Modern pole-fishing has come a long way since it first caught on in the UK some quarter of a century ago. There has never been any doubt about the accuracy and presentation advantages of the method, in the early days poles were cumbersome, heavy fibre glass jobs and it required HUGE biceps to fish with them. In those days a nine metre pole would have been just about the limit, but more recent advances in carbon technology mean 14 metre poles and bigger are commonplace.





Firstly, you need to know the difference between the pole and the whip, put simply, a pole is fitted with an internal elastic which cushions the fight of the fish, whereas with a whip there is no elastic and the rig is simply attached to the fine tip. Whips are usually telescopic with maybe one or two 'put over' sections at the butt end, whereas poles usually have a telescopic, top two, or three sections into which, the elastic goes, with the rest being 'put-over' sections. Poles are generally 10 metres long or more, whereas whips are generally seven metres long or less. The top two or three sections of your pole will be what's called 'telescopic' - you can't slip the lower section into the upper and instead have to pull the sections out until they lock. These are the sections into which the elastic goes. 'Power' top kits for 'bagging' will be thicker at the tip than those designed for catching smaller, silver fish. Below these sections the pole will be what's called 'put over'. That means the lower 'male' section pushes into the upper 'female' section and locks in place. Some older poles are what's called 'put in', where the lower section fits over the upper one and then locks. If your 'pole' is all telescopic, it's a whip! Choosing the right elastic is vital - the higher the number, the stronger. One example is the Preston Innovations in sizes 2-5, VESPE and MAP in sizes 6-10 and Preston or Future for bigger sizes. Elastics come in all manner of colours on winders or coils generally holding 3-5 metres. Unfortunately there is no colour standard across the different brands. You will soon find your own favourite for catching the 'Big fish'




0.06 mm
0.06 - 0.08 mm
1 or 2
0.08 - 0.09 mm
0.08 - 0.10 mm
0.08 - 0.10 mm
2 or 3
0.10 - 0.12 mm
2 or 3
0.12 mm+














You will need something to help you thread your elastic through the hollow carbon top sections of your pole. You can use a piece of wire or thick (20lb plus) line, or you can buy a 'diamond eye threader' from the tackle shop which is made for the job. The elastic locks into the diamond-shaped bit. 'Bushes' fit to the end of your pole. They are made of soft PTFE over which the elastic can easily slide without sticking and without any damage. The size you choose must suit the elastic. 'Internal' bushes fit inside the pole's hollow tip but require you to cut the pole tip back considerably and thus are not a good choice for the thicker elastics. 'External' bushes are more popular and are easier to fit, and you don't have to cut back as much of the tip as you do when fitting an internal bush. Both bushes and connectors are available in many colours these can be matched to the elastic colour if you want. Bushes cost a couple of pounds depending on size/brand. Connectors fit the rig to the elastic. Stick with 'stonfo' connectors if you are quite new to pole-fishing. Most of the connectors on the market are pretty good. Connectors should cost you about a £1+ each. The elastic runs inside the pole from the connector to a 'bung', which fits inside the pole and locks there. The size of bung you need will depend on whether you are fitting the elastic into one, two or three sections of the pole. Standard bungs are quite reasonably priced, preferences; the blue Preston and MAP bungs and the black Mayer ones. Some bungs also allow you to alter the tension once the elastic is fitted, and these would be a choice. Especially the VESPE bung, which allows you to wind on quite a bit of elastic which can be useful if the elastic starts hanging out of the pole during fishing.





Fitting the Bush As a general guide fit elastics 2 - 6 through the top two sections, and bigger elastics through the top three.

1. Choose your elastic and check you have a bush it easily slides through.

2. Cut the pole back by rolling a Stanley knife over it until the bush fits snuggly over the tip of the pole.

3. Gently clean out the end and then check the elastic slides through.

4. Now smooth off the tip with fine sandpaper or a file.

5. The rough edge will help the glue hold the bush securely. You must wipe off any excess glue and leave to dry.




If you don't have a diamond eye threader, a length of strong line (20lb plus) will do a similar job. The reason for doubling up the elastic for the few inches above the bung is that if you hook a big fish which charges off and bottoms out the No 3 elastic, you have a short length of doubled-up No 3 - effectively a No 6 - to act as a buffer and hopefully stop the fish before it breaks your line!

1. Push the sections into each other and push the threader through.

2. When it appears, hold, and push the telescopic sections out until they lock.

3. Lock the elastic into the 'diamond eye' of the threader.

4. Now pull the threader through your pole top sections.

5. Pull through until you draw the bung into the pole. Just push the bung in gently until it won't go further




The Vespe bung.cuts out the need for a tag end of line at the bottom because it comes with a special attachment to remove the bung and there's also an invaluable fitting to allow you to alter the tension. The key is to wind three turns onto the tensioner when you set the elastic up.

