Pole Memories

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Pole Memories. Hi all of fishing lovers, Today’s post is “Pole Memories”. i hope that this article is a good choice for you, all fishing lovers.

Pole Memories

A recent thread on maggotdrowning.com started me reminiscing about my pole fishing.  So with nothing else to write about I thought I would commit some memories to “paper”. 

I may be wrong but more than fifty years ago pole fishing was fairly commonplace around London on the Lee & Thames* but not so up north. This may be why many think that pole fishing originated on the continent.  As far as I know bristle topped floats were an import from France/Belgium but the bamboo pole was in use in Britain well over a century ago. I suspect that poles did not really become commonplace in the north until the floats appeared hence the belief that the whole style of fishing arrived then from overseas.

My first pole was bamboo. I probably only used it a couple of times. I can’t recall if I caught anything on it. When I started work I invested in a “proper” fibreglass pole. It was a Lerc, green and telescopic and as I recall six metres. Of course no elastics then (mid 70s). We would team the pole with, normally a stick float, possibly a small waggler.

The lads in my first club were masters at using the pole in a way that would puzzle many today. On a river like the Thames they would use a stick float attached top & bottom and either a swan shot or drilled bullet around a foot from the hook. I could never master it but the pole was set in rests and the bait fished static on the deck. Somehow they balanced the set up so the float just stayed in place on the surface. You would wait until the float would give a wobble and then slide out of sight. Invariably the fish would be a skimmer or big roach, sometimes a chub.

The shot or bullet would be under the float and the line from the top of the float to the upstream pole tip. It wasn’t all laid out in a straight line. This is what I couldn’t master because the current always wanted to bury the float. I tried many times after sitting watching those anglers that could but never managed to achieve that perfect balance. I’m sure anglers today who are used to dotting bristles down would be amazed at how they caught using such an apparently crude method. But they did.

When I could I upgraded to a seven metre telescopic Garbolino fibreglass pole – amazing. But we were still using ordinary floats. I used that pole when fishing my first ever match on the Trent. My employer at the time, Barclays, had a very active fishing section and we fished a Winter league against other regions. The bank allowed us time off to fish for our region and also paid expenses. So one day we had to drive up to the Trent from London and fished the section downstream of the A1. In those days we parked on the bridge carrying the A1 over the river.
At the time I had a fishing buddy, Dave. We fished together most weekends having been at school together and both worked for Barclays so we travelled together a lot to club and bank matches. Dave was very intense and read avidly about all aspects of the sport, I was more laid back. Although we had never fished the legendary Trent he knew all about it and how it should be fished. When he described it to me at a club match I said it sounded like an ideal place to fish the pole (I had poleitis even then). “You can’t fish the pole on the Trent!” was his almost outraged reply. We had an argument that was egged on by our club mates ending with a side bet of – £1.

So with a lot to fish for I managed to draw the downstream end peg. I fished the pole as well as the waggler and caught on both (chub, roach & gudgeon). I like to think that I may have been the first angler to fish the Trent with a pole. Certainly no-one else on our match had seen it done. I came third and won the pound. The guy who was upstream of me said that having watched me catch on the pole he was going out to buy one the next week.

It was around this time (late 70s) I saw my first bristle topped float. The ABC match group in Tottenham used to organise Thursday evening opens in the Summer on the Lee just off the North Circular Road. It was while walking along and watching the anglers fish that I saw this new float. I still remember the feelings that ran through me when I realised what it was and the potential it heralded. I was entranced and immediately captivated by the sensitivity and realised the change it could bring to my pole fishing. The following Saturday I bought three of these magic floats. I still used the stick on the pole occasionally but this really marked a major change in pole fishing for me and lots of others.

An early bristle topped float.  Branded “Ivan Marks”, the reason I would have bought a set.  The bottom stem is twisted wire with a loop at the bottom for the line.  The white band at the top is a float rubber.
Then Shakespeare brought out a new pole that ruined my pole fishing for a few years. It was made from a material they called Polyestel. The pole was still telescopic and while lighter than the old Lerc I had been using it was far too flexible. You struck and waited for the (flick) tip to react. Eventually it was consigned to the shed and I was put off fishing the pole for a while.
Innovations seemed to come all at the same time. Fibreglass take apart poles seemed to appear as did elastic. I say the take apart appeared, they did to me but as I loved fishing the telescopic I didn’t take much interest in them so they may have been around all the time. Initially elastic was used with a cut down solid tip to which an aluminium “crook” was attached. This was a length of aluminium rod glued to the solid tip that then had a right angle bend at the end and a slot for locating the elastic. The elastic was normally a loop approximately 6-12 inches long and attached to the crook and the top of the rig. Of course take-apart poles made the development of internal elastics possible.

