Paddle Help

-- Last Updated: Apr-29-16 6:29 PM EST --

Hi everybody, I'm new here and just purchased a WS Zephyr 160 Pro. I'm 6'0" 210lb, pretty muscular with long arms. Is it possible to purchase a paddle without trying them first? I don't know if I'm a high angle or low angle paddler so I wouldn't mind buying one of each.

I've pretty much settled on the Camano paddle for the low angle paddle. Will I see a difference between the the fiberglass and the carbon version of the paddle? It looks like the weight difference is minimal. What length would be appropriate and straight or bent shaft?

For the high angle paddle it's between the Corryvreckan and the Shuna. Again, what length and bent or straight shaft?

I'll be using the kayak on the Great Lakes, smaller inland lakes, BWCA, and the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. This is my first kayak and I realize I have a lot to learn. This place is full of information so I'll be doing a lot of reading! If anybody could walk me through the paddles and the decisions surrounding them I'd be very grateful. Thanks!!!

Don’t really need two paddles up front

– Last Updated: Apr-29-16 7:46 PM EST –

If you think that you want to paddle on the great lakes and do some aggressive paddling stick with a high angle paddle technique. Either of the Werner paddles are fine. I like a bigger blade paddle, but for a lot of people starting out moving a lot of water puts a lot of strain on muscles, joints and tendons. Might be best to stick with the smaller blade starting out.

If you think you want to lilly dip on flat water go with a long low angle paddle. Another manufacturer to look at is Aquabound, you might be able to get a lighter paddle in carbon for the same money.

If you are going to paddle where a broken paddle is going to keep you from getting home or off the water buy a used take down paddle as a back-up. I'm not a big fan of Werner paddle blades, my spare paddle is a four piece Werner Play, I also take it on the airplane for trips. I bought it from an outfitter used for about $80. It's had some use but is solid.

If you really get into kayaking you are eventually going to own a quiver of paddles, but to get started you just need one fairly light, well made paddle.

The Greenlanders will now comment below.

I’d go from either the Shuna or Cyprus if you’re looking at Werner. Good all-around paddle for a mid/high-angle paddler. I paddle with a 205cm Cyprus with my Tempest 170. I think the Corryvreckan would be overkill for you. For me, as far as going for the carbon fiber, once I tried the ones my paddling buddies had, YES, you do notice a weight difference, even if on paper it seems like a small difference. Price-wise, you’re essentially dishing out either $150 for heavy fiberglass, $300(ish) for a half and half, or $400 for full carbon, so I figured I’d just pull the trigger and get the full carbon. My spare paddle is a low-angle fiberglass one, and to be honest I’ve never used it - it really is just a spare should something happen to me out there.

Werner has a pale length chart
On their Web site. Recommended length considering boat width and paddler size.

Something to consider
Carbon paddles are also stiffer. I noticed the difference right off compared to the same paddle but in fiberglass. So besides the weight difference its also stiffer. If you can afford it go carbon. I cant recommend which paddle as I went to Greenland paddles a while ago and use a carbon Greenland paddle mainly.

Aqua bound makes paddles with
carbon shafts and glass blades for a good price at After you paddle awhile, start branching out.

Get a starter first.
Until you really settle on your paddling style, I would start with something like a Carlisle Expedition. If you move on from that, it will always be a great backup.

Personally, I would go for a glass Werner Camano with a straight shaft. Werner’s glass paddles have carbon shafts and do not flex and by the way neither do the all glass Carlisle’s. Believe me, you don’t want a flexy shaft. A straight shaft offers more options for adjusting your grip and especially when you’re feathered.

You kind of get what you pay for in paddles, but it does pay to look around on the net. The Carlise Expedition is supposed to sell for $179, but I’ve seen them for just over a hundred bucks. The Werner Camano msrp for glass is $275; I paid $197 and my buddy got his for even less.

But again, I strongly suggest that you wait a while before you jump into a higher end paddle until you’ve put lots of miles under your keel. Learn about materials and brands. Go to a paddle shop and handle a lot of paddles to see what feels right to you. Watch some YouTube videos about the forward stroke, but be prepared to be somewhat less than perfect. In time–like maybe years–you will settle in to what works best for you. No, I don’t mean it will be years before you are ready for a higher end paddle, but take your time and you’ll know when you’re ready.

If you’re like me you’ll own several nice Werner paddles then someone will let you use their Greenland paddle. Doh! Then you sell your Werners and buy a several nice Greenlands. If you plan to roll your kayak the Greenland is the tool for the job… in my humble opinion. I like the simplicity of the GP; no up or down; no power face. Turn it sideways and it zips right where you want it to go.

Personal preference
I’ve had several friends loan me their GP’s in attempts to convert me but I prefer my euro paddle. Rolling is easy with any paddle when you have technique. Just personal preference. I do think everyone should try a few and decide for themselves.

For You
Maybe for you rolling is easy with any paddle. Maybe you’re an extraordinary person. I’d argue that for most people that’s not the case.

Thanks for the input everyone! I think I’m just going to order a shuna and a camano. I’ll get one in bent shaft and the other straight shaft to see what works best for me. Any guidance on length? Are the length guides relatively accurate? Thanks again!!!

I’d take that argument
Many people can easily roll with a euro blade, whitewater paddlers do it all the time.


That’s Not My Argument
I didn’t say that many people didn’t roll well with their Euro paddles.

What I’d disagree with is this statement: “Rolling is easy with any paddle when you have technique.”

I’d argue that a wing is designed for speed and if you wanted to learn and get really good at rolling it’s a lousy tool for the job.

And any day now I expect an email from my euro paddle/whitewater neighbor asking if he can use my pool to work on his roll. (Some whitewater paddlers have lousy rolls… it can be deadly.)

