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Kayak paddles and paddling technique

Discussion in 'Sea Fishing Forum - Shore, Boat & Kayak Fishing' started by robq, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. robq

    robq Rockling

    I know those of us who kayak fish on this site are primarily anglers who use the Yak as a tool to expand their fishing horizons :yes: I suspect most of use the cheap paddles that were supplied free with the yaks when we bought them or bought the cheapest one we could find, like me !!

    However now that some of us are getting into the sport a bit more deeply now and considering that on some of the trips I have done over the last year I covered 10 miles plus :surprise: :tired: :tired: those trips have started me looking at my technique and trying to improve it as a way of reducing strains and improving speed and potential distance covered in a day. As I looked into it I discovered the massive variety of paddle shapes and lengths that are on the market :surprise: :surprise:

    I didnt realise the importance of having a correct shape, length and especially lightweight paddle !! on one American site an exerienced sea kayaker wrote that he would rather paddle an old plastic tub of a boat with a quality lightweight carbon composite paddle than the sleekest of glassfibre boats with a crap paddle :yes:

    It got me thinking about my paddle ( carlisle simply magic 210cm ) and wether it was suitable for me ?
    Now I am investing in a better and faster Kayak I am wondering wether I would see an advantage by upgrading to a lighter, stiffer and longer paddle (220cm)

    I know that BassyKen is an experienced Yakker who uses a quality paddle :yes: maybe you could offer some advice mate ? :happy: They are not cheap and I would hate to make an expensive mistake !!

    Below are some links to good sites that I have found that offer good advice on paddles and paddling techniques.
    Food for thought !!



  2. CBass

    CBass New Member


    Few things to bear in mind about paddles.


    Lighter - is nearly always going to be better.

    Stiffer - In theory this will too also be better, in practice this is not always the case. Stiff paddles can wreak absolute havoc with your wrist, Carpal tunnel, Reynauds and other really nice injuries can result in suddenly changing to a stiffer paddle, it depends on how many miles you paddle but is usually as a result of your muscles being much quicker to develop than your tendons and the extra strength damaging your now relatively weak tendons. You can look at bent (crank) shafts as they keep the wrist straighter and are gentler on the wrists. Much like a rod, the layup of the shaft will affect this, Carbon/Glass- More flex, Carbon/Carbon- Stiffest (and shaft boy will you know it) Carbon/Kevlar- Strongest, CK mixed shafts usually feel nice too and also look the b*llocks.

    Longer - Like one of your links says it's a preference thing and will be dictated by your paddling style, boat and mileage. Bear in mind that fishing kayaks are generally much wider than traditional sea kayaks so this may play a part in dictating your style


    Shape - Again dictated by style and preference, you already have an asymmetric blade pattern you might like a narrower longer blade. Some people like winged blades (as used by the guy in the Olympics) but they can take a lot of getting used to.

    Size- How much water do you want to move, how strong are you and how quickly do you tire. Big blades mean more power but only if you can keep it up.

    Feather- The angle between the blades, most off the shelf paddles are 45 degrees, lowering the feather means less rotation so in theory better on the wrists. It can also make it an arse paddling into the wind though as you are presenting a full flat blade face.

    Material- Your Carlisle are glass nylon, they will be pretty bomb proof but quite thick. Pre-preg carbon blades will be lighter, stronger and thinner, you will notice that they "glide" into the water better.

    Paddling is all about technique, keep you arms straight and use the big engines in your back to do the work.

    Next time you go out, get someone to watch how you paddle and comment on your style. Think about how you feel as you get back, do you have sore wrists, are you generally knackered.

    Most of all, try as many peoples blades as you can, see what you like and go-ahead on that basis if at all, you could just decide that it's not worth the expense.

    I like Werners, but don't expect to procure a set without some serious open wallet surgery, Robson and Mitchell are similar in terms of contstruction Robson will be a bit cheaper. Lower down the price bracket, look at Lendal or upgrading your carlisle.

