I bought my first 5m telescopic fishing pole back in 2002/3, a Shakespeare brand item and it was a long time before I became involved in SOTA . It was waiting for me when I started SOTA. It was a 5m 5 section mast about 1.15m collapsed and it did well over 500 activations before I destroyed it reversing the car over it.
Once I realised how much I liked SOTA I bought a similar 5m Lineaffe item a year into SOTA so I had a spare. It too was destroyed in the reversing incident In 2012 prior to a trip to Madeira I bought a travel 5m mast on Caroline G6WRW’s recommendation. That is 57cm collapsed and fits in a suitcase when flying for SOTA activations. I still have it and it has been to Canaries, Madeira, Czech Republic, Poland, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein and is still going strong 10 years later.
After the reversing incident I used this travel pole and realised how much more convenient it is to have a compact pole on the side of the bag. I followed Phil G4OBK and Victor GI4ONL’s advice and bought a compact flag pole. This is 5m extended and 57cms collapsed but is designed for flags. It has a 6.5mm diameter ferrule at the top and 5.5mm top section which is much thicker than normal fishing poles. It’s brilliant and weighs bout 450g. I thought how my activating was designed around 5m poles and this size so I should buy a spare. None in stock since Easter 2021. They expected more in May 2022 but the items are no longer on the supplier’s website
I did some searching and found effectively no suppliers of these poles any more, either fibreglass or carbon fibre fishing poles or flag poles in the compact sizes. Apart from Decathlon who have 5m and 6m compact fishing rods and picked up a 5m version as Decathlon would ship that to my local store for collection. It looks to be the same strength construction as my original Shakespeare which did 500 activations and is light at about 280g. But it is much thinner than the one I use now. I thought about punting for a 6m version and not using the top section but Decathlon would not ship 6m poles to my local store.
So I know Sotabeams sells a 6m travel pole but it is a bit pricy compared to Decathlon’s item (£45 vs £17). It’s heavier at 800g. There is a carbon fibre version at the same price weighing 300g but is out of stock. Apart from these and Decathon’s items I can’t find any other 5m or so poles. I have a very flimsy Chinese pole (order the 6m version to get something about 5m long) but that really is for lightweight vertical antennas.
Where have all the poles gone? Or am I searching with the wrong terms?