Paddle Offset Angles

I just purchased my first paddle (Werner Tybee) with extensive adjustments for offset angle. I understand the advantages and disadvantages of blade offset, and appreciate that there are many variables (usage, personal style, etc.), but was hoping to get some feedback from those of you with some practical experience. Maybe your advice can shorten my trial and error time.


Hate to say this

– Last Updated: May-16-09 9:14 AM EST –

But many folks get to an angle by trial and error.

Seriously, the shortest path to a feather angle you can live with will probably be taking a good class in forward stroke and use that opportunity to try out different angles. The one suggestion I would make is to stay at or under 45 degrees because that's where most people are living these days.

Later thought - one of the reasons I stay at a very minor angle is so that I don't have to think about my left side roll in a pinch. If you already have a roll, or have had one, you may want to start with an angle that you feel might work best to preserve that.

Agree with Celia
My own journey began with 60 degree feather because that was what my instructor recommended and it was difficult to get anything else. Over the years I have moved to less and less feather. Now I am a zero degree guy. I recommend you give it a try, along with other feathers of course. If you decide to get forward stroke instruction be sure your instructor is open minded about degree of feather.

rolling and feather angle…
if you have different control hands set the blade angle when you set up for a roll then you don’t have to worry about a difference in feather angle as much. I usually have my front hand (the one closest to the bow when I am about to start a sweep roll) control the blade angle of the front blade. At some point very soon after I start the sweep the back hand controls the blade angle during the sweep.

I mention all of this because you should pick a blade angle that works for you during 99% of your paddle time, not the 1% you will probably spend rolling your kayak.

Feather and roll
Now that we are officially off track… I don’t notice any difference rolling with different angles. Once I learned bracing and rolling, the angle of the paddle became instinctual and by feel, rather than a programmed muscle memory

Paddle Offset Angles

Many thanks to all. I’ll start experimenting tomorrow.

0 degrees
I hope this doesn’t ruffle any feathers…again.

Don’t feather your blades!! From a biomechanical (and a practical) point of view, it doesn’t make sense to feather your paddle. Your body is the same on both sides. Your stroke should be the same on both sides. So, why in the world would you want to even think about feathering? It is physically impossible to have a forward stroke that is the same on both sides with a feathered paddle.

Feathering is slowly going away. More and more paddlers are reducing their feather angles one increment at a time. Many finally end up at zero. I wonder why?

Pedro Almeida

I agree with you
But there is an entrenched part of the paddling community that still insists that a feathered paddle is important. By my lights (and apparently yours) they are clearly wrong except for special circumstances. Those are racing and slalom. And you have focused on the key idea. How do you justify an asymmetry? No real answer has been given. And it is not an argument to say, well feathering is not a problem. I know how to adjust to it. That is obviously silly. But the weight of the past continues.

My paddle is only
straight or 60 degrees and I had a hard time with the 60 degrees - especially bracing. I was having to do a lot of wrist movement that was way unnatural and if I wasn’t paying 100% attention I would do a bad stroke.

so I’m thinking of trying the no feather tomorrow on our trip and if I dont like it, take the paddle back and get something that goes in 15 degree increments for more flexibility.

Original reason for offset blades
the original reason for offset blades is a (relatively) flat offside blade for bracing.

Explain that
So on the “on side”, right hand control, the blade is not flat for a brace? If it is flat, why is the “off side” different?

Offside bracing
Think of the forward stroke with feathered blades: onside blade is vertical, exerting pressure on the water, offside blade is horizontal, ready for a brace if you get bumped from your onside.

If you get bumped from the onside with unfeathered blades, you’re capsizing toward a vertical blade which you have to rotate flat in order to brace.

Note: If you get bumped from the offside, you just increase the force of the onside blade through the water to avoid capsizing.

Very personal …
However, if you ever go to a Greenland paddle or other paddle where offset is 0, you may have to spend time readjusting.

60+ offset and strong side wind gusts do not mix well. 0 feather - no issue, except a little more resistance going against wind.

As for bracing, if you have time to react at all, off et does not matter for recreational use. So give 0 a try -:wink: Do not switch too often - spend some good hours on each offset in different conditions to figure it out for yourself…

Quick! Take it Back.
Go get your money back and get a Greenland paddle instead.

Trust me.

try not to think about it
My first paddle had only the 60 degree or 0 feather angle, so i din’t have a choice, but now with an adjustable, i found how i picked my feather angle, don’t think about paddling, and don’t look at your paddle, but pay attention to how it feels, if one side bites really good, but the other one flutters more, or feels like it slips more through the water than bites, then look and see which way your blade is compared to the side that bits, then, going in small incriments, slowly adjust untill you find where you are getting an even feeling pull with both sides. I found you really have to not focus and look at the paddle at first or you would conciously turn it to pull more flat, but you want it to be in the perfect position when you’re thinking about the big wave headed your way, or the boat cruising past you, and not thinking about how to turn your paddle.

At the same time, i find i have no “set” angle i paddle at. It depends on which boat i’m paddling, if i’m paddling agressivly, or if i’m just lazing back on a relaxing paddle, and even if i’m using a more high angle or low angled stroke, so i see myself using a slightly different feather every time i go out.

custom feather.
I’ve drilled one of my paddles to get a 15 degree angle out of a paddle with only 3 options (0, 60, -60). You can mess around with the paddle gorrila taped at various angles, (in protected paddling, where you won’t die if the paddle slips apart!) and then just drill a hole through the ferule with the paddle assembled, and but the silver button thingy in that new hole. Certainly not as good as the adjustable ferules, but quite functional if you have an older paddle that doesn’t fit your feather angle.

you may have been having a hard time
with the 60 degree angle because you were using one hand to control the paddle when you braced on both sides. As opposed to using one hand to control one side and the other hand to control the other side.

Quite often people end up having only one control hand without even realizing it.

Good point
For rec paddling, the simpler the better, (unfeathered). Feathering originated in WW paddling where split seconds count.

Just curious - are GPs ever made with offset blades? Seem to recall seeing a few on the water.