The right length paddle for a fishing kayak?

Good afternoon,

You may have seen my introductory posts where I mention my brother-in-law’s old Cayman 124 fishing kayak. 10’4" length - 47 or 48 lbs weight - and I think 30" wide at the midsection. For a first time user (me!) it is an excellent kayak and loaded with all sort of cool features!

I read some kayak paddle chart or something like that on the internet… You see, my brother-in-law is like 5’8" or maybe 5’9". Now, now, don’t get me wrong… He’s one of those older Vietnam Vet guys, jungle warfare training, 110% total bada$$, etc… you know? Meanwhile, I’m 12 years younger than him at age 58. I am 6’0" and 210 lbs, and just pretty much a “regular dude”. I checked out the paddle that he also gave me with his old Cayman 124 fishing kayak. It measures 220cm, calculated/converted from a tape measurement.

With me being an even 6 ft tall, with a semi-flat bottom fishing kayak, should I be looking at a longer kayak paddle, like, 230 or 240 centimeters? What do you suggest? Check the photo below and you’ll see the Cayman 124 kayak, beached on a sandbar underneath a bridge here in town. I have the Field & Stream Chute (i.e. Dick’s Sporting Goods) paddle attached to the holder on the gunwale.

Paddle length is a lot more personal preference than spec, so I would go ahead and use the paddle and see how it feels.

That said, if you didn’t have paddle in hand, I would have suggested a 230 or maybe even a 240 cm.

Use the shortest paddle that works for you. You don’t want one that causes you to bang your knuckles on the boat every stroke.
Paddles that are longer than you need can put a lot of stress on your body.
I also suggest a 230 to start.

Yes it’s all about personal preference with boat width and your height above water while sitting in the boat two of the most important considerations. But you basically need the shortest paddle you can use that still easily immerses the entire paddle blade. There is no reason to go longer.

Also check out more modern - and much lighter - paddles than the one in the photo. Look for one with at least a carbon fiber shaft if not an all carbon fiber paddle. Companies like Werner, Aquabound, Carlisle, etc. make good ones.

Thank you all for the great replies! I appreciate it! :slight_smile:

So that you don’t get ahead of yourself about picking a proper paddle, the first requisite is that you learn how to paddle. Do you know what torso rotation, high angle, low angle, paddler’'s box, pushing as opposed to pulling and the importance of foot placement are? Oh–and number one is posture. So many new paddlers get in the habit of slumping, or leaning way back. Sit up straight and rotate.

Now you’re ready for that new 230 composit paddle.