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Cane Pole Fishing: A Complete Guide to Bamboo Cane Poles

Cane pole fishing is a tried and true method of fishing that countless generations have partaken in.

Whether you want to go after largemouth bass, crappie, or big grouper in the ocean, there’s a cane fishing pole that will handle the job.

Native americans cane pole fishing
Cane pole fishing has been a popular method for a long time. Source

In this article, we’ll cover the different types of cane pole styles, how to rig them, and how to fish with a cane pole.

Get your poles ready and let’s dive in!

What is a Cane Pole?

A cane fishing pole is a large stick, typically a bamboo pole, that has a fishing line attached to the end of it. This line is typically the same length or a bit longer than the length of the pole and has a hook and bait at the end.

Cane poles are used for still-fishing and primarily for panfish species. When the angler hooks the fish they raise the cane pole to bring the fish close to their body and secure them using a net.

Bamboo cane pole
A bamboo cane pole in sections. Source

There are videos of boat fishermen in the ocean using poles to hook fish and flip them into the boat, but these tend to be pole made of metal or fiberglass. You can use this method with a cane pole if you’re careful, but most anglers prefer the more graceful route of using a net.

Next, let’s dive into some of the various styles of cane poles. Some are older and not as common and some have been developed recently due to newer manufacturing processes.

4 Types of Cane Poles

Bamboo Cane Poles

Bamboo cane poles are made from stalks of bamboo that are cut and formed into the desired length pole.

Popular types of bamboo used for these poles are Dendrocalamus Strictus, Bambusa Tuida, and Bambusa Arundinacae.

To ensure durability you’re looking for bamboo that is solid and strong with dense walls. You want the nods to be closer together for the added strength as well.

Bamboo cane poles come in various lengths but the typical range is between four and twenty-five feet long.

A child with a bamboo cane pole
A child size cane pole. Source

Treated vs. Untreated Bamboo

Depending on the bamboo manufacturer you can get treated and non-treated poles. Treated bamboo removes many of the insects and fungi that could damage and degrade your pole.

The common treatments include leaching, smoking, borax, and boric acid mixture, and a CCB Treatment of copper, chrome, and boron). If you don’t want fungi, termites, or weevil, then we recommend you go for the treated bamboo.

Does Bamboo Break?

The short answer is that bamboo does break if you don’t take care of it. Especially if you use untreated bamboo, the insects and fungi will degrade it and it’ll break much faster than treated bamboo.

Even a treated pole will break if you leave it in water, slam it in your car door, or let it warp in a hot car. Bamboo is robust, but it’s not indestructible.

More on How to Make Bamboo Cane Poles.

Jigger Poles

Jiggerpoling is an old-school method of fishing for largemouth bass and other fish by making quiet careful presentations of lures close to cover.

Most anglers use a floating minnow-shaped plug, part of a fish belly, or even some pork meat attached to a hook. This bait is placed on a short leader line that’s directly attached to the tip of the jigger pole.

The angler usually sits on a small boat and moves the lure or bait along the cover to elicit a bite. Presenting the bait near grass or downed wood.

This method works well when the water isn’t clear and the bass is located closer to the cover.

Cane pole fishing is popular for bass
Catching bass on a cane pole was popular back in the day. Source

Calcutta Poles

Back in the day, Calcutta bamboo poles were the best fishing poles on the market. It’s funny to think that a long stick and line would be effective when everyone today is using the top of the line fiberglass and graphite technologies.

There’s one man back in 1956 named Ernie Giglio who caught a 49-pound striped bass which earned him second place at the Long Beach City Surf Fishing Contest.

All he used to bring in that monster fish was a Calcutta, a guide, and a top. Best of all he didn’t use a reel seat, he just clamped the reel to the rod using hardware clamps.

Even funnier that together with what we’d consider a vintage cane rod, he had a Penn Squider with Dacron line since monofilament wasn’t a thing in those days.

If you’re looking to get back into how the old timers used to fish, it’s worth picking up some bamboo and making one of these old cane fishing poles yourself!

Telescopic cane poles

Not all cane poles are made from bamboo or wood. If you’re looking for a modern cane pole, you should check out the fiberglass cane poles and graphite cane poles on the market.

These are made from different diameter tubes that have a taper. When you put them together they form a large pole that can then be used for fishing.

This makes traveling with them easy since most are longer than 12 feet, which can make it difficult to get in and out of your car. These telescoping fiberglass cane poles, for example, are popular with backpackers who require a lightweight small pole that can be used for Tenkara fishing in the backcountry.

Our Favorite Cane Pole

B&M BW4 Black Widow Telescopic Rod, 13-Feet, 4 Pc (Telescopic)
  • Telescoping pole
  • Glossy black 100% fiberglass blank with red accents
  • Fiberglass reinforced joints

How to Rig a Cane Pole

Cane pole rigging is a little different than your standard setup. Since you’re likely fishing with just a flexible bamboo pole, you’re going to need to attach your line to the pole.

Don’t tie your line directly from the tip!

Wrapping Your Cane Pole

Cane poles can break and you’ll just leave a fish out there with a hook in its mouth pulling the tip of your cane pole around until it dies.

It’s better to take some dacron and start from the base handle or halfway up your cane pole and tie a knot there as an anchor point. This way if your tip breaks your line is still attached to a non-broken part of your pole.

Wrap your dacron around leaving about an inch or two of space between wraps. When you get to the top then tie another knot or half hitch at the top to keep the line in place.

Bring your dacron down from the tip to the base of your pole. Make a loop knot at the end.

Leader and Tackle

Take some monofilament and tie a loop knot at one end. Take this loop and your dacron loop and make a loop to loop connection.

Then put an Aberdeen hook on the other end, some split shot weight and a bobber up top. Now you have a setup ready to catch fish!

Rigging a Telescopic Cane Pole

Since the material is tougher with fiberglass and graphite cane poles you can tie off your line directly at the tip. If you’re on the worrying side, then it doesn’t hurt to come down from the tip about a foot and tie your line to this stronger area.

Then simply wrap up to the tip and tie another knot and proceed to create a leader with your favorite set up as we mentioned above.

How to Fish With a Cane Pole

Cane pole fishing is one of the easier methods of fishing since you’ve taken out a lot of unnecessary headaches with the reel.

How to Use a Cane Pole

Fishing with a cane pole is as easy as placing your lure or bait where the fish might be and giving the right presentation.

Since there is no real casting involved, either drop your line directly where your cane pole tip can reach or if there is current, let the bait drift to where you want it to go downstream.

Catching a Fish

When you feel a bit, gently pull up on your pole and set the hook. Instead of reeling the fish in, you’ll lift the pole high into the air to bring the fish closer to you. If the fish is light then feel free to pull the fish out of the water and into your hand or on the ground.

Remember, it’s better to keep the fish in the water if you plan to catch and release as it doesn’t expose them to potential infection if you remove their slime coating.

If the fish is bigger than you’ll want to bring the fish close to you and use a net to secure it.

Cane Pole Fishing Techniques

Fishing with a cane pole is fun and it can be used to catch fish including:

  • Bass
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Trout
  • Catfish

If you’re looking for catch bass, be sure to use a lure that works well in cover. From there present the lure that looks as natural to the bass as possible and waits for the bite.

The nice part about a cane pole is that after you move the lure past an area all you have to do is pull up the pole and drop the lure right back at where you started.

For other fish like trout and bluegill, just change out the type of bait and place it in the proper area of the lake or river.

It’s easy to overthink this style of fishing so remember to keep it simple.

Good luck out there!

The Anglers Behind This Article:

Jon Stenstrom

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