Paddle advice for Pungo 120

Hello - We have two new Pungo 120s, and bought Aqua Bound Stingray Hybrid 230cm paddles. The kayaks are 29" wide, and we’re having some issues with hitting the sides of the boats with the paddles, and having to row at pretty high angles to get a good speed going.

Kayaker 1: 5’9", torso height 30"
Kayaker 2: 6’, torso height 33"

Our dealer has been great, and has suggested they could swap for Bending Branches Slice Hybrid Plus, which is adjustable and can extend out to 240cm.

We’re new to kayaking (and to the Pungos). Should we improve our technique, or swap for longer paddles? Are there other models we should be looking at? Advice from Pungo owners is extra-appreciated!

Thank you!

I think your dealer is trying to make a sale. If you can comfortably reach the water with your existing paddles, why change? 240 cm is long for most paddlers.
I started with a 240 and it was fine in my rec boat but really hurt my shoulders in a sea kayak.
Have you been shown hou to paddle correctly?


There’s no right answer, but I can say that my first kayak was 28 inches wide and I’m 6 feet tall, so similar to your Kayaker 2. I started with a 240 cm paddle and found it just felt too long. A 230 felt much better.

The Stingray and Slice paddles sound similar in construction and claim the same 30.5 oz weight. But the Slide has wider blades that will require a little more power from the paddler. I think the Stingray is considered to have fairly small blades, making it easier to pull through the water. And i saw that Bending Branches markets the Slice for “high angle” paddling which generally would lead to a little shorter paddle. That might influence your decision.

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230 cm is about right for those kayaks. I would vote for getting some instruction before changing paddles. Almost no one inherently has good paddling technique without instruction - you’ll be amazed what you will learn!


Thanks! I could definitely stand to learn more about good technique. Took one two-hour class that included paddling basics, but open to learning more for sure.

Find a video showing you that the proper stroke is a PUSH not a pull. With the blade in the water , your upper hand should be pushing with your lower hand guiding and lifting.
It is not intuitive . It is better to see it than read about it. It transfers the force into your chest and abs and out of your arms. Even after I learned it, I would revert to pulling when I got tired.

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Study videos of the forward stroke. Proper technique is essential for efficiency and will reduce the chance of injury while increasing your enjoyment on the water. Avoid carrying the forward stroke too far back. While it feels like you are accomplishing a lot, it is called shoveling water. It wastes energy.

The proper length of the paddle is when, during the majority of the forward stroke, the entire blade of the paddle is fully in the water, no more and no less. You also should not be hitting the side of the boat.

Paddles are designed to be optimally used with a high or low angle style for maximal efficiency. Decide which paddle you want. While the high angle style is a bit more efficient, it is an aggressive style and puts more strain on the shoulders. It also uses muscles in a slightly different way than most people are used to and will be more tiring until your conditioning gets accustomed to it. The overwhelming majority of non-competition paddles use a low angle style.

The optimal paddle for you will depend on your body dimensions, boat dimensions, and personal preference.

A 230 should be fine.

My wife and I both had Pungo 120s as our first kayaks about 10 years ago. We were both in our early 60’s and in fairly good shape with no medical issues. At 6’ 0" I used a 230cm Aquabound Stingray. At 5’ 0" she chose a 220cm Stingray, the shortest length they make. We paddled in a low angle style and the Stingrays were fine although I do remember that at first we did hit the sides of the boats a little with the paddles.

After about a year we took some classes, traded in the Pungos for 24" wide, 13’ and 14’ Current Designs boats, and realized that we both much preferred a higher angle style of paddling. Consequently after talking with a paddling coach we went with a 210cm Werner Cyprus for me and a 200cm Cyprus for her. We’ve been using both for quite a while now while the two Stingrays hang on our garage wall as “loaners”.

So, my advice would be to sort out your technique before investing in new - especially longer - paddles.

By the way, I thought that as recreational kayaks, and within their design limitations, the Pungos were excellent boats. We only traded them because we became interested in more challenging paddling conditions and we felt we needed safer, more capable kayaks. Consider adding float bags - available from NRS - inside the front of the kayaks for added safety.

What I’ve noticed with a lot of novice kayakers is the tendency to paddle by windmilling the arms with their upper torso fixed in place (this is often called “arm paddling”). In wider boats that usually results in hitting the sides of the boat. There are a lot of on line videos that demonstrate torso rotation for kayak paddling – this one is interesting in that it suggests some simple tricks to get the feel for how you should be using your upper body to efficiently move your paddle to propel yourself better and in a manner that won’t strain your arm and shoulder muscles.

I’m 6’ and paddle a Pungo 120. I’ve paddled with both a 230 and a 240. I do fine with both. I agree with most comments, give it a bit of time and your paddling may improve. I know my daughter banged her boat a lot when she started paddling her own kayak, but she doesn’t do it much anymore. I’ve been very happy with my Pungo. It’s a VERY comfortable yak and I’ve had a ton of fun. It’s quick enough but not a rocket by any means. If it feels like it takes a LOT of effort to go really fast, you may be trying to go faster than the boat wants to go. Enjoy those boats. You may indeed decide you need a different paddle, but I wouldn’t get in any big hurry. Keep paddling and see what preferences develop.


I had a similar problem with the Pungo 12s and it was mitigated with the addition of a foam pad on the seat. I bought the Yugo exercise pad sold on Amazon, in the extra large size which is 2.25 inches thick. The foam is grippy and UV resistant. P.S. Of the half-dozen recreational kayaks that I have paddled extensively, the Pungo 12 is my favorite.