These days, pretty much any modern skiff you see on the flats is going to have a poling platform on its stern. Why is that?
- The extra height of the platform gives your guide (or if you’re really lucky, your Significant Other) better visibility, a 360 degree view and less glare at short and long distances. If you’ve never done it, climb up onto a boat’s poling platform some day when you’re out on the flats – it’s amazing how much better you can see. Hot tip: bring your camera!
- This is a little less obvious, but from up on the platform, the person with the pole in their hands has a much easier time preventing impact between the push pole and anglers, fly rods and/or boat decks.
- The leverage gained from standing up high makes it a lot less tiring to pole from a platform.
- On places like South Andros where there’s often fish-holding structure up in the mangroves, the 3′ elevation gain may give you the angle to look beyond the mangroves and see backwater lakes and ponds where bones may be lurking.
Poling platforms are used in conjunction with push poles that typically range in length from 16′ to 22′. Although there are still some places where nothing more than a stick acts as a push pole, at Andros South and other places with modern equipment, the push pole is generally made out of glass or carbon fiber, and has a pointed end for hard-bottomed flats and a forked end for soft-bottomed flats.
True, you can find vintage photos of boats being poled on the flats with no platforms (even backwards!), but the poling platform is one modern convenience that we wouldn’t do without.