Bent-Shaft Paddles. Do you use?

Just wondering if a first time oar purchase should be a Bent-Shaft Paddle.


– Last Updated: Aug-22-06 1:45 PM EST –

Call a paddle an oar on this board and you will be flamed!

I personally like bent, or crank shafts for Euro paddles. That said, these shafts add $$ to your purchase. You are goig to need a spare paddle at some point, so you might consider an economical straight shaft stick, use it a season, and then attend a demo and try some bendies. There is a variation in shape between AT, Bending Branches, Lendal and Werner paddles. I would hate for you to sink money into an expensive stick and discover that you do not like the shape.

love my AT Exception

Ooops! I answered from a kayaker perspective - but most of my comments apply to canoe paddles.

Warning! With Emphasis!!!
Don’t ever call a paddle an oar, or you will be paddled!

(If it goes in the oarlocks, it’s an oar. If if goes in your hands, it’s a paddle.)

If you’re new to paddling, go with the straight shaft. It is a simpler stick to learn boat control. There are a few finer points to learn to use a bent shaft properly. Think of it as learning to drive the family sedan before you get behind the wheel of a performance car. You can still take a date to the drive-in or take a cross country trip without spending a lot of $$$.

After you get a good understanding of how your boat handles, you’ll try a bent shaft…and wonder why anyone would want something so awkward. Stick with it and learn the newer techniques and you’ll fall in love with the bent shaft.

Better start saving for your Zaveral today.


Actually, I have no warning. But I use a bent-shaft paddle made by Bending Branches and love it.

bent for me …
AT Xception carbon crank for my kayaking and several different bent shaft paddles for my canoeing.

oars are for row boats.


Mitchell Double Bent
50" and I love it especially with my screwuped shoulder. Carbonfiber blade, lightweight, not as light as a Zav but has seen many a mile and will continue to do so. Also have a Mitchell bentshaft that I use quite often as well. That is even lighter than my double bent. Sweet!!! Only use a straight blade for WW and then it’s a beater that I could care less for but still treat well!


What water are you
planning on paddling? With the exception of freestyle paddling i would suggest a bent shaft. Down river racers use Bent shafts. Flat water marathoners use bent shaft. Even old fat baldpaddlers use bent shafts.

bent or straight

– Last Updated: Aug-22-06 10:15 PM EST –

Nothing beats a well made straight wooden paddle for enjoying the finer side of canoe paddling. With it you can do, and link together, dozens of strokes and techniques. In general it is easier to do precision maneuvers with a straight blade. My favorites paddles tend to be the long thin style, such as an otter tail, with feather thin edges that easily slice through the water. If you want to learn how to paddle different strokes well, make your first paddle a good straight blade.

On the other hand, if traveling long distances with speed is your aim, then get a bent shaft. With practice you can perform some advanced strokes with a bent shaft, including the "J", but not as many are as easily or elagantly performed as with a straight blade. It is more difficult to link different kinds of strokes together with a bent paddle, and far easier to learn them first on a straight paddle.

I have several paddles of different types. Just like shoes in your closet, they have different uses for different purposes and techniques.

Straight would be great.
I agree with those who suggest going with a straight shaft at first. If you have a little money to spend try a Bending Branches Arrow. If you are tight on funds a Carlisle or even better a Mohawk (if they are available). Learn your strokes with that type of paddle. Bent shafts are great and I own and use two regularly, particularly when I’m trying to cover lots of water quickly. For lots of what I do though, I prefer a straight shaft for the ease of it. A straight shaft just works better for me when I’m in a meditative state and easing along fishing or looking for wildlife.

Have fun!


– Last Updated: Aug-22-06 10:51 PM EST –

I love both my Voyager Bentshaft and Galasport DoubleTorque(WW) mentioned..with efficient canoes, but as sabatuss mentioned, a nice, thin-bladed beavertail-style is enjoyable & great to learn well as a great 2nd for emergencies. In addition, you'll be surprised just how good a well made beavertail(with a little more depth) functions in windy conditions.

Get both and try them you’ll find that you prefer one over the other. I like my bent shaft and use it the most. The straight offers me a nice change of pace.

Bent vs Straightshaft

– Last Updated: Aug-23-06 10:40 AM EST –

It depends on the kind of canoeing you'll be doing. Flatwater or whitewater, solo or tandem.

If you're going to be in the bow of a tandem canoe on flatwater, a bent shaft makes a lot of sense. If you're going to be in the stern or paddling solo, prepare to learn how to switch sides efficiently like racers do and use an appropriate boat for that style (pulled in sides, tractor seat).

If you plan on doing any whitewater or you plan on doing freestyle canoeing (tricks on flatwater) or want to learn traditional or northwoods style canoeing (as with a beavertail paddle) all of which are generally paddled from a kneeling position then a straight shaft paddle makes more sense.

If you're planning to spend under $50-75 on a paddle, then a straight shaft is probably all you'll be able to choose from anyway. Bent shaft paddles tend to be more expensive but a good one works beautifully.

-- Andrew