First Came the Paddle then the Kayak

The one thing that a lot of kayak anglers and/or paddlers don’t take into consideration before buying a kayak is their paddle. There’s not a lot of guidance, from what I’ve seen, at most retailers and even at some specialty kayak shops. This is hands down one of the most crucial aspects of purchasing any kayak. You’ll need to consider a few things before you pull the trigger on that kayak that you are set on buying. Let me give you my 2 cents on the subject.

The first thing is have you demo’d the kayak in the water yet? This can really give you some insight on what you will need to consider, one being how high you are going to sit in or on your kayak. Most fishing kayaks these days have a high sitting position as well as a lower one. You’ll need to find out what length paddle will be best for you so you’re not bashing your hands or the paddle shaft on the sides of the kayak as you paddle. Some of this is technique but the length is the overall factor. I own a Jackson Kayak Coosa HD and a Kilroy which are both fishing kayaks but different styles of kayaks. My Coosa HD is a “sit on top” while my Kilroy is a “sit in” kayak. I mainly utilize the high seat positions on both kayaks and I have found the 240-255cm paddle works really well because it’s adjustable in length. 

My paddle of choice is a Bending Branches Anger Pro which a great paddle that is super strong and can take a beating as well as propel you with ease. This paddle is also very light weighing in at 28.5 oz which means it’s so light that the wind can blow this paddle off your lap. That brings me to the next thing to consider and that is the weight of the paddle. I’ll put it to you bluntly…buy the best paddle you can afford. It’s been said that if you have a budget of $1000, at least $250 of that should go towards a paddle. Reason being is because that paddle will be interchangeable with all your future kayaks and weight is definitely something to consider. In a way it’s more of an investment as well so don’t let the sticker price scare you away from spending the cash. Some kayak paddles are $350 and above because of the hi-tech materials such as carbon fiber in their design making these some of the lightest and strongest paddles on the market. I know it’s a lot up front but I can guarantee you that it will be worth it in so many ways. And I’m a guy that uses my paddle more like a tool rather than just a paddle and I am not nice to my paddle at all LOL. I regularly jab it in to rocks, logs and anything else I need to use to position my kayak. The lighter weight paddles will decrease how fast it takes to get fatigued while paddling long distances. If you’ve ever had to use a rental paddle you know what I mean because those paddles are often 100% fiberglass and can be very heavy. 

There is a forth thing to consider is the paddle blade design. For the kayak fishing world it really comes down to 2 different types (low-angle and high angle) paddles. 

 

The low-angle design is for a very relaxed flat water, low resistance paddle where you’re paddling motion never really rises above you shoulders. The shape of the blade is a more elongated narrow design. The other type is the high-angle which is more of an aggressive design that moves water more due to its shorter, stockier design. This is a common blade design for white water kayaks as well because of the quick displacement of water with every stroke. I find that the high-angle design suits me better because I sometimes have to dig in really hard and make it happen. Now don’t get me wrong. You can paddle these opposite of their intended design and you will still get where you need to go. This is where the paddling technique comes in but we’re more concerned with the cost of purchase and how to weigh those options.

So to recap we discussed 4 important things to consider when buying a kayak paddle.

  1. Paddle Length
  2. Weight of paddle
  3. Cost
  4. Paddle blade design

In the end it all comes down to what you can afford. The information is not always available at your local shops or big box stores so research is always the best option before spending a large sum of money. Be informed and you’ll be a lot happier with your purchases. 

By Jay Randall

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