If you set the elastic up too tight - which is easily done - you can release a turn or two, if too loose you can wind another turn on.

1. Pick a suitable bung and mark where it jams in the section.

2. Now cut off just below this mark so the bung will fit inside the pole.

3. Take your elastic and attach the bung with a double overhand loop.

4. Double up the elastic for about eight inches above the bung.

5. Dampen the knot, tighten it, and then trim off the loose end.

With this bung it's best to wind on about three turns of elastic, however you will find that with many bungs you will need to attach a length of thick line below.




The hardest bit is to get the elastic 'just right', so that the connector slowly slides back into the pole. It's all too easy to set it so that it snaps' back too hard (in which case you may bump off small fish) or hangs out the end (in which case line will tangle around it when fishing. One of the keys is to fully stretch the elastic that will be in the pole before you actually attach the connector

1. Stretch the elastic to ensure the bung is set correctly inside the section.

2. If using a standard bung, now's the time to snip off the tag end.

3. With the elastic slack, snip off about five inches above the bush.

4. Thread on the stonfo's collar and then the connector itself.

5. Stretch the elastic about three inches and slide the connector to the tip.

6. The stonfo should be tied on under a tight elastic.

A single overhand loop is all you need. Keeping everything tight. - Now push the collar up, lock in place, and trim the loose end. In theory the stonfo should gently slide, not snap, back to the tip.




Many Anglers are uncertain about exactly what advantages pole fishing offers over ordinary rod-and-line fishing, and do not really understand why match anglers often choose the pole in preference to all other methods. Well the advantages, under certain conditions are huge and can literally quadruple your cateh compared with a conventional running line set-up, or may even result in you catching fish while other anglers catch none. The differences that a pole makes are quite simply accuracy and presentation. With a pole it is extremely easy to plumb up the water, and when you have found the depth of your swim you can place the hook in the end of a section of the pole and mark the depth of the water on the pole itself using Tippex. This will give you a handy marker to ensure that you are always fishing at the correct depth. It is also useful to mark the distance from the bank at which you are fishing on the butt section of the pole. This means that at all times you will know exactly where you are fishing compared to where your feed has been going in - slightly short, to the right, or precisely on the correct spot. You will also know exactly how far you are fishing off the bottom, or whether you are actually on it, just by looking at the Tippex marks. This allows you to be so accurate that you can actually place a number 10 shot so that it is just touching the bottom with absolute confidence, or set up your pole so that the end of the maggot is tripping the bottom. You can never he quite that accurate when fishing with a stick float, or waggler. When you do plumb up, look for submerged ledges and if you find one fish at the bottom of it. Be sure to run the float through the swim a few times on your intended line before you feed anything, to check it is not weedy or snaggy, if it is, try a different distance.




Rivers obviously flow, but not all layers of the water are necessarily moving at the same pace. The top layers of a river travel much faster than the water below it. This means that if the bait is being dragged along the bottom at the pace of the float, as it is when you are waggler fishing, the bait is behaving differently to all the loosefeed that is being gently carried along the bottom. With a pole you can change this. By holding the float back, or edging it through the water slowly, you are able to mimic the behaviour of the bait on the bottom. It really makes all the difference on some days when fish are suspicious of anything out of the ordinary. For the best results it is necessary to vary the presentation in terms of the speed at which you allow the float to move, the depth at which you are fishing and the shorting pattern you use, until you get the right combination for the day. The pole allows you to alter all these options more efficiently than any other method.




Generally speaking, you should set the rig so that there is quite a lot of line between the pole tip and the float, as this allows you to run the float through plenty of the swim. If it is windy, you should use a number 8 back-shot positioned three inches (7.6cm) above the float to pull the line behind the float under the water. Pole floats designed for river fishing have a 'body- up' shape, which means that the bulk of the shape is towards the bristle (the top end of the float). This shape is designed to allow the angler to hold the float back against the flow of the river without it dragging under. It 'rides' the flow. The other big advantage of the pole is the elastic, which runs through the centre of the top 2-3 sections. It acts as a cushion and allows you to use fine, pre-stretched lines without fear of being broken off. Pole elastic is available in variety of different, numbered, breaking strains. Unless the flow is particularly fast, a No 3 or No 4 elastic is suitable for most situations. The faster the flow and the deeper the water, the bigger the elastic you will need to set the hook and to play the fish with some degree of control. If there are a lot of big fish around, like chub and barbel, the pole is the wrong method to use and the correct tackle would be a conventional rod and running line set-up. If the fish are feeding on the bottom, a wire-stemmed, body-up float shorted up with an olivette and a couple of dropper shot is ideal. If the fish are higher up in the water, it is better to use a cane-stemmed float with the shot strung out. For general fishing an ideal rig can be made up using 2lb (0.9kg) breaking strain line attached to a 1.5lb (0.7kg) hooklength. When loosefeeding, remember to feed upstream of the float so that the feed arrives at the bottom where your hook bait is. Hemp and bronze maggot are two excellent pole-fishing baits to use on rivers, and you should remember that if you are feeding both, you should feed the maggot further upstream of the float than the hemp, as the hemp sinks faster. You should try to get all the loosefeed to hit the river bottom in the same area.




