Experienced anglers know that you will have more success catching the fish you want if you have enough elevation. How to elevate yourself on the boat? The solution is to use a poling platform.
A poling platform is typically built of a lightweight aluminum frame bolted to the aft section of boats or flat skiffs. From this elevated frame, a guide will spot fish and steer the boat towards them. Some boats come with their built-in poling platforms.
A poling platform is also called a casting platform or a fishing stand. It can be as simple as a ladder. For many experienced anglers, this is necessary equipment because it helps them catch the fish they want. This tool enables them to get high, so they can better see fish swimming in the water.
Read on to learn more about a poling platform, its description, how important it is for fishing, its types, and some sample poling platforms.
Why You Need a Poling Platform
If you want to catch the fish that you want, you will need a poling platform. This platform will increase the elevation of your spotter or guide and increase their chances of spotting fish. It also makes it easier to spot birds, weed lines, kelp paddies, and bait schools.
Sight-fishing is critical for boating anglers who fish for marlin, bonefish, redfish, cobia, and tarpon. You can only spot these fish if you are at a certain elevation from the water. You can set up an elevation by using a poling platform.
Some of the more expensive boats have built-in flybridges. Smaller boats can’t have flybridges, but you can still get the elevation you need by installing a poling platform. A typical poling platform is made of an aluminum frame that you have to bolt to the aft section of your boat.
You can also refer to a poling platform as a fishing stand or casting platform. In any case, it is simply a ladder or a stand where you or your spotter can stand and have a wider view of the waters. This will allow you to see the fish swimming in the water better.
Poling or Casting Platform Description
Fishing guides long ago have realized their need to get to a higher elevation to catch the fish they want. They thought of creating a structure that will give them a higher vantage point. This resulted in the invention of the poling platform.
Lightweight Aluminum Frame
Most of these platforms have a lightweight aluminum frame usually bolted to the aft section of boats and flat skiffs. Standing on these platforms, the guides can spot where the fish. You can use them as a platform for pushing a push pole under the water to move the boat forward or backward.
There are flat board builders that make boats equipped with poling platforms. But if you already have a boat without it, you can buy a poling platform from custom shops or buy a poling platform kit and then retrofit your boat with it. The price of basic models of poling platforms starts at $700. Some are cheaper while some are more expensive.
There are 12 to 18 inches tall platforms—the typical top heights of poling platforms from the boat’s deck range from 3 to 4 feet. Taller units of poling platforms usually have one or two steps bolted to the frame. Spotters use them to climb the top of the platform just like they climb stairs.
Some poling platform variants have seats and leaning posts, safety rails that can be removed, rod holders, and other accessories. The top of the platforms is nonskid fiberglass. They are usually rectangular in shape and measure 32 inches x 23 inches.
Some anglers use their tough super cooler as platforms. They stand on their coolers to spot fish and cast their lines aside from using it to cool their drinks. But they need to bolt the cooler securely to the deck so they won’t tip over.
There are medium-size coolers that you can use for this purpose. Choose a rugged one enough to support your body weight. Get one with non-skid feet so it would not slide around the deck. Some coolers like this go for around $350 per piece.
Importance of Poling Platforms
Most fishing boats made recently have poling platforms. Is there a particular reason for this? It seems there are plenty of reasons for equipping fishing boats, especially the recreational ones, with this platform:
1. It Enables You to Better Spot Schools of Bait
A poling platform serves as your tower station. It lets you spot schools of baits better than if you are spotting from the deck of your boat. The extra height that you or your fishing guide gets will give you better visibility. You have the advantage of getting a 360° view of the water. There is also lesser glare at long and short distances.
2. A Platform Allows You to See Over Natural Obstacles
When fishing in places where there are fish-holding structures, such as inside mangroves, the additional height you get will give you the angle to look beyond the mangroves. You may discover ponds and lakes where bones may be prowling.
3. It Is Less Tiring
Poling from a casting platform is less tiring. The additional height that you get enables you to pole with less effort.
4. Less Chances of Accidental Push Pole Impact with Other Objects
You can also use poling platforms to stand for those holding the push poles when they need to push water forward. The danger here is that the push pole can inadvertently hit or get into contact with the angler, the fishing rod used by the angler, or the deck. If you choose to pole from the poling platform, you will have an easier time avoiding hitting the deck, the fly rod, or the angler.
