Differences between high angle and low angle paddles?

My experience between low and high angle paddling: my normal paddle is a 210cm Werner Cypress that I have no issues with. I’d consider myself to be a lazy high angle paddler. When I try to use my wifes AT Exception 220cm I get lower back aches. I have a weak lower back. I think that the extra length of her paddle puts more stress on my back because the blades of her paddle are farther out from the centre line of the kayak. I would like to try a 205 cm paddle but at this time I don’t want to shell out $500.00 if I like it,at this time.

Both high and low angle paddling should be done using torso rotation and core muscles. However the core muscle vary some and high angle with the hands held higher can be more tiring for many people starting out. The core muscles for high angle paddling are generally less conditioned for most people. This will improve with time and practice. Some serious racers use extreme torso rotation and barely change the positions of their shoulders and elbows.

I use a high angle paddle, but if I’m not paying attention I tend to get lazy and slip more into a low angle style. My paddle is a bit too long for a purely high angle style, which is fine with me.

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Because you’re forced to reach to high. Get a paddle from Werner 200-220 adjustable length and feather when the start production again.

@Jyak I do think high-angle tends to be more powerful and effective, but also more energy intensive given that I’m out of shape (lazy) and it works different muscles as @rstevens15 said. Also, I tend to stop and smell the roses a lot on the water anyway, so I tend towards lower angle, lazier paddling. Often enough I’m trailing my feet in the water toodling along, which sort of demands a lazy low-angle paddling style.

I know I should always practice torso rotation, but it doesn’t always happen. I also find that in boats that don’t track well (e.g. my 12.5ft Acadia) it can be more efficient to take weaker strokes and correct less, rather than powerful torso-rotating strokes that turn the boat more. That also leads me to lighter, low angle paddling often. But as you say, when I want to catch someone or fight a headwind and start digging in and rotating my torso properly, I end up at a higher angle, I think.

A really dedicated high angle paddle may flutter if you try to use it low. The older Epic Tour paddles do that.

Low angle paddles tend to be longer. You would notice some discomfort trying to use A true low angle paddle high. Depth of paddle in the water and efficency of stroke would suffer.

Some paddles are less fussy and will behave ok either way.

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Are you talkin ta me! Those were the days, when you needed two double cheeseburgers to keep the fire in the boiler. I dropped from 265 lbs to 235 lbs. Getting back on the water and falling off a bicycle has dropped it from 235 lbs to 223.8 lbs. At my peak, I told the doctor if I lose 30 lbs. I’ll only be 25 lbs overweight. Going for 10 more lbs.

Those last posts are short, but give “me” a lot to go over through testing. Got to look at my paddle collection. My kayak could end up resembling a hillbillie pickup truck with a gun rack. I have a high angle 220 cm, my shortest. Reading the lengths some are using convinces me I may be able to go to a “higher” angle for powe. even with a bum shoulder. Based on what I find with with a 220, I might try a Ikelos for more blade area, because I bleed off a little speed in the choppy middle passage. I know the boat can move. I found a series of trips that serve as a good baseline. I’ll see if it can move faster if I use spurs.

You know I’m no genius, but it seems to me that the major difference between high angle and low angle paddles is the leading edge of the paddle. High angle being slightly more “square” than low. Greater catch, more surface area, when the paddle enters the water at the desired angle.

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You can paddle high angle and not kill yourself too. I’m 6’ in a 21" hull and use a 205 ikelos. Even a 210 Corryvreckan seems to be tad long.

Next paddle with a big blade will be a werner that adjust from 200-220. Hope production starts again soon.

I paddled my rec kayak, for the first time, the other night. I used a high angle blade and style.
I came away feeling that my old body would benefit from a slightly lower angle paddling style, and less blade area would feel good.
Lighter weight always feels better on the shoulder.
Lighter weight, lower angle, smaller blade.

High angle paddling is nearly impossible to do in a wide rec boat unless you are a bit taller and/or have long arms…


Ditto on both of those. I’m over six feet and my arm span is about 76".
High angle is still less than ideal.
Going low angle on both my kayaks.

This is kinda’ long and expresses only my opinions based on personal experience with low angle and high angle paddling. Individual experiences and needs vary. The discussion has focused primarily on relaxed VS aggressive style, which uses what muscle groups and how each plays out on joints. All good points. Something that nobody has mentioned is how the blade shape and shaft length affect blended strokes and boat handling.

Years back I was struggling with learning how to do bow rudders, hanging draws, stern draws, cross bow rudders, etc. I was struggling as controlling the paddle and some strokes provided no love at all. I was using the typical paddle of the day, a Werner 230 cm San Juan. No matter what boat I was in I struggled. One day a local paddler who I didn’t know remarked that I was struggling because of my paddle. He said it was too long and the blade was wrong. No other detail and since I didn’t know him, was embarrassed and thought his comments were elitist I went about my day and continued struggling with my low angle blades.

Then one day a friend who had gotten a high angle paddle of some sort swapped with me and the difference in blended strokes was immediate. I still sucked but I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I traced a template of his blade on a paper bag and started grinding down the San Juan blade to that shape. That gave me a paddle that was about 213 cm overall with high angle blades and my boat handling skills took a huge leap. The modified San Juan was imperfect as it still had too much dihedral that I couldn’t do anything about but I could do a better job of controlling the blade and I could get the blade submerged closer to the boat.

