For shallow water anglers, the Gheenoe push pole is a secret weapon that can greatly improve your inshore fishing success. This specialized pole allows you to silently maneuver and precision-position your boat to spot and approach fish in extremely skinny waters. While fancy boats and advanced electronics grab attention, seasoned anglers know a humble push pole can unlock endless opportunities hidden in the shallows.
With a push pole, you can quietly work mangrove shorelines, pick apart grass flats in just inches of water, sneak through tunnels, and even pole way back into the skinny flats that most boats can’t even reach. Done properly, poling generates little noise or water disturbance that might spook fish. You can methodically work an area and pinpoint spots holding fish while watching and listening. The stealthy approach allows you to spot fish with their heads down, feeding in shallow water oblivious to your presence.
A good push pole provides a huge advantage to inshore anglers willing to learn the techniques. But it does take practice to master – from the proper pole angle and stance to using your legs and core while keeping movements smooth and quiet. Patience and persistence pay off allowing you to capitalize on fish that rarely see pressure. If you’re ready to unlock the true potential of shallow waters, outfit your boat with a quality push pole. Read on to gain the knowledge for purchasing the right gear, learning techniques, and applying specialized tactics to capitalize on your new secret weapon.
A Gheenoe push pole is a long, lightweight pole used to quietly maneuver a fishing boat in shallow water. Gheenoe poles allow anglers to sneak up on fish without alerting them with noisy trolling motors. These specialized poles have been used for decades in flats fishing, especially popular in places like the Florida Keys. With the right technique, a Gheenoe push pole gives anglers a stealthy way to find and approach fish in skinny water.
The history of the modern push pole traces back to the late 1960s in Islamorada, Florida. Local anglers experimented with using long wooden poles to silently move their small skiffs through the shallow flats and mangrove channels. This stealthy poling approach allowed them to easily locate and catch bonefish, permit, tarpon, and other species in just inches of water.
The shallow draft Gheenoe boats were perfectly suited for poling the flats. As the popularity of flats fishing grew, Gheenoe push poles became a specialized tool for inshore anglers. Originally fashioned from bamboo or wood, fiberglass poles became more common in the 1970s and 80s. Today’s poles are made from lightweight graphite, carbon fiber, and other modern materials.
The development of the flat-bottomed Gheenoe, specialized push poles, and the advent of flats fishing represented a kind of perfect storm. Anglers could now effectively target shallow water species that were once difficult to approach. A quiet, shallow-draft boat paired with a long, lightweight push pole opened up a whole new world of fishing opportunities. This revolution transformed inshore fishing, especially in Florida but also in Texas, Louisiana, and other coastal regions.
While electronics, powerful outboards, and high-tech rods and reels get most of the attention, the humble push pole remains one of the most important tools for inshore anglers. Pushing quietly through shallow waters allows anglers unparalleled access to fish that would be easily spooked by motor noise. A good push pole is equally effective for navigating mangrove tunnels, staking out productive flats, and even doubling as a pole for keeping balance while wading. For serious inshore enthusiasts, a quality Gheenoe push pole is mandatory equipment.
What is a Gheenoe Push Pole?
A Gheenoe push pole is typically 12-24 feet long and made of materials like fiberglass, graphite, or carbon fiber. The length varies based on the size of the boat it’s used with. Push poles have a pointed tip on one end and a rubber foot on the other end. Anglers stand on the platform at the back of the boat and use the rubber foot to push off the bottom, silently moving the boat forward. This creates little to no disturbance in the water, allowing anglers to sneak up on fish.
There are a few different types of Gheenoe push pole tips designed for different bottom types:
- Spike tips – Spike tips are sharper, narrow poles that can penetrate soft mud on the bottom. The spike easily slides into the mud allowing the angler to push forward.
- Rounded tips – Rounded, dome-shaped tips are better for sandy or hard bottoms. The smooth rounded tip glides along without digging into firmer sediments.
- Shock-absorbing tips – Some pole tips have an internal shock-absorbing spring. This cushions the push and allows the tip to gently make contact rather than noisily ‘clacking’ on a hard surface.
