Paddle Question

I have a Carlisle Voodoo Paddle - Blade Material: nylon, Shaft Material: blown fiberglass and used it for the first time this weekend.

I was having a hard time on some of the strokes like bracing - and the instructor said my feather angle looked too much. When Igot home and looked it up, this paddle is either 0 degrees or 60 degrees. I was really having to rotate my left wrist quite a bit. I tried it today straight and did ok, but our paddle was cut short by the rain. I felt like some times my paddle wasn’t turned enough. 45 degrees seems just about right (what I had used before in a test paddle)

So, in order to return the paddle I would have to mail it back to bass pro, but I wouldn’t get any cash back, becuase I used coupon dollars and got it for free. I can then by another paddle somewhere locally, but then again that will cost $$$ when the other was free.

or should I keep it and try to learn it without any feathering or the 60 degrees? My paddling experience is right about 11 hours on the water - so it’s still early enough for me to form a habit, I guess.

Can I learn to live with it or should I send it back and get something more adjustable?


Consider changing the feather - drill
Depending on how the feather operates it may be simple to just drill another hole for the 45% angle, if there is room. Consider someway to change the feather to something you would prefer.

Pungo right?

– Last Updated: May-18-09 7:34 AM EST –

Just to confirm - you are paddling the 12 ft Pungo (and taking lessons in same) as listed in your profile? What is the paddle length?
Just a thought - agree with above, maybe see if Carlisle can drill a hole for 45 degrees, or go no feather for now.

I suspect that the boat/paddler combo has something to do with the instructor's take on that feather - the width of the boat may be making things more complicated than it would be with a more narrow one.

I wouldn't go nuts finding the perfect feather until you have gotten towards the end of a season and know whether you want to stay with this boat. Pungos are very much a first boat often, meaning they are quickly followed by the second and third...

60 is standard for touring
45 is generally a WW feather.

Honestly, I think you’re fine with no feather. Some people still paddle with a 90 feather (ex. DH), but I think more and more people are beginning to suspect that feathering is more trouble than it’s worth. This is aside from those for whom feathering just feels biomechanically ‘right.’

But as aforementioned, 60 is very standard for touring paddles. I don’t know if your instructor meant ‘too much for you’ or ‘too much in general.’ But calling 60 too much kinda makes me wonder about the instructor and exactly why he said that. In any case, 0 is fine, more and more people just using 0 all the time as the feathering notion becomes more and more thought of as a relic.

I agree with Kanoo
I would just keep it and either use it straight or with it feathered. Which ever is more comfortable.

Most people who learn in rec kayaks and don’t take lessons just start with no feather, and then somewhere along the line try a paddle with a feather and end up switching to feathered.

Try it a few more times, but keep a lose grip on the shaft, letting it slide/rotate a bit on your lower hand.



Sell it
Use that money to by a Werner paddle that is adjustable in 15° increments. Then, you can hone it feather degree as you learn.

Just use it unfeathered
You’ll find it much easier to learn with an unfeathered paddle, as left and right side strokes are identical and you don’t have to worry about the feather angle. You can always switch to feathered after you’ve learned the basics, if you feel the need.

nothing to do with paddle feather
Decide which feather you want to use for whatever reason, and then learn to use it. I’ve been 60 degrees from the start, but that has nothing to do with any ability to brace or roll or whatever. I could go 90, I could go 45, it wouldn’t matter. I’d just make a little adjustment fine tuned based upon feel.

When I learned to roll, people put a half dozen paddles and feathers into my hands, convincingly telling me it was something to do with the paddle. The moment I had the roll I knew my difficulties had nothing to do with the paddle. I could pick out all kinds of pieces of advice that I was given by different paddlers that were not helpful. Sometimes I think instructors do this so that you focus your frustration on equipment, and not yourself (or the instructor). I understand that getting frustrated with yourself for some can prove quite counterproductive, but it’s probably equally or possibly more counterproductive focusing that frustration on equipment, so a person may as well keep it where it belongs and learn to manage it. Figure out what you need to do with the piece of equipment that you want to learn to use. 60 degree feather is definitely not an unacceptable feather. It’s probably the most common feather for a sea kayak paddle out there. Learn how to use what you feel is going to be the best thing to use. You could just as easily blame dihedral vs non or some other random thing that has an effect on the planing angle of the blade, but blaming it for a failed brace is misplaced blame. You learn to control the blade angle. Put your paddle in capable hands, let them show you how it’s done, and you’ll probably feel better about your equipment. A good instructor should be able to demonstrate how to effectively use your paddle in a brace. Hand it over to him or her and let them show you. If they can’t do it, you may convince me to agree with blaming the instructor. (-;

Less wrist rotation
The feather shouldn’t be a significant issue; you may want to change it out for other reasons, but bracing should be fine with a 60 deg feather (personally, I find a 30 deg feather comfortable, but anywhere from 0 to 60 does not generally inhibit the usual paddling strokes).

Really, the wrist rotation could be a problem with a potential for injury - you don’t want to put a bracing force onto a bent wrist. Rotate the whole forearm keeping the wrist a bit straighter.

"feather angle too much"
do you mean you were using too large of an angle during a sculling brace…or that you couldn’t control/release the blade well on one side or at other angles than out to the side?

The blade feather angle isn’t the problem, the problem is transitioning from a forward stroke to a bracing stroke. You can have an overtight grip for a forward stroke and you’ll still go forward. You cannot have an overtight grip for bracing strokes without losing the paddle or tipping over.

I paddled with an unfeathered paddle for about a year before using feathered becuase that’s what the rolling classes used. You could go with unfeathered or 60degree feather, either way you have to relax your grip so your forarms can line up and take the stress off the wrists.

yes, definitely learn
to keep your wrists straight.

But to be clear, the active wrist and blade in a brace will be in the same position regardless of how the opposite blade is feathered. Much the same, while your blade is engaged in the water in a forward stroke, it is only the opposite wrist that is changed with feather. Same with any stroke. In other words, you are not coming down on a stronger or weaker wrist position based upon feather.

But it is definitely the case, regardless of feather, that you need to rotate that opposite hand using your elbow vs. bending your wrist to avoid problems if you paddle often. Since you’re just getting started paddling, it’s a great time to create good habits.

oh heck
I dont know! everything I have done before is with the parks & rec commission and they have 45 degree paddles. always felt natural.

when I was out there with my paddle, it didnt feel as natural. I felt like I was having to somehow compensate to get the left stroke as pretty as the right stroke and every now and then when I wasn’t putting 100% concentration into it, I would get a sloppy stroke on the left. When I tried the instructors paddle it seemed easier.

normal paddling was fine, so I guess I could just life with it. if later I want to get something different then I can check other paddles out and use this as a spare and maybe catch and end of the season sale or something. afterall, this one was free!

thanks for all the tips.

Keep paddling. It will become natural.
If you get in a serious wind, you will thank that feather.

Common sense
Maybe with a little help, but maybe not, you should be able to adjust to either 60 degree or zero degree with a little practice. Lots of people have done it and you can too. Difficulties are likely due to bad technique rather than paddle feather per se. Having said that, don’t fall prey to ghosts from the past telling you that, well, zero degree is ok to begin with, but when you learn more you will want a feathered paddle. That is total BS. At the same time, if you want to paddle with 36.5 degree feather and that works, go for it. As you gain experience you will make all kinds of adjustments and what you decide now is only a temporary stop on the way. You will not do any damage or ruin your paddling career no matter what you choose. So don’t fret. If 60 seems awkward now and 0 works ok, go with 0. Your paddle is a quality paddle and there is no need to get rid of it. Maybe in a year you will feel differently. Maybe not. But you can afford to take your time. Paddle with other people and trade paddles. Take forward stroke lessons if they are available. And be open to what the paddle is teaching you.

Stay non-feathered
It takes several outings to get over the feather thing if you are used to it, but once you do it feels just as natural as it did before and then some (no right-left hand!).

So, if the paddle is fine otherwise for you, give non-feathered a try.

I learned to paddle feathered (70+ degrees initially, then switched to 60) just by the choice of paddles I had at the time. At the end of my “serious” second season of paddling (after a lot more than the 11 hours you got), I switched to unfeathered and there is no looking back. Took me very little (a couple of outings) to forget the feather from a bracing/planting position. Too quite a few weeks to stop “controlling” the paddle with my “primary” hand. The sooner you give-up feather the better -:wink:

Of course, if you like feather, go for it. Just keep in mind that with a round shaft paddlea the last drop of possible benefit from feathering is lost in terms of potenntially better comfort on the pushing hand when used on oval/assymetric shafts). There seems to be absolutely no benefit from feather at 45 degree IMHO for recreational (as opposed to fully competitive at some specialized discipline) paddling. That 45 seems the worst angle you can pick in terms of wind issues - will blow you sideways in side winds, will not offer full “benefit” in forward motion thru the air, will not offer full “sail” area in downwind and will have you rotate your wrists a bit to control the paddle. So why bother?