Double Bent Paddle Rumble Royale

I’ve got a new Canak, and I need a new paddle to go with the new boat. My collection of “animal tail” paddles just don’t jive with a flat sitting solo. Have my mind set on trying out a double-bent, but I know nothing about the pro’s/con’s and differences between models.

The shortlist is:

Sawyer Manta, relatively light, smaller blade area but interesting shape to it. Very striking in person, and everybody knows purdy paddles always paddle better!

Foxworx Unadilla, have only heard good things about Foxworx but nothing about their double-bents. Most utilitarian looking of all the choices, small blade area with the most radical bent angle.

Whiskeyjack Double Whiskey, almost as pretty as the Sawyer, lightest weight, not sure about the durability though.

Bending Branches Viper Double, heaviest of the bunch, but biggest blade, the most pedestrian looking but also probably the most durable.

Anyone paddled with any of these? With all of them?

Will be used as a general solo day paddling & tripping paddle.

I used ot have a BB Viper.

– Last Updated: Sep-07-12 10:23 PM EST –

I sold it for a couple reasons: 1) The blade is larger than I like and 2) the 2nd bend bumped the side of the boat when I chose to use in-water recovery on my stroke.

It did feel quite heavy compared to my ZRE Medium bent.

Edited to add: How do you like that Canak? I'd like to try out the Canak Mini.

Manta, others
I have paddled with a single bend Sawyer Manta for many years. I like the teardrop, double-scoop-spined blade shape very much – soft entry but powerful pull.

The Manta’s double scoop power face was taken from the Stingray, which Harold Deal and Bob Foote designed for Sawyer, and which now appears in ZRE’s very popular Power Surge and Power Curve models.

The Manta has beautiful woodwork and they even put my name on it. Only bad thing is that I chose a custom grip that I’ve never liked and that would require knowledge of files or sandpaper or some other rocket science for me to change.

On my outrigger canoe I use my double bend Mitchell Leader more than the Manta. Look at that paddle, It has a curved carbon blade and a very comfortable palm grip.

Brad Gillespie probably makes the largest assortment of double bends in all sorts of woods and aesthetic variations, and will custom build anything for you. I have the only straight paddle he has ever made – my own design.

Based on looks only
I like the Whiskey Jack and the bending branches the best as far as looks. I’ve bend interested in these double bent paddles and bent shaft kayak paddles, but I’ve never seen a racer use them. The folks I see using them on the flatwater paddle with bent wrists instead of straight wrists. I suspect that some of these folks would be even better served by wearing inline skate wrist guards until they stop there back habit.

Bent wrists? Racers.
Are you talking about single or double blade paddles? I think the topic here is single.

The purpose of a canoe double bend is so you can keep your shaft wrist straighter, minimizing wrist stress. Your top wrist will be pushing the same way you push a single bend or straight paddle.

I don’t know about the popularity of double bends is with marathon racers these days. There was a bubble of interest decades ago when Brad Gillespie and others developed the Powerstick and other double bends. However, there is increased popularity among outrigger racers.

Most paddlers aren’t racers, anyway.

Aside from going straight ahead, the double bend is the funkiest paddle to control for slips and sideways strokes such as draws, pries, jams and sculls. With experience a paddler can do all these things, but that kind of paddling is not the usual application for a double bend.

Cedar paddles durable?
How durable was the cedar shaft on the Manta?

I was always slightly dubious about using light soft woods to reduce weight, ditto on the Whiskeyjacks.

Canak Love
I’m really digging the Canak, it’s a winner. Probably the most confidence inspiring solo I’ve ever paddled.

Would be a great alternative to a sea kayak for something like the Everglades or Superior.

My idea of a day trip is paddling two miles offshore in Lake Ontario chasing salmon & trout, and the Canak has been great. If you paddle big water in all conditions, it’s a boat worth looking at.

