What should I look for? The choice is bewildering. There are hundreds of poles available in today's market with prices ranging from just a few pounds, to several thousand pounds. Whether you like to fish for carp in a commercial fishery, or roach in your local canal, there are many to choose from. Here are some tips on what to look for.
Deciding on what type of pole you want is very much dependant on the type of fishing you want to do. Poles types generally fit into one of the following categories; Competition, Power, All-Round or Margin:
Competition Poles are usually used for targetting smaller fish, often in competitions (or matches), hence the name 'competition'. They are generally lighter and stiffer than Power, All-Round or Margin poles, and are best suited to rivers, canals and commercial fisheries where carp average less than 3lb. Most competition poles are rated up to a size 12 elastic, when fitted with a match top kit, though elastics to a size 20 can be accommodated when a power top kit is fitted. Top-end competition poles are often more expensive than any other type of pole.
Power Poles are typically used for targetting larger fish, often in commercial fisheries or venues where larger fish are present. They are generally heavier, and less-stiff than Competition or All-Round poles, and are best suited to commercial fisheries and venues where fish frequently exceed 3lb. Most power poles are rated to a 20 elastic though 'match kits' can be fitted, with a 12 elastic rating', which will make the pole lighter and more responsive when targetting smaller fish.
All-Round Poles are for general use and aim to cover the requirements of both 'Competition' and 'Power' pole types. While it is generally accepted that an All-Round pole will not be as strong as a dedicated power pole, or as light as a dedicated competition pole, they are an ideal choice where an angler visits a variety of venues. Like power and competition poles, All-Round poles can be fitted with power tops rated to a 20 elastic, or match tops rated to a 12 elastic rating which will make the pole lighter and more responsive when targetting smaller fish.
Margin Poles are a speciality tool dedicated to fishing for large fish, usually near snags down the edges, or margins, of commercial and big-fish venues. Margin poles are very strong, often accommodating elastics well in excess of 20, and capable of extracting double figure carp from a snaggy swim. In order to achieve the necessary power, margin poles are relatively heavy for their length, though is is usually not a problem as a margin pole will rarely be longer than 9 metres. Margin poles are frequently used as an alternative to risking breakage of expensive long poles in scenarios where considerable force is needed to capture large fish in a snaggy environment.
Most buyers consider this an important consideration and while this can be true it is sensible to think about the venues you are likely to fish. If you are fishing canals, or commercials with island features, then it is crucial you can reach those features with your pole so consider a 16 metre model. If you are fishing smaller ponds or narrower commercials then a 13 metre model would cover most situations.
To most buyers the weight of a pole is probably one of the most important factors, especially at longer lengths like 14.5 and 16 metres. To a certain extent this is true, but it has to be considered along with other key factors like the stiffness, balance and responsiveness. Generally speaking a more rigid pole will be easier to handle in strong winds, and it will usually be more responsive which is better for hitting fast bites.
This will usually dictate the suitability of a pole for a particular application. Elastic rating is generally linked to the power, or strength, of a pole, for example, if a pole is rated to a 20+ elastic it would typically be suitable for handling carp in most commercial fisheries. A pole rated to a 12 elastic would be more suited to catching smaller fish, for example, in a canal.
It is important to have spare top-kits, not just to cover breakages, but allow you to set up rigs for various situations, for example, varying depths or stronger terminal tackle. This is especially important if you intend to fish matches. Most manufacturers supply at least one spare top set with their poles, but many supply more - so check out the spares available with the pole package.
While many buyers may not think about this, at the time of buying, the serviceability of a pole is an important factor especially when you consider you may have the pole for five years, or more. It's usually fair to say the top, more established, manufacturers will offer a better level of support and be able supply spare sections for many years after the launch of a pole.
Where to buy
Without doubt, internet based retailers offer the best prices with massive discounts available. However, if a reliable after-sales service is important to you then you can't beat your local high street retailer. The choice is yours.