The crook.  Would never have coped with carp. 
And in the last sentence an early mention of internal elastics.


As a dedicated “tele” man I could never see the sense in having a pole that you had to take each section off when playing a fish. It was a lot easier as I saw it to telescope the sections into the butt until you got the fish within netting/swinging distance. Of course pole rollers were still unheard of so I never imagined shipping the whole length of pole behind me. In some places where I fished it was impractical anyway. In particular the Lee just off the North Circular on an industrial estate where cars and lorries were passing just a couple of yards behind you. Also canal towpaths seemed more used then, perhaps being London they were busier.

Eventually though I had to admit defeat and when the early carbon take apart poles came out I had to invest in one. The old fibreglass really had a maximum useable length of seven, possibly eight metres. All of a sudden carbon made a longer pole possible. And without that extra reach you couldn’t compete it seemed. So I bought a Silstar Multimesh ten metre carbon pole.
I got on well with this and for a few years used it with no roller, just sliding it back on my rodbag or a convenient bush. Eventually I succumbed and The Boss got me a roller for Christmas one year. I went out Boxing Day and the difference the roller made was eye opening. Now of course I always have two rollers with me and sometimes three.

There came the day on a canal match when I got battered off the next peg by a guy who had a 14m pole and could reach the far side. So again the bank account had to be raided for a 14m pole, a DAM Millennium Gold.

Eventually this proved a little light for commercial carp and so I now use a MAP M16.

For years I did what I suspect many anglers do with pole fishing and made it too complicated. I had so many different floats, lines and hooks I was confusing myself. So I threw everything out and now use a basic set of five floats, two lines and three hooks.  See my post on this at


I still have all of the poles I have owned with the exception of the bamboo. They are as follows and in order of purchase:-


Green Lerc (6m) – I carry the top four sections in my canal rod holdall and use it as a whip.

Garbolino (7m) – Not been used for decades. Only sentiment stops me throwing it away. The joints are so worn that at least one section slides out instead of sticking as a telescopic section should.

Shakespeare Polyestel (8m) – now consigned to the shed and never used.


Silstar Multimesh (10m) – still used on holidays in France. It has sections that are only just over a metre long and thus packs in the car easily. I have managed to cobble together three topkits and so with different elastics allows me to fish for silvers or carp.

DAM Millennium Gold (14.5m) – Now sees use as my canal/silvers pole. I have around ten topkits and works well for this type of fishing.

Milo Maximus (14.5m) – Bought as a supposed upgrade from the DAM. Said to be rated to 20 elastic but I found it a little undergunned and is lighter than the DAM. It takes the same topkits as the DAM and so I carry it also when on the canal as a spare and also, being lighter, if I need to fish at 14m. It also allows me to feed and fish while the DAM is in a set of rests.
FAPS Vulcan (11m) – This pole was bought at a tackle show around sixteen years ago for £100 really as a second pole and for my son to use. Soon afterwards my son stepped on the No.4 section. I wasn’t able to get a replacement and so it went in the shed. A couple of years later at another show I took a punt on some cheap top four and five universal kits. They fitted perfectly and for several years this was my margin pole. A slight crack in one female joint saw it put away and replaced with the Maver Abyss X in 2014. The joint could be sleeved and still be used so it won’t go in the bin.

MAP M16 (16m) – my current commercial carp pole. I have acquired nine topkits and so it covers everything I need for this style of fishing. Over the years I have managed to get a second one cheaply and a few spare sections. So I have sufficient spares for it to last many more years.

Maver Abyss X (9.5m) – Used for margins. Luckily the topkits for the FAPS Vulcan fit perfectly and so now I have nine topkits. Having bought one I was so impressed and the price so good that I bought a second so I have a complete set of spares and a pole I can lend if taking a novice out.

Unless something really revolutionary happens I don’t see me buying a new pole for a while, and at my age possibly never.

*If you want to read about the early London roach poles there is a book –



Article source: neilofthenene.blogspot.com

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