With the myriad of differently shaped pole floats available at your average tackle shop, it's hardly surprising many anglers find themselves using a float not suitable for the venue or conditions they are tackling. Hopefully this short guide to shapes, sizes, stems and bristles will simplify things for you.




You will find that pole floats, in the main, feature three different stems, they being carbon, cane and wire. Pole floats also have a number of different styles of sight tip too, either wire, nylon, cane or balsa. And, of course, there is a multitude of different body shapes. Let's detail stems first. Wire is the heaviest of the three stem materials, followed by carbon and then cane. A wire stemmed pole float will sit upright when placed in water, even without shot added, therefore this weight pulling down on the float body makes the float very stable. Taking this into account, in the main wire stemmed floats are far better suited to deep water or running water. Both carbon and cane stemmed floats lay flat on the surface and only cock when the shot settle, a perfect float for fishing a strung out shotting pattern for taking fish on-the-drop.




Of all float rods produced spliced tip versions are by far the most delicate in the tip and were originally designed for use on rivers when fast strikes were required to hit fast bites. Pushed into the tip section of the blank, locked in place using both glue and silk whipping, is a fine, tapered length of solid carbon. This spliced-in tip tends to be between one and two feet long. In effect it produces a very fast action in the tip-section as the fine, solid carbon tip is extremely flexible. When in use the tip provides a cushion upon a fast strike and therefore helps prevent smaller fish being lost due to the hook being pulled out. The rest of the rod (the middle and butt sections) is very similar in design to hollow tip float rods in that the material used will most likely be carbon, the handle may be either cork or duplon, or a mixture of the two, and the reel seat may be a screw-lock version or a split graphite seat. The line guides of true spliced tip rods tend to be longer than those of hollow tip rods. The reason for this is due to the fact that spliced tip rods were originally designed for river fishing, and in particular stick float work. A free run of line from the reel and through the line guides is vitally important so the float trots through the swim unhindered and therefore the long guides ensure line does not contact the rod blank and 'stick' to it during wet weather, ultimately inhibiting the free run of line. The same applies to casting too -the line is kept well away from the blank and therefore casting is not impaired.




Over 90 per cent of all float rods produced nowadays feature hollow tip sections. The quality of today's carbon is so high and the manufacturing process is so advanced that there's really no need to produce spliced tip rods anymore for delicate stick float fishing. Very fine, soft action, hollow tip rods can now be produced which serve the same purpose. They offer enough flexibility in the tip to absorb the shock of a fast strike or to help flick out a side-cast stick float rig. Best to use a heavier weight of carbon in the rod's construction, strengthen the blank's walls or thicken the carbon in the tip section and you have a perfect rod that's capable of not only absorbing some of the shock from a sweeping strike, but also one which provides just that little bit extra power when playing larger than average fish like carp or tench. Many anglers are under the impression that the tip of a rod plays a massive role in the rod's action, for example a thicker tip gives the rod more playing and casting power. This is not true. A thicker walled, more powerful middle and butt section helps give a rod extra casting and playing power, not the tip. So, if you are intent on buying a general purpose rod for both river and stillwater fishing opt for a hollow tipped version. The huge range of hollow tipped float rods available also includes long rods - those IS, 16, 18 and even 20ft rods most commonly associated with both river and margin carp fishing. These rods are exactly the same in make up as standard waggler rods except for the fact that they have more sections purely due to the extra length.




Many Anglers associate telescopic rods with either beginner or holiday outfits, but this shouldn't be the case. With the advent of superior quality carbon there are some superb telescopic float rods available, plus there is a new breed of telescopic long rods on the market for both river and commercial carp water use. The Italians are masters of long telescopic rods using six, seven or eight metre versions when fishing deep rivers. But this style of rod has found its place on many English commercial carp fisheries where the average size of carp has become too large to land when using a pole. Using a long rod gives far better control over a hard-fighting, double figure carp than a pole can ever give. The telescopic carp rod has now progressed even further and you can now get a superb Carptek Power Bob - a telescopic, multi-length rod which can be used at its full length of 7.75m or compressed to 5m using the innovative, sliding, lockable butt sections. The average standard telescopic float rod tends to be either 12 or 13ft and features far less line guides than a put together float rod. The reason for this is simply because the sections need to collapse within each other and therefore there can only be a line guide whipped to the end of each section. There may be two or three line guides on the very tip section, with the tip guide itself whipped to the blank while the remaining tip guides will have to be slipped down the blank and aligned into position.




A line guide's main purpose is to ensure the rod bends through a smooth curve when a fish is hooked. The rings should be spaced along the rod's length so as to create a curve in the rod when the line, be it monofilament or braid, is placed under stress. You will find there are a lot more guides on either a waggler or quivertip rod when compared to a specimen rod. This is purely because waggler or float rods are softer in the sections and therefore require a lot more guides to ensure the line follows the rod's bend as force is applied to the blank. When a fish is played to the net immense pressure is placed upon the guides. The line continually rubs back and forth through the guides and this sawing action creates a great deal of friction and therefore heat. The simplest of line guides, those being constructed from a ring of stainless steel, retain a great deal of heat within the guide. This may lead to the outer coating of line melting. Ideally the heat should disperse through the guide to prevent this, and lined guides serve this purpose perfectly. The likes of RDX Slimline, Hardlon, Fuji Hard, Fuji Match, Fuji SiC and Fuji High Grade Alumina are all lined. Their one-piece frames are constructed from either plated brass or stainless steel and feature a highly polished ring in the centre. This ring helps disperse any heat caused through friction, ultimately sending the heat into the metal framework, well away from the line or braid. Early lined guides featured a ceramic centre, but there are now guides which feature Alumina Oxide or Silicon Carbide (SiC) linings. Of these two examples the SiC lined guides are superior. The frames of the two versions are similar, but the SiC linings are harder and polished to a higher degree so therefore they allow a better, smoother flow of line upon the cast, plus heat is dispersed slightly faster too. But SiC guides do have a drawback - they are very brittle so a rod adorned with these luxurious and expensive guides should be treated with extreme care. Even the slightest crack in a Silicon Carbide guide, a crack which cannot even be detected by the naked eye, will produce a razor sharp edge ultimately resulting in line failure.



Like all fishing rods, float rods have one of three actions, they being; tip (fast), middle and butt (through) actions. These actions describe the bend that the rod takes on when its tip is pulled through a 90degree angle. Regardless of a rod's action every single fishing rod is tapered from the butt through to the tip - it gets progressively slender in the diameter of the blank as you follow the rod from the handle to the tip. But it is the wall thickness and the make-up of the materials used in the rod's construction that give the rod its action. Spliced tip rods and extremely fine hollow tip match rods, in the main, have tip actions. The tips are so delicate and slender that it takes very little weight to pull the rod through a 90degree angle, and in the case of tip action rods only the first two feet or so of the rod will bend. Of course, as more pressure is exerted upon the tip the remainder of the rod will begin to bend. Middle action rods, when enough force is applied to take the rod through 90 degrees, will bend from the tip section through to the middle of the rod. Butt action rods, often referred to as through action, bend right through to the handle of the rod. When bent so the tip is set 90 degrees to the butt the rod will look like a boomerang!




There are two different styles of reel seat, screw-lock and split graphite, and two different components used to make up a rod handle, cork and Duplon. Nowadays the vast majority of float rods feature screw-lock reel seats, which many anglers feel is a bonus. Some of the 'older' style of split graphite reel seats continually need adjusting to ensure that reels having narrow feet remain attached to the rod and do not drop off into the water when casting or playing fish! A securely screwed down locking reel seat gives the angler confidence that the reel remains solid upon a powerful cast or during a battle with a big, hard-fighting fish. Also, screw-lock reel seats can actually help anglers to cast, feather the line and control line better when trotting a stick float. Why? Because screw lock reel seats are moulded into the handle and therefore the reel's foot, when locked onto the rod, sits closer to the blank as opposed to a reel locked onto a cork or Duplon handle using split graphite seat. It may only be a matter of millimetres closer to the blank, but this can make all the difference because the reel spool will be that little bit closer to the handle and easier to locate with the index finger. Lengths of handles vary between the different styles of rods available. Spliced tip, stick float rods tend to have very short handles which enable the user to manouevre the rod easily across his or her body when feeding a river swim or when baiting up, whereas carp waggler rods tend to have longer handles to give the angler better leverage when casting out weighty floats or when playing a larger fish. Duplon is cheaper than cork, so budget priced float rods, those under 30, feature soft, waterproof Duplon handles. Cork is a luxury really, and you'll find all top of the range float rod handles feature it. Both are waterproof and both can be scrubbed down with warm water for cleaning. Remember to dry the rod thoroughly afterwards though.




