Differences between high angle and low angle paddles?

I see these referred to but have been paddling awhile and just use one paddle. On any outing , my strokes vary from high angle to low.
When I was younger, I used wide bladed for their power.
Now I have a cranky shoulder and only use a narrow bladed wind paddle.
Are the differences, whatever they are, a marketing device?

By “wind” paddle do you mean wing? Wing paddles are not usually the go-to for reducing shoulder pain but if it works for you, I wouldn’t mess with it.

I don’t think the blade shape differences are marketing - the shapes have been optimized for different paddling styles. Blade area is usually similar for comparable paddles - for example the Werner Kalliste (low angle) vs Cyprus (high angle).

That said there is no restriction against using one for the other style. I am really a “mid-angle” paddler (if that’s a thing) and have used high and low angle paddles successfully. Some manufacturers use a shape that is somewhat between the two - most of the Aquabound paddles are pretty moderate in shape.

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The wind paddle is a narrow bladed Euro. Not much more surface area than a GP. There is no taper .

I have tried both high and low. I too have shoulder injuries, past and present, and I find the low angle easier.
My simple understanding of the two was the angle in which the paddles enter the water is different (steeper for high) to get the entire blade in. I was told that when you paddle if your hand comes up above eye level that you should use a high angle paddle.
I am sure that is the very basic understanding and may have some flaws in the logic.

Blade area is a factor, a smaller blade area should have less strain to paddle.

Mind you…there is not a big difference in sizes in a side by side comparison. At least with this brand. So I am guessing the low angle style is easier for me not necessarily the paddle.

Sting ray is 91 sq in, Manta ray is 105 per their web site. I would say that is a significant difference. You would have to paddle both to see if the difference can be felt.

10 square inches you can feel easily. Back later with pictures.

My understanding of high vs. low angle paddle designs is that they differ in two basic ways (to various extents depending on manufacturer choices).

First, as noted, low angle paddles tend to have blades that are longer and narrower than high angle blades.

Second, high angle paddles tend to have blades with greater overall surface area.

Both of the above attributes vary depending on model and manufacturer. Thus, you might find some overlap in shape or dimensions among paddles of different types from different manufacturers. In addition, some manufacturers like Werner offer a range of different blade designs within the high and low angle categories.

The best choice for anyone, particularly those with shoulder problems, is to demo as many paddles as possible to determine what feels best, regardless of paddle type. Good local outfitters should have a variety of paddles. The only thing I have found scarce for demo purposes is Greenland paddles.

Beyond avoiding injury, personal preference plays a big role. For example, I find I prefer a lower cadence when paddling and I don’t mind somewhat higher resistance when paddling. This led me to a Werner Ikelos which has a fairly large surface area. Despite warnings that paddles of this design could cause shoulder problems, I have had no issues. Perhaps this is because I am a very relaxed paddler who only goes out for 3-4 hour day trips. Regardless, it feels good to me, so I enjoy it.

Good luck with your research.

They are all mine and I have paddled them all. (My kid laid claim to my Stingray that is why I have the Tango).
For me the high angle style is more difficult atm because my shoulder is being a jerk.
There is definitely a difference in surface area but it is not a giant difference that some may assume or expect.


Take the lines of the deck as the water surface. That’s how the blade should enter approximately. I think easier to use high to do low angle paddling than vise versa.

High angle your top hand is up by your eyes of forehead. You stroke close to the hull with little sweep. More power to move you forward.

Low angle your shaft is close to the deck and hands stay below say your nipples.


Low angle paddling I paddle lower to the deck than him.

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I don’t know where to start. Except, that’s the first time I saw a wing paddle. There’s so much info in this thread. It should be posted as a standard read first before asking about what paddle is the best paddle to get as a first paddle.

Ironically, this is what happens when you ask an experience paddler a general question - you get an answer. I have to laugh because it’s what everybody has been saying. Its a personal thing. I compared the Cyprus dimensions to the Kalliste. One is stubbier. I knew the answer but forgot about how a high or low angle is shapped. It’s how the tip hits the water. Awesome videos. I converted from high angle and gradually moved toward low as I incrementally lengthened my paddle. Also notice differs degree of core. You guys made this one of the best posts I’ve seen. No wonder everyone has a paddle collection

Variety is the spice of life. Just don’t carry it to relationships it usually doesn’t end well :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. Not speaking of personal experience just observations of others.

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Woke up at 5:45 am and saw the info. Canceled Poole Island trip because we have a humid, unstable air mass and active npredictable local storms. Dangerous to be two hours out on the Chesapeake today. Went to wood shop.

So on that thread to digest. I did see the videos. I needed them because it’s hard to convey the beauty of a properly executed paddle stroke. Paddle pictures were on point. I hope don’t come across like I’m instructing. There’s not much I can offer experienced members. I at times try to think of myself as the new reader, and structure my response in such a way that would benefit me when I first started paddling.

I enjoyed that post because everybody shared the hard learned experiences. Rather than just relay personal preference. Some explanations reminded me of things I learned 15 years ago and forgot. Good reading for tonight.

I got what’s advertised as a low angle paddle (Pursuit Angler Fishing Paddle - Adventure Technology) to solo a 15.5ft tandem canoe. I found that with any wind, the paddle didn’t have enough power to control the canoe and power up-wind (or across the wind) very well. I returned that paddle and got a similar paddle that’s advertised as high angle (Search Angler Fishing Paddle - Adventure Technology) and noticed a big difference in ability to power up-wind. The website lists the blade areas as 605cm^2 (low angle)and 602cm^2 (high angle), so I assume the difference in power I feel is due to the shape of the paddle, which points to a real difference thanks to design. I can’t really claim to understand the physics but it “feels” like it’s true.

In a kayak I probably tend to a more low angle style, unless heading into wind or current when I’ll subconsciously trend into more high angle (and better torso rotation). I’m similar in the canoe, except that sitting up on a seat I’m higher off the water and so the paddle is probably entering closer to a high angle, even if I’m using a laid-back stroke that would be low angle in a kayak.

My take is this -

High angle = high paddle surface area + paddle closer to hull + faster paddler cadence and more force

Low angle = lower area + farther from hull + less intense paddler output

I paddle my GP’s at all angles of attack, but generally closer to the hull with moderate force and speed

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Tsunami. That’s interesting. Why do you switch. Do you feel you can get greater power? I always tended to use core for standard paddling. But go to a higher angle power stroke when trying to catch someone.

Tsuga88. That last post to "Tsunami "was to you. My auto correct changed it.