The Right Paddle For Kayak Fishing E-mail
Saturday, 30 January 2010 12:47

Paddling Out While Kayak Fishing

What exactly makes a good paddle for kayak fishing? For most of us the paddle is an afterthought compared with the decisions of choosing a kayak or a rod and reel that feels right. It is still important to put some time in deciding what paddle size, blade style and materials that should go into it. Over the last couple years the competition for making paddles has really benefited the consumer and now you can get a quality paddle for half the amount you would have paid just 5 years ago.

The Internet and paddling books are full elaborate formulas to figure what is the exact paddle length a person should use based on the height and kayak width. Most sit on tops between 28” and 34” will do just find with the standard 230 centimeter paddle. A few factors could change that, a 230 works well for most people who kayak fish because kayak fisherman usually uses a more relaxed paddle touring stroke (arms rarely going above shoulder height, more off a horizontal stroke) but sometimes we might want a power stroke (paddle in a vertical position) used more whitewater paddlers and speed, for instance, if you were sprinting after some crashing fish and needed to generate some short burst of speed. If you were using a wider kayak or if you are a shorter paddler you might consider a going up to 240 centimeters to give you that same versatile range of paddle strokes. If you are a littler more evolved in your paddling stroke you could look to go shorter but you will be more limited to a vertical stroke that takes more energy to sustain. Part of the new paddle technology is the adjustable shaft  – this could be useful as the paddler learns what stroke he/she is the most comfortable with. Usually, the adjustable range is 15 centimeters.

When choosing a blade shape we feel that same approach of allowing for the most versatility for kayak fishing is the way to go. A blade that combines the longer narrower touring style blade with the power of the big surface whitewater and surf style blade is what you want here, paddle companies usually refer to these as “ All Purpose” or  “Recreational” style blades.

Choosing a shaft and blade material is simply a matter of what you want to pay for lighter weight. A lower end paddle usually is made up of aluminum shaft and plastic blades, as you move up to the higher end paddles you find materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber composites. Is it worth it to pay for lighter material when the heavy paddle can also get the job done? It is the same decisions we might face when buying a fishing rod or reel, sure we can catch fish with the cheaper rod and reel but after using a higher quality tackle most of us would never go back. The best bang for the buck might be in the difference of the $50 and $150 paddle, the returns you get for the difference of the $200 and $300 paddle might not be appreciated as much. A danger of going too cheap can sometimes be that components can rust away and this is commonly seen in 2-piece paddles where the clip that holds the 2 pieces together rusts and this can ruin your day on the water..

Some other considerations when choosing a paddle, a 2-piece paddle will allow you to transport it much easier than a one piece.  Newer paddlers might not think it is important to get a paddle that feather. (Feather refers to the blade plane configuration of a kayak paddle. When the two blades of a paddle are in the same plane as indicated by being able to lay it with both blades flat on the floor at the same time, it is unfeathered, or no-feather or zero feather. A feathered paddle is indicated when the blades are at any angle away from the same plane, and only one blade will lay flat on the floor at a time), but in time, using the feathered paddle stroke will come natural and be much more efficient.  This configuration will also allow for the top blade (blade not in the water) to cut through the wind.  You will also see some of the bent-shaft designs that are popular in the higher end, some people swear this decreases arm fatigue but if you are a novice I would stick to the basic straight shaft.

Most of us are fisherman first and paddlers second but it is a good idea to understand the basics of paddling – this will help in not only choosing a paddle but also in being more efficient on the water.

 

 

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