poling platforms

Poling Platforms: Price, Materials, Customizing

So, you’ve finally got out on the water and are ready to catch fish. You know that fish are swimming under the boat, but when you stand on deck, you can’t get a high enough view to actually spot them. If you have ever been in this situation, you know how frustrating it can be.

The issue of not being able to spot fish from a small fishing vessel has plagued fishermen for centuries, but fortunately, there is a simple solution.

If you have difficulty spotting fish from your fishing vessel, one quick and easy solution is to install a poling platform on your boat and you should be back in business in no time.

If you have ever thought about adding a poling platform to your vessel or are simply curious about what they are all about, keep reading.

In this guide, we will cover everything that you need to know about poling platforms for recreational fishing vessels.

What is a Poling Platform?

A poling platform is simply a small raised platform that is attached to the stern of your fishing vessel that allows you to stand above deck level in order to get a better view of any fish that may be swimming around the boat.

In many cases, fishermen use this platform to slowly propel the boat through shallow water with a long pole, which is what gave poling platforms their name. From this elevated height, it is both easier to push the boat forward with a pole and to spot fish.

The height of the ideal poling platform for your fishing vessel will depend on various factors such as the size and weight of your vessel, the stability of your boat, as well as the clarity of the water where you plan to fish.

a group of fish in clear water

Generally speaking, the clearer the water where you plan to fish, the less tall your poling platform needs to be.

If you fish in extremely clear water, a poling platform of just twenty-four inches may suffice, while if the water tends to be extremely murky, you may need a poling platform that is five feet high or more.

Keep in mind that smaller or lighter weight vessels may not be able to safely support a tall poling platform. While you are using the poling platform, your weight will be quite high above the waterline, which can significantly displace the ballast on a small boat.

Another factor to keep in mind is how you plan to use the poling platform. If you plan to use the platform to push the boat through the water with a pole, you won’t want the poling platform to be too high above the waterline, or your pole may be unable to reach the bottom.

Standing too high above the deck can also affect your balance, which increases the risk of falling overboard. It’s important to keep these factors in mind while determining which poling platform would work best for your fishing vessel.

There are many benefits to adding a poling platform to your vessel. Here are a few of the main reasons fishermen chose to install a poling platform on their boats:

  • Poling platforms will help you to spot fish more easily
  • A poling platform makes it easier to push the boat through shallow water with a pole
  • Poling platforms can be used for other purposes, such as navigating through shallow areas with coral or other hazards to navigation
  • The poling platform can be a great place to mount cup or fishing pole holders, as well as aerials for electronics
  • Poling platforms can add to the safety of the vessel because they make a convenient handhold or brace when seas get rough

Recommended reading: Purchase a Fishing License At Walmart

When is it Necessary to Use a Poling Platform?

Poling platforms can be extremely helpful for some fishermen, but they aren’t necessary on all boats.

If your boat already has a raised helm or lookout station, it’s unlikely that a second platform on the stern will be of much use to help you spot fish. If your boat has a tall cabin, it may obstruct the view from the poling platform towards the bow of the boat.

Poling platforms are most useful on medium-sized fishing vessels that lack an elevated helm but still require a raised area to keep a lookout for fish.

Most vessels that can benefit from a poling platform fall into the 14 to 30-foot range, but there are always exceptions. Medium-sized vessels doubly benefit from a poling platform because a long pole can be used as an auxiliary means of propulsion in shallow water when you don’t need to travel fast.

Unfortunately, small boats like kayaks and jet skis are simply too small to benefit much from a poling platform, and cannot support that much weight aloft. That’s why you rarely see poling platforms on boats under ten feet in length.

What are Poling Platforms Made From?

Poling platforms come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be made from a variety of materials. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular options:

Simple Cooler With Tie Downs

The simplest poling platform is simply a large, sturdy cooler that is securely strapped down to the aft deck of your boat.