I’m also 6’…
…and 195lbs, but I’m 65 so probably not as strong as you are.

My first paddle was a carbon Aquabound Stingray at 220cm. After a couple of years I then bought a Werner Cyprus 210cm as my paddling style is generally more high angle than low. I still carry the Stingray as a backup.

Especially as I have a little arthritis in my hands and wrists I much prefer the Werner cranked shaft. My wife prefers a straight shaft though and still paddles her Stingray. It’s really a personal choice and if possible you should try before you buy. I do also prefer the matte finish of the Werner shafts to the slightly abrasive Aquabounds; my wife uses hers with gloves.

You should be able to find 20% off the recommended prices if you shop around.

I guess since I learned to roll with a Euro, learning with a euro didn’t seem difficult if that makes sense. I have rolled with a Greenland too (just to test) after learning to roll. I don’t think it’s magical. If you need help with a difficult euro roll you can always do what we call a “cheater” and extend the paddle out more.

I do not paddle with a feather, for what it’s worth, so holding the paddle just right isn’t as big of a deal.

Lendal NA
XRange Kinetic : This has a real spoon face vs. dihedral. To imagine this very simply, if you drip water down on the face of a dihedral paddle, it will run off the sides. If you drip water onto the face of this paddle, it will hold it like a spoon. This gives it a firmer catch as you pull your kayak forward. (You’re not pulling your paddle through the water. You’re planting your blade, and pulling your kayak past it.) It’s a subtle spoon curve edge to edge. It’s also a great paddle for all of your maneuvering strokes. Their shafts are ovaled. Really great shaft shape and feel for controlling your blade angle, especially in rolling or re-enter and roll situations where you’re not really seeing the paddle. But I think that ovaling is even helpful on your forward stroke. Lendal NA has the best shape and feel of any composite paddle shaft on the market that I’ve ever tried.

Lendal NA also has the Storm, which I’ve heard good things about. This is a dihedral paddle. Almost all paddles are dihedral.

My favorite is still my Mitchell Black Magic. It has a good spoon curve lengthwise, but it is neither spoon nor dihedral from edge to edge of the paddle face. This gives it a great feel in maneuvering strokes - no tendency for the blade to curve either direction while slicing through the water. And the lengthwise curve gives it an easier quiet, solid catch. Wooden paddles always have a great feel to me, and this has nicely ovaled shafts to offer that same control that the Lendal NA shaft offers. Mitchell has been making their shafts nicely ovaled for as long as I can remember, and he does a really great job with it. The blades have a cedar core, but are finished out with carbon fiber. I think it’s a true example of how swing weight can make a paddle feel lighter than it actually is.

I prefer a straight shaft. No matter the shape of your paddle shaft, the angle of the piece of shaft that you are holding is going to change by the same amount. So it’s really about keeping your wrists straight, no matter what type of paddle you’re using. I like a straight shaft as it allows me to slip my hands to different positions on the shaft. I do this often, without even realizing it. So if you can learn to just keep your wrists straight, which really should be as easy with a straight shaft as a bent, a straight shaft offers some really nice advantages for me. But there are plenty that like the feel of a bent shaft.

I think high-angle and low-angle paddler definition is more of an off-the-water conversation piece. Most I paddle with have a fairly wide variation. We did some fun paddling over the weekend across Pamlico Sound, out Ocracoke Inlet, and northeast towards Hatteras, where we got beaten down by the headwind eventually, then turned around for a fast downwind run back to Ocracoke. I’m sure I used every combination of low to high angle paddle stroke. I’m never sure what I would even consider myself?

If you can do it, I’d encourage getting two paddles that you really want as your #1 paddle. You need a spare anyway. If you can afford it, just skip buying a paddle you’re pretty sure you won’t ever want as your #1. If you really shouldn’t shell out the bucks, the difference between no paddle and an inexpensive paddle is significantly greater than the difference between an inexpensive paddle and a top-of-the-line paddle. Use what you’ve got and enjoy.

so just to make sure
you didn’t mean to overreach with your “some whitewater paddlers have lousy rolls”: you’re not attributing that to the fact that euro paddles are most often used in whitewater paddling because people have found it’s the best tool for the job?

I admire your commitment to the GP. Sure, it facilitates rolling easier. But spreading falsehoods regarding difficulty of rolling with the euro doesn’t help your case. I’ve been to enough pool sessions to see that paddlers of all fitness levels can pick up a roll with their euro pretty quickly. From there it’s just a matter of practice.

Rolling and paddles
Its not hard to roll with a euro or really easier with a Greenland for a LAYBACK roll or C to C. BUT start doing forward finishing rolls or one handed rolls like a butterfly of shotgun. Or a Reverse Sweep or Continuous Storm. Way way easier with a Greenland. The Greenland is MUCH more versatile than a Euro for rolls. What I have noticed with Euro rollers is they depend way to much on the paddle itself for lift. That’s a generality does not apply to all of course.

Yes no doubt euro is the paddle for white water. That’s why I have them too.

My Experience

– Last Updated: May-04-16 5:17 PM EST –

Just sharing my experience here. My roll improved quickly when I switched to the GP. I think primarily because of the natural 'indexing'; you always feel the angle of the paddle unlike with the round shafted euro. I also appreciated the lack of drag through the water due to the absence of the spoon shape. The paddle zipped to where I aimed it instead of slogging there.

My experience at the pool... I've seen lots of folks with euro paddles struggle and never get a roll. Some keep on trying and some give up quickly. Some make progress and do well.

For the whitewater folks' sake I wish the euro was a better tool for rolling. It can mean the difference between life and death. I still wonder if the GP could be modified to provide enough 'bite' for whitewater needs and maintain the qualities needed for rolling.