New Canoe Paddle - Suggestions?

I’m thinking about getting another canoe paddle, and I’m looking for ideas. For reference, I paddle a Bell Yellowstone Solo, and usually paddle rivers up to a low class II, and lakes.

Right now, I only have two paddles - a Nashwaak Cruiser in Ash, and an inexpensive but super light Old Town resin-tipped beavertail which paddles beautifully, especially for a $50 paddle. I usually use the Nashwaak in deeper water, and the Old Town in shallow water, rocky rivers, and for going upstream because it’s lighter. I’d like a do it all paddle, on the lighter side, straight shaft, preferably a beavertail, and preferably wood. Anything under $125 is fair game. Pretty much something to complement the Nashwaak, or to be used as a primary paddle in shallow or rocky rivers. The Old Town could be used as a spare for anything, or as a primary if fatigue is an issue.

There’s a Bending Branches I can get locally that looks like it would fit the bill nicely, but I’d like to entertain other thoughts as well first.

So with that said, any suggestions?

Both of your paddles are of the
long, narrow blade variety. That may be fine depending upon your paddling style and where you paddle. Adding a wider, shorter blade to your quiver would give you some flexibility. If you paddle in areas with shallow water, it’s hard to get much surface area in the water with those long blades.

As to one paddle that does it all, there is no such thing.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Woodstrip Canoes

almost 100% certain that …

– Last Updated: May-03-11 6:54 PM EST –

...... your Old Town Beavertail (if it's a more modern laminated one) is the exact same paddle as the Carlisle 8" Beavertail , just has the Old town name (sticker) on it instead of Carlisle .

Johnson Outdoors owns them all for sometime now .

I've ordered a couple of the Carlisle 8" Beavertail by phone directly from Old Town in past years .

Thought I'd never see the day here on when someone other than myself would even mention the Carlisle (Old Town) 8" Beavertail paddle , let alone have nothing but good things to say about like I do . They're just great all around utilty paddles that are light , strong and comfortable to use .

It is a very nice handling paddle isn't it ?? I have about 5 of them in different lengths and they are my main use paddles . 3 are Carlisle stickered and 2 are Old town stickered .

As the length of these paddles increase , so does the blade length . For example the 54" paddles have a 23-1/2" blade (tip to top of throat ... the 57" has a 24-1/2" blade ... the 60" is like 25-1/4" blade . All measure about 7-5/8" - 3/4" in width (not really 8") .

Maybe you might be wanting a ZRE (carbon) soon ... do ya think it's time to go for it ??

Marc O. (Dogpaddle) makes really , really nice paddles , I have one of his earlier ones ... maybe you should consider a custom paddle from Marc O. .

I would suggest you change blade
shapes for river work and lighten up the paddle for swinging across the bow for cross strokes.

I am using several paddles. One of my recent favorites is the Bending Branches Espresso ST.

I prefer a shorter wider paddle for river work and suggest that you might like an 8" width.

I have two of Marcs fine paddles but its me…I hate to subject an expensive paddle to abuse re rocks.I am hard on paddles.

The Grey Owl Voyageur works well on moving water too but the Grey Owl Sugar island might be better. I only paid $30 for the former…

Look at various grips. T grips give better control on moving water but symmetrical pears are more comfortable against your hand for lake paddling.

for bashing rocks
go get yourself an AB Edge. In carbon, still under $125. I’ve got a 2 glass, 2 in carbon.Aaron lost one 56", I sold another 54" with the C-1’s, kept the 58"s. If we ever get together, I’ll let you try them.

Got a Werner Rec in 58" you could try as well. C’mon up and run the farmington with me sometime.

espresso- whiskey jack
I own an espresso, and a whiskey jack chaser. I like the feel of the whiskey alot better, but the espresso is more durable. Both are great paddles.

I agree with changing shape
A mammaltail paddle is the opposite of the most effective shape for shallow water. Wider paddles or teardrop shape paddles will grab more water.

I am a proponent of buying the best paddle for the circumstances and then using it. If it’s wood, that means it should get beat up over time in rocky rivers. Wood is easily repaired and refinished.

I like Sawyer paddles as general rule more than Bending Branches or Foxworx. The cedar Voyageur is a light paddle that is good on rivers and lakes. Order direct and they will customize to your length and even give you a choice of T or other grips if you don’t like the standard palm grip.

A bent shaft would also give you more paddle variety. I recommend Gillespie Paddles for a wood bent or a wood/carbon hybrid.

Mitchell Seneca

not a bashing paddle, but an absolutely amazing all round paddle, from flat to big water lakes and rivers. light, stiff, strong and incredible feel. get a Mitchell, you won’t regret it.

even though 3 style are similar to the 2 you already have, the 4th “marty brown” is a bit diff. Look at these from dri-ki woodworking, great price, great product, I have a beaver tail I love, and carry a plastic cheapee for shallow parts of rivers/spare paddle. I have a maine guide comeing and am ordering a marty brown soon to replace the plastic as a back up/river paddle.

I have two from Porter that I’ve had
for more than twenty years and were possibly made by that guy. They are a bit heavy for me now, but are very nicely crafted in the traditional style by someone who’d been at it for awhile. I’ve had mine everywhere and still take my guide paddle with me up to Moosehead every year where it belongs.

I don’t know how Dri-K makes a living at those prices, but I agree that his paddles, while throwbacks, are a great value.

Need Data
Until you tell us what hull you paddle and your stance in it, whether you sit or kneel, we are just passing gas in the wind, except I do agree with the suggestion that you try a modern blade shape.

I did mention
that I paddle a Bell Yellowstone Solo. I kneel in it. I’m 5’7" tall with average dimensions.

I’m a GP’er in sea kayaks, so the “modern blade” stuff doesn’t mean anything to me - I know old designs work just as well, and sometimes better. I’m not into heavy whitewater, and even when I do paddle WW, it’s not often, or hardcore.

I’m looking for versatility, as I already have one specialized paddle, made for cruising in deeper water, and one that’s pretty versatile that was originally intended to be a comptetent spare.

you still did not specify
if you are a sitter or a kneeler. Bent shafts are more efficient for sitters and straights for kneelers and river work.

I did
Look above. I kneel, which is why I’m looking for a straight shaft paddle.

Based on what you’ve shared,
I don’t see how you can go too far wrong with Kim’s suggestion of the BB Espresso ST. I think you’ll find that the squared-off end, compared to what you’re used to, will help in shallower moving water.

Kneeling, shapes
I’ve always been a kneeler, but primarily use bent shafts for straight ahead paddling on FW whether I’m sitting or kneeling. To me, they seem more efficient for straight ahead kneel paddling, including both paddling single-sided correction stroke or switch paddling for powerering up currents or in winds.

Of course, you may like your beavertail for FW.

The more “modern” shapes are simply the rectangular shapes you can see in the Sawyer and Mitchell links, or the squashed shape of a racing blade you can see in many of the Gillespie bent blades.

I have many Mitchell paddles and recommend them highly for WW paddles. Their FW paddles are a little heavier than the Sawyer FW’s because they use more ash. Their best FW paddle is the hybrid Surreal, IMO. But it’s expensive unless you can find a deal.

The tips and edges are where you usually bash river paddles the most, so Sawyer and some other companies will surround the blade with very tough resin-plastic tips and edgings.

It’s really a matter of total overall feel. The blade shape may be the one you want, but the shaft may be too stiff or whippy, or you many not like a grip. Some paddlers like T grips for control in moving water, and just about all dedicated WW paddles use T grips. Lighter weight is important to me but not at all costs.

sorry! NM

not only are my replies going
where I didn’t want (aargh) I just wanted to point out that “modern” squarish paddles transmit turning forces quite a bit more than your traditional paddles do. When you get a wider paddle any force on the edge is magnified. This can make your life easier for turning your YS and can make it harder if your correction on your forward is a little off.

Its kind of like comparing GP to a wide Euro one. Wide short blades may accelerate faster too but have a more tiring effect in the long run.

yeah, the price is fantastic, which is why i have been suggesting them to anyone that has asked me, plus the paddles are quality. I plan on ordering a second guide, and a marty brown soon…

Funny you should mention
GP’s - I was out canoeing last night, and grabbed an old GP that I had broken years ago that was the same length as my canoe paddles. I sanded down the broken edge to make a grip, and used it to paddle my YS.

It worked just fine as a canoe paddle in flatwater, but you have to put it real deep in the water to get a good bite. It was a fun thing to try.