Single blade paddle length w. kayak

Those of you who do any single blade paddling in kayak/qajaq - what length (and width/style/etc.) do you prefer?

Check out the last few issues of
Sea Kayaker mag, there was an article on the subject in one of 'em, with recommendations for paddle lengths I do believe.

Occasionally use a 44 inch
Tooksook blade on my Klepper. Gotta get a T handle. Works pretty well.

I use a 48 inch blade
I use a regular straight blade and a bent shaft 50 incher. Both could be 1 inch shorted for the Kayak. In a canoe I use a 54 in blade and like a 52 inch bent shaft.

If your kayak has a rudder the bent shaft blade is really a nice change of pace.

I use a 50 inch bent shaft when single blading my kayak. I think a 48 inch would feel better though.

I use a 48’-52’ depends (im 6’ 1")

bent shaft Zaveral 7 oz.

Excuse me for being dumb and no cynicism intended, but why would you want to paddle a kayak with a single-bladed paddle?

I’ve heard it said that the single blade allows a longer day of paddling. Verlen Kruger apparently thought that was because muscles need more than the two seconds of rest they get between kayak strokes. With a single blade, the muscles on one side get many seconds of rest; then you switch and rest the other side.

– Mark


– Last Updated: Sep-13-07 12:13 PM EST –

A single blade uses different muscles, and can be a nice change on a long trip. A single blade is also useful when there's low overhanging vegetation, and not having a blade flashing overhead makes it easier to sneak up on wildlife. They work best for kayaks with rudders.

For canoeing, I normally use my Zaveral 49" bent shaft. I’ve also used it in sea kayaks but would cut one down to 47" or less myself if I were doing it more often.


Well, personally…

– Last Updated: Sep-13-07 4:00 PM EST –

... because I want to carve one (already am) and all I have to use one with are kayaks. Something else to play with. New mechanics to check out, muscles to work, techniques to learn, rolls to play with, etc...

Might be nice in the local mangrove tunnels as well.

Having only longer/narrower kayaks - with no rudders - it may be a passing fancy...

here we go
hang on. we’re in for a rollercoaster of a ride. i paddle canoes with canoe paddles. forgive me. i’m human, too.

i’ve found that canoe paddles aren’t all that appropriate for kayaks. kayaks are skinny, and a single blade can make them a bit squirly. i paddle a bell rob roy and a jensen c1, and a 16-foot strip walnut tandem. anywho. good luck. :slight_smile:

Point taken about matching paddles to paddlecraft. I have a good sampling of combos to support this.

Still, sort of funny the difference in responses to pretty basic paddle inquiries.

Someone asking about Greenland paddles typically gets a bunch of welcomes, stories of how great the paddles are, how they’ve changed peoples paddling, led to new skills, new boats, etc.

Ask about single blading (note I did not say “canoe” paddle) and I get a few basic size comments(thanks), no welcoming to a new world of paddling type comments, no positive stories/experiences, no comments about different strokes that can be done, no one suggesting it might even lead me to adding a canoe to the fleet…

No wonder kayaking has overtaken canoing! Maybe now that the paddle is carved, some of you canoe gurus can tell me why I’m also crazy to have used cypress, or to have made my own design vs copying a more common beaver tail or ottertail…

try it you might like it
all you can do is size one up and go try it out. I use my canoe paddle (Nashwaak Paddles) as a backup and also as my primary some days. Being a longtime canoe paddler, the strokes come instinctively for me. Rolling is easier for me with a single blade. Bracing and sculling are easier. It might be because the single blade I use are flat. I find flat blades are easier to control and use unless you plan to race or go for speed. Get one and tell me what you think…

Well, it seems to me that by paddling a kayak with a single bladed paddle you are throwing away the 2 greatest advantages a kayak has over a canoe: 1. a higher stroke cadence 2. a strong brace on both sides of the boat.

I think it is true that you can generate more force in one stroke with the single bladed paddle than you can with the double bladed paddle but this is offset by the lower stroke cadence. Also, that effect might also be negated by the lower sitting position in a kayak.

Personally, I could see maybe taking a single bladed paddle as an emergency spare, but with good TAP paddles now available, that argument doesn’t hold much water. The other reason that comes to mind is for a whitewater kayaker to practice with a single baded paddle in case they ever broke or lost their paddle on a long, difficult gorge run and had to use one to paddle out. Again, taking a TAP makes more sense to me.

By all means, try it if you are just fooling around, but if you seriously want to learn to use a single blade (and there are a lot more strokes than with a double blade) I would get a canoe or a C1 (decked canoe). The exception might be those folks who for physical reasons simply can’t be in the kneeling position for long.

I’m sure you are aware of this, but many canoeists use double blades for long flatwater cruises. You give up maneuverability but gain efficiency (higher stroke cadence) and don’t have to do corrective strokes.

I completely agree
I use a double blade Werner Camano in my Bell Magic canoe and also in my Point 65N XP. I also use from time to time a Nashwaak touring blade ( looks like beavertail) in both canoe and kayak. The one I use is a 58 inch. The blade is almost as long as the shaft. Paddling with double blades is much more efficient and you do have the bracing advantage on both sides. Coming from a canoe to a kayak, I have a tendency to let my stroke linger a bit for a J-stroke correction and it causes me to catch at the end. I do find that I roll much easier with a single blade beavertail though. Don’t know why… just seems effortless. My speed on both styles seem very close with the advantage going to the double blade. But manuverbility is better for me with a single blade. That is only due to my lack of skill and experience with a double blade though I presume.