here’s a short explanation as to each type…

Margin poles are the shortest, ranging from 4m to 10m. They are very strong poles that are intended to be used for catching very large carp that patrol the marginal shelves of commercial carp fisheries. Because they are short, they are often very stiff because there’s not a great deal of downforce at the tip. Margin poles are great for young pleasure anglers, as well as professional match anglers, because they are light, robust and almost unbreakable. You can buy a very good margin pole for £150.

Carp poles are again very strong because they are designed to cope with the stresses of catching big, powerful fish quickly and regularly. This extra strength comes with additional weight due to the increased thickness of the pole sections. They are available in a wide variety of lengths from 10m through to over 17.5m. Most are supplied with additional top kits and most will handle the thickest grades of elastic available. You’ll be able to find a good 14.5m carp pole for around £500.

Match poles are the lightest, stiffest and best-balanced poles. They are designed for catching small to average-sized fish with all manner of elastic grades, but not the strongest grades. These are the poles that most match anglers use when tackling canals, mixed stillwaters and rivers where finesse is required. Match poles tend to be long – 14.5m and 16m – and quite costly due to the high grade of carbon used to eliminate the weight while retaining strength. A good quality match pole of 16m will cost £1,000 or more.

Which pole should you buy?

The answer to this question should depend upon the fisheries you tackle and the fish you want to catch, not the amount of spare cash you have, and not what pole your mates own.

If you tackle commercial fisheries that are stocked with all manner of different species big and small and you enjoy catching them all, an all-round match pole would be best.

If you tackle commercial carp waters with one aim only – to catch carp – then a carp pole or a margin pole will be the obvious choice.

If you’re an all-rounder who fishes canals, rivers and lakes a match pole is best, and the longest you can possibly afford so that you can reach the far bank margins of the canal as that’s where the better quality fish can be found.

Deciding on pole length

Deciding on pole length

The key here, when buying a new pole, is to pick the longest you can afford as that will open up more options to you in terms of reaching fish-holding features. If your budget allows it, try to buy either a 14.5m pole or even a 16m version.

You obviously don’t have to use the pole at its full length every time it’s taken out of its holdall, but having the extra sections gives you the option to fish further out to reach the far bank, reach reeds, reach another underwater ledge if required.

You’ll find that most pole sessions will take place at around 11-13m out, but there are many times when they take place beyond that range.

Weight and balance

Most poles have their weight printed on the butt (end) sections, in catalogues and on websites. That’s a great starting point when choosing the best pole for you, but don’t for one second use that weight figure as the determining factor because, in reality, the weight of a pole is meaningless.

The pole’s weight is simply how much it weighs when it’s packed away. That’s no good really as you’re not going to use it when it’s packed away are you? You’re going to use it when it’s set up and pointing away from you.

Drennan are the only pole manufacturing company who have seen sense and have realised this. They still print the pole’s weight on the butt section, but they also print the pole’s downforce. That’s the figure that holds water. That’s what all pole manufacturers should print on their poles as it’s far more important to a potential buyer than the weight.

The downforce is the amount of weight that has to be placed upon the butt of the pole to lift the tip section off the ground. The more downforce that is required, the harder it will be to hold the pole. So, the lower the downforce, the better balanced and lighter the pole will feel and the easier it will be to fish with.

The only way to find out whether a pole feels ‘right’ is to visit a large tackle shop that has a pole showroom, or to head to a major fishing event such as our Gofishing Show and try picking a few poles up.

You could have two poles of exactly the same length and weight laying alongside each other, but when you pick them up you’ll instantly notice that one feels much lighter than the other. That’s because the lighter pole offers much better balance - it has been designed with more thought and probably higher quality carbon with less resin used to bond the carbon.


Buy the stiffest you can find

When you visit a tackle shop or a fishing show to try a few poles out, give them a good waggle. Practice striking with them. You’ll notice that some poles will wobble for ages after you’ve struck them. But some poles will quickly straighten and stop wobbling. Those are the poles to opt for – the ones that offer the highest degree of rigidity.

The reason why is because the stiffer poles will perform better in a wind (they won’t bend so much), they will enable you to hit fast bites, and they will prevent fish being bumped off the hook when you strike.

