Single blading small kayak

I’ve been considering adding an Epic GPX to my stable of boats. I’m attracted by its 31 pound weight and reputation for sprightly performance. I would like to expand the versatility of the GPX by learning to use a bent shaft single blade as well as the usual double, almost as if it were a pack canoe. This would make good sense in narrow streams and twisty salt marshes and just to make the overall paddling experience more interesting. I suppose that I might need to add some seat padding to raise the level of the seat a bit for efficiency but I think the GPX should be stable enough to allow this. I would like to hear from those with experience with this sort of thing.

Shold work well
Occasionally, I use a single blade with a sea kayak or surf ski. With the ruddered and straight tracking boats it works particularly well as you don’t need to switch sides unless you want to, and no need for correction strokes.

The single blade makes it go slower in terms of top speed, for example, 4.5mph cruising speed on the Epic V10 vs. 5-6mph with the wing paddle. But at lower speeds like that, the single blade might be easier over a longer distance and against a stiff breeze.

Balance is not an issue, unless in breaking short-period side chop.

Paddle length has to be shorter than outrigger or canoe to keep your upper arm low enough.

Bent shaft and light is definitely better as you have a limited reach and a short stroke.

With short and very maneuverable designs like the WS Zephir 155 for example, the single blade does not work well enough IMO - you have to switch sides too much, correct too much, and generally go much slower than you would with a double blade. Perhaps not an issue for sightseeing and sloooow paddling groups, but if you want to keep-up with double-bladers and want to actually get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time (at say 4mph), you will work harder.

Just go with a short double blade
Raising the seat enough to make a difference will make it tippy, I would suggest going with a very short double blade paddle, even trying a greenland paddle if you want to try something differnet.

Highly recommended
I single blade my Pygmy Coho often and I find it a very relaxing change of pace. As stated above, you need very little correction if any. but make sure you have the right length shaft. You will probably have to cut it down.

I almost always go out with a variety of paddles, whether I’m canoeing or kayaking. Variety certainly adds to the fun.

I have tried it with my QCC-700
with my ZRE bent shaft, and it works well.

All this past winter it was my spare paddle on my yak

One year in a 12 mile river race, my wife and I were paddling our comp cruiser, and a guy who was not in the race was paddling beside us in an Epic 18 and keeping right up with us. he dropped back after about a mile.

I think you would do just fine with it.

Jack L

46" ZRE works well for me in kayaks.
I highly recommend it.

No need to raise the seat with the short bent shaft.

I love it in my Epic Touring Cruiser 16 and Eddyline Fathom LV and Old Town Castines.

I use a bent shaft canoe paddle as a
backup/spare paddle plus it works great when fishing out of my kayak. I use a short shaft model so I don’t have to jack up the seat.

As a plus, the bentshaft is a great way to give your body a change up in routine over a kayak paddle.

Kayak is still rollable as well with a bentshaft.

What size
I am 5’8". What size should I get in the ZRE line of paddles? I keep hearing about them.

I’ve done it…
broke my paddle and had to single-blade back down river.

another trip, left my paddle and had to buy a canoe blade.

another trip the reeds were so close toggether and overgrown that I had to either pull myself or paddle with hald my paddle.

So it CAN be done, but not well as a kayak isn;t made to single-blade.

I even went to a double-blade kayak paddle for my canoe.

Sure kayaks can be single bladed
but for best results you need a short bent shaft canoe paddle. FoxWorx makes one… Zav of course another.

Kayaking in some areas is tradtionally done ONLY with a single blade.

The single makes a great back up paddle as it stores beautifully.

I’ve tried it, more than once.
But not with a small kayak. A long boat like a QCC700 it’s a breeze with the rudder down, or in a twisty mangrove tunnel with the rudder up. I’ve tried high end canoe paddles for fun, and it worked great, but I’d want a very short shaft. The one I use for mangrove explorations is one end of a POS four piece cheap paddle that someone gave me long ago. It’s probably about 28" from end to end, and the length is just fine for the purpose. It’s plastic and aluminum, but for what I’m using it for, I’ve no complaint.

A Greenland style ‘storm’ paddle might work in the tight spots even better. No need to switch sides with the blade. I’m thinking a shorter kayak will ‘yaw’ more with each stroke, so being able to switch side quickly will probably be desirable.

Fun stuff.


If one paddles under mangroves or
rhodedendrons, ability to use a shortish single blade can be a real asset. But as both a canoeist and a kayaker, I can’t see single blading a kayak as being very efficient.

People sometimes cite Verlen Kruger and his seagoing canoes, but those hulls were designed for hit and switch.