Another option is multi-section poles that can be broken down into smaller pieces for easier transport and storage. Two or three piece poles use locking mechanisms to securely connect when assembled. Break-down poles are slightly heavier but more portable.
When selecting a push pole, it’s important to consider your typical fishing environment. Are the flats predominantly soft mud or hard sand? Are there oyster beds or other semi-hard surfaces? Do you need to collapse the pole for storage? Answering these questions will guide you toward the right pole tip and configuration.
Benefits of Using a Gheenoe Push Pole
Using a Gheenoe push pole has many advantages for shallow water anglers:
- Increased stealth – The quiet poling movement allows anglers to approach fish without spooking them with noise. Sound travels extremely well through water, so the silent approach is critical to getting within casting range of fish.
- Ability to navigate shallow waters – Push poles allow you to move through super skinny water too shallow for a trolling motor. Even just 6-12 inches of water is enough for a push pole to work effectively.
- Reduced risk of damage – Poling prevents churning up the bottom, knocking into grass and vegetation, or getting tangled in shallow spots. Sensitive environments like sea grass flats can be navigated without damaging habitats.
- Improved maneuverability – With a pole, you can make tight, controlled movements to work small areas methodically. Quick pivots and fine adjustments allow you to thoroughly pick apart prime fish-holding spots.
- No noise pollution – Trolling motors, no matter how advanced, produce noise both above and below the waterline. This noise can drive fish away and ruin fishing in an area. Push poles are completely silent.
- No need to recharge batteries – Gas motors need fuel and electric trolling motors run out of battery. Push poles can go all day on arm power alone.
The benefits of stealth, maneuverability, reduced disturbance, and simplicity make the push pole a highly versatile tool for inshore anglers.
How to Choose the Right Gheenoe Push Pole
Several factors should be considered when selecting the best Gheenoe push pole for your needs:
- Length – Match the length to the boat size for optimal leverage and control. An ideal length puts the tip 6-12 inches beyond the boat’s stern. Too short and you lose pushing power. Too long and the pole is unwieldy.
- Material – Fiberglass poles are affordable but very heavy. Graphite is lighter and more sensitive but more expensive. Carbon fiber offers the best blend of light weight and stiffness but at a premium cost.
- Tip design – As described earlier, factor in the type of bottom (soft, hard, mixed). Spike tips for mud, rounded for sand and hard surfaces.
- Weight – For all-day comfort, opt for the lightest pole you can afford. Heavy poles cause fatigue which ruins your poling experience.
- Rigidity – The pole should be fairly stiff without too much flex. You need a rigid lever to transmit your leg power into the water. Too whippy and energy is lost.
- Waterproof – Although you rinse after use, waterproof resin prevents moisture from entering the interior of the pole to avoid wood rot, corrosion, and damage.
- Price – Budget-level poles start around $100 but typically have more flex and are heavier. High-end poles run $300+ but shed weight and are extremely responsive.
Before buying a pole, get hands-on with some options to assess weight, balance, and overall feel. An uncomfortable pole is useless.
How to Use a Gheenoe Push Pole
Using a Gheenoe push pole effectively takes practice and an efficient technique:
- Position yourself on the elevated poling platform or casting platform at the stern of the boat. This gives maximum height for longer pushes.
- Point the push pole straight down into the water within a foot or two of the boat.
- Press the rubber foot flat onto the bottom with about 10-20 degrees of forward tilt.
- Transfer your weight down the pole leg and slide your back foot to push your body forward using leg muscles.
- Slide the rubber foot along the bottom in a long, straight push stroke that propels the boat forward smoothly.
- Lift the pole straight up out of the water at the end of the stroke to prepare for the next push.
- Use your forward foot to gently pivot the boat and reposition for the next push.
- Keep pole partially submerged during recovery to avoid waving a 16 foot pole around wildly.
- Maintain steady, silent contact with the bottom. Avoid digging in too forcefully or dragging the foot noisily.
- Listen for fish or bait activity as you slowly and methodically pole. Your eyes are key too.