You'll find that the vast majority of float rods available are made up using one of two compounds, they being either carbon or composite. When compared like for like a carbon rod will be lighter, stiffer, thinner and more powerful than a composite rod of the same length, but a composite rod offers more flexibility through the blank. A carbon rod blank is made up using both carbon and a resin. The resin is used to hold the rod together, and the contents of an average carbon float rod will be in the region of 70 per cent carbon and 30 per cent resin. The lower the amount of resin used the lighter the carbon rod will be, but by the same token the rod will lose some of its flexibility and overall strength. Composite rods also incorporate a small amount of carbon within the construction process purely to reduce the rod's overall weight, but a huge percentage of glass fibre is used too, plus around 30 per cent resin to bond the two compounds together. Glass fibre is an extremely flexible material, hence the reason behind using glass fibre quivertips when fishing for shy biting species as the compound bends freely. Carbon, in its natural state, is a very brittle and fibrous material. It only becomes rigid and flexible when mixed with resin. There are three different styles of rod joints, they being spigot, put over and telescopic. Spigot joints feature a length of solid carbon, half of which is glued securely into the end of the male rod section. This solid length of carbon is then inserted into the next section to form a strong link. Rod sections which feature put over joints have a large enough diameter to allow the next rod piece to be inserted inside the first. This style of join is far stronger than put in joints, some 50 per cent stronger, therefore a great deal of carp waggler rods utilise put over joints throughout. Finally, there are telescopic joints. These lock together when the rod is extended because the sections are tapered. The outer diameter of a section is slightly larger than the internal diameter of the next section. THE VAST majority of decent coarse fishing rods are now made from carbon-fibre as no other material can compete with its combination of strength, rigidity and lightness. But that is just the start of it, as you can buy rods from six to 20 feet (1.8 to 6m) long with as many different actions as there are species of coarse fish.




Float rods tend to come in three sections of equal length and be 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6m) long and designed for use with lines of 2-41b (0.9-1.8kg) breaking strain. Rods for waggler fishing tend to have a hollow tip section and plenty of 'give' below, which allows you to make long, sweeping strikes at a distance without the possible risk of snapping light hook lengths. If you do a lot of stick float fishing you will require a different action. With this technique you have to hit lighting-fast bites from wary fish, such as roach, and consequently stick float rods tend to be quite stiff up to the top two feet (60cm), allowing you to pick up line very quickly, but have a soft tip 'spliced' in to absorb the initial force of fast strikes into fish at short distances. Unless you intend to concentrate on match or specialist fishing, it is advisable to buy one float rod, and spend as much as you can afford on it. Overall, a hollow-tipped 13ft (4m) match rod with a nice snappy action, but a forgiving top third, will suit most pleasure fishing situations you are likely to come across. While there is no doubt that having exactly the right tool for the job is useful, the best advice for the newcomer is to keep things simple.




Leger rods are generally two-piece rods measuring between 9 and 12 feet (2.7-3.7m) long and designed for use with lines of between 3-61b (1.36-2.72kg) breaking strain. Most have either a screw thread or are hollow at the end, to accommodate the use of screw- or push-in swingtips or quivertips for bite indication. They usually have quite a forgiving (bendy) top half, but have plenty of power in the middle-to-lower section allowing you both to cast good distances and set hooks at that range.Some of the better leger rods come with a selection of quivertips, and these are the best buy for the beginner. These tips will be of different strengths, measured by their test curve (the amount of dead weight it takes to pull the tip of the rod to an angle of 90 degrees to the handle) in ounces. A 2-3oz tip is stiff and designed to be used on fastish-flowing rivers, while 0.5-1oz tips are more suited to stillwater fishing.




These two-piece rods of 11 to 13 feet (3.4-4m) length are measured by their test curve. They are designed for casting big baits and dealing with big fish, and tend to have much larger rings than leger and float rods. An ideal all-round choice for close-to-medium range fishing would be a l2ft (3.7m), 21b (0.9kg) test curve rod with a medium to tip action, which means there is plenty of give in the top half of the rod to enjoy the fight of a big fish, but plenty of backbone in the lower half to allow you to cast big baits and bully fish away from snags.