In a comment a few months ago I promised a review of alternatives to the beloved but
discontinued long-backordered, Cabela’s Telescopic Panfish pole. As of Monday, Cabela’s claims that the panfish poles we have grown to love will be available again on May 6th. With any luck they will be back to stay and the review that follows will be moot, but after being fooled by two previous restock dates that came and went, we set out to evaluate alternatives. Read on for a review of each.
We ordered six collapsible panfish poles from a variety of online vendors (A, B, C, D, E, F – see image above). These ranged in price from $7 – $28 per pole and measured between 1.8 and 6 meters when fully extended and 1/2 to 1 meter collapsed. The poles we tested were constructed with plastic, carbon fiber or some combination of the two and varied in the attachment at the tip of the last segment. Poles D-F have the familiar metal loop at the end of the pole (right – top), which is the usual place to tie off your favorite noose material. Poles A-C have a short length of string glued to the end of the pole (right-middle). I tried to create a loop using small diameter split rings (usually used for fishing lures), but the result is flimsy and would not allow an attached noose to stick out straight from the pole and would instead droop downward (right-bottom). I’ve summarized the stats on each pole in the table below.
Poles A&B comparable in collapsed and extended length to the Cabela’s brand, but have a less suitable tip, are made of flimsier material but are dirt cheap. Pole C compares favorably to the Cabela’s poles in all aspects except the tip connection. Poles D-F are sturdy, have comparable extended lengths and attachment tip to the Cabela’s poles but are much larger when collapsed; too big to fit in the action packers we generally use to transport our gear. One could travel with a few of these as carry-on baggage in a poster tube, or otherwise check a separate container filled with these, perhaps a hard shell golf club carrier. The procrastinating herpetologist will be happy to learn that A and F can had quickly via next-day Amazon shipping.
After testing out the alternative panfish poles for a while I’ve come to a few, albeit personal, conclusions. Above all else, the string tipped poles won’t work for me. For the bark anoles I spend the most time catching in the field I need to be able to approach the animal with the noose open horizontal to the ground (so that it can be worked around the head of a an animal on a tree trunk perched with its head up or down). I have not been able to achieve this with any of the string-tipped poles. The larger poles, with ring tips would work for us, although they will be harder to transport and fully extended are somewhat clumsy to maneuver. One benefit to the Shakespeare poles (F) is the option for greater extended length, up to 6 meters. These would be great when going after crown and high trunk dwelling species. Although, in our current work these species are a minority of our collecting effort. To me, the Cabela’s poles remain the best option, if available. We’ve talked about modifying some of the smaller poles to retrofit a loop on the end. If we pursue this, I will be sure to post an update. In the meantime, it seems like our best option is to get the restocked poles, while the gettin’ is good.
Has anyone else tried out alternatives? It would be great to hear your thoughts and I will update the summary table below with any new information provided.
|Pole||Cost||Tip||Collapsed (cm)||Extended (cm)||Material|
|B||$7||string||58||360||carbon fiber & plastic|
|D||$13-17||loop||103||304-396||carbon fiber & plastic|