Ideal Pole Platform Height
You may think that higher is better when it comes to mounting a poling platform on a boat. But that is not always true. There is the right height for poling platforms. The right height is ruled by one important element – the clarity of the water.
There are poling platforms that are six feet tall. These platforms belong to the tall class. There are also poling platforms that range from 12 to 18 inches. These are the shorter platforms. The height of the platform you need to use will depend on the clarity of the water you fish most of the time.
If you fish on clear waters, the shorter platforms will suffice. You don’t need a tall platform to get a clear view of the waters surrounding you. However, if the water you usually fish in is always unclear and sometimes even muddy, you need a reasonably tall platform.
If you are fishing on waters with a degree of clarity between clear and muddy, the best platform you can use is one that is about four feet tall. You should also consider how high the bow of your boat usually rests on the water. If your bow is very high on the water and your platform is short, your visibility will be affected.
Pros and Cons of Tall Poling Platforms
It is good to use a taller stand, but it still depends on your boat and the fishing conditions. There are advantages and disadvantages that you have to consider:
- You will be able to see longer distances. Seeing fish at 30 yards will not be difficult.
- Climbing up and down may be a hassle.
- Mounting and dismounting can be time-consuming.
- Since you are high, the fish will also be able to see you – and run.
- You might hit overhead obstructions.
- Since you are high, you will have a larger wind profile making it difficult to maintain your balance.
Pros and Cons of Low Poling Platforms
A shorter platform also has its own advantages and disadvantages:
- Mounting and dismounting are easier because there are only a few parts to deal with.
- You will be on the short side of the wind, so it will not be difficult to keep your balance.
- Climbing up and down is a lot faster and easier.
- You will only have a few problems with overhead obstructions.
- Fish will be able to see less of you because you are on a short platform.
- Your view of the water will be very limited.
Poling Platform Options
Poling platforms can cost between $600 and $800. The actual cost will depend on the build quality, dimensions, and materials used. If you are ordering a custom-made platform from a manufacturer, it will be more expensive, but you get the dimensions and features you want.
Birdsall Marine Poling Platforms
An option you may want to consider is the Birdsall Marine Poling Platforms. This manufacturer only uses the finest materials in building their platforms. They use molded fiberglass decklid with a non-skid surface with a diamond pattern and a 360° trail. The scuppers are molded into the corners of the platform for easy drainage. Their platforms will provide many years of trouble-free use.
Another example is the poling platform made by Pursuit Boats. They have a two-piece poling platform that is made of powdered aluminum which is off-white in color. The dimensions of this platform are 39 1/2” x 71” x 39” (L x W x H). It comes with two silver aluminum rod holders.
Great Lakes Skipper
Great Lakes Skipper is also a company that makes poling platforms. This is a well-established boat brand that many people trust. They maintain sufficient stocks of replacement boat parts every month.
If you are looking for budget-priced poling platforms, you can consider buying from this company. They offer special discounts on poling platforms. Just tell them the dimensions you need, and they will get back to you with the right item you need.
Poling Platform Kits
If you can’t afford a custom-made poling platform and you are someone who is not shy in getting your hands dirtied, there are poling platform kits that you can buy and assemble. One supplier that you can consider is C.L. Mattson, a company that sells the Sea Mount platform.
The poling platform they sell includes the top, mounting brackets, legs, and majority of the stainless steel parts. When assembled, this kit is sturdy and tough. The legs are made of marine-grade aluminum or fiberglass.
This platform measures 24” x 36” and is made of aluminum with plywood backing. You can also adjust the legs to fit various widths and heights. Their kits are priced between $400 and $575, which is cheaper than the already made poling platforms from other suppliers.
Warning About Height
If you have a tall boat and a tall poling platform, it is more likely that you will be waiting at drawbridges. When trailering your boat on the highway, be prepared if it exceeds the legal height limit. The height limit in most highways is from 13 1/2 feet to 14 feet.
You can dodge this requirement by having a foldable poling platform. Typically, it is just the upper part of the platform that is foldable. You may have to order this feature if you already have a taller boat.
Conclusion: Poling Platforms
A poling platform is also called a fishing stand or a casting platform. You need it if you want to catch the fish that you want successfully. It is a platform where a guide or a spotter stands to get a wider view of the ocean or water so they can see the fish swimming in the water.
It is typically made of a lightweight aluminum frame bolted to the aft section of flat skiffs or boats. The spotter uses this platform to get to a certain elevation to spot the fish. Some boats come with built-in poling platforms.