Sunday, August 26, 2018

DIY Marsh Pole Shoe

For quite sometime, I've been wanting to make an accessory for the two piece spruce pole carved back in 2017. My occasional day trips poling around involve rocky river & creek bottoms where the homemade copper pipe and lag bolt shoe works fine. Often though, I want to explore marshy areas where a typical pole shoe get stuck in the mud and becomes less effective as a propulsion tool.

Commercial duck bill type pole ends exist for fishermen and hunters wandering into mucky territory, but rather than invest in more plastic gear, I have been interested in an alternative solution called the "Crow's Foot". Here's an image of one on the bottom right.

A simple accessory made of wood, the profile of the foot is supposed to increase surface area so the pole doesn't sink to deep into muddy bottoms, while minimally interfering with forward momentum. A few folks online have posted that they've used homemade versions with decent results while commenting that that foot also acts as a bit of rudder to help steering.

Before his online images disappeared, I saved Matt Hopkinson's pics of the foot being used by native groups in the swampy Florida Everglades...

Matt also shared his idea for securing the Crow's with a tensioned cord and a small metal brace that fits through the bolt at the bottom of his aluminum pole.

Matt H's Crow's Foot Attachment

I adapted Matt's method for my own wooden pole by using up some scraps. My crow's foot is from a piece of yellow birch with a notch cut in to hold a strong velcro buckle tie. I found an old piece of metal bracing with a large enough hole so the 5/8" lag bolt could fit through. It was simply screwed to the bottom of the foot with whatever old screws I could find. Looks ugly but it works

The friction fit and velcro strap hold the foot on pretty tightly but  the great thing about this method is that the Crow's foot is not permanently attached to the pole so it can be removed easily once out of the mucky terrain. That way, a dedicated marsh pole is not needed and I can continue using the pole for more commonl rocky terrain.

Eventually the birch foot will be painted or varnished to give it a bit more longevity, but being eager to test it out, I headed out to marshy wetland out on the cottage lake where the water levels shallows out to about 2 feet and the lake bottom is thick mud. Here is the canoe loaded up with the Green Passamaquoddy paddle and another one in the process of being carved (maple). 

Once at the wetland, I attached the Crow's foot to the pole and stood up ...

The foot worked perfectly! The pole was not getting stuck in the mucky bottom and I could easily push the canoe around. Since I was alone, the only shot of it in action I could take was a twisted angle of the foot submerged in the murky water. Standing up in a canoe while poling and taking a photo with one hand isn't easy!

Anyway, quite happy how this little bit gear will make poling in marshy zones much more enjoyable. Thanks Matt H for the helpful advice.

1 comment:

CB said...

Thanks for this post! I have a commercial marsh foot but I have been thinking about something more traditional and this fits the bill and would work on my existing poles. How much does your foot 'float' - although a standard wood pole sinks pretty well I am wondering if you found the additional wood an issue. How is the weight?

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