Only two complaints are I’d like a little more bouyancy in the bow with a narrower plumb cutwater. It’s a notch down from an Advantage & Sawyer Mist in the speed department, and the bow does plunge into waves more than riding up them.

And it has plastic kayak pegs instead of a bar. It makes adjusting them while sitting easey peasey, but I paddle barefoot and I much prefer the typical canoe bar footrest.

I’m interested to learn how the double blade helps keep your wrist straight. I seemed to keep my wrist straight in the dragon boat with a straight shaft. And the single bent shaft makes keeping the wrist straight just as easy, so I don’t really get the whole double bend idea.

Is there an explanation with pictures somewhere?

I think they are liked because they are more expensive, more complicated, and look cooler than a single bend.

I don’t have a lot of experience with these as I’ve found I like a 10 degree single blade as my favorite so I’m not even using the more common 15 degree bend and on many paddles I just use a straight shaft.

Cedar dinging
Just about all paddle makers use cedar as their primary light wood.

Cedar shafts end up with dings, mostly on the side. However, the Manta shaft dings less visibly than the Mitchell Leader. That’s because the Sawyer shafts are laminated parallel to the blade face, whereas the Mitchell shafts are laminated perpendicular to the blade face. At least mine are.

I’ve talked to paddle makers about dinging, and some recommend a light fiberglass sleeve laid part way up the shaft. I’m sure any of the manufacturers will do this if you deal directly with them instead of a dealer.

All in all, dings don’t bother me functionally or aesthetically, and I’ve never had a laminated wooden paddle break or crack in my life. However, I have had a one-piece beaver tail paddle crack in the blade. In fact, given enough time, the dings all overlap so much that it all smooths out – sort of like boning your Louisville Slugger back in the 20’s.

Frank, wrist cock
Frank, the ergonomic idea behind the double bend canoe paddle is to reduce the upward cock of the shaft wrist.

Here’s the theory.

Extend a single bend paddle out in front of you in the catch position. Your shaft wrist will naturally be cocked upward because the entire shaft is at an angle. When you pull with this cocked shaft wrist it can stress the stretched ligaments and tendons, especially when you are pulling tens of thousands of times a day as a racer.

The double bend reduces the angle of the shaft – makes it more vertical – for the same paddle entry into the water. Therefore, your wrist is cocked less upward, and you are pulling more in a straight line from your hand bones, through the wrist, and into the forearm. So, the theory is that this is less stressful for the shaft wrist over tens of thousands of repetitions.

Whether the theory is true, I know not. I’m not a racer, and I’ve never had any wrist problems with any paddle.

I like the single bend better because it give me more control over all the non-forward strokes. The exception is on my outrigger, where all one does is forward stroke, I still enjoy the double bend a lot.

Actually, I’ve recently gone all ZRE carbon for bent and straight paddles after 50 years of touting wood.

Ryan L.

So sinful, so guilty, but I sank slowly

– Last Updated: Sep-08-12 11:26 PM EST –

I could feel the sin beginning in 2004 when I bought my double bend Mitchell Leader, which has a wood shaft but carbon blade.

I held out until 2007 before I bought my first all carbon paddle, a ZRE bent. Satan tugged as I opened the UPS box.

Valiantly scouring the earth for a custom wood straight paddle, I designed my own in 2009 and had Brad Gillespie make it. 26 ounces.

In 2011 I sneakily picked up Harold Deal's ZRE straight paddle while he was discussing Sophia Loren with Paul Conklin in a New Jersey swamp. Thank Beelzebub that it had an asymmetrical grip I didn't like -- otherwise, I might have violated several commandments on the spot.

In 2012 I found out I could get a symmetrical carbon grip on a straight ZRE. Baal and the Prince of Darkness pounced; they drugged and drug me to the bank against my will.

I'm now all black, and all my upper body muscles are wasting away from lack of paddle resistance mass.

The double bend paddle did it.

