paddle length for low versus high angle

So I am looking at getting a kayak paddle and plan to use it with a 21" wide seakayak (I am 6’). Now I know I need to try them with the kayak, but I do not have it yet! (has been ordered).

The question is, “do I need a different length paddle for low verus high angle paddeling, and would that make an adjustable length paddle ideal?”. Sometimes I will just be crusing the coast (low angle), other times I will be trying to fly accross river outlets when the outgoing tide is strong, or just to make good time (high angle).

Have been going to manufactures web sites and have been getting contradictory recommendations. Mitchel says for a 6’ person use 230cm for both styles but difererent for shorter people, others say longer for low angle, shorter for high angle, other say the opposite!

Any real world advice is appreciated-Thanks

Trend Is For Shorter Paddles
and higher angle strokes. Even if you want to relax, you don’t need to go a low angle stroke. Just adjust your cadence.

I hazard to say 220 cm would work for you. I see folks taller go with 215 even.

Try someone’s shorter paddle before you buy.


Being taller
gives you an advantage in using one length paddle for both high and low angle. I am 6’2" and I use a 230 for both. I have a 230 Toksook that I use strictly low angle and a 230 Whetstone Carbon/Glass that I switch up. I also have a 220 Whetstone that works well for me in narrow boats (my Artisan is 21 3/4").

On the rare times that I am not using
my GP, I use a 215 cm Werner Kauai. I also own but don’t normally use a couple of 230 cm paddles and a 240 cm Toksook.

As Sing mentioned, the trend is now towards shorter paddles. Nigel Foster who is probably 6’ tall uses a 210 cm paddle.

If you prefer low angle paddling, there is nothing to prevent you from changing to a high angle stroke when needed. Out here in California, many people do that when they are launching through surf and need an extra bit of acceleration.

Borrow or rent some paddles and see what feels good to you. In my opinion, variable length and variable feather paddles are just marketing gimmicks.

Your height is not the only variable
Torso length and arm length are probably both more important. Which means you really should try a paddle before you buy. What I would do is find someone who will loan you a paddle temporarily so you can at least paddle the boat when it arrives. Even better get several loaners. If you can’t get a loaner or two, buy a less expensive break down paddle that will work for you but may not be ideal. Maybe 210 or 220 if you have a short torso for your height, 220 or at most 230 if you have a longer torso. Use it later for a backup paddle when you finally get the more expensive one that works best. This is, of course, based on the absolutely false assumption that you only need one paddle and a backup. Like boats, you can never have too many paddles. Especially when someone comes along and needs to try one out because they are buying a boat.

You CAN determine the best for you!
No one can or should tell you what length is right but you.

Get paddle of several lengths. Get in your boat with your seat and place yourself in the start position with your torso rotated in the manner in which you actually paddle. Use the most highest angle you will want for a power stroke.

Place the paddle in the water with arm extended but not locked.

The whole blade should be in the water BUT NO MORE. If more, too long a paddle, if not all in, need longer one.

Then if you paddle with a somewhat lower angle only slightly more paddle will be in the water.

This is your “home base” from there you can vary the length plus or minus 5 cm to suit your taste style. If you like power paddling go with the above, if mostly low angle paddler you can use a slightly longer paddle.


Paddle Length
There are more variables to consider. Someone talked about torso and arm length and I believe that is more important than height. The type of blade that the paddle has is important because optimum is to have the top of the blade at the water level or just below. And the type of boat you have counts as the beam grows the length of the paddle grows. And your paddle angle is important.

I started with a 220 and after about a year I bought a 215 Onno paddle. The Onno also has longer blades than the Lightning I used prior so the Onno needs to be buried further to have the top of the blade at the water level. I have played around with my Lightning and to keep my stroke the same as with the Onno I have shortened it to 210.

Shorter paddles assist in a more comfortable high angle stroke. I thought the best advice posted was to try several paddles before buying.

Happy Paddling,


Thanks for the advice-Very helpful
Thanks for all the information and guidence, will put it to good use when I get my kayak!

Paddle sizing
I have been using a method of paddle sizing for several years now with mostly positive results. I made a short video clip that explains it. You can view at

Once on the page click on key elements videos and you will see paddle sizing.


Epic paddle wizard

– Last Updated: Feb-25-06 10:00 PM EST –

is working. You can click on your type of boat, your height, weight, paddling style, seat height & paddle preference. It would be a great starting point! For me, the big thing is not to be overgeared. Not only is it less efficient, but will be harder on joints. I started over 20 years ago with a 218 Euro in a K-1 & now use a 213 wing in a Thunderbolt. Adj. is really nice for switching boats & if you need to shuttle in a car where a one piece won't fit. Good luck & have fun. http://www.epic

Paddle Length
FWIW, I am 6’ 6" and have a high angle style and paddle a 220 cm AB Manta Ray. My boat is 22.5 in wide. I think this is about the right size for my 35-36" arm/sleeve length. I have been told that a good way to size a paddle is to grip the paddle with your arms/elbows at right angles. Your hands should be about 4 to 6" above the top of the blade. The blades are all the same size (in a specific model) so the length of the shaft that accomplishes the 4-6 inch rules is the right size.

