Pole fishing has become very popular in Britain. With this style of sport, a rod in the region of 1428ft long is used and the line is fixed direct to the end of the rod without the niceties of reel or rod rings. The float tackle—often very small and sensitive—is fished extremely close to the top of the rod. This makes it easier for the angler to strike at very small bite indications, since he is in almost direct contact with the bait. Because of the stiffness of the pole, a shock absorber of fine elastic may be fitted between the rod and line so that, on striking, the line does not snap. This type of fishing is becoming more popular, particularly where bleak are the quarry, as the pole can be used to strike ‘quickly and to place the bait very accurately.

In theory, the superlong tapered pole, with the line fastened to the end. Uses a short link below the rod tip to convey the strike, which must drive the hook home very rapidly in this kind of fishing. In practice, there is an added bonus in the slim taper of the rod, for this produces sufficient spring to allow the careful angler to land fish well above the size of a roach that it was originally designed to catch.

The name “roach pole’ suggests that a pole can be used only for catching small fish. This is not so. Used properly, a pole can also handle big fish, such as chub, tench, bream and barbel.

Poles vary in length from 14ft to 28ft, but models made of ultralightweight hollow carbonfibre have been made over 40ft long. The more common hollow glass pole, however, designed to suit the average pocket, is about 18ft in length, and the assembled pole can be shortened according to the angler’s needs, simply by not using the bottom sections.

When you buy a pole, you are advised also to obtain tackle specially designed for pole fishing. You can make do with ordinary elastic, floats, shots and so on, and still catch plenty of fish, but, on the other hand, the tackle specially designed for pole fishing is neater, more streamlined, and makes pole fishing easier.


The most important item of tackle is that length of elastic. Most poles are designed to be fairly rigid at the tip, and as a reel is not used with a pole, the elastic acts as a shock absorber when hooking and playing a fish. Our grandfathers used a length of knicker elastic fixed to the end of their bamboo poles. Nowadays, special angling elastic is attached to the crook (or swan neck) tip, which is in turn fitted into its slot, and secured with a plastic sleeve which slides over the slot when the elastic loop is in position. The line is tied to the free end of the elastic, and carries the float, shot and hook, so it is useful to have several traces with end tackle on winders, ready for use. A readyforuse assembly like this could consist of line, plus a float, weighted with either a celery shot pinched onto the line, or a hollow olivette lead with the line running through its centre. (A split shot is pinched onto the line to stop the olivette lead sliding right the way down to the hook.)

The vital rod tip

The rod tip, or point, is the vital part of the pole and it should follow the float and remain directly above it, otherwise the strike will be delayed fractionally by slack line, which may well mean the difference between a hooked or missed fish. It also follows that once a fish is hooked, the rod point should follow, and be kept immediately above it.

Once a fish is allowed to move away from the tip, then direct strain is placed on the line, all spring absorption from the rod being lost. A break is almost inevitable under these circumstances. And on more than one occasion an ardent pole angler has been seen running up and down the bank, following a fish to try to prevent the loss of a matchwinning fish.

Although pole fishing may be new to you, it should not prove difficult. It is simply another way of fishing with a rod and float or ledger tackle. When you first go pole fishing, try for the smaller fish—gudgeon or bleak. You will soon gel used to the fact that there is no reel on the rod, and quickly learn to use the stretch of the elastic instead of the slipping clutch of a reel.