Push poles are surprisingly expensive when you consider that they are, after all, nothing more than really long sticks. In fact, for the first few months I owned a Gheenoe, I simply used a long piece of bamboo to pole my boat. I’ve seen working guides in the Yucatan use long pieces of wood harvested from the forest for their push poles.
Carbon fiber offers a lot of advantages though. Being consistent in circumference, carbon push poles can be fitted into push pole brackets, such as the ones I made for my boat (heat PVC in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees then shape using clamps).
Being lightweight, the pole will actually stay in those clamps even at high speeds on the highway. And finally the carbon fiber system has the advantage of two tips; one for mud and one for hard bottoms, as well as a texturing to help your hands keep their grip (the same ridges left over on unsanded fly rod blanks from the removal of the heat-shielding wraps during the curing process, which keeps the resin from running off onto the floor).
While high end push poles like Stiffy are de rigeur if you have a proper flats boat, a new Stiffy push pole can cost more than the Gheenoe itself! That’s why the Mangrove push pole is perfect. It comes in an easily-assembled kit (use JB Weld and follow the instructions that come with the pole). You can size it to fit your boat (my 15’9″ Gheenoe uses a 3.5 section pole–approximately 17.5 feet). And if it ever breaks you can fix it simply by buying a new section and a couple of the sleeves. But I doubt you’ll break this pole short of having a car wreck. It’s pretty burly, especially for a light craft like a Gheenoe.
Great product; I have been highly satisfied with mine. Price is variable, but should be under $300 for a Gheenoe-length pole.
Rating: Five stars out of five.
Purchase: Order from any TFO Fly Rods dealer, such as Little River Outfitters.
Note: Opening photo blatantly stolen from Cameron Mortensen’s excellent Fiberglass Manifesto site.