Testing Decathlon fishing poles for SOTA

I wrote about the apparent shortage of telescopic fishing poles a while back in Where have all the telescopic poles gone?

After switching from full size poles ( approx 1.15m collapsed ) to travel poles (approx 0.57m collapsed) I don’t want to go back to full size poles. I’ve been using 5m poles since I started in 2006 and all my antennas have been optimised for such a short pole and the lack of readily available poles has been bugging me.

My favourite pole is the Life’s a Breeze Travel Kite/Windsock Pole. I was informed about these by Phil G4OBK and Victor GI4ONL. I had a lightweight travel pole that was reserved for foreign travel as it fits inside my suitcase so I punted for the Life’s a Breeze pole. Oh boy they’re good, much stronger than a normal pole. Sadly heavier but strong… they don’t flex much in the wind. Both Victor and myself made the same dumb mistake in 2021… we looked at their website and never quite got around to ordering a spare and then they were out of stock. Lots of follow up calls etc. and it was Victor who got the bad news… Life’s a Breeze supplier wanted a much bigger minimum order and they decided to stop stocking them… :sob:

Hunting about I saw that Decathlon did a range of class telescopic poles. They did full size and travel size and I picked up a 5m Travel pole. It’s the same size extended as my LAB (Life’s a Breeze) but about 1/3rd the thickness at the top. I had to make a few adapters to the fittings I use to fix antennas to the pole so that I can deploy my antennas on 3 different 5m travel poles. A few minutes with some scrap plastic, a Dremel and a file and the job’s done. Last week I noticed that Decathlon had a 6m carbon pole back in stock after months being AWOL. It is minute compared to the 5m fibreglass.

Decathlon Caperlan firstfish travel 500 (fibreglass) : 375g 57cm collapsed
Decathlon Caperlan Lakeside 5 travel 600 (carbon fibre) : 322g 40cm collapsed

The carbon fibre pole is very skinny and flexible at the top. I didn’t buy it as a 6m pole but as a small and light 5m pole. So I was expecting there to be quite some excess and useless carbon fibre pole above my antenna mounts. Well that was theory.

Today was the first day I had a chance to try them despite now being 50% retired… it’s a long story why I have not been able to get out.

The WX for today was heavy rain till 8am then bright cloudless skies till 4pm. That’s exactly what was delivered though I failed to notice the 20mph wind with 40mph gusts… oops!

Off to Scald Law to try out both poles and as it was blowing a gentle houlie it was ideal WX to test deployment in real conditions. Up to the trig from the car park in 52mins including talking to a few people, that’s in the right zone. But boy was it windy. I mean W.I.N.D.Y. :slight_smile: I tried to get into the lee of the wind and it was only windy there. Up went the 6m carbon fibre pole and down came the pole. You forget you need to work at making new poles stay up especially in a semi-gale. I must have had a brain-f**t when making the adapter because the top of the inverted V was far too high on this pole and in the wind it was bent over like a banana. It didn’t snap but it was impressively bent. OK, I need to remeasure and remake the adapter that makes the fitting for a 5,5mm diameter top section stop at the right place on a 2.5mm section.

Down came the carbon pole and up went the fibreglass pole. Here the adapter did work and up went my inverted V for 30/20/17. I’d forgotten that ordinary fibreglass poles bend in these winds where the LAB pole hardly bends. Again it collapsed a few times as making the joints stick takes a while on new poles. However, it worked fine. The LAB pole weighs nearly 600g which is 1.6x heavier than the Decathlon pole of the same size. Only 200g but when you start adding in ice-axe, crampons or microwave radios to the bag, saving 200g here and 50g there makes a big difference.

Anyway the bands were buzzing… 30m brought 12 QSOs, 2x S2S and YL2AG. YL not that common chasing me. 20m was busy with lots of OTH Radar bursts, 19 QSOs (CW&SSB), 2x S2S and AC1Z as ODX, 17m brought 4 QSOs (CW) with I think my first OM S2S QSO. I didn’t spend much time on 17m as I finally thought to check 10m and it was crammed with stations. Down came the Inv V and up went the Delta Loop. Well when I remembered how it went on the pole :frowning: I worked 3x I stations and SV2SOQ. OK qualified on 10m, and tuning about I heard ZS1UOK at S9+60 but he was having rag chew QSOs so I didn’t bother waiting to call him. V31XX in Belize was working EU by numbers and the number calling him from EU was biblical. There was a YI in Iraq in and out of QSB. I heard PJ2TP ( Neth. Antilles Bonaire, Curacao) calling for German stations only but I called him just for a report. He spent longer complaining I was not German than it would have taken him to say “59 but German stations only please” so I’m logging that. Finally VU2DSI appeared calling CQ… I was in 1st and we were 56 both ways. Not bad for my 4.5W to a Delta Loop with the bottom section about 1.5m AGL.

