Paddle shaft shape

So here’s the thought.
I was recently in a paddling shop and saw a few Werner carbon paddles on display. They were all bent shaft versions. I naturally picked one to hold and immediately noticed a significant difference in size AND shape from my own Werner straight shaft. It was both noticeably larger in circumference and far different in shape; having a very pronounced indexing to the shaft. By comparison my paddle is nearly round. It nearly always give me minor fits by causing me to continually adjust my hand position. I called Werner to inquire about this and the rep admitted there is a significant difference, possibly due to the added carbon added to strengthen the shaft and the pressure exerted in molding. My question is: has anyone else noticed this and more importantly, has anyone done anything to try to emulate the size and shape of those Werner bent shafts? I’ve used large diameter shrink tubing to increase shaft size and reduce slipperiness in the past but not to adjust the shape.

Any thoughts?

All I know is that indexing can be extremely helpful when rolling. You always know the blade angle. Maybe they did it for those folks who roll.

When I got my Werner several years ago, they offered two shaft diameters and an oval profile. If you close your hand naturally it forms an ovoid shape, not a perfect circle. In addition to indexing, I find the small diameter and ovoid shape more comfortable.

To each his own, but in addition to being more expensive, the bent shaft takes away a very useful option and that is being able to shift the shaft a bit one way, or the other to compensate for wind influence. That is to say that if your craft (boat) is tending to pull to the right because of a little wind, you simply shift the paddle a little to the right. The extra shaft length on the right then gives a bit more power to the right blade without you having to adjust your effort. This option might also be helpful if you naturally are stronger on one side than the other.

The shaft shift is my first adjustment and usually it is an automatic response to how the boat is tracking.

As for the shape of the shaft in the area where your hands hold the paddle, the oval lets you feel the position of the blade. This is also automatic.

I use a modified bow rudder technique to steer (turn) all of my boats–except when surfing–and it requires that the paddle be inverted 180 degrees to be most effective. That would be very awkward with a crankshaft.

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They make a “indexing “ piece for round shafts, uses heavy heat shrink, not sure if it’s glued, makes the shaft oval

Hand size/shape and personal preference play a major role. I’ve tried many paddles and still like the Lendal straight shaft the best as it has a very natural feel.

I agree that a bent shaft does limit that option some if not completely. I tend to compensate somewhat differently, but the point is that the bend does remove an option. I personally don’t use a bent as I believe and teach that with good technique the bent doesn’t offer anything other than extra weight and cost. Werner says they do not offer more than one shape but I plainly see that isn’t so. I’d thought of a switch to Lendal but good luck trying to find one right now.

Could be. I’d thought about it but good luck finding one right now…

I’ve used that indexing bit on an older paddle. I find it to be too much. Leaves a void area where it meets the shaft. The one I used was from an old Lendal; are you aware of others?

You’ll have to check with Wayne at University of Sea Kayaking, he assembled my Toksook paddle. There are no gaps, just makes the shaft egg shaped.

I have an Aquabound carbon with a straight shaft and a Werner Cyprus with a bent shaft. Most of the time I use the Cyprus as I find the bent shaft easier on my hands and wrists after 40+ years of using computer keyboards. I don’t have any problems moving the bent shaft laterally at least a little in my hands. My wife uses a straight Cyprus with a small diameter shaft. I’ve tried it a few times but my hands are really too big for it.

I also use a GP which has a fairly large ovalized loom. I think it’s even easier on my hands and the slimmer blades and organic feel of the cedar gives me just about ultimate adjustability.

I also have arthritis in my fingers and I think because of this my hands and fingers are never in exactly the same place for very long. I’m constantly moving them about a little as I paddle.

I have a Werner bent and, opposite end of the price spectrum a BB Whisper. Both have oval shafts - that’s what the OP means by “indexing”, right? Anyway the BB Whisper’s diameter is much small than the Werner’s.

I developed pain issues with my forearm over the decades with the BB and others, tendons and slightly more in my right arm than my left. I don’t grip particularly hard but thought that’s what those tendons do, and for a while I focused on loosening my grip but that only helped a little. Found that just rotating my wrist slightly inward to align with the straight shaft and then pushing was painful.

When I first used the Werner the difference was night and day, a real wow! I also don’t get a blister in my thumb saddle with the Werner either. I attribute that to bigger shaft diameter.

@magooch’s comment about bent shaft limiting sliding the paddle left or right to adjust course is correct, you can only move it a few inches each way so you have to use a different method. And IMO bent would be a poor option for white water.

Personal preference. Small diameter is for smaller hands. I like the larger diameter with oval for indexing. I like straight shaft because it let’s me shift to one side to make slight compensation for wind.

Some are available.

?? Some ??

I respectfully disagree with you there. I used a bent shaft Werner for WW, and strongly preferred it. Knowing exactly where and how to position my paddle was much easier for me with the bent shaft, and more critical in WW (at least for me). I sold my WW boat but am hanging onto the paddle for now so I can try it out in a sea kayak. I suspect I won’t like it for that (I usually use a GP).

If it fits your hand and paddling style, quit sweating the small stuff. Paddle companies have to change things every once in a while to convince you to buy a new one.

Otherwise you would be like me and using a twenty something year old Epic wing paddle, because it was made with Kevlar and hasn’t ever broken.

Actually Craig; thats kind of the reason for this thread being started; that shaft isn’t really fitting the hand well and working. I’ve had this one for years as well and this has always been a bit of an issue. I’d just never picked up aWerner bent to feel the difference. Having felt it, I definitely have to either adjust the shaft of my paddle, or go to something else.

I definitely agree with you Pru. Bent shafts are great for whitewater. At least where I’m at, they were popular and common in ww long before they were common in the sea kayak world.

Paddle shafts should be oblong or an ellipse to aid in indexing. Most good canoe paddles are made that way. I have made some paddles and always make a point to do that. incorporate an oblong shaft.

Bent shaft paddles have been around for a long time. They are primarily used on flat water. Many people carry a straight shaft for whitewater and a bent shaft for lakes.