Bent shaft vs straight shaft length for

single blade canoe paddles. Should the shaft length be the same if I am planning to use both padles in the same solo canoe and I already know which bent shaft length I prefer?

If the blade dimensions are the same, should the shaft length be the same for a bent shaft and a straight shaft of the same model? Or do most prefer a longer shaft for the straight shaft version? An example would be a bent shat Sawyer Manta and a straight shaft Sawyer Manta.

My understanding is that it’s the shaft length that matters more than the overall length of the paddle, so if I use a 50" bent shaft with a 19" long blade, I would probably also use a 50" straight shaft if the blade is also 19" long.

Also, if I was wanting to buy a beaver tail with a 28" blade to us in the same boat that I use my bent shaft, would I want a 59" paddle to maintain a shaft length of 31"?

Is my thinking correct here or are there other factors to consider?

Thanks for all feedback.

Bent Shaft length
Good job you asked because your seemingly logical thinking is exactly wrong!!!

Your bent shaft paddle should be shorter … a LOT shorter…than your straight shaft. Most folks find that the difference will be from 4 to six inches shorter, but just eactly how much depends on the width of your boat, your paddling position and how you are going to paddle (sit-n-switch). I use a 55-inch Grey Owl Beavertail or a 51-inch wooden Sawyer double bent with a very wide blade to paddle my MR Malecite solo. But I use a 50" Zeveral graphite with my Wenonah Advantage.

My unqualified advice is try-before-you-buy.

If you can’t, then get a paddle like a Zeveral with the handle uninstalled. Cut the shaft off so that it will be the length you currently use and duct tape the hadle on. If it feels too long,cut it down about an inch at a time until it begins to feel about right (err on the side of length, cause you can always cut more off).

Use it that way a while. When you finally are satisfied, cemnt the handle in the shaft.


Thanks for asking that, I was wondering the very same thing the other day, and thanks for the detailed answer. Now if there was a paddle store within a 100 miles of where I am.

I think you misunderstood my question
or I misunderstood your answer.

Let’s keep it simple, same boat, same paddler, same seat postion.

Question 1: If I have a bent shaft version of a paddle, lets say a Sawyer Manta, and I want a straight shaft version of the same paddle, should the shaft length of the straight shaft be the same as the shaft length of the bent shaft? The blade lengths are the same length on both paddles.

2: I understand that overall paddle length will be longer for a long bladed beavertail than for a paddle with a short square blade, but would the shaft length be the same?

Your response was " I use a 55-inch Grey Owl Beavertail or a 51-inch wooden Sawyer double bent with a very wide blade to paddle my MR Malecite solo. But I use a 50" Zeveral graphite with my Wenonah Advantage.

Sorry if I misunderstood your answer.

Bought a 59" Camp Beavertail from

– Last Updated: Mar-14-06 12:41 PM EST –

Foxworx on ebay. It was old stock, they were cleaning out their warehouse. It is a beautiful paddle. I thought the size should be about right, but it seemed too long and too much blade when I tried it Sunday in my Sawyer Summersong and rotated paddles between the new 59" Camp beavertail, 51" Barton bent shaft and 51" Old Town beavertail.

Paddle dimensions:

Paddle---------------Shaft----Blade length----Blade width
Camp Beavertail------32"----27"------------6"
Old Town Beavertail--27"----24"------------6"
Barton carbon Bent---32"----19"------------8.75"

My measurement from nose to hard surface I'm sitting on is 29", which would suggest that the shaft on the Old Town Beavertail is much too short, the Camp Beavertail is about right and the Barton Bent is a little long. My nose comes to 3" below the throat of the paddle when the grip is placed on the hard surface I am sitting on.

My impressions when paddling Sunday:

1) The Barton bent seemed the easiest on my body while paddling, maybe a little long, but it seemed to have the least wear & tear on my shoulders and arms and I felt like I could paddle the Summersong all day with it.

