kayak paddle for solo canoe?

Last Fall, I acquired a lovely Wenonah Prism (solo canoe). I’ve paddled it with a bent shaft paddle and a straight shaft paddle. I’m wondering whether any of you can advise me regarding the (a) application, (b) desirability, and (b) choice of a kayak paddle. Thanks for any ideas and suggestions that you may have.

I’ve been using my CF wing paddle in my Summersong! Damn, I can get that boat moving!

Double Blade
I’ve got a Wenonah Advantage - very similar to the Prism and I use a double blade along with a single blade.

I find the double blade very helpful in holding your line in windy conditions and still being able to make speed. You’ll need it longer than you would than when you’re in a kayak as you sit higher. I got an adjustable length carbon blade from Aquabound - ranges from 240-255 and I find the 250 setting fine for me. It was a custom build as they don’t usually make them that long, but they were happy to do so.

Maybe its all my years of single blade canoeing but I find for maneuvering in tight quarters I prefer the single blade so I always bring both, but generally use the double and the single is my spare.

I’m able to keep pace with my friends in their sleek long hulled kayaks.

I think you’ll like using a double - I find I’m faster with it.

Same here
I too take a single blade along, actually two. A straight blade and a bent shaft, but they’re secondary. The Summersong is my first canoe, I’ve got two long kayaks and a surf ski, so a double blade has been my experience. Works great with the canoe too. I do fine with 220-225 cm on my adjustable ONNO wing.

I take the single blades along in case I get in the mood of practicing with them. For straight, distance paddling a double blade works for me. I’ve paddled with accomplished single bladers that can make their boats move nicely.

Works for me…
but I’m no purest. The single blade is nice, and great in tight quarters, but if conditions arise, a long double blade makes life easier.

I pack both, but then, I’m more of a 'yaker anywho.

I’ve also tried the single blade in a QCC700 kayak, it gets moving pretty well, with the rudder down. I’d just need a crazy short shaft to get serious.

Have fun with it.


Drive my Wen Vag KUL with a Bremer
WRC Greenland paddle and really like it. Had it made long at 104" with 21" loom. Wife runs her little Blackhawk with one just a bit shorter, both kneeling and sitting. Keeps us seniors up pretty good with local yak pals, especially on open windy waters, and no joint pain.

I’ve done it, but don’t prefer it.
I’ve tried it in my Summersong and my Advantage and it just felt like too much work compared to paddling my kayaks with a double blade. Maybe I’ve just never tried an appropriate double blade paddle in my canoes. Maybe the right paddle would change my outlook.

I tried a 16 mile trip in my ruddred Summersong on a windy day with waves up to 3’ trough to crest and all the other paddlers in sea kayaks and it was brutal for me. I started out with a ZRE bent shaft w/o the rudder and couldn’t keep up. I switched to a 230cm kayak paddle w/o the rudder and still couldn’t keep up. I switched to the double blade and dropped the rudder and had a much easier time keeping up. Others who paddle canoes with double blade paddles and keep up with sea kayakers that aren’t lilly dipping are obviously much stronger paddlers than I am.

I also don’t like all the paddle drips on my legs from a double blade paddle on my legs in an open boat. This doesn’t bother many people.

A double blade actually feels quite good in my Sawyer Loon. The Loon drives equally well with a single blade or double blade. I use a spray skirt when using the double blade.

Have fun figuring out what works for you.

I also paddle a Prism
with a 45 lb. border collie. I slide the seat all the way back and my dog lies on a doubled up aerobics mat between me and the foot rest. Paddle drips are not an option with my dog on board.

I prefer a single bladed canoe paddle but I do have a long kayak paddle that I only use when I need to make top speed (not very often). Bending Branches offers a 260cm and a 280cm paddle and I’ve discovered that the Prism holds track well enough to use a 280cm paddle, a length that keeps paddle drips out of the boat.

Where I live it’s difficult to find a group paddle that doesn’t include mostly kayakers. I just J-stroke my Prism along with the crowd.

Have fun with your Prism.

History, Cadence and Bio Mechanics
In the late 1800’s when the ACA was formed, solo canoes were always driven with double blade paddles, and that tradition is still with us today in the pack canoe movement.

Double blades lessen the need to learn directional control and they easily run a higher cadence, so the solo canoe goes where intended and at a higher speed. All good, except for paddle drip on exposed legs in inclement conditions, and…

The cadence advantage is a function of each forward stroke including the recovery on the opposite side. As such, there is no rest. The double blade grinds the paddler down over time.

Bach when Kruger and Landick were doing their big trips they experimented with double verse single blades. The double blade usually walked away in the morning, the single blade catching up and passing in the afternoon.

The unloaded rest of single blade recovery turns out to be a good thing over a long day. Probably moreso as we age.

90 miler has double blade canoers
The adk has a lot to say on this. race promoters are purists and hate double bladers but are allowed in 90 miler touring class but not race class

double blades
Why are double blades restricted from the 90 miler racing class? Are they afraid the race will turn into a “kayak/surf ski with wing paddle” exposition?

I started using double blades in canoes in the 1970’s when directing YCC camp recreation paddles. The 17 year males (two in a canoe) were trying to impress the girls with how strong they were while I (paddling solo) was trying to keep up with them for supervision. A double blade paddle became the solution.

Now, a number of decades later, I have to restrict myself to mostly double blades as my rebuilt shoulder starts to talk to me when I use a single blade. I’ve reluctantly sold most of the fine single blades accumulated over the years.

If using a single blade in a canoe without covers (a royal PITA), paddle drips are a fact of life. I wear waterproof pants in cold weather to keep my legs dry. Placing a sponge in front of the seat and squeezing it out every 15-20 min eliminates water sloshing in the bottom of the canoe. Could also be a solution to paddler incontinence, but I hope not to explore that possibility for another few decades.

Canoes require a longer paddle shaft than slimmer kayaks. One has to fit paddle length to canoe width-A shorter paddle for a Rapidfire and a longer paddle for Mad River Explorer. Paddling position also influences paddle length: sitting on bottom, on a pedestal, kneeling, sitting on a gunnel hung seat or any of the other possibilities require differing lengths for ideal propulsion.

I favor using the wood Aleutian paddles that I’ve made, but any commercial euro paddle with somewhat narrow blades will work well. Unless you’re young, never had shoulder injuries and are very strong I suggest avoiding euro blades with high blade area. While they are more powerful/faster, and better in white water, greater blade area stresses the body more on long paddles. I greatly value the slight flexibility of my wood paddles for reducing stress on my old damaged body, but that trait will be hard to find in composite euro blades.


Personal experience
I sometimes drive my Bell Magic with a dbl blade Bending Branches. Windy conditions at Assateague are the best applications I have found for the dbl. Otherwise I have to agree with CEW regarding long days with the double - It wears one down, at least in the longer length I use (260 cm if memory serves). As I am not a racer, but a devout lilydipper, the single blades most assuredly offer better opportunities to loaf, er, that is, recover between strokes.


im not sure
About this long day thing. I don’t want to question Ce or kruger, but I’ve done extremely long days in canoes and kayaks alike. I may have been a tad more tired with the double blade, but I was probably 30% farther. In a ruddered boat the single blade vs double blade probably is closer, but if correction strokes are involved there is no way a single blade would offer much in the way of fatigue relief. Just my opinion.

In my Summersong I use the same onno wing I use in my qcc. I use it at 218 in the canoe and more like 213 in the kayak. It’s probably a tad short in the Summersong. I have dropped the seat to about 5 1/2 inches in the Summersong.

Ryan L.

You can use a double but
Some of us will point and laugh call you a lowly yakker.

Thank You All!
You are an impressive group. Each reply identified things for me to consider and information that I can use. Your courtesy and willingness to relate your experiences and recommendations to a superannuated newbie to solo boats is, to use an overworked word, awesome…and all that wisdom couched in such literate and humorful prose! As I look out my window and see a mixture of rain and snow falling upon already snowy and icy streets (and upon the hull of a boat atop my truck), I’m nonetheless feeling great because you’ve made my day! You’ve given me much to think about and much to anticipate. Thanks, again, to each of you.

Dropped seat
I did the same in my Summersong, dropped it all the way down. I’ve got long arms, so my setting on my wing works fine.

I really need a 220, but I don’t really spend that much time in the Summersong. My wing is a 218-208 and I can’t justify the need for a bigger one yet. I am usually just lillydipping around in it anyway. I use it when I’m boating for the scenery.

Ryan L.

“Lowly Yakker”

– Last Updated: Jan-17-12 8:11 PM EST –


With my deteriorating hearing, I probably won't hear the laughter as I paddle past you and then pull away using my double blade. All the time I will be thinking "why did the fool forget the other half of his paddle?"


You might pass me Dave.
You might not.

If you do it will be because you are a stronger faster paddler than I, not because you are using a double and I a single.

I’ll still be laughing in either case.

single and double blade paddles
Hi Tommy,

Beyond the advantages of single vs, double blade paddle (on which we apparently have differing opinions as to which is faster) I could pass you because of the speed advantage of a narrower hull (my kayak or canoe) vs. a wider canoe hull (your canoe). The Sound Rowers Association ranks kayaks for most races using a ratio of length to width. My 16’ narrow (22") kayak or my narrow Rapidfire will be faster than a 16’ wider (28"-35") canoe.

Whatever, enjoy paddling your canoe with your single blade. In the end that enjoyment is more important than whatever equipment makes whatever craft somewhat faster. If I hear laughter as I’m paddling by in my canoe or kayak with my Aleutian paddle I’ll know I have met you.