In my limited single blade paddling experience I have found I enjoy both. All carbon feels a little bit like I’m using a ping pong paddle. The weight just feels wrong. But then again, the lack of weight is wonderful all at the same time.

I got my first all wood paddle from sanborn canoe company, absolutely beautiful, light, and a good price. The blade design needs a bit of tweaking because there is a little flutter, but it works great as a back up to my double blade and a switch up on really long paddles.

I’m waiting patiently for pat at onno to reveal his alledged, secret, maybe nonexistent single blade, before I make the leap to an all carbon one.

Ryan L.

Mitchell double bend Leader

single bents

– Last Updated: Sep-10-12 9:59 AM EST –

optimize the best attack angle for the seated paddler.

Usually 12 degrees. People who use double bent shafts with the s in the shaft give up about half of that optimal attack angle.

They do better than a single straight for the seated paddler but not as well as a normal shafted bent.

I too have a Mitchell Leader double bent but paddle kneeling with a bent. For me the bent allows a low brace easily on some freestyle moves.

Fox Worx makes nice short shafted bent shaft paddles for the seated paddler sitting low as in a Canak. You probably will wind up with a 46, which is what I use in my RapidFire.

Owned the Whiskey Jack and The Viper
The Whiskey Jack was light, but always felt fragile. It picked up dents very easily. But it stood up well to Ozark river use. Gave it to a friend’s son who tried it and loved it. He’s had it a couple years now and still loves it. Appears to be more durable than it feels, as it’s about 4 years old and has not been babied.

I have owned two Bending Branches Vipers. Bought them on E-bay. Liked #1 so much, I bought a backup. My friend, Boyscout, tried it, liked it so well he wanted one. I sold him the older one and kept the backup that I’d bought. It feels light to me, albeit; it’s not as light as the Whiskey Jack or my Zav’s. But I liked the way it felt and it was very “Easy” on my wrist that was fractured in 2004. I would use it every day if it was the right length. When I bought them, I primarily paddled a Sawyer Autumn Mist and a Mad River Monarch, so they are 48" in length. Right now I prefer a 51-54" paddle with the boats I have.

If I were choosing between these two, I’d actually pick the Viper. It doesn’t really “Feel” heavier to me, the way it “Paddles.”

Slower than Advantage and Summergong?
I’m not very fast in my Advantage and wasn’t in my


How’s the maneuverability compared to the Advantage and Summersong? How is it when heeled?

Speed depends on you too
Unless you have the horsepower for a larger hull, you will never get speed out of it.

Prime example is Dave Curtis design of Peregrine for himself and the smaller Kestrel for his wife. Then they can paddle together. She simply does not have the hp to drive the larger boat.

So its a boat person interaction rather than an all boat attribute.

You calling me a woman?
Actually, paddling my Curtis Lady Bug faster and with less effort than my Advantage or my Curtis Vagabond, at least that’s the way it’s been in the last couple weeks. I’ve felt weak. The Advantage and Vagabond felt like they were in syrup. The Lady Bug only feels like it’s in light syrup.

I think it’s a combination of power and technique and I come up a little short on both counts.

Use A GPS!
Have you timed your speeds with a GPS? The seat of the pants speedo can have it’s calibration thrown off, the Swift Osprey to me “feels” like a quick boat but I could actually paddle my old 15’ tandem just a hair faster.

The Mist was a quick boat, just a tick or two slower than I could paddle an Advantage but not by much. It’s actually surprisingly quick for a sub-15’ canoe. Cruising at 5mph wasn’t actually that hard, and I could push it to 6.0mph for a mile. The Canak lopes along at 4mph all day, but falls flat on it’s face at 5mph.

The seat isn’t as low as it looks, it’s exactly the same pedestal & height that’s in a Prism & Advantage, and incidentally enough exactly the same height as a Mist in the middle position. The paddle I most use in the Canak now is a 52" Redtail bent, but it’s kind of a 2x4 hunk of lumber POS. Thus the need for a new paddle.