How to Choose A Kayak Paddle

How to Choose A Kayak Paddle & Other Basic Kayaking Tips

Next to the kayak itself, the kayak paddle has the largest impact on your performance upon the water and knowing how to choose a kayak paddle can make things much easier. Even a brief tour will involve thousands of strokes; therefore, the right paddle may make all the difference. To select a kayak paddle, you must consider 4 fundamental ideas on how to choose a kayak paddle:

How to Choose A Kayak Paddle & Other Basic Kayaking Tips

  • Length: The width and height of the boat determine the length of the paddle.
  • Price and materials: Lightweight materials will improve performance yet add to the price of the paddle.
  • Choice of blade: The blade size and shape of the paddle affect its overall efficiency inside the water.
  • Choice of shaft: Feathered blades or a bent shaft also can improve the effectiveness of the paddle.
How to Choose A Kayak Paddle

How to Choose A Kayak Paddle

Paddle Length

Discovering the proper size of paddle is straightforward. The wider the boat, the longer the paddle must be. The height also is a factor, particularly for narrower boats: Taller paddlers require longer paddles especially when kayak fishing.

Therefore, paddle makers size according to these factors. The below chart is for Werner Paddles. It is an excellent idea to check the site of any brand you are considering because you may find small variations from the specifications below:

Paddler HeightBoat Width
Less than 23-inches23-inches – 28-inches28-inches – 32-inchesOver 32-inches
Less than 5-feet tall210 centimeters220 centimeters230 centimeters240 centimeters
5-feet – 5’6″ tall215 centimeters220 centimeters230 centimeters240 centimeters
5’6″ to 6’220 centimeters220 centimeters230 centimeters250 centimeters
More than 6-feet tall220 centimeters230 centimeters240 centimeters250 centimeters

Tweener Sizes

If you happen to fall between 2 sizes, it generally is better if you go shorter. Either size would likely work, yet you will save a couple of ounces with a shorter one. Though, if you have a shorter torso, the added reach is going to come in handy and you ought to get a longer kayak paddle.

High- and -Low-Angle Paddles

Low-angle strokes are accomplished with the shaft being just somewhat tilted—the top of your hand remains under your shoulder level. The stroke is perfect for recreational, relaxed kayaking within flat water.

It has a close-to-boat blade path and more tilted shaft, and the high-angle stroke is a paddle that some obtain for more speed. The stroke will require precision and is exhausting if you lack precision. It’ll require a shorter kayak paddle and wider blade than one you would use for low-angle strokes.

They’re designated as being for either high- or low-angle kayaking, and size charts for all are different. The above chart is for low-angle paddling.


Blade Materials

The fact that saving weight increases both price and performance holds here, as well. Because you increase the blade higher than the shaft, lightweight materials pay off in more fatigue reduction. Different materials of blades also vary in how well they’ll transfer energy to a stroke.

“Plastic” is a generic word. In specifications you will notice variations such as “polypropylene,” or “polymer,” or plastic blends that are infused with fiberglass or nylon. Each may generate a modest performance gain. “Composite” is a catchall word for fiberglass and carbon-fiber.

Nylon/Plastic Blades

The leader in low prices, plastic is oftentimes selected by recreational paddlers who believe it is indestructible. Though, it may crack and degrades if left in the sun. The flexibility of plastic may keep it from splitting in half, yet flexibility inside the water sacrifices efficiency on a stroke.

 Fiberglass Blades

In the center of the price range, fiberglass blades offer outstanding durability and performance. More lightweight than the plastic material, fiberglass blades may chip, but they typically will not crack all the way through. Solid fiberglass blades are effective inside the water.

Carbon-Fiber Blades

If you are willing to shell out more money for top performance, get carbon-fiber. Super ultralight, it also is ultra-stiff for exceptional energy transfer with every stroke.

Shaft Materials

Shafts of plastic are rare. The most affordable material of shaft, aluminum, is serviceable and durable. It also can get really hot or cold, so you may want to glove-up before grabbing it in cool weather, and you ought to store it in the shade as it is hot outside.

Fiberglass/carbon ones are lightweight, strong, and durable, Pairing one of these shaft materials with either of these composite, lightweight blade materials crafts your most efficient and lightweight option of paddle—and the cost is going to reflect that performance level.

Blade Design

These days, the majority of paddle blades have a dihedral, asymmetrical shape.

Its asymmetrical blades are fairly shorter and narrow on one side. It angles it, so the blade’s surface area is more uniform as it is pushing though the water.

It’s possible to spot dihedral blades by the rib down their center. It’ll permit water to flow evenly and smoothly over both halves of a blade. A blade without that flutters more, making it more challenging to track straight.

Because their narrower, lighter blades are comfortable for lengthy paddling stretches; that is especially useful on a multiday trip or full-day tour

Wider blades will lend themselves to powerful, quick strokes which allow you to rapidly accelerate. Kayaking surfers oftentimes like them for this reason. A few specialized fishing blades additionally have a J-shaped notch inside the blade in order to retrieve snared fishing hooks and lines.

Shaft Design

Bent shaft or straight shaft? A bent-shaft paddle has a “kinked” part which positions hands at a more comfortable angle within the power segment of the stroke, minimizing fatigue and discomfort in your joints. If you are changing from straight-shafts to bent-shafts, plan on one day on the water so you adjust your technique of stroke.

Four-piece or two-piece? Both are made to be broken down for easier storage. A model that has a 4-piece shaft merely has shorter sections; therefore, it is good if you are hiking some place with a portable kayak or taking the paddle on an airplane.

