Canoeing is a truly beautiful passtime… just cutting across the surface of a lake as your paddle quietly dips into, cuts through, and glides out of the water; there’s something so obvious and natural about it.

But there are times when paddling isn’t quite so graceful, like smashing your paddle on rocks in the shallows or along rapids, or struggling upstream. These are two great examples of where a skill other than paddling might come in handy: poling.

I’ll admit I’ve never really used a long pole to move my canoe up or down a river. But I have been in places where my paddle was used more like a pole than a propeller (I’m sure paddling aficionados are cringing at the thought of me jamming my padding into a rock to thrust myself forward!).

But check out this video from the Canoe Poling Facebook page:

This is the first of a number of short films that I have made to convince canoeists that they should learn to pole (I hope more will follow). I figured that your opinions would be a good start. Enjoy!

Posted by Stephen Coutts on Friday, November 29, 2019

Most people will canoe for years with just their paddle but there is a whole other side of canoeing that is mostly unknown. It is the skill of canoe poling. Instead of a paddle, you stand in your canoe and use a long pole to travel up rivers, down rivers, quiet back waters, and marshes. You can go just about anywhere your paddle can not take you. It will open up a whole new world to explore and discover.

Poling and snubbing (poling downstream) a canoe are traditional skills that allow you to have complete control over where your boat goes whether you are traveling upstream or down, through all types of water. When you are standing and poling you have a better field of view, useful for both canoeing and fishing. It is easier to maneuver the canoe while standing with a pole because you can control the angle with which the pole contacts the bottom of the river or lake, and you can walk your hands up it, giving you a longer push stroke. Poling makes shallow rapids navigable, allowing you passage through water you would otherwise have to portage, and lets you feel safe doing it.

Canoe Poling Facebook Page

This is a really cool way of moving around the water, and it likely pre-dates the paddle. Beyond the stability and control, poling offers a unique view from a standing position that offers better view into the water, making it easier to check out obstacles and other sub-surface activity.

Poling is a wicked way to handle water that really isn’t conducive to paddling, as this “boatcross” video from OutYourBackdoor’s YouTube channel shows.

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