Apart from the adapter failure on the carbon pole, the battery was flat in my memory keyer so I had to call by hand, I had forgotten how tedious that is.

So the verdict is witheld on the carbon fibre pole… some more work needed to make it viable. But the Decathlon Caperlan firstfish travel 500 is certainly a viable pole for SOTA operations.


I’ve used the SOTABEAMS carbon pole, the SOTABEAMS compact lightweight 10m and a Carbon fishing pole bought from Aliexpress. The 10m was for the SOTABEAMS(SB) Bandhopper IV I only used the SB 10m once and instead used the fishing pole for a successful activation out west. I certainly wouldn’t want to carry the SB 10M far.

1 Like

I use the three Decathlon models: 700, 600 and 500. The only problem with the 500 was that it broke the first section due to the wind. But it was a bad installation by me in a hole in the rock.

The 700 for short walks EA7/GR-112

the 600 and the 500 EA7/GR-043

The 500, Alejandro (EA4DON) in EA7/JA-016 you can see the repair of the first section, now it can be installed, in any hole or between rocks.


I’ve been using the for years the Decathlon 6m travel pole: https://www.decathlon.be/nl/p/telescopische-hengel-lakeside-100-travel-3-m/_/R-p-334264?mc=8648743


I’ve also had good success with the 6m travel pole ‘Lakeside’. I bought it in Spain and it has travelled in hand luggage with me to various locations, and I use it here as part of a lightweight setup.

Not sure the reason but it does hold up very well in windy conditions - being lightweight seems to put it at an advantage. As long as you have a lightweight antenna - in every case I’ve used a SotaBEAMS Band Hopper IV and it works great.


1 Like

I think a few tweaks may be needed to my antennas to make full use of the carbon pole. Just need the time… hang on I only work 50% of the week so I should have loads more time. But what everyone says… you’ll wonder how you found time to work when you stop working!


I was tempted to get the Caperlan Lakeside 5 as I was passing through Mulhouse in July, but I already had a spare pole in the bag so I didn’t bother. I check AliExpress now and again to see if there is anything like my old Hengsheng 5.4m carbon pole available, but there’s nothing as cheap.

    73 Matt
1 Like

I did some measuring of the various poles I have. Using the digital calipers (best £3 ever spent at a radio rally) I measured the diameter where the top of inverted V would go on my Life’s a Breeze (LAB) pole and then with 4 poles extended indoors, measure the diameter at the same height. All of them fit nicely in the stairwell at home which means people in apartments or bungalows will need to find another way of doing this!

As I said, the LAB is designed for windsocks etc. so it’s chunky. The top of the inverted V goes at about 4.7m on this 5m pole.

(500=Decathlon Caperlan travel 500 fibreglass
CF=Decathlon Carbon fibre 6m travel
OLD= 10 year old 5m travel fibre glass pole)

LAB: 8.4mm
500: 3.2mm
CF: 5.8mm
OLD: 5.9mm

I have removed the top 3 sections of the carbon fibre pole as they are far too thin to be useful for my antennas IMHO. 5.8 mm for the CF pole at the same height as the LAB pole looks like it will be more than man enough for the job. Club junk sale tonight so no construction of an adaptor and whilst I’m on a “retired” day tomorrow, Mrs FMF is returning after some days away looking after her mum so I need to do some serious house tidying if I want to get some brownie points :slight_smile: Hopefully, I can try the CF pole this Sunday as it’s GM Microwave Round Table on Saturday. Busy, busy, busy!

1 Like

Looks like moonraker in the uk are now stocking ‘spirit of the air’ poles.


1 Like

I have seen that there appears to be a third option in fishing poles now.
In addition to fibreglass and carbon fibre there are now “Carbon composite” poles available which searching the Internet appear to be lighter than the other two forms, are a little cheaper and come in longer lengths.
I suspect they will have the same negative effect on vertical antennas if the wire is near to the pole but for supporting dipoles or end-fed antennas, they may be of interest.
Has anyone, as yet bought a “Carbon Composite” pole?


73 Ed.

1 Like

Hi Ed,
I do not know if this is really a third category. The composite materials in general consist of resin and reinforcing fibers. In first approximation, the reinforcing fibers can be divided in glass and carbon. Of course, there are many grays between the white and black. For instance, the resin mixtures open a wide field for variants as do the different fibers, mixtures thereof and winding patterns. I have a Lake Side-5 800 and Decathlon describe the fiber mix as follows: 85 % 24T-Carbon and 15 % glass fiber. I have measured the inductance of a coil around a plastic pipe with and without the fishing rod inside. The difference is hardly detectable.

1 Like