Canoe paddle for kayak (what length?)

I am building a wood single blade paddle to carry as a spare. Please help me determine the correct length, because I want to get it right the first time. For reference, I’m 5’8" and paddling a Pintail.



bent-shaft paddles
I don’t know how much this will help, but I find that a 46- or 48-inch bent-shaft canoe paddle works fairly well in a Placid Boatworks RapidFire and a Kirton Tercel. I’m 6’0".

I don’t know anything about the Pintail, but I guess I recommend you go with 46. Or try “paddling” with a sponge mop and see what length feels right.

– Mark

can’t say
Overall paddle length depends on the length of the paddle blade, your trunk length, and the height of your seat relative to the water. I would recommend you borrow some paddles of different lengths, get in your boat, and go out on the water. As you plant the blade at the catch, with the blade fully, or nearly fully immersed, your grip hand should be about eye level. Some prefer it a little higher at say forehead level, and some a tad lower. Bent-shaft paddles tend to be a bit shorter, but I assume you are making a straight-shaft paddle. As a rough guess to start with, I would try and borrow a 54" long paddle and extrapolate from there.

single blades for low seat hulls
We recommend 46 in bents, 47 inch straights for our boats.

Straights available from FoxWorks ~ $80, and exquisite custom stick from Dog Paddle Design, ~ $225.

Bents - get a Zav or Werner, SO or cut it down and remount grip.

thanks for saving me time
I was going to duct tape a ping pong paddle to a stair baluster for a test paddle then find the length of baluster that fit best…thats the critical measurement, the shaft length…the blade is all in the water. So just add shaft to blade length)

Tape Measure
Sit in your boat, on the water, and hold a tape measure at your comfortable upper hand height (nose, eyes, forehead) and measure to the surface of the water. This is your shaft length to which you’ll add your blade length. Don’t be surprised if this gives you a short paddle that is not very efficient, but it puts your arms about where you’d want them if you were in a canoe, and it does move the boat. Being 5’-11", I sized a single blade in this way for a Silhouette and came up with about 41"-42" full length, which I ordered in a Zaveral. I like bent shafts, but a straight paddle will stow in deck bungees better.