Bent shaft question

I had hoped to try a bendie in the 8-10 degree range at Raystown, but alas I was unable to atttend.

To assuage (SP?) my sorrow I am considering gifting myself a paddle. Heck, I deserve it.

My question is: My Bell/Mitchell Leader (14d) is a 52". Fits fine. My re-worked BB straight shaft is 58". Fits fine.

Should a paddle with a lower degree of bend be sized approximately half way between these sizes? 54-56"? I assume that the shallower bend will lend itself to gentle J-strokes.

Or should I buy a longer CF model and cut it down as needed?

Dang, missing RT was difficult.


Not sure on the sizing
but I will say that bent paddles are a pain to try a J stroke with. I have used a bent canoe paddle for steering on one side only, and I seemed to have better luck ruddering it. The bend in the blade allows you to simply roll the blade onto its edge, and the blade acts like a big rudder turned at 14 degrees (or whatever your paddle is angled at). Either way they kinda suck for steering. If you can, borrow one first and try it.

I’m able to “J” with my home made
5 degree. It is a full 61" paddle, but I am very tall in the torso and always use it while kneeling.

Is the paddle you are getting susceptible to having the grip removed, the shaft shortened, and the grip replaced? Even a fancy pear grip might be morticed as part of a shortening operation. If so, you can try the intermediate length and cut it down if it seems that would be better.

5 degree
probably would be much easier to J with

Sit and Switch or Kneel
Lets go back to bio-mechanics and paddle physics.

For the kneeling paddler, the “Winters Window” where the paddle is efficiently +/- 10 dg to the forward stroke occurs entirely before the knee. Kneeling paddlers will occasionally use a 5-7dg bent to move the window aft along the boat to reduce reach, hence torso rotation, and run a higher cadence, all at the cost of J and drawing control.

12-14dg bents are designed for sitting paddlers who, due to further reduced torso rotation, need the window moved even further aft, hence closer for a stroke window that starts just before the knee and ends mid thigh.

I think you mostly sit in a sit and switch designed hull, so you’ll need a smaller bladed bent ~ 3 inches shorter than that Mitchell which has longish, ~20-21" blade. [Mitchell’s shaft length should be fine, but

overall length shorter due to 18"blade length on new paddle.

Small blades are intended to run at say 50-70 strokes/ minute, the Mitchell with larger blade works best at 30-40 strokes/minute.

Different Measurment First
Two different brands of paddles are going to have two different blade lengths and therefore comparing overall length is apples to oranges. Measure the distance from the top of the grip to the throat to get the shaft lengths on your present straight shaft and bent shaft paddles. If the shaft length on your current bent shaft (“that fits fine”) is significantly shorter than the shaft length on your current straight shaft paddle (“that also fits fine”), I think your assumption is correct that an 8 to 10 degree bent shaft should have a shaft length between the two. If you discover little to no difference between the shaft lengths of your two current paddles, your new paddle should be the same shaft length. I also think your should borrow and try first. If nothing else, someone you know must have a fancy double bent that would give you the effect of a 7 to 8 degree bent shaft.

it’s the angle not the size

More info
I was wrong.

My re-worked BB is 56" OA, not 58".

Detailed measurements:

BB= 56"OA, 20" blade, (130 in2), 36" shaft.

Bell/Mitchell= 52"OA, 19" blade, (123 in2), 33" shaft.

As I said, both comfortable for me. I also have a 50" bent BB and it is too short.

As charlie noted, I am a sitter, switching with the B/M and C & J stroking with the BB. I will admit that the BB could be an inch or so shorter, but I like the extra reach and the grip is basically even with my eyes.

Red Rock sells a Mitchell in 7 deg in two sizes: 54" and 56". Their recommendation is the shorter paddle for under 6’ and the longer for over 6’. Very simple, very easy to quote Chef Tel.

I am tempted to try the 54" Mitchell, although I was sort of hoping to gift myself a slightly lighter paddle. And DM’s feeling that a size in between my two extremes would point to the 54.


Decisions, Decisions
You’ll have to decide where on the continuum between higher cadence Sit and Switch type paddling; and totally in control C&J stroke on the same side for hours type paddling you want the new paddle to perform at. You should also focus on where you normally place your hands on that rather long 36" shaft length BB you use. With a small 8"x20" BB blade paddle and a long shaft you may be choking up on that shaft once you get up to speed, giving you more reach and shifting your leverage to act somewhat like a high gear range.

If what you are looking for is a bent shaft that will give you more control for C&J stroking, but still do OK on sit and switch and speed (jack of all trades but master of none type paddle), then I think the 54" Red Rock 7 degree Mitchell with that 35" shaft length is probably what you are looking for.

If what you are really looking for is a paddle that gives maximum control for C&J stroke at lower cadence and you generally paddle in deep water, try a well balanced narrow beavertail 5.5-6" x 28" or ottertail 5.5" x 28" with blade areas around 130 sq in and a 35" shaft length. The long blade straight shaft will give you better C&J stroke control than the rather small bladed BB straight shaft you are using now.

always trade-offs

Decisions, decisions pt2
Yeah, I know that it will be an in-between trade-off. Don’t forget that this is a new “toy” to make up for me not being able to attend Raystown.

I am actually considering a ZRE rec model, sized long which I can experiment with. Toys, toys, always a “need” for more toys!


Double Bend, you’ll feel much better.