Technique & Feathered Paddles

One of my instructors at pool class yesterday was expounding the virtues of switching to feathered paddle.

He said that it had little to do with paddling in the wind. He said that a feathered paddle makes it easier to position yourself for transitioning braces from side to side, transistioning from one stroke to another, and proper setup to roll. He felt in general that an unfeathered paddle becomes an obstacle once a paddler works on intermediate paddle skills.

I’d love to hear some other sage thoughts on this.


not an obstacle
unless one learns the ol’ school ‘control hand’ method and then switches to zero feather.

NEW SCHOOL- simply put the right hand controls the blade articulation of the right blade and left controls left. feather or not.

the ol’ breaking at the elbow and ‘control hand’ running both blades died a number of years ago out here in the PNW.

A zero feather is quite EZ to use in terms of fluid strokes, bracing and rolling. So is a feathered paddle.

get used to a style and stick with it


Just Say “No” To Dogma
and use whatever you want and feel comfortable with.

Frankly, I don’t get what he is getting at in saying that “rolling” is easier with a feathered paddle. Rolling is easy, no matter the offset, once one has rolling down. Period.


Thanks, that’s what I thought
I’m all for developing skills, and I think I’m at the point where I need to be able to blend different stokes so I can use them as a natural progression in real circumstances. It did get me a bit concerned about whether I should concentrate on transistioning to feathered first.

Thanks Steve…Lou

That’s What It Seemed To Me
Maybe I’m just not used to it, but as I practiced with a feathered blade, I found myself pausing to make corrections to the blade angle while practicing different techniques. This works in a pool environment, but I may not have that fraction of a second in the real world. Perhaps that goes away with practice.

Thanks Sing,


Feather Angle and Paddle Length
Hi All:

This is something that I have been hashing around for a while now with customers in the retail shop and with students. It seems that as the length of the paddle becomes shorter, a feathered paddle will help to keep your top wrist in a more neutral positon. It will also help to keep the paddle blade perpendicular to the kayak throughout the stroke.

With a 230cm paddle, most folks will be comfortable holding the shaft at a low angle and paddling unfeathered. If you are using a short paddle (for more efficient forward paddling), you can probably use up to a 60degree feather without using your wrist to change the blade angle on the off side. For most folks, simply raising the elbow of the control hand to shoulder level will put the feathered blade into a good catch position.

Using a short, unfeathered paddle, you will need to cock your top wrist sideways at the catch in order to place the paddle close to the kayak.

For all strokes, the hand which is closest to the blade will control the stroke once the blade is in the water.

Anyone considering a feathered paddle should start out with right control if possible. This is largely a matter of convention, and has little to do with whether you are right or left handed. If you rent a kayak on a trip, or have to borrow someone else’s spare, it is likely to be right control.

Happy paddling:


If I had it to do over again…

When taking up paddling a couple years ago I began with a feathered paddle (60 degree have altered that to 45 degrees). I too read and heard all the reasons why one should feather the paddle. The unfortunate part is I was self taught and thus I learned the “control hand” concept of paddling.

All was well until I decided to buy a Greenland Paddle (GP) and give it a go. I found it very difficult to go from a feathered paddle to a non-feathered paddle (the GP).

There’s very strong argument for both feathered and non-feathered. Either one will work, but do yourself a favor and DO NOT conform to the “control hand” theory. Control right blade with right hand and control left blade with left hand and you’ll be OK.

If I had to do it over again, I don’t think I’d use a feathered paddle. My wife uses a euro paddle with no angle and in the wind it’s sometimes an advantage. She can actually use the blades as sails.

Good luck in your self discovery…


control hand
I suppose the blade hand is the control hand but I try to get folks to get both forearms position to set blade angle as it’ll reduce any gripping as much as possible with push/pull coming through neutral wrists at the power part of the stroke instead of a gripping hand fighting any torsion of the blade,for me allowing the blade to slide out from the hull helps to keep elbows from bending too much and dragging the blade deep/close the the hips at release.

For me feathering and a euroblade go together for a more precise plant as the power part of the stroke is shorter,I don’t have much experience in skinny sticks but my sense is that you have more time to develop the power part of the stroke

Yes, I learned with the 60 degree
feather-but I really didn’t have a problem in transition to a nonfeathered GP paddle. The Superior GP blade just seems to position itself. If you are stroking with minimal splash/turbulence, the blade just tells you when it’s right. Video helped for both types of paddle. Someone on the forum said to slow down and let the blades work. Great tip. Now waiting for Ono’s Carbon Signature(feathered) to use on my broad barge fishing kayak.

Bracing is like fencing

– Last Updated: Apr-28-04 11:02 AM EST –

(With swords) It's the repetition of a technique often over the course of years and years that makes the great. Feathered or unfeathered, euro of greenland whatever you practice with you can get good at.

The best fencers probably have slower absolute reflexes than the youngest competent fencers. It's the 12 years of training that makes them great.

OK I’ll bite
Can’t believe I’m the first to ask, but here goes. I got all my basic strokes instruction more than 15 years ago, sooooo, what do you do without a right-control hand. I’ve paddled feathered so long that it feels unnatural not to.

Holding the paddle so that it does not rotate through my right grip, the left blade is oriented correctly as it approaches the water. (Right forarm is lifted toward the body, torso rotates right.) When going back to the right side, the paddle is held losely enough to rotate a bit through the left grip.

Actually, I often open my upper hand completely on either side, pushing forward against the paddle with the palm and open webbing of my upper hand. Helps me to remember to keep a loose, relaxed grip.

Sooo, if there’s no right hand control, how’re y’all managing things out there in feathered paddleland?