bent shaft or straight which is best

I just bought my first canoe, a morningstarin roylex, i’m 5’8", and will be using it in smaller lakes, or small easy rivers. which would be best a bent shaft, or straight. thanks

bent shaft paddle
The bent shaft gives you a more efficient stroke. But many hardcore whitewater folks prefer the stright shaft for bracing and other moves unique to whitewater. For you I’d recommend bent shaft. And if you’re willing to splurge a little bit, I’d get a lightweight one made from carbon graphite composite. They are incredibly light, surprisingly durable, a real dream!

If you want to race or go fast
you need a bent shaft.

If not either is good.

It seems that most people that start with a stright and then change to a bent, never go back to straight.

Whatever you get keep in mind that the lighter the paddle is the easier it will be on you.



I use both
I started out with straight shafts only. Bought a relativel inexpensive bent to give it a try. Now I only use bents unless I’m doing whitewater or surfing large lake waves. I want the extra leverage of a longer straight paddle in those situations.

Personally, I think it’s good to learn basic strokes with straight shaft first. A good, automatic J stroke (on both sides) can be hard enought to learn with a straight shaft.

Try one o’ each
Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Try em both. As be already mentioned oilier, both have their place. Bent shaft fer efficency an’ speed; an’ straight shaft fer when yer want or need ta use both sides o’ de blade. Ah’ gots one bent shaft in me herd o’ 31 canoo paddles which ah’ really dun’t use too much. Ah’ paddle mostly Canadian style using underwatter recovery wit full rotation (Injin stroke) an’ favor a willow style straight shaft paddle fer deeper water an’ straight shaft WW paddles fer de rocky, foamy stuff. But try em yerself.

Fat Elmo

I agree with the other posts: once you
switch to a bent shaft you won’t want to go back. A correctly done straight shaft stroke ends about at you knees so you don’t start lifting water, but a bent shaft allows for a lazier stroke making a long paddle easier. However, on moving water with obstacles, I do use my straight shaft since it’s very difficult to do corrective strokes with the bent shaft. I find what works best is to switch sides and forget about most corrective strokes. Paddling a few strokes on one side and then switching sides works best. The one problem I find is that I have trouble switching between the two since at first, I tend to paddle a straight shaft like I do my bent shaft, which defeats the purpose of the straight shaft. I have to switch to my straight shaft every so often so I don’t forget how to use one. I wouldn’t want to try an eddy turn using a bent shaft.

Like some one said, try them both. You need a spare (or six or ten) paddle for safety reasons anyway.

I like both…
95% of my paddling is on moving water rivers, with varying water depth, and some obstacles present.

On long stretches of dead water with very little current, and few obstacles, I’ll switch from the straight shaft to a bent shaft. When I’m in fast moving water, and know I’ll be doing a lot of manuevering, I do exactly the reverse, and reach for the straight shaft.

Here lately I carry one of each.

On whitewater it’s strictly straight shaft; one to use & a spare.


Cheap and strong bent shaft
Inm paddling you can pick any two of: cheap, strong, light. I like my nice wood bent shaft so much I decided to get one I can abuse more. So I ordered a bent shaft from Mohawk. It has a really comfortable palm grip and it strong and works great. I’m sure it is much heavier than any other bent shaft its size, but it is great for pushing off rocks and banging into things.

Bent v. Straight
I do a lot of canoe tripping in a variety of water, flat and white. I tend to use my lightweight graphite bent shaft in everything except class three white water and up. On a long day of paddling it really saves a lot of energy. I carry my bent shaft and a pure straight shaft white water paddle as my spare. Work out pretty good.

I have both
I like the bent shaft for straight ahead moving across the water. I use the straight more when I’m fishing or trolling, less paddle movement to spook the fish. Both have their place and it’s nice to change up styles once in a while.

Morningstar is not very suitable for
a bentshaft paddle. Some of these guys will tell you it is, but they’re twisted.

Like Clarion & Yaknot
I pretty much use a bent shaft exclusively, now. I only used bent shafts infrequently until a few years ago, now I rarely use a straight shaft. A little variation on the bent shaft is the double bent shaft like the Bending Branches Viper. Been using it quite a bit this summer and it’s become my favorite. Paddle a few strokes with thais paddle and I guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face.WW

bent and straight shaft paddles
The popularity of the bent shaft paddle is a reflection of the dominance of an A to B as fast as you can philosophy among paddlers today. Everyone is in an Olympic race. Getting to the campsite quickly seems to be more important then spending time watching wildlife, observing nature, enjoying the morning mist etc.

I suggest that this paddling approach has also compromised the skill level of many a paddler. How many out there have the skill to complete a one handed pry, an inside turn, a throw, an Indian stroke, a feather… Very few I suggest. It is truly sad that correction strokes like the Canadian or J strokes are being replaced by paddle and switch techniques which favor saddle seats. Who heels over their canoe anymore to get close to the water and create rocker. Yes, who needs rocker if all that interests you is going fast and straight. Turning a boat? And then there are those who use a kayak paddle in a canoe. Pathetic.

I suggest that when learning how to paddle that you start off with a straight paddle and learn your strokes including correction and turning strokes and then and only then migrate to a bent shaft if you want the speed and/or you are obsessed with a slight increase in efficiency.

Amen ta dat, Pilgrim

– Last Updated: Jul-28-06 1:14 PM EST –

Ah' coodn't o' said it better. But then again, ah's be real old school, an old fart an' proud o' it.

Fat Elmo

Sad? Pathetic?
mmc, you’ve apparently only READ about bent shaft paddles and never actually USED one! I, for one, am not nor have ever been a paddler consumed with going as fast as I can from point A to Point B. I paddle predominantly on my right side, but switch to left occasionally and USE A J-STROKE WITHOUT A PROBLEM WITH A BENT SHAFT. I also paddle mostly on moving water. Using the bent shaft for me is ALL ABOUT COMFORT AND EASE, NOT GOING FAST. I thought, as a paddler with 27 years experience, I might impart a bit of assistance to someone who asked a question. WW

As has been suggested either, either one will work fine for your application. I would add to the suggestion however to start with a straight, practice and learn multiple strokes then get a bent shaft.

Also, in my 16yrs of paddling I have only owned two paddles. One is a basic Sawyer “T” handled paddled, about $40.00 replacement value. The other is a Grey Owl bent shaft, about $65.00 replacement value. Both have served me extremely well and still do…

I will say, at the last paddlefest I attended (this spring) I spent time test paddling paddles as well and ya know, I still prefer my basic 12yr old Grey Owl.

However, I am in the market for a good beavertail to replace the Sawyer, as this one was used (came with my 1st canoe) is starting to get a little beat up.

Good luck and have fun


straight or bent shaft
Thanks alot for all the advice, as this is new to me. I think i"m going to buy one of each. So I can learn all the different strokes with the strait shaft. Then maybe after I get all that down I might try a bent shaft. Thanks again

If ye wants…

– Last Updated: Jul-28-06 5:43 PM EST –

some nice video instruction on canoe strokes, get a copy of Bill Mason's 'Path Of The Paddle' and/or his daughter Becky's 'Classic Solo Canoeing'. They be quite good, especially if ye wants ta see wat Canadian Style is.

Fat Elmo

path of the paddle
thanks for the advice I just ordered the book