A small-diameter shaft offers a less exhausting grip for paddlers who have small hands. If you cannot touch your index finger and thumb together as you grab the paddle, it’s you. Shafts are not made in several diameters: They either are small or standard diameter.


Blades are either matched or feathered. Unfeathered or matched blades are aligned with one another. Feathered blades aren’t on the same plane; they’re offset at an angle to one another, reducing wind resistance on the blade that is out of the water.

Almost every paddle shaft allows you to rotate it to be feathered or matched. In addition, they permit you to easily modify the quantity of feathering, usually in 15° increments. Some allow you adjust them to any angle you desire.


One thing that many people don’t consider when getting a kayak paddle is how much movement will be needed. Pairing a great paddle with the best kayak life fishing vest can give you loads of maneuverability and safety as well.

Best Paddles for Kayaking

Seattle Sports 060295 Sea Whisper Carbon Paddle

Seattle Sports 060295 SeaWhisper Carbon Kayak Paddle

The SeaWhisper, with a carbon-fiber shaft, is a strong, lightweight selection which is perfect for fishing, recreation, or touring. It also has DorsalBlades constructed into every blade so it’s possible to grasp your fishing line or perhaps hook onto gear in your kayak or anything that has fallen overboard.

Nylon with reinforced fiberglass makes the asymmetric dihedral blades slightly heavy. They are not as lightweight as carbon-fiber blades. It’s possible to adjust the shaft’s length between 230 – 240cm and you also can adjust its feather angle.

In addition, the SeaWhisper has the extra feature of having reflectors constructed into the blades, for greater visibility if you are out in lower light situations.

Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Touring Paddle

Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Touring Kayak Paddle

Made for touring, the lightweight Expedition kayak paddle has fiberglass blades and a fiberglass shaft, so it might be an excellent option for a full-day adventure. With the 220cm length weighing a mere 33 oz., you will have the ability to paddle for a longer time with less exhaustion.

It comes in lengths of 220cm, 230cm and 240cm and it’ll feature a push button joint that lets users set the feathering angle. But, it only can be angled at either 60° or inline. Its blades are asymmetric dihedral, to provide you additional power while moving through the water.

Carlisle Magic Paddle

 Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

It features a fiberglass shaft and fiberglass-filled blades and isn’t just lightweight but durable, as well. It has asymmetric blades that have curves shaped like spoons, providing an increase in power with every stroke.

It comes in 3 different lengths; 220cm, 230cm and 240cm, with the 220cm length weighing a mere 35.6 oz. Its strong and lightweight build means it might be an excellent selection for a multi-day journey or a day out on the water.

Werner Kalliste Carbon Bent Shaft Two-Piece Kayak Paddle

Werner Kalliste Bent Shaft Carbon 2 piece Paddle

It may be an excellent choice if you are going out on a multi-day trip or simply will be spending a ton of time on the water. This paddle features a carbon-fiber shaft that’s bent, which gives it a more ergonomic design, which is a lot more comfortable to use within long hours out on the water.

It features lightweight carbon blades that have an asymmetric dihedral composition and will benefit from Dynel blade edges, which give it more resistance. In addition, the 2-piece kayak paddle benefits from an adjustable ferrule system in order for you to feather the angle in order to suit your style and is available in a length of 220 centimeters.

Bending Branches Classic

Bending Branches Angler Classic Plus 2-Piece Kayak Fishing Paddle

This one has fiberglass blades and a straight shaft; therefore, it is both durable and lightweight. Made for fishing, the Bending Branches Classic features a system for hook retrieval constructed inside one of its blades, so users easily can free their line if it is caught.

One other Angler Classic feature is its measuring tool constructed into its shaft, in order for you to measure your fish in both metric and standard units. Its blades are asymmetric dihedral that possess a small curve to provide you additional power with every stroke.

It comes in lengths of 220 centimeters to 260 centimeters.

Advanced Elements Compact Touring Paddle

Advanced Elements Compact Touring Kayak Paddle

It features a nylon build, and is lightweight and durable, yet the best part is that it may be taken apart. It’ll break down into four parts in order for it to be easily packed inside your kayak as a spare or may be taken while traveling.

As you take it apart it’ll measure a mere 25.5” long and has a round shaft and asymmetrical dihedral blades. It may be an excellent option for touring on either the sea or lakes.

Aquabound Manta Ray Carbon Paddle

Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Posi-Lok Kayak Paddle

If you are searching for an ultra-lightweight kayak paddle for constant use, this might be it. The Manta Ray has the benefit of a 100 percent carbon fiber straight shaft, which means it is ultra-light yet also very tough.

In addition, the 2-piece paddle has lightweight carbon fiber blades and gives you additional strength inside the water. It may be an excellent option for long days or multi-day trips, as its oval shaft means it is more comfortable and enables a better grip.

Also, the paddle has a Posi-Lok ferrule system, allowing you to easily adjust its feathering angle yet keep it locked in place as needed. Its sizes range from 210 centimeters to 250 centimeters.

Conclusion to How to Choose A Kayak Paddle

As you choose a paddle, it may be a challenging task, and we hope we have had the ability to offer you some useful information which will increase your knowledge of what there is to look out for as you buy your next kayak paddle.

You ought to factor in the kayak’s width. However, you also ought to have your torso and height measurements available. You’ll also have to factor in which kind of kayaking you are prepared to do, as well as what your requirements involve.

So long as you gain a fundamental concept of your needs you will have the ability to take the first step in purchasing a new kayak paddle and how to choose a kayak paddle. Take a paddle out for a test run while you’re kayak fishing. Get a sense of it. You must ensure that it is suitable and comfortable so it’s possible to actually maximize all of your time that is spent out in the water.

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