Bent Shaft Paddle Length/width?

I am going to get a ZRE Power Surge paddle but am agonizing over the right length/blade width. I am a fitness paddler, 6’4" with longish arms, I paddle a Wenonah Advantage. The size charts say that I need a 55" bent shaft, but that just seems long. Any tall solos paddlers have recommendations on bent shaft length/blade widths?

Ive never used a bent shaft before but I can’t imagine the the length of the paddle you need would differ from a straight shaft. I would reccomend contacting the manufacturer for a size chart, but if your stroke is really high or low angle that chart goes out the window. Generally short thick blade = high angle, long slim blade = low angle
Edit: My comment is not relevant to this post, whoops.

OP is single blading a canoe. Power paddlers tend to be a bit fussy about shaft length - some to a 1/4 inch or so. Also about bend angle - 12 deg. is normal these days (down for 15 deg. in the 80s) but ZRE will make any angle for you. I have (actually my wife’s) 6 deg. from GRB that I’m experimenting with. As to length for the OP - I’d say that it’s more about height of the shoulders above the water along with desired cadence rather than arm length but tastes differ.

The only length that matters is shaft length. What are the shaft lengths of the paddles you use now? Typically with the same shaft length the LOA of the bent is 4-5 inches shorter than a straight.

With that in view a 55 inch blade seems about right.

I am a good five inches shorter than you but my arms and torso are a bit disproportionately long for my height. It is your torso length and seat height above water level that really determine your optimum shaft length.

I have used bent shaft paddles anywhere from 48" to 54" in overall length but it depends on the boat. If I had to stick with only one length it would probably be 52". So a paddle 54-55" in length is probably about right for you.

A slightly shorter paddle will allow you to switch sides over the gunwales a little faster and easier, assuming you paddle sit and switch.

Hi, sloanegraff, welcome to

I’ve paddled an Advantage for many years and found that for me, Zaveral’s sizing advice and default blade widths work well. I use an 8 in. blade width for my solo canoes but use an 8-1/2 in. wide blade for more control when paddling stern in our tandem touring canoe.

My torso height, which represents the length of the paddle shaft plus grip, is 30 inches measured from chair seat to eye-level so using Zaveral’s sizing advice I ended up with a 49 inch PowerSurge Medium for fitness paddling: 30 in. torso + 18 in. blade height + 1 in. for solo = 49 in. total length.

I prefer a paddle somewhat on the shorter side of what Zaveral suggests and a racer friend suggested an even shorter length. You could buy the paddle based on Zaveral’s sizing and order it with the handle detached and then you can just tape the handle in place while you try it out. If you think you’d like a shorter length after using the paddle for a while it’s pretty simple to cut the shaft down accordingly and then attach the handle with epoxy glue. Zaveral has a good step-by-step description on their web site.

I think you’ll really like that PowerSurge blade.


thanks, that is helpful

I use my ZRE for both canoe and OC-6. Standard length for those is 52 inches. Blade width is 9 on regular paddles and 8 1/2 for the power surge. I like a ten degree angle better than the 12, it doesn’t tend to slap the water as much.

I suggest that you order it on the long side. You can ask them to leave the grip unglued. If they epoxy the grip in place it can be easily removed with heat from a heat gun. I fine tuned the length of several carbon fiber paddles this past spring. The shafts can be easily trimmed with a hacksaw perhaps 1/4 inch at a time and held in place with tape until the length feels perfect then epoxy.

I’d suggest an 8 1/4 inch blade width for you. 8 1/4 is standard width for non power surge and feels good to me and given that power surge adds a little power it should still be perfect for you since you’re bigger/stronger than average.

Tom, your last suggestion is worth considering, although a larger surface area isn’t necessarily better. Some seriously strong canoe racers prefer blades with less surface area. It’s all over the place though as far as personal preference. Here’s one example…

Some light reading on the subject

I have raced against many canoes paddled with ZRE blades. I think the width is dependent on if the paddler is a high cadence paddler, or low cadence.

The faster the cadence, the smaller the blade width. I am not sure than strength has much to do with it; just muscle fatigue.

I would like to second the idea of buying a longer paddle and adjusting it. I settled on a 52 about fifteen years ago and time has flavored my memories of that adjustment period.

Yep. I agree. The serious folks often go with the smallest blade and higher cadence. I have both 8.25 and 8.5 inch width ZRE’s and like them both. It’s possible that the OP would like the 8 inch Power Surge best but it seems to me that 8.25 is a pretty safe choice. I know that ZRE gives you so many choices (3-4 lay-ups, any length, many widths, any angle) that ordering can be daunting.

The problem is that one canoe paddle isn’t going to be best for everything. You need a quiver. :smiley: