Best paddle for high angle paddler on rocky streams?

I am also looking to upgrade my paddle soon. I currently have an Academy Sports special and it is OK for a cheap model but want something nicer and more ergonomic. I have used a $200 Werner paddle and there is no comparison to what I am using. There is a noticeable difference it is is very nice.

There are few other things I want to share.

  1. I am what one would call a “high angle paddler”.
  2. The sweet spot for length for me is around 95 inches/240 cm.
  3. Most of the use this will experience are rocky bottomed streams with many being shallow in places. I used my paddle like a shovel to push through these areas and may give it everything I have got when pushing through. The paddle I get needs to be durable and hold up to my abuse.

That $200 Werner paddle was light as a feather and paper thin so it cut through the water nicely. It was Kevlar or something similar and you could just see right through it.

I have also used some in the $50-60 range and they seemed nice. It is my understanding that the really nice ones start at around $100 and won’t be too much of a compromise over the $200 one I used. I can accept that is isn’t quite as light and thin but definitely want it tough and durable. Any suggestions based on what I describe my uses as being?


Look at Aquabound , carbon shaft nylon blades. Campmor typically has them at good prices.

High angle and 240 cm sounds mutually exclusive unless you are very tall - and by very tall, I mean 220-230 cm.

Are you sure that you have given a shorter paddle the chance it deserves?

I like a [57" Werner Bandit]( “57” Werner Bandit"). Maybe that is a little higher angle than you are used to. :wink:

I would second the suggestion to look at Aquabound. They are often the choice of rental outfitters because of the durability of the paddle blades. You can usually find them around this time of year for between $100 and $140. Outdoorplay has quite a few on sale right now, even some Werner models near to that price point – that 2-piece carbon Skagit is a good deal at $144. Werners are sturdy too – another brand often found in rental liveries.

I would also suggest that 240 cm is awfully long for a high angle paddle, unless you are over 6’ 5" or paddling a very deep hulled or wide kayak, especially if you are paddling shallow streams. .

Just a suggestion, but I don’t like to beat up my good paddles shoving off docks and gravel shoals. I have always carried a spare paddle and eventually have switched to having it be a 72" wooden Greenland style “storm” paddle which is a short paddle that works well in very high winds (that would catch standard blade paddles and try to rip them out of your hands). The storm paddle I have is one that somebody made out of a cedar 2 x 4 and it came with a used kayak I bought so it didn’t cost me anything and I don’t mind banging it up using it as leverage. Because a Greenland paddle does not have wide blades, it’s easy and quick to grab it from under my deck bungees to use as a tool. You could do something similar by picking up a cheap plastic canoe paddle at a sporting goods store and keeping it under your deck lines to grab in those shallow spots.

When I started solo canoeing, I used a double-blade paddle and a high-angle stroke, and 230 cm was fine for me. I am 6’1" and was either sitting or even kneeling in the canoe, so I was positioned higher than any seated kayaker. In all fairness, my high-angle stroke was a higher angle than most “high-angle” kayakers (slightly reducing the needed paddle length), but even considering that, 240 cm seems unnecessarily long to me as well.

I am 6’5" and use a 220. Pop

I am using a sit-in if that matters for the kayak. I will see if something shorter might be better but have been swapping between two paddles of around 240cm and have no issues. I am new to this so maybe doing it wrong although I am still getting down the river just fine.

The Aquabound has been suggested to me by quite a few others. I need to look into one of these.



Also a bit confused here with your 240 length and high angle description. Most high angle paddlers I know are using 210cm or shorter paddles. Paddles in the 230 or longer range are usually considered low angle paddles.

The see through blades on the Werner likely mean it was a fiberglass blade. Most of the ones now are carbon shaft, but if you have an older version, might not be.

Given you use of the paddle as a pry bar, you might want to forgo some light version paddles and instead look at stronger paddles. A one piece whitewater paddle might be better for you, as they are usually beefier.

I talked with a guy who works at an outdoor store. I plan to head that way in a few weeks and buy some accessories I have been needing/wanting. He says that using a lightweight paddle, even if made from Kevlar or whatever, is not a good idea on the kind of streams I will be paddling. He does suggest a good Werner or Aquabound paddle. This guy paddles a lot and knows the streams so again the AB came up as a good suggestion by him.

I also asked about the length and while he said while 240cm seems a tad long, he doesn’t think it is too long. I think what is going on here is that when the water is shallow, I HAVE to switch to a more low angle paddling style. Then when it is deeper I go high angle and take off. I definitely feel I get more power from high angle paddling. These deeper stretches are usually slow so sometimes I like to get through them as fast as I can.

He said the Aquabound is a great paddle for the money. He also said that Bending Branches (sister company) also makes good paddles but marketed at a lower price point. I will make the decision once I get there and ask about the length of the paddle as well.

I used a shorter paddle on a rental a while ago and was not happy with it at all. I felt like I couldn’t dig into the water and take full advantage. I don’t remember the brand of paddle and didn’t know the length but it was too short. I think the kayak was a basic sit-on like the Jackson Riviera or Old Town Twister. I don’t remember as I wasn’t near as into it back then but that seems to be all the outfitters use around here.


Well, remembering my own experience sitting on a high canoe seat with a high-angle stroke and a 230-cm double-blade paddle, I still can’t imagine a person with a long enough torso to require 240 cm, or even 230, when sitting low as is the case in a kayak. Picture where your lower hand is relative to the surface of the water during your stroke. There’s no need for the blade to be deep below the surface, and I have not doubt that it IS deep below the surface unless you are keeping your lower hand unusually high (which would be incorrect).

Second, the average sales person at the average outdoors store isn’t likely to know much, regardless of how much experience he says he has. Be skeptical of these guys. I could give several examples of so-called “experts” in local outdoor shops here who don’t even know enough to realize that they know next to nothing at all, in spite of the fact that some are quite experienced in their own little worlds.

Here’s one thing to keep in mind. Beginning paddlers, or at least this is true for males, tend to feel good about paddling really hard, and they tend to perceive hard effort as giving the effect they want. I would suggest not falling into that trap on two counts. First, pushing your boat at a speed that is faster than it efficiently moves takes exponentially more energy than going just 1 or 1.5 mph slower, and this is a VERY difficult thing to perceive at first without the aid of a GPS to reveal your true speed. So avoid that kind of paddling even if it feels like you are going faster, because your extra speed is far less than you probably think. Second, from a leverage standpoint, a longer paddle is working against you. For a given amount of force applied by the blade against the water, you will have to apply a greater force to the shaft with a longer paddle than with a shorter paddle. Since force applied by the blade to the water translates to boat speed, regardless of how that force against the water is produced, it makes no sense to use a paddle that requires you to pry harder on the paddle to develop the same force, and a longer paddle makes it necessary to do exactly that. Again, don’t be fooled by the paddle power as perceived through your hands and arms and upper body. That’s not a correct perception of the force being applied to the water. I can promise you that a shorter paddle that doesn’t seem to “dig in” is actually producing the same force against the water, and probably more, than is the case with your long paddle. You just haven’t had enough practice yet to know it…

When canoeing, I always carry a shorter, sturdier paddle just for use in shallow water. Sometimes when I’ve been paddling hard all day and I’m just badly fatigued, I’ll switch to that shorter paddle just to reduce my own output effort while maintaining the same cruising speed. Sure, my stroke is a little less picture-perfect with a paddle that’s technically too short for me, but it’s definitely easier on muscles and joints.

If you still aren’t picturing this, here’s an example to explain it. If you wanted to lift a shovelful of dirt with the least amount of muscle effort, would you want the shovel to be short with the blade being quite close to your “lifting” hand, or long so that the blade is three feet away? Oh, and think of this while considering that your hands are the same distance apart from each other in both cases, just as should be true with different-length paddles. If you still can’t picture this, get two shovels and try it for real. The blade of the shovel holding a glob of dirt against the force of gravity is analogous to the blade of your paddle pushing against the water, and the less distance there is between the paddle blade OR shovel blade and the hand that is closest to that blade, the less effort is required on your part.

Great answer! I was sold a 240 with my first boat, a rec kayak. No problem.
I upgraded to a sea kayak. After a fairly long paddle my arms felt like someone had tried to rip them out of my shoulders.
Admittedly, I had no idea what I was doing.
By trial and error and some on line instruction , I now use a shorter paddle with a proper stroke.
I have a bum shoulder but paddling doesn’t bother it.

The power you get from the paddle is the force against the water at the center of the blade. The farther your hands are from this point, the harder you have to work to achieve this thrust. To illustrate this, take your long paddle outdoors, and set it across two supports. Put a quart zip-lock bag full of water on one blade, then lift it with your hands in the normal position. set it down, then move both hands about a hand width closer to the bag and lift again. Don’t be fooled into thinking pulling a little harder with a long paddle gives more thrust. I am a 5’ 9" high angle paddler, and I used a 215 cm on flat water, and a 220 cm in waves.

I understand mechanical advantage and such. I am an engineer after all. Basically everyone is telling me that having a longer paddle is like “lugging” an engine going uphill in too high of a gear. It feels like I am working harder because I am and it isn’t getting me anything. I know things have to be sized right. I recently had to have my well pump replaced. I told the guy about my future plans for the property and asked if a larger pump would be better. He suggested a slight upgrade but also mentioned that I needed a larger pressure tank because it would cycle too quickly with the one I had and end up putting more wear and tear on the pump motor by it turning on and off too frequently. Anyway, that is what I ended up doing.

If a shorter paddle will get me the same amount of power I have now or MORE when going through places where I need to be able to take advantage of everything I have got, then I am all for it. I may not be working as hard but getting the same amount of return, or more, for my effort.

I think the last short paddle I used was some free one that was included with a cheap kayak. I mean it felt like the shaft would break in two if I gave it all I had and it just wasn’t a good paddle besides that.

I may see if any of the paddles suggested have a model with adjustable lengths. That way I won’t regret my decision no matter what I do. I could get a 220-240cm model and be good with it.

I will let everyone know what happens. I am probably going to make the move on this in the next couple weeks along with an upgraded kayak (WS Pungo 120).


Paddles are typically adjustable in 10 cm increments, a cm at a time.

I ended up with the Bending Branches angler paddle in 230cm. We will see how I like this one. I went down in length based on all the suggestions.