    I've just read all this back :nerd:

  3. newdave

    newdave Guest

    you sound like you know a bit about this stuff, cbass are you local ?
  4. carpyken

    carpyken New Member

    Cbass, i'm blown away, theres some damn good advice there. Rob in all honesty i use an awfuly heavy and short white water paddle but its like my best friend, i am totally confident doing all my strokes with it, support, brace, skulling even rolling with it but it really not the best tool for the job, i even used it on the Eddystone challenge. Simon will try and sell you a beautiful carbon paddle, and they are the bees knees but me being me i havent given one a fair trail yet.
    Cbass, were do you paddle/fish mate?
  5. CBass

    CBass New Member

    I live in Leeds nowadays but am in Hornsea and Whitby on a pretty regular basis, my folks have a place in Whitby. Originally a Stockton boy.

    I used to race kayak ultra marathons, paddled whitewater all over europe and worked as an instructor :happy:, now I am fat and work in an office :laugh: :vomit:

    Ironically enough I don't kayak fish at the moment, though I have done, the only boat I have at the moment is a White water one but I am sorely tempted to get myself a yak to fish from.
  6. quint

    quint Watch out Emperor Zorg's about

    It's something I'm looking into for next year, it does seem that now I have a performance yak a better paddle is needed - to be fair to Simon he has never pushed anything for a sale, but I guess he would be the right guy for some top advice - I was trying to copy that Olympic guys strokes the other day but failed to do his sort of speed, it must be the kayak not me :laugh:
  7. CBass

    CBass New Member

    Tim Brabants was using winged or Rasmussen blades, they are a little different to what you might be used to!!

    The paddle is designed to push out as they go and the whole blade is canted back at an angle, the whole idea is geared towards keeping the arms straight, I have a full carbon pair in the garage, if you want to go fast with little effort they are the thing. If you plan on bracing, or trying something like a bow rudder, roll or a sculling draw the results can be quite comical! :laugh:

    Like Ken says its a personal thing as much as anything, his short whitewater blades will give a short punchy style with a high paddle rate and probably plenty of power for short bursts from a stand start and they will be great for support strokes etc. Paddling for prolonged periods will possibly not be so good, but if tha'ts what suits him

    Not using the arms really is the key to paddling long distances, the muscles are tiny in the arms compared to the upper body. The other top tip I can give if you want to be efficient, use your legs. Make sure your foot rest is set up so you are pushing up to it and your back rest the same. As you stroke push with your leg (on the side you are stroking) onto the footrest hard, this gives a much better transfer of all that effort in the stroke than the friction through your arse.

    If you plan on some longer trips then it might be worth considering training for them poncy as that sounds, even if its just on the local river to get some hours in and work on your technique. That way the fishing will be more fun. The local river is also usually a good place to practice things you don't really want to try for the first time out at sea, Eskimo and all in rescues being a case in point. Actually a forum kayak skills day might not be a bad idea...
  8. robq

    robq Rockling

    Big thanks CBass :yes: plenty to think about there !!

    I bought the carlisle because it was cheap and got the 210cm because I didnt know any better and the guy said it was fine, maybe it was more to do with the fact it was all he had in stock :suspious:

    After doing a bit of research it would appear that for an SOT kayak and at 6 ft tall I would be better off with 220-230cm to give me a lower angle and more relaxed paddle stroke. Currently my paddle angle is quite high and I feel as though I am doing too many strokes per minute ? also my paddle stroke is almost scraping along the side of the yak !! surely this isn't right ?

    I have been working on getting more body rotation involved and to be honest I have improved a bit and dont get any specific aches or pains after a long paddle, but this focus has given me more reason to look at changing my paddle.

    If I am going to change it I may as well uprade to a lighter one too. I hear good things about the lendal archipelago and the carbon and fibreglass carlisles look good value for money too.

    If I do not suffer form sore wrists am I better off staying with the straight shaft Cbass ? I understand they are more efficient than a cranked one which is more designed for comfort ?

