Double blade canoe paddle length

Not that I ever would do such a thing, but if, for example, someone who used a 56" straight paddle, 51" bent, wanted to try a double-bladed paddle (like the kind often used by kayakers) in a Bell Magic, what might be a good length?

Is it fair to assume that a long paddle and low-angle stroke would work best since the boat would get really wet with a short paddle/high angle stroke?


In my case…
217 cm. My paddle has a 10 cm adjustment. I can paddle my Summersong much faster with a kayak paddle. Then again, my single blade skills are in the rudimentary stage, bu I feel more comfortable with a double blade paddle.

I set it at 210 when using my surf ski, 212 with my sea kayak.

But we’re all shaped differently, a paddle with length adjustment would help.

Our GP Builder had us paddle with a
marked up closet pole to determine the best lengths (blade and loom) for our canoes since every boat and paddler’s favorite stroke different. We us our GPs almost exclusively for cruising unless very narrow, overhung creeks, or for freestyle play. Not quite as fast as a euro double but great way to move a canoe with much less joint stress for us. R

i would
Find some one with a 230 and try it. I use a 220 on my Summersong and the magic is a tad wider I think. But maybe not. Either way your probably going to be in that range. My wing at 217 is just a bit short for the Summersong and I paddle a 58 canoe in my taller tandem canoe. Your seat height will also matter.

Ryan L.

A long paddle
is probably the way to go for the reasons you mentioned. I carry a 275 cm double blade as a spare paddle. I break it out only when I can no longer make reasonable progress in a headwind with a single blade. I only own one of these and use it in several boats. It is sized to fit best in the widest one which is a Prospector that I solo from a kneeling thwart. You’d probably be looking for something shorter for your boat.

Incidentally, canoe history tells us that the use of double blade paddles was fairly common back in the “Golden Era”. Picture a courting canoe with the woman wearing a puffy dress and carrying a parasol. She was not going to paddle. Then you’ve got her suitor in the back wearing white pants and a bowler hat propelling the whole thing with a double blade.

You will be impressed with how fast you can move a canoe with one of these.


Beg, Borrow, Steal

– Last Updated: Jul-10-11 10:31 AM EST –

I would find a double paddle or buy the cheapest, longest paddle and try it before you buy a good paddle. You may hate a double. You will get wetter, the inside of your boat will get wetter and your gear will get wetter. If you do creeks, steams and/or small rivers you will hit every overhead branch and other stuff along the shore. I've got a 240 and use it with a fairly high stroke. No way could I use anything shorter or use much of a low stroke. Now to be fair, my canoe is wide, high sided, high seated and I kneel about 1/2 the time because I can. Your boat may be completely different but no way would I go shorter than the 240 (that's 8ft. for some of us), and I'd really like to try a 260 and 280. If you do like a double you may look at the double canoe paddle from Bending Branches. I'm thinkin about getting one to use on occasion.

BTW, for comparison sake I use a 57" straight for my single paddle.


Sitting low? Sitting high? Kneeling?
My old Red Cross canoeing manual illustrates a low seat, no more than 5" high, for double blade use. That low, you can approximate a “low angle” style.

Kneeling or sitting at 9" high, with my long torso, I use an old Clement 8’= 244 cm paddle, with relatively short blades. Only a high angle style “works.” If I used a longer paddle to get low angle, the paddle would be too clumsy.

I got a bargain on a Werner 240 cm Camano, but the blades were wrong for high angle, and the paddle felt too “short.” I have heard of canoeists using 250 cm or more, with high angle blades.

If you’re going to be sitting or kneeling at a normal canoeist height, I suggest short (18 t0 20 inch) blades and around a 240 cm total length, unless you’re tall like me.

Canoeists seem to go to double blades when they need a burst of speed and power. So, why go low angle, which is NOT for speed and power? If you need speed, why fuss about dripping? My experience is that drip rings and a firm catch will cut dripping down to a bearable level. Some of the water just gets thrown off the shaft with a short, snappy stroke.

So no consensus?
Thanks everyone. It seems that there are some very different experiences, so I’ll have to do my own experimenting to find what I like.

I’ll start by taking my old 230 Werner out and giving it a try, then decide whether longer or shorter is the way to go. The difficult thing about kayak paddles is that the good ones are so darned expensive that I’m not interested in a great deal of trial and error. Maybe I could approach a rental place and see if I could take out a few different lengths for a day or two.

In my Rapidfire, I used a 230 with a
high angle.If you have a wide canoe, which you don’t, a long paddle makes sense. I got one of those but soon sold it to a guy with a MR Explorer.

High angle gets you wet,but so what?

Was the builder
Bill of Lumpy Paddles?


Hey Mark…

Good guess…!


Double Blade - Have One
Canoeing, my single blade is either a 56 or 58.

Most of my canoe experience is whitewater and when in that water I feel most comfortable with the single blade.

However on wide, wind swept water a double blade makes it far easier to hold the line into the wind. And in still, flat water I move faster with the double blade.

Proper length is a function of your beam, seat height and the paddle angle you prefer. For a double blade I like a low paddle angle. My canoes have beams ranging from about 28 to 36 inches. After experimenting with a cheap fixed length paddle, I purchased an adjustable length (240-255) graphite double blade. Very light swing weight, easy to stroke. Bought an Aquabound with an adjustable ferrule.

That has worked out pefectly in my canoes when I want the double blade. I carry the single blade as an alternate/backup blade and find in narrow confines the single blade is preferable for those quick cross bow adjusting strokes. But that’s just my limitation - I know a great WW paddler who only double blades - not sure how he does it, but he is totally comfortable with the double.

Bending Branches!
Mr Canoehead, double-bladed canoe paddles are pretty cool. Bending Branches makes a really nice one. It’s called the Impression Solo (44oz). It comes in sizes of 260cm and 280cm, but judging by the fact that you’re a 56 straight, you’d be fine with a 260cm.

It is a lot like a kayak paddle but made out of wood and has more power (to be able to power a canoe vs. kayak)

Bending Branches also make a fiberglass solo paddle too. It is very similar to the Impression Solo but fiberglass shaft and it is lighter (39oz). It’s called the Slice Glass Solo.

I figured you’d like specific examples. Hope this helps!

Aquabound & Bending Branches
Have merged but keeping the different names.

Aquabound sells the high end graphite double blades and has more of a kayak focus for their high end products; BB doesn’t market the high end graphite double blades and has more of a canoe focus on their high end products.

BB does have a 260 and 280 in their product lineup but they are not the high end graphite blades. AB does NOT have the longer 260 or 280 blades in their stock products. However when I called them they were happy to make me a 240-255 adjustable in all graphite (shaft and blade).

Hope that helps.

loom vs blade length
I make Greenland style double bladed paddles, up till now for sea kayaking. Just got a solo (Wenonah Wilderness) and making a double for that likely 240 cm.

Question is, whether to make the loom longer and leave the blade length as normal? I shorten the loom for a storm paddle. Also like a ‘shoulder’ at the throat of the blade for tactile feedback on blade angle.