the right paddle for solo canoe

I’m looking for a new paddle and not sure what would be the best option. Bent, straight, carbon, wood, ext. I mostly paddle shallow slow,sandy bottom rivers. Any advice.

If you don’t know, I would go with a straight shaft paddle. A straight shaft paddle tends allow for more versatility in maneuvering which is often a factor in river paddling.

If you paddle sitting a bent shaft paddle might be a little more efficient as it allows the stroke to take place a little further back. If you use a sit and switch paddling style a bent shaft often works a bit better. For a traditional paddling style some people find J strokes a little more difficult with a bent shaft paddle and others don’t. Stern pries and stern draws are often less effective with a bent.

For shallow river use I would definitely avoid long, narrow bladed paddles like otter tails. The shallow water often precludes getting much of the blade in the water. Whether to go with wood, fiberglass, or carbon is largely a matter of personal preference but if you want the highest strength to weight ratio carbon fiber will provide it.

There are many other factors to consider such as grip type, bend angle for bent shafts, blade width and blade shape.

I’m still learning and experimenting,
but I can tell you my impressions thus far. Just keep in mind they’re worth what you’re paying for them. I usually solo or stern paddle with the bow man or woman being more or less a passenger, typically in pool and drop class I and II rivers. I alternate between several paddles. They’re all straight shaft 58 inchers. I have a Dri-Ki beavertail that is solid ash. As you might expect it’s fairly heavy but well balanced and doesn’t wear me out (but I’m still pretty young and stout). Hard to beat for thirty bucks. These days I mainly use it as a loaner, but I still like it. I also have a Werner Rec. It’s a fiberglass beast and is my favorite because it’s tough and gives me good power and control. I recently bought a Foxworx Excel and it’s a close second to my trusty old Werner Rec. For less than a C note I highly recommend it. It’s light, tough and really pretty. The four ounce fiberglass on the blade helps keep it looking good. I’m enjoying it a lot. I had an Aquabound Edge but didn’t like it, but that wasn’t because it’s not a good paddle. I just found that I prefer a flat blade. Like I said, still experimening. If you want carbon it’s a heck of a deal. I know several paddlers much more seasoned than I am who use or have tried it and they all agree it’s a great stick, especially for the price.

I carry two paddles and I go solo almost all of the time. My handcarved beavertail is my favorite and a real pleasure to use, but when the water is shallow I swap over to a Bending Branches Expedition. The BB has a tough resin edge (they call it Rockguard) on shorter and wider blade. It has held up quite well to shallow water abuse.

Rivers usually straight shafts
give more precise control to allow eddyouts.

But please give the bow person more control…which they are able to give. You the stern person has the role to obey the bow and the bow leads… you just steer to keep the boat in line.

When the stern steers solo its like steering a shopping cart backwards. When you add the bow control, its like a fine tuned race car.

This is often a hard concept for tandem teams to embrace. Both paddlers have a job to do. Particularly on moving water.

the long and short of it
you should have two paddles anyway, in case one breaks or you drop one overboard just as you are nearing dead man’s falls

choose the length for “normal” deep water paddling

choose the second 4 to 6 inches shorter for the shallow water trips - if you are paddling in 6" of water, a long paddle tends to be awkward, with the grip up high - so I prefer a shorter paddle for shallow water trips

another variation you can consider is blade width - The Werner Rec paddle mentioned by someone above has a large blade surface - I use it mostly, but sometimes, after a long day or in windy conditins where I want to speed up my cadence, I’ll switch to my shorter paddle (Aquabound Odyssey) which has a amaller blade - easier to keep up the higher cadence

similarly, if you go to carbon paddles, many will have a smaller blade for same reason - ZRE lets you pick the blade width – for long distance flatwater paddling, its hard to beat the ultralight carbon paddles, but I wouldn’t use one in rocky rivers myself

Good point, but my bow partners are typically not very capable (my dad, small youngsters, etc.) and don’t want any control. I visit with them, coach them on the basics and allow them to help as much or as little as they want. On the rare occasion that I do have a good bow man (or woman) we usually switch back and forth throughout the trip for giggles.

Best shirt for a solo canoe?
Sort of similar question. There’s no right answer.

But I’ll give a specific answer for SLOW RIVERS.

If you’re 5-8 to 5-11 in height, get a 55" wooden straight shaft paddle (rectangular blade) and a 50" bent shaft paddle from Foxworx, Sawyer or Mitchell at around the $90-$125 price level for each. If you’re shorter or taller than that height range, add or subtract an inch.

Experiment with these paddles. They are good quality and reasonably priced paddles, which you can sell or keep as spares if it turns out you prefer different lengths or shapes or want to go to carbon paddles.

Alternatively, you could just buy 40 paddles (and shirts) like some folks here.

Well yeah.
I mean we have to have something to wrap our paddles in. Duh!

Double blade

I couldn’t let you down, spiritboat.

Straight, decent sized blade
I often paddle a tandem canoe with a person who is more photographer than bow paddler, so I use a Shaw and Tenney Maine Guide paddle. It provides great control and power to move a loaded tandem canoe by a single paddler.

Due to blade length it might not be appropriate for your shallow rivers, but I think a similar shorter blade, like your beavertail, would be great.

chuckfest , what things do you …

– Last Updated: Jul-13-13 12:17 AM EST –

..... feel are best in a paddle ??

The more things you want in a paddle , then probably the more it will cost . Lightweight is a common desire and the lighter it is , the more it seems to cost .

I'm completely happy and content with a Carlisle 8" Beavertail , but bet I'd be ecstatic with a ZRE carbon (why ?? ... because everybody who's got one either says they'd never turn back or they love them ... so I conceed , love is greater than contentment !!)

Hey Sissy

If ya know what I mean :wink:

My favorite paddles
First off paddles, even more than boats, are a personal thing. We are all different in our needs and desires.

I kneel 90% of the time. I’ve used bent shaