New paddle advice needed

-- Last Updated: May-28-08 3:37 PM EST --

Hi, I am planning on buying a new paddle and have always had straight shafts. I am thinking of going with a bent shaft this time and have never used one. I heard they are more efficient but would hate to buy and not like it. I almost always will be paddling a canoe loaded with a weeks worth of camping gear.
I am a strong paddler so a big blade is good and I will be on calm to mild lakes and rivers. I am thinking of a Sawyer or ? , Any input or advice is appreciated. Thanks, Bill

If you ever get one in your hands, you will not want to turn it lose.

2nd The Zaveral
It may hit you as a little pricy, ($200-$250) but it is well worth it.

Don’t let the weirdness of the bent shaft throw you. It’s easy to make the ajustment and control your boat on a river as well as flat water.

And don’t be shy of going with a narrower blade that you may have been using.

When you first use a bent shaft, you may wonder what the excitement is all about. The longer the day, the more you’ll appreciate the merits of the bent shaft.

Is there anyone around who will let…
you try a bent shaft one?

Like most other canoe paddlers, I started with a straight shaft and it wasn’t until I got into racing that I went with a bent.

Now the only time I use a straight shaft is if there is no bent one around, such as at a rental place.

I can do a J stroke and all the other correction strokes with my bent shaft ZAV and weather I am lilly dipping in a swamp or going all out in a race I prefer my bent shaft one.

Just remember, don’t embarass yourself. Keep it pointed in the right direction !



New Paddle
I’ll second Eric’s comments and add a few of my own.

If you like going straight and fast a bent may well be in your future. Asa Eric noted, the proper way to use one efficiently is to sit on a seat, feet out in front with something to brace against and learn the hit and switch method of paddling.

If you are like me and like to spend your time poking around the edges of lakes and ponds, or traveling up and down twisty streams, playing the nuances of the eddys stick with a straight. Straights allow you the ability to efficiently side slip, post, axel etc. With a straight you can paddle either on your knees for maximum boat control, or sitting occasionally while you relax.

As many might suggest, keep one of each in the boat. You should generally carry a spare paddle anyway.

If you want to explore all of the possibilities that a good straight shaft will allow, consider attending a freestyle symposium. Demonstrations and instruction are available at all levels. You’ll leave a better paddler and with new friends as a bonus. Check out for more info.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom paddles and cedar strip canoes

Biased toward wood
I will state my bias up front. I have never tried a carbon shaft and doubt I ever will. That said I have used several wood paddles; Sawyer, Foxworx, and Whiskeyjack. My current favorite is the Whiskeyjack Whiskey River. It is a bent shaft and is very light. I use it for getting from A to B and I paddle seated hit and switch. The Foxworx Microlight is also a very nice paddle.

I also use a double bent when I am fishing and not worried about covering ground. The double bend acts more like a straight shaft.

Thanks Everyone !!!
All good advice . Thank you all for helping me out. I will be trying a bent soon. Happy paddling. Bill