Check out the sections

It’s well worth giving some of the pole sections a squeeze, particularly the third, fourth and fifth sections (from the tip) as these are the main sections that you will hold when a fish is being netted. They are the sections that come under the most stress when a fish is being played under the pole tip.

Don’t squeeze the sections with your finger and thumb as you’re likely to crack the example in the shop, instead wrap your hand around the section and squeeze it with your hand to see if it’s really flexible.

If you think the section is just too thin and flexible, move on to try out another pole because replacing broken pole sections isn’t a quick or cheap thing.

Spares packages


Extra top kits and a cupping kit supplied with a pole are always handy. The cupping kit allows you to ship out loosefeed, or even small balls of groundbait, and drop it right where you want it. That’s a real bonus and will definitely help you catch more fish.


Extra spare top kits will also help you catch more fish because you’ll be able to set them up with different grades of elastic to suit the species you are going to catch, and also allow you to have a number of different rigs set up. You could have one set up for the shallow margins, another set up for catching fish on the bottom in front of you, and another set up for catching fish at mid-water. What’s more you’ll be able to quickly switch between the three different rigs in seconds, saving time, effort and making your fishing session run a lot more smoothly than ever before.

Most poles nowadays, even short margin poles, are supplied with at least one spare top kit, but some decent poles will come with three or four spare top kits plus a cupping kit too.

Some poles are also supplied with ‘short fourth sections’ and ‘half-ex’s’. Short fourths are simply spare No4 pole sections that are half the length of normal fourth sections. They offer more power and strength than normal fourth sections so they can be used instead of the normal No4 section when fishing for larger species. The extra strength allows the angler to play the fish easily at the net, without fear of breaking the pole.

These shorter, more rigid sections are also handy when fishing in a wind as they help stiffen the pole up a little, retaining its rigidity.

Half-Ex’s are half-metre extensions that fit into the butt of the pole. They are very strong indeed and ideal for sitting on. This means you can fish the pole at full length, with the half-ex in place, and sit on the very end of the pole while holding the pole in front with your cupped hands. This makes holding the pole between bites a little easier on your back.

Accessories you’ll need

If you’re buying a pole for the very first time you’ll need certain accessories in order to be able to use it properly, and here’s the list…


Pole roller

A vital piece of kit that should be placed behind you when fishing. Rather than break down each pole section individually, the pole should be pushed back until it rests on the roller and then it’s free to slide out of the way until you reach the point where you can break the pole down to land the hooked fish.


Pole grip

Once your pole is sat on the roller and broken down, placing the pole into a grip of some description ensures the pole doesn’t slide into the water or roll around the bank. Some anglers slide the end of the pole into the mouth of their keepnet, which serves the same purpose and saves a few quid.



You’ll need some elastic as it’s the elastic that takes the strain of the hooked fish. There are many different strengths in many different colours, but basically you will need enough to elasticate all your top kits.


Diamond eye threader

This vital piece of kit is a 3m-long wire with a diamond shape in the end. It’s used to pull the elastic through the tip of the pole when you are setting it up.


Bung and retriever

The elastic within the pole will need trapping in place with a bung. Make sure you buy one large enough to fit within your top kit, but don’t worry if it looks too large as you will have to cut it down to size with a knife anyway.


PTFE bush

These tiny plastic items are used either in or around the very tip of your pole top kits. They form a barrier between the elastic and the carbon, making sure the elastic doesn’t become damaged. Make sure you get a bush that has a large enough internal bore size to allow the elastic to slide through it freely. Whether you decide upon an internal or an external bush is up to you.


Connector – These small plastic items are tied onto the end of the pole elastic and have small hooks to attach your pole rig to. There are many different sizes and colours – just choose one large enough for the elastic you’re going to use.


Lubricant – This is a crucial item. Every time your pole is used you need to pull the bung from the end of the pole top section and give the elastic a squirt of lubricant to make sure it runs smoothly in and out of the pole.


Rigs – You can make your own pole rigs or you can buy them ready made. It’s probably best to buy ready made rigs to begin with, as you’re getting the feel of your new pole, but eventually it’s best (and cheaper) if you make your own as you’ll be able to fine-tune your rigs to suit the venue that you are fishing regularly.

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