Bent Shaft paddle length

I have a normal size frame so I usually like the 54 inch straight shaft paddle and I plan on ordering a 52 inch bent shaft paddle. I usually kneel or sit very low in the canoe. What shaft size do most of you use for bent shaft compared to straight shaft?

bent haft length
My guess is that a 50" bent shaft paddle would suit you, but why guess? Go to a shop that sells paddles and try out bent es that range from 53" down to 49". You will soon see which length actually is most comfortable for you.


This won’t help but…
if you are getting a carbon fibre like a ZRE with a hollow shaft it is a simple fifteen minute job to shorten it if it is too long. If that happens e-mail me and I’ll explain how.

For what it is worth; I went from a 52" straight shaft to a 50 inch bent shaft, but back when I was using a straight shaft, I didn’t have a clue on the correct paddle sroke.

I am 5’-9"

We just bought a bent shaft for a present for one of my many daughters and e-mailed Wenonah and told them the boat she was paddling, and her height and they gave us the suggested paddle length, and after she tried it she agreed it was perfect.

You might try that.



And I am 6’5" and just bought A Zav
51" bent shaft.A borrowed one (for 30 seconds) felt right in my boat.I had a 54" that never felt right.

50" or less. After using a 50" for

– Last Updated: May-02-06 8:37 AM EST –

a few years in a low sitter I have gone down to 48" which I find about 1/2" short. I too am of average heigth.

Sit down on a chair. Measure from the chair between your legs to the tip of your nose. That is approximately the length of your bent shaft from top of handle to the neck, where the paddle bends. Individual tastes normally put bent shafts between the eye and the chin.

My straight shafts are to the top of my forehead, plus or minus. My long blade cruisers (like otter tails, Nashwaaks, etc) are above the head, but remember these are normally in water return paddled.



specific boat considerations and length
It seems to me that boats with a lot of tumblehome and/or shallow center depth will accomodate a shorter shaft. However, if your canoe(s) don’t have these things, I’d be a little careful following other peoples recommendations for what works for them.

I guess this is just another way of saying, try out the paddle with your canoe. Or if you can’t do that, keep in mind the depth/tumblehome of the folks talking about their stature and their paddle length.

Like trying 220 GP in a solo canooe.

– Last Updated: May-02-06 1:25 PM EST –

Was like taking a shower while paddling against a strong headwind. Wasn't going very fast, but getting pretty wet. Paddle to short for the boat. Blades not going in far enough and definately not creating the lift they should have been.

It is a package deal there Frank. All the parts need to fit and work together, at least for the most part. ;^)



I sent my boat and personal specs
to Wenonah. Allison said I needed a 52" or 54" paddle. I told her that 2" was a large range in a bent shaft.Waiting for the comeback.

2" to begining bent shaft paddler not
much. 1/2" is a BIG difference to a seasoned bent shaft paddler!!!



A few more things to consider…
I agree with most of what’s been said, and would just add a few more opinions to consider. IMO, most people start out with a bent paddle that’s too long. But as someone else pointed out, you can always cut one shorter, but it’s hard to cut it longer.

And I agree 100% that you’ll be more discerning later. So you’ll probably make further refinements.

Also agree that there are lots of variables. The canoe width, the seat height, etc. Lighter paddles encourage a quicker tempo, and can maybe be a little shorter.

And apart from your height, you might have shorter-than-average legs and a long torso – or vice versa.

And I’ve even heard of some racers switching to a slightly shorter paddle toward the end of a long race - sort of like biking in a lower gear at higher rpms. Or, some might choose shorter paddles for especially shallow water.

So, if that didn’t make things even more confusing… Happy experimenting!


Shaft length is Key …
The shaft length is the critical measurement as I understand it. When reaching forward and “digging in” you’d like to have your upper (grip) hand no higher than it’s shoulder as the blade is just submerged.

That being said, I too agree that most advice is for a paddle that is too long. I am 6’0" tall and was thinking of ordering a 50" ZRE bent. The salesperson at ZRE suggested at least a 51" so we split the difference and I ordered a 50.5" ZRE powersurge outrigger bent (19"blade-31.5"shaft). After paddling with it a bit and wanting to try a smaller blade I next ordered a 49" bent powersurge and it feels much better to me. I could see even cuttting it down a little more to say 48". I am paddling a solo canoe so I’m sure I am fairly low in the saddle.

That’s my $.02 worth.

I use a 50" bent shafts and my wife uses a 48" bent shafts.

Thanks All
Thanks for the great advice. I ordered a 48 by 8 inch one. We’ll se how it compliments my 52 inch by 8 inch one.