Paddle Flutter

What causes paddle flutter?

Loose grip
A firm grip works for me, eliminates any wobbling.

Perhaps you need to use a “smaller” paddle blade ?

not loose grip
there is a bit from Nick Schade of Guillemot Kayaks here.

there are also threads about GP flutter which can also be eliminated by canting the paddle/

What is
canting the paddle?

its tipping the top of the blade
forward. I have only felt flutter in a Greenland paddle and so can’t speak to the Euro paddle remarks.

I have found that some paddles flutter no matter how they are held and drawn through the water.

I have only had an occasional paddle that fluttered during the power phase of a forward stroke. I have had quite a few that fluttered when sliced through the water as during an in-water recovery or a Canadian stroke.

Perhaps Marc O. or another paddle designer and maker explain why this occurs.

Is caused by unbalanced forces and elasticity in a system.

Warning! Vast simplification:

An ideal paddle would only produce force that moves the boat forward.

Real paddles however also produce forces up and down (kayak paddles) or left and right (canoe paddles).

If the up and down forces aren’t equal and opposite for the entire stroke the paddle will move up and down, and as it moves the forces change, making it move more.

A loose grip does not cause it, but a firm grip can control it.

Unbalanced forces due to …
Yes, unbalanced forces cause the flutter, but as Nick Schade wrote in the thread linked to above, the unbalanced forces are caused by alternate vortex shedding from the sides of the blades. Elasticity will be present in any paddle to varying extent, but is not a necessary condition for flutter to occur - it will exacerbate it, however.

Above by Schade, and…
trying to force some paddles to work in a way other than intended will cause flutter. Epic Active Tour blades, for example, will flutter if used at too low an angle, that kind of thing. Other paddles are less fussy - Aquabonds tend to be less so in my experience.

This probably fits into the dynamics talked about by Schade and others above.

Can use my better paddles with a very loose grip and no flutter, so tight grips don’t have much to do with stopping flutter.

Zero flutter
and I have a loose grip on my wing paddles. My Bending Branches wooden kayak paddle does flutter a bit.

I find bigger blades paddled hard tend to wobble on the power stroke. I suspect that has to do with the shaft flexing and unloading to alternate sides through the power stroke.

Lots of paddles flutter during slicing/inwater recovery. Curiuosly those same paddles do not flutter when sculling. That I guess would indicate that loading one face damps the flutter.

I call it wobble when the blade pulls side to side at a very low frequency (1-30 hz) and flutter when the blade vibrates at a higher frequency (30-200 hz).

My Mitchels don’t wobble but they do flutter.

My Zav does neither.

for me
the worst paddle I ever had was a Camp ultralight bent shaft with a very small balsa-filled blade. That paddle could not be used for a forward stroke with anything more than very light force without severe flutter.

There didn’t seem to be anything “wrong” with the paddle to visual inspection.

Camp paddles were made by Al and Joan Camp and became what is now FoxWorx paddles under different owners.

Tommy, what Mitchell blades flutter for
you? My slalom blade doesn’t flutter, and my similar Clinch River curved blades don’t flutter.

“It’s all in the wrist…”

Mitchell Coastal …

– Last Updated: Jun-14-11 1:55 PM EST –

This paddle vibrates when doing slicing strokes (in-water recovery for instance). I've never experienced this with another paddle. Does not "flutter" during normal forward stroke, regardless of how hard I pull on it. My definition for "flutter" is probably what was defined above as a "wobble": the slow, couple of Hz frequency, since that is what most of us think about when talking flutter -;)

My Werner Desperado WW paddle also tends to flutter if pulled straight back. If I apply some slice to the motion (either in a wing-style outward or a GP-canted stroke style down/in-ward, the flutter disappears).

Most GPs will flutter too, if just pulled with no cant (canted in or out, does not matter - both eliminate flutter). Thinner more flexible blades seem to do it more for me.

I've also thought that a straight-shaft Werner Cyprus was less stable during normal forward stroke and required more attention to not flutter. The bent-shaft version of the Cyprus or my Lendal Kinetic both place the blade forward of the shaft - they offer notably more stability for the blade in the water during a forward stroke and less tendency to flutter.

Of course, my wing paddle does not flutter -;)