If you decide to try using a cooler as a low-budget poling platform, make sure that the cooler is strong enough to support your weight and that it is well connected to the boat.

The last thing you want while out spotting fish is to fall overboard because your poling platform was not lashed down securely.

Below are a few pros and cons to using a cooler with tie-downs as a poling platform:


  • Cheapest option available
  • Quick and easy to setup
  • Easily removed when not necessary
  • Can be used to keep beverages/foods cold or keep fish fresh


  • Not as secure as a permanent poling platform
  • Can be dangerous if not properly secured to the vessel
  • Cannot be customized with guard rails, cup holders, or fishing pole holders

Permanent Frame Poling Platforms

While it’s possible to put a cooler to use as a simple poling platform, most fishermen will prefer a setup that is more permanent.

That’s when it makes sense to buy a custom poling platform that is an ideal size for your vessel. You can also find kits to build the poling platform yourself.

Most poling platforms are built from sturdy aluminum tubing with a fiberglass plate on the top. That’s where you will stand while spotting fish or poling your vessel through the water.

The plate on the top is generally around two by three feet, big enough to provide a sturdy place to stand, but not so large as to get in the way of fishing from the deck.

When selecting the right poling platform for your vessel, make sure to keep the dimensions of your vessel in mind, as well as any potential obstacles, such as outboard motors or other obstructions.

How To Customize Your Poling Platform

Some people choose to customize their poling platform to better suit their own personal fishing needs. If you plan to do a lot of fishing with your poling platform, this is a great idea.

One common feature that fishermen add to their poling platforms is railing for balance. Since the poling platform is an exposed area that is highly affected by the boat’s pitching and rolling, guard rails can help make your poling platform a safer and more secure place to spot fish or pole the boat through the water.

Another common customization is to add a fishing pole or cup holders to the poling platform. Others sometimes use the sides of the poling platform to support aerials for their radio or GPs, as well as other electronics. The aluminum tubes are a perfect place to mount these kinds of equipment.

If you choose to customize your poling platform, keep this in mind before you make your purchase. You may be able to arrange for the manufacturer to make changes to your poling platform so that it is better suited for your needs.

Usually, things like a fishing pole and cup holders can simply be mounted on the poling platform after it’s installed on your boat, but in some cases, it may require welding.

Are Poling Platforms a Good Choice for Jon Boats?

You may wonder if a poling platform is a good option for a Jon boat.

The answer is a resounding yes!

Jon boats are generally a good size and weight to benefit greatly from the addition of a poling platform, both for use as a platform to propel the boat with a pole and for spotting fish.

Jon boats are light enough to be easily propelled with a long pole but big enough to support a person a few feet off the deck. In addition, Jon boats are a perfect choice for shallow water where a poling platform is most helpful.

Once you find the right poling platform for your Jon boat, it’s easy to install. A poling platform can simply be bolted directly onto the stern of the boat, taking care to make space for the outboard motor or any other obstructions.

How Much Does it Cost to Purchase a Poling Platform?

Poling platforms vary in cost depending on the size and make of the vessel that you plan to use it on and the quality of the poling platform yourself.

It’s possible to set up a cooler or another simple poling platform for one to two hundred dollars, but the average cost for a high-quality poling platform is between six and eight hundred dollars.

Custom kits for building your own poling platform usually fall around the five hundred dollar range.

As with everything in the world of boating, you get what you pay for. That’s why it’s a good idea to shell out a few extra dollars for a high-quality poling platform rather than ending up with a poor quality unit that will have to be replaced.


Poling platforms are an incredibly useful addition to medium-sized vessels for use with shallow water fishing.

While they aren’t necessary for every fisherman or every boat, in some cases a poling platform can make the difference between returning home empty-handed or with a bilge full of fish.

Poling platforms are a simple and affordable option for fishermen who need the ability to spot fish from the above deck but lack a raised steering station.

If you have ever found yourself out on the water but were unable to find an ideal location on the boat to spot fish, a poling platform could be the solution that you are looking for.