Proper poling technique takes practice to master. It uses core strength and balance to transmit power down the length of the pole. Short, vigorous jabbing is inefficient. The goal is smooth, steady, near-silent forward progress with the pole at a low angle almost parallel to the water. The poling platform gives you added height for longer push strokes.
Patience and stealth are required. Work an area slowly and methodically while watching and listening. Pole in a grid pattern to cover the area thoroughly. Quietly pivot and reposition for your next push. Mastering the nuances of poling is incredibly rewarding when you’re able to sneak up and spot fish in extremely shallow or difficult areas that most anglers can’t access.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
When learning to pole, there are some common mistakes that compromise stealth and effectiveness:
- Pushing too aggressively – Hard, forceful pushes create more noise and disturb bottom. Easy does it.
- Choppy pole recovery – Bringing the tip up out of the water swiftly swishes and can splash. Keep it just submerged.
- Digging the foot in – Let the foot glide along the bottom without gouging in and disturbing sediment.
- Angling the pole too far forward – Past 20 degrees forward reduces power and increases drag during the push.
- Bending at the waist – Hunching over stresses the back. Use proper upright posture and leg drive.
- Rushing – Poling requires slow, methodical coverage of an area while watching and listening carefully.
- Sloppy footwork – Messy pivots and repositioning of your feet lead to poor boat control.
The best way to avoid these mistakes is initially practice poling on a large open flat. This lets you focus on technique without worrying about obstacles. Spend some time poling around before your first fishing trip.
Maintenance and Care
A few simple maintenance tips will keep your Gheenoe push pole in top condition for years:
- Rinse – Always rinse the pole with freshwater after use to remove dirt, sand, algae, and salt. Salt can corrode poles over time if left on.
- UV protect – Shield the pole from sun exposure when not in use. The sun’s UV rays degrade materials. Store it under cover or with a pole sock.
- Check for damage – Regularly inspect for cracks, fracture lines, or pole separation. Repair any minor damage to prevent it worsening.
- Protect the tip – The tip takes the most abuse. Replace it if bent or excessively worn. Have a spare tip handy just in case.
- Keep rigging tight – Check that foot and tip hardware are snug. Tighten or replace loose rigging before it fails at the worst time!
- Store securely – Mount vertical wall racks or horizontal ceiling racks work well. Avoid letting the pole bang around unprotected.
Follow this routine care and your quality push pole should provide service for many years.
When to Replace a Push Pole
With regular use, push poles do eventually wear out or become damaged beyond repair. Here are some signs it’s time to shop for a replacement:
- Major cracking, gouges, or fracture lines
- Bending or warping of the shaft
- Excessive pitting, peeling or deterioration of the surface
- Badly worn foot or tip that keeps coming loose
- Obvious “dead spots” along the length with loss of rigidity
- Sections separating on multi-piece poles
- Too heavy/unwieldy for comfortable poling
- Technology has surpassed it – treat yourself to a fancy new carbon fiber model!
If your push pole shows any of the above issues, it’s served you well but it’s time to upgrade. Advances in materials make today’s poles lighter and stronger than ever.
Depending on usage and care, expect to replace a pole every 5-10 years on average. Buy quality gear and it should meet or exceed that lifespan.
Transporting and Storing Push Poles
One challenge with push poles is transporting them, particularly longer 24 foot models. Here are some tips for easy transport and storage:
- Use foam pads, pipe insulation, or another soft wrap to protect the pole during transport. Avoid letting it bounce around.
- For trailer transport, pole racks allow you to securely mount the pole to the trailer. Some trailers have built-in racks and holders.
- Use a pole tow line to tow the pole behind your vehicle safely. Attach to the bumper hitch. Never trailer without securing.
- Truck bed mounting racks are great for poles that hang slightly beyond the tailgate. Straps or locks will keep it firmly in place.
- For storage, utilize wall-mounted vertical racks, overhead horizontal racks, or upright pole containers. Get it up off the floor.
- Multi-piece poles make transport and storage easier but are generally heavier. Decide if that tradeoff is worthwhile.
With some preparation, it’s not difficult to safely transport even the longest poles. Just take precautions to avoid damage in transit. And invest in a secure storage system keep it readily available.
