feathered angles (confused)?

Okay. So I was paddling an adjustable Onno and varied from 45 to 60 degrees. Then I got into GP and love the no feather for rolling …but still learning to go straight since unconsciously my muscle memory still thinks its feathered. Now I am just getting into WW (just picked up a jackson 2fun) and needed a play paddle. And since there is no adjustable ferrule paddles in there for smaller folks …I got to pick a feather. I saw one of sale but it was a 30 degree feather. Wondering if all the changes is going to plain screw me up or what.



feather angle - you get used to it
I have quite a few different shafts and alternate depending on what I am doing. For surf I use a 30 degree, for regular touring I have an adjustable shaft that I prefer at about 45 but also use a 60 degree when I loan out the other. I find that the first couple of strokes is an adjustment but after that, I don’t notice.


45-70 range feels OK to me
Unfeathered feels very weird. YMMV.

adaptation times lessen with familiarity and use with each feather angle. Best thing to do, before actually doing the run with the boat is spend 5-10 minutes in a back eddy and just stroke, scull, brace and roll on each side.

For white water, I don’t really notice any difference from the popular feather of 45 or 30 degrees. Where I notice a difference is in doing a backdeck roll (reverse low brace type) which is integral to some of the ww play moves. Here zero offset really helps, especially when new to the technique and not able keep the inboard blade higher up (and preferably out of the water).

I personally prefer my 15 degree (custom Onno) for my white water/surf paddling but I have 45 and 30 degree offset paddles and can use those too.

I hardly ever use my 60 offsets because these are touring paddles and I don’t do much of that these days.


That’s why
it’s really a matter of preference: I paddle unfeathered everywhere with every paddle.

Mostly, I paddle with a GP in open water. For WW, I have a custom built Werner that is unfeathered. They tried to talk me out of it, and finally caved and said they wouldn’t take it back unless they were going to have to replace it with another one due to a manufacturing defect.

My EP’s for the sea kayaks are all two-piece, so using them unfeathered is no problem.

I have wrist/elbow issues from 30 years of competitive racquetball and the occasional few sets of tennis, and simply cannot paddle feathered for very long without pain. Unfeathered, I can paddle all day. There’s no disadvantage to either way of using a paddle — it’s all what you’re used to.


I moved gradually to paddling unfeathered a year or so ago after years of paddling feathered. It was just easier for me when it came to rolling, sculling, etc… on both sides.

Having started edging into ww late last season, and being left handed, I am particularly glad I no longer feel the need to paddle feathered. I am using 3 piece Werner ww paddles so I can set them unfeathered. (Have you ever seen a ww paddle feathered for left hand control?)

Your experience will be different. I do not believe there is absolute right or wrong on feathering. However, my wife’s H2O paddle has a 12 degree feather which seems closest to natural of any feathering.

I like 0 degree…
I use only zero degree offset whitewater paddles these days although I started with 30 degrees and have found 12 degrees to be pretty comfortable as well. Zero degree makes sense to me as it allows you to more intuitively brace on both sides, facilitates playboating moves, and allows easier backdeck rolling on both sides. Typically on a whitewater river you aren’t doing long distances fighting headwind so feathering really doesn’t have a big advantage (slalom paddlers with gates are the exception). When I switch between my whitewater paddle, my GP, and my 60 degree wing, it does take a few minutes to get used to the feathering and bracing on the feathered side gets a bit dicey initially but you’ll find that eventually this transition between feather angle is pretty easy.

All I meant to say was that it’s about what you’re used to and that it’s easy to adapt within a range of angles but harder beyond that range.

Depends on the side…
My left side is still not as automatic as my right side (attempting not to use the on/off terminology here), so I find that a big increase in feather means I have to stop and think on the left for rolling.

However, that is probably because I mostly paddle unfeathered or at mild feathers under 20 degrees. At those lesser angles you can often manage to get up on a roll without remembering to cock the wrist forward a bit. By the time you get to 30 degrees or so, the paddle is going to distinctly dive if that wrist isn’t right.

So - I suspect that someone whose base habits are a more significant feather would have less trouble switching around than someone like me, who starts with a very mild feather

What I don’t understand…
…is why anyone would use a 10-20 degree feather rather than simply using an unfeathered paddle? With that little angle, the feathering isn’t gaining you anything. It isn’t enough to work ergonomically with a control hand and proper torso rotation, it doesn’t reduce wind resistance appreciably and it’s more confusing that using an unfeathered paddle.

I’m not suggesting that this is your situation, but I wonder if that in some cases, it’s more psychological than anything else. You know, die-hard feathered paddle advocates that can’t bring themselves to use a paddle that doesn’t have at least SOME feather, whether it actually does anything for them or not.

Perhaps you can clue me in as to the advantages these low feather angles provide you.