My first carbon paddle was a failure as it was 217cm with a large-ish high/low style blade and huge amounts of dihedral. I knew that I needed to commit to high angle but I listened to folks who had different needs and bought what didn’t serve me. It was a classy paddle with tremendous catch that drove my boat faster than I could believe but wouldn’t release when it should and was totally worthless for me in terms of developing my skills.

Then came my first Ikelos and everything changed. Strokes that I had been struggling with were suddenly easy (except for that damn cross-bow rudder).

Borrowing a friend’s Cypress I made another paper template and ground the San Juan to that shape which shortened it a bit more. It makes a decent back up and a good loaner but with all of the dihedral it is a bit of a blunt instrument.

I’m using a 205cm Ikelos and might change down to a 200cm Ikelos. The San Juan rides on the deck of a friend’s boat. My back up is a 210cm Cypress and I will eventually change it down to a 205cm Cypress. I’m 72 years old and have arthritis in both shoulders. I’m in OK condition and do NOT have a particularly strong upper body. The high angle style and Ikelos blades do not cause me discomfort and both continue to help me improve my boat handling skills by making those body/boat/blade interactions easier.

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I don’t know how to structure a forum page or the technical possibilities, but this is another thread that should be posted under frequently asked questions for beginners to read. Much of this I’ve figured out through trial and error, but not to this level of detail. Some of the nuances, I’ve overlooked as my style focused on distance paddling. Consequently, I’m still using low angle in higher waves, when I might have more control going to high angle (shorter blade would ease shoulder limitations). I feel like a Rube, because I switched to low angle to take advantage of the blade profile compared to the high angle design (the above post opened a file in my mind and the details are coming back) Once we develop muscle memory, so much becomes automatic, we don’t even think of the reason why. It’s like throwing away the directions after you assemble something… The act becomes reflexive - “When you’re up there . . . You don’t have time to think . . . You just act.” Seems that the longer a thread goes, the more experienced members seem to give more direct, focused answers than opinions. Maybe because it’s assumed, “everybody knows that.” Just an observation from watching rec boaters hack chopped liver as they paddle and the effortlessly strokes of a kayaker punching through a 5 ft wave, with a momentary pause as they grab the other back side of the wave to power through. That takes quick reaction time.

My son was teaching me how to bunny hop over logs. I was catching on, until I mis-timed by a fraction. My son masters the art, because he has a reflexive chicken brain. My brain was trying to process it, so time slowed to a crawl. I had an image of my face hitting the ground - it did! Then the seat was going to hit me in the back . . . Ouch. And the bike is going to land on . . . Ooff! After that, Rail/Trail riding for me. It has to be in your genes.

3meterswell, I have visions of an irate attendant grinding sparks off a golf shoe with a felt buffing wheel. You’re crazy chopping into a paddle that probably cost as much as some kayaks, but you took something you knew, modified it, recognized the shortcomings and looked for the fix. The good news is that paddle is still in the inventory; that’s what it takes.

It reminds me of the Greenland thread. If you want to understand a paddle, make your own. Then describe what you want to a paddle maker. I won’t rise to the level of skill that many have and don’t want to, due to limited reflexes. But I can paddle straight and hard. That’s what I do and this info is grand helping to do that.

When I posted info about the Tsunami capabilities and my paddling style, I had two goals. First goal was to hear somebody respond with, I have a similar boat and can cover “D” miles in “T” hours with max speeds of “P” mph (I can ask questions about conditions “C”). I’m looking for somebody to tell me: This is how I do it, or that’s the same way I do it. The second goal is to have a new boater ask: I can’t seem to get there. What do you do to track and maintain speed with a boat that fat. I’m looking to you guys specifically to suggest ways to go faster and longer. I hope other members can benefit as well. Not blowing smoke. You guys are the key.

I reached a limit on a mountain bike doing a set 40 mile distance. A number of other rec riders experienced the same thing. I broke that limit by realizing attaining higher speed doesn’t happen because we ride a lot. Our bodies take a set, and get lazy. You have to push through the barrier. It may sound strange, but when I slow down and the destination seems impossible to reach, I press the average speed to reduce the distance faster. I learned to spin, up from 75 to 90 revs per minute through at least 3/4 of the chain ring. That broke the barrier and climbs that were 10 mph became 18 mph. A 2 mph accent became 10 mph, and the decent went from 45 mph to 50 mph. I then realized a helmet would have little value in a fall. It was my last attempt at speed. A kayak isn’t much different in my mind. Just incredibly slower. And bikes have ram-air, air conditioning.

Hi. After being diagnosed with arthritis, bursitis and some impingement in both shoulders, I lucked into finding a gullwing designed paddle made by an engineer in MA. I’ll admit to loosing a little speed, but it’s great to be able paddle without pain again. It’ll pop up in any search engine with that description. I’m 6’2" so I got the longer version. Good luck.

Interesting design. Do they all have aluminum shafts?

I’m curious if the off center blade, having more area below the centerline make the blade torque in your hand.

:face_vomiting: not for me. Would depend on the angle you pull it at. Lower angles I would say yes.

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