  9. CBass

    CBass New Member


    I am about your height my weapon of choice would be longer than 210, I would 'personally' go for about 230. But it really is down to what you like. There is nothing wrong with your blades but like you say you are moving on in terms of experience and you want your gear to move too.

    Having a relatively short paddle will result in a higher more aggressive stroke, hence being close to the side of the yak. Lengthening the shaft will lower the stroke and slow the cadence down, which is a more relaxed way to paddle.

    Cranks are not that simple, some designs give a mechanical advantage and are more efficient others are designed to give an easier time on the joints. Personally I can't stand the feckin things, I think they are for the weak and the french, but I know people who swear by them.

    Blade feather will make a difference too, I like mine at quite a low angle for all lengths. Not used the Archipelago personally, I have used a few Lendals, look at the Kinetic Touring S as well and maybe the Werner Skagit, they are all about the same price

  10. robq

    robq Rockling

    Thanks for the advice, its been a big help :happy: :happy:

    I didnt think that cranks were for me as the straight shaft feels ok :yes:

    I now know I need at least 220cm and as you say maybe longer. I have few in mind now and like the sound of the lendal kinetic touring with the carbon shaft. I will continue reading and try to get to handle a few before I invest though.

    Thanks again

  11. Lindisfarne

    Lindisfarne New Member


    I had a Lendal Archipelago and managed to break it mucking about in the surf a couple of years ago. As a replacement I bought a Lendal Kinetic Touring. I love this paddle. It is lightweight and has a good sized blade for covering ground in a hurry. I could certainly recomend this paddle.

    As a foot note, the knowledge and information that Cbass can bring to this forum is priceless. Some excellent posts there.

  12. robq

    robq Rockling

    Cheers Neil I will check out the kinetic touring :yes:

    I agree with your cmments about Cbass, you seem very knowledgeable about sea kayaking :yes: welcome to the site mate

    Most of us are anglers before kayakers so it is good to have a few guys who we can ask advice of regarding things like this


  13. Dorado

    Dorado New Member

    I ahve done a whole feature on paddling technique somewhere...lost in the mists of time now. No doubt Spud will be along as he seems to know how to find the things and put them back up.

    Those of you with my kayaks - note the solid footbrace we use, rather than a sliding control for the rudder. For exactly what CBass has said about foot work. I did explain it to each at handover. Solid foot brace, rudder control by toes only.

    My wing that Ken is on about is a modified wing for general sea touring, which is why I use it for fishing too.......done plenty of long trips these paddles, like Kenya back to Cape Town and from namib/Angola border down the skeleton coast to Cape Town - oh, and the entire Andeman Sea from North to South. So they are fine for long distance use and are less aggressive than Bratchas - because of the modified catch they are also more forgiving for braces, but they will still dive if you get the angle of the blade wrong in a scull, that is just the aerofoil shape actually working. It just needs care - I was doing those braces in the small curlers the other day with it happily.

    Size - I would say that 220 would be a MAX and 230 is unweildly. The subject of paddle length is one that will be argued about in bars for time immemorial.....long paddle devotees will never agree with short paddle devotees! Bit like squid versus crab.

    I use a 216 for myself, but a 218 is also a good compromise. 1cm at each can soon be compensated for and we are not looking for every ounce of energy transfer to gain a 100th of second at the line....just an easy life. Remeber though, th elonger the loom and the more aggressive or higher the volume of the blade - the more pressure the paddle exerts on YOU. A big, high volume blade is fine if you are a big, strong paddler with plenty of power. If not, it will soon find you out.

    Rambled enough.
  14. newdave

    newdave Guest

    maybe if you wrote it in English next time Simon :laugh:

    all the is obviously having some effect, noticed we are all trying to modify our technique, & i am now aching around the shoulders as well as the arms so must be getting there :happy:
  15. quint

    quint Watch out Emperor Zorg's about

    I'm aching all over this morning, even my bollocks :cheesy:
  16. ducky

    ducky maybe one day...

    thanks CBass. a good read, i did not know a good paddle would make that much difference

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