For High Angle paddles, the blades are typically about 5 cm shorter (per blade) than an equivalent low angle blade, so if you size a high angle blade, a low angle blade will likely be about 10 cm longer.

Like I said, I paddle a 220 cm AB Manta Ray (High Angle Blade) with blade dimensions of 7.25 X 18. I also paddle a 230 AB Mariner (Low Angle), blade dimensions 6.5 X 20. Shaft length on both paddles is the same.


Like many, esp sing and bigyaker, say
Nigel Foster, in his DVD, is 6 foot one inches and uses a 216 cm paddle. It sticks in my mind because, obviously, it is a custom paddle length. He has a high angle Euro style paddle and stroke.

a custom length. Up to a couple of years ago, Lendal paddles came in 2 cm incriments standard. I have a 214 I use. I also have a 216. sold the 218 I had. too long

Best Wishes


I used a 230 Werner Camano for years and I never had any kind of problems with tendonitis, shoulders, wrist or any thing else.

I felt I was missing out on something since everyone was going to shorter and shorter paddles.

I got a 220 and since the very first 1/2 hour I used it, I have had problems with shoulder pain, muscle tears or something in my upper arm.

After doing some early season exercise paddles the last few weeks, I seem to have a little muscle pain in my upper arm again.

I drug out my old 230 yesterday and it felt soo good. No pain and it felt so much smoother and efficient.

I had been thinking maybe I need to go with a 215 high angle model, but my test paddles with them have not felt right.

Now I feel like maybe my trusty old 230 is the way to go.

It just shows that paddles are a very personal thing. Everyones body, cadence, style, are different.

I think it is good advice not to invest too much money in a really high end paddle until you are sure you have the right size and type. You can’t rely 100% on the fit charts.

I think there are a lot of aspects of kayaking that tend to be a little bit faddish. What everybody else is using is not always the best choice for the individual.

I think you need to keep this in mind when reading equipment reviews on everything from boats to paddles to dry/wet suits, etc.

I happen to be 5’10" with a very long torso and I paddle a 22" wide boat.

I still plan to experiment with some shorter paddles, but I have a feeling I’m going to end up

going retro and return to my 230.

what length paddle?
Best birthday present in years was the telescoping Bending Branches Breeze I got from hubby. I find changing the length and going low angle at times and higher angle at others is helping my sore tendons. It’s a simple design and works great for me.

Other Idea for Multi-length paddles
Buy two 2-piece versions of the same paddle at two different lengths; this will give you three different effective paddle lengths.

Let’s say you buy paddles at 220 and 230cm. Each by itself is it’s own length. Take a section of the 220 and couple it to a section of the 230, result is a 225 ish paddle. More extreme would be a 220 and 240, then you get a 240, 230, and 220.

Since a lot of people carry a spare paddle, whatever two sections you dont use, store as your “spare” on your boat. You can always “adjust” as needed during a paddle.


How is the balance when you mix halves
of different length paddles?

Doesn’t work with AB paddles …
and probably other good quality paddles. Each half is custom matched, so the hole for the feather/lock may not line up. I know this because I had to send my entire paddle back to AB when I broke one half of the shaft.


Balance Point

– Last Updated: Feb-27-06 12:00 PM EST –

The balance point of the "composite" paddle (mix of halves of the long and short paddles) will be slightly off compared to that of the two individual paddles. I am defining the balance point as the point on the shaft where the paddle balances the two blades.

The swing weight won't be affected since the blades and shaft to the blade is the same. I don't think the balance point difference would be noticable to the paddler unless one went from say a 250 to 200 paddle to make a 225.

The Blending Branches paddle that was mentioned above has a variable balance point depending on the adjusted length. This is because the soild/heavy portion of the ferrule remains "fixed" in its distance from its corresponding blade compared to the blade on the adjusted/non-ferrule side.

The intent of my original point was, if your going to get a second paddle as a "spare", why not get a longer or shorter one of the same model that you currently have. That way you can effectively have three paddle lengths from two paddles. The 2 for 3 option allows you a "back up", and an option to make other legnths easily as conditions change. Getting a different model/manufacturer, may not allow you the option to mix and match.


Works with my AB paddles
I can even mix my AB Mariner (Low Angle All Carbon) with my ABX Manta Ray (High Angle). Both have C-fiber shafts but the Mariner is Fabric/Twill weave whereas the Manta-Ray has the wound pattern.

I don’t think the problem is with the alignment hole/button. The issue may be that the ferrule male and female are “matched” to slide together without binding.