Fishing Applications for Push Poles
Beyond basic flats fishing, push poles have many specialized applications for inshore anglers:
- Working Mangroves & Docks – The ability to precisely maneuver and pivot allows you to pick apart tight mangrove tunnels and work around docks.
- Windy Conditions – When it’s too windy to fish open water, push poles let you sneak along protected shorelines and flats.
- Fishing Ultra Shallow Flats – Push into ankle-deep water where fish are but motors can’t venture.
- Approaching Feeding Fish – Quietly pole toward fish with their heads down while feeding to get close.
- Casting Accuracy – Precision boat placement with a push pole leads to pinpoint, accurate casts.
- Fly Fishing – Spotting fish and presenting flies stealthily is when a push pole really shines.
- Photography/Filming – Photographers and videographers use push poles to film and photograph fish & wildlife with minimal disturbance.
As you gain experience poling, you’ll discover endless nuances and specialized techniques for using push poles. It truly is an art form!
Push Pole Accessories & Upgrades
There are a range of accessories available to enhance your push pole:
- Pole tip protectors – Protective sleeves that fit over the tip while poling across hard or oyster bottom.
- Pole covers and socks – Used for storage and transport to prevent surface scratches and dings.
- Push pole holders – Mounted rod-style holders to secure your pole when not in use.
- Deck fittings – Allow you to anchor detachable fittings for the pole foot on the boat deck.
- Push pole caddies – Wheeled carts for transporting poles from vehicle to boat and back.
- Camera mounts – Attach GoPro style cameras to record your fishing trips and outings.
- LED push pole lights – Battery powered LED lights that illuminate your path for night fishing trips.
- Vibration absorption – Some poles have internal rubber gaskets to dampen vibrations for added stealth.
- Jack plate – It lifts the outboard motor higher out of the water, which reduces drag, increases speed, and allows the boat to run in shallow waters more easily.
- Transducer mount – It make your fishing experience easier by ensuring a clear and accurate view of the underwater terrain and potential fish hotspots.
Upgrading to the latest high-tech pole material or adding accessories can really optimize your system. Consider accessories to save wear and tear, enhance convenience, improve safety, and even go high-tech!
FAQs about Gheenoe push poles
What is the difference between a Gheenoe push pole and a regular push pole?
Gheenoe push poles are designed specifically for use with Gheenoe boats. They are tailored for the typical dimensions and polling platforms of Gheenoes. The lengths match the boat size, and the foot placement works with the boat’s balance. Regular generic push poles may not be ideal for leveraging Gheenoe boats.
Can a Gheenoe push pole be used in saltwater?
Yes, Gheenoe push poles are designed for use in both freshwater and saltwater. However, poles should be rinsed thoroughly after saltwater use to prevent corrosion and maintain integrity.
How long should a Gheenoe push pole be?
For optimal leverage, the Gheenoe push pole should extend 6 to 12 inches past the motor mount at the stern. Typical sizes range from 12 feet for smaller Gheenoes up to 24 feet for larger 17-20 foot models.
What is the best material for a Gheenoe push pole?
Carbon fiber Gheenoe poles offer the best blend of stiffness, strength, light weight, and sensitivity but at a higher cost. Value fiberglass poles are more affordable but heavier. Graphite is a good mid-range option.
How much does a Gheenoe push pole cost?
Budget fiberglass poles start around $100. Mid-range graphite poles run $200-$300 on average. High-end carbon fiber poles cost $300 and above. Expect to spend $200-$400 for a quality Gheenoe-specific pole.
For shallow water anglers, a Gheenoe push pole is an invaluable tool that allows access to waters normally unreachable. The stealthy movement lets you spot and approach fish with minimal disturbance. A good push pole is one of the most important pieces of equipment for inshore fishermen. With practice and patience, a push pole unlocks new opportunities in the skinny backwaters. Careful selection of the right pole and keeping up with routine maintenance will ensure it provides many years of service. Push poling requires skill development but is extremely rewarding. As your techniques improve, you’ll find yourself catching more fish in waters that most anglers can’t even access. For the ultimate shallow water experience, a Gheenoe push pole can’t be beat!