2) The Old Town beavertail was the next easiest on my body and easy to use, but seemed at least a couple inches short even though I felt I could also paddle several hours with it.

3) The Camp beavertail seemed long and unwieldy compared to the other two paddles, especially when taking the paddle out of the water and moving it forward for the next stroke. I suspect that with a 28" long blade, underwater recovery may be a technique to consider. It also seemed a lot more work to pull on this paddle, probably also due to the large blade surface, but maybe also related to the COP (blade center of pressure) which was discussed above. It really seemed like much more work to use this paddle compared to the other two.

The obvious advantages to the longer Camp beavertail is that maneuvering the Summersong was quite easy compared to the other two paddles. Ruddering, C-strokes and J-strokes were surprisingly effective, but I'm concerned about how many hours I could paddle solo with this paddle. Every time I used the Camp beavertail, my shoulders, wrists and elbows protested a little. Every time I switchted back to either of the other paddles, the discomfort either dissapeared completely or was greatly reduced.

I plan to do more experimenting with the Camp beavertail before deciding if it is too much paddle for me. If I decide that the shaft is too long, I might try cutting it down an inch at a time.

It's very obvious to me that using this paddle requires a much different approach than the other two.

I can see how this would be a great steering paddle for the stern position in a tandem or just playing around with boat control in a solo.

The weights of the above paddles are:

Camp 21oz
Old Town 20oz
Barton 12oz

Thanks again for all the advice. I'm still looking for the right straight shaft square blade paddle to compliment the others.

Welcome to the “never too many"
paddle club! I have about 10 paddles, and gave up looking for the “perfect paddle”. Paddling is an art, although science has brought many variations into it for us to experiment with. I feel the same as you do when I use my 60” cherry beavertail paddle, in that it is not designed to be a fast stroke paddle, but it is great when used for leisurely paddling. Before cutting down your 59" beavertail too far, you might consider varnishing it nice, and hanging it in the house somewhere, or selling it on pnet. If you want to race across the lake, a 50" bent will provide you with an exhilarating experience. I’m looking for another paddle this year, too, and not sure of what type yet, but that’s all part of the fun of it. It just has to be a little different from the rest I have. I also gave up on any scientific guarantee about a right size paddle shaft/blade length, as “different strokes for different folks” and experience are the best ways to find out what works best for different situations you will paddle in. Happy paddling!

When I built a straight shaft
paddle to match an old Bending Branches bent shaft, I added two inches to the shaft length. I was advised by a paddleing friend and collector that two inches was about right. It works for me in a solo MR Guide

Im 6’ 1’’

I use a 48.5 length bent shaft

a 47.5 for a quicker recovery…upstream, sprint, into the wind etc.

I use a 54 straight shaft sometime a 52 incher

Slightly used 47.75" Zaveral bent shaft
10oz mid weight will ship to me today. It’s the one that was listed on I plan to use it in the Summersong in rougher conditions when I have the seat at the lowest settings and when I’m paddling my Phoenix Vagabond while sitting higher up on about 6" of cusions. The 51" Barton is a little long in those situations. I had been looking for a 48" to 49" light weight bent shaft, so this Zav that’s on the way should fill that niche. I think that my 5’2" wife will really appreciate this 47.75" 10oz Zav. I’m sure that I won’t get to use it when we go out together.

I plan to experiment much more with the 59" Camp beavertail to see what it can teach me. I agree that with the 27" long blade, this paddle is not intended for high stroke rates with me as the engine. High stroke rates are no problem with the 51" Old Town beavertail with the 24" long blade.

With the arrival of the Zav, I’ll have most of the types of canoe paddles that I’ve been considering (size wise that is, I’d like better quality versions of some of them) but would also like to try out a 54 to 56" beavertail with a 24" to 25" long blade and a straight shaft about 52" to 54" long with 19" long blade (I have a 56" straight shaft and it seems too long).

I think I have enough variety to experiment with for now and my bank account agrees.