Northwoods stroke

A friend of mine is switching from fast boats with bent shafts to a Hemlock Eaglet and he’s interested in the Northwoods stroke. I imagine this has come up in the past but I could not find any good advice searching old posts and a Google search didn’t give much in the way of useful guidance.

Can anyone give a straightforward description (and pictures?) of the Northwoods stroke? Something about minimal torso rotation, using the lower hand only as a fulcrum, and pushing forward with top hand to engage all muscles? No?

I paddled a Montreal canoe on the Detroit River with some real Canadian paddlers recently and the small woman in front of me had an amazing stroke where her whole body kind of rotated gently constantly and she paddled like a machine for over 5 full hours (20 km+) straight and when we finally got back to the put-in she said “who wants to keep paddling?”.

There is lots of torso rotation in the
Northwoods stroke.

Try this website

the link might not take you to the direct page… I used the path “Paddle Grips” then clicked on the hyperlink Northwoods stroke.

Dout Ingram has lots of other good info on his website.

Keep up the practice. Go very slow to start. It takes time to get up to a fast cadence. The movement is quite unlike what you may be used to. It took me a full year of practice to do it intuitively and every year there is a day of “rust”

I really appreciate the link, it’s hard to find any usable guidance. I hope you can tolerate some follow-up questions…especially since it may be a few months until we can practice up here in Michigan.

It looks as though the paddle never really gets in front of the paddler and it looks like the paddle is allowed to get way behind the paddler after the power stroke and it looks like one can just forget about “stacked hands” for this stroke!

Is this stroke OK for solo paddlers in solo canoes and do you do it with paddles with “normal” grips or just paddles with Northwoods grips? And what’s the deal with the Northwoods grip…do you put your top hand at various positions along the grip or just choose the one position that feels most comfortable?

Sorry for all the questions!

no stacking
for this stroke vertical is redefined… the usual blade is long ish and thinish.

The stroke is very very short…about a foot.

The plant IS vertical, but think of vertical from side to side of the paddle…then its a little dip of water, like scooping ice cream, only make the dip a foot wide then slice back that foot for your recovery…the slice back is where you get the correction with the leading edge of the blade angled downward.

The paddle shaft can rest on your leg or your gunwale. Either is used as a fulcrum and your shaft hand should move little.

The top wrist is usually draped over the paddle though you could be at the end. Why is it often draped? Because this stroke is often used with five to six foot long paddles…which are way too long sitting. A variable grip allows you to still use this long paddle.

Northwoods stroke is commonly used on Maine rivers where you have to stand and paddle sometimes and then you want to sit

Power comes from torso rotation and if you are tired using your body weight to bob to and fro and throw your body weight into the stroke.

You could use it in a solo canoe. The Canadian Stroke is very similar but at a slower cadence and more vertical and thats what I pfefer.

I mess around in boats with odd combos sometimes. I paddle a Loon Works Nakoma with a Greenland paddle and use the Northwoods stroke in between working on my sliding stroke.

thanks again
Awesome feedback, very helpful. Thank you!

It hit 31 today and there are a couple of put-ins that aren’t iced up on the local river and now I want to get out and play. I need much practice before attemping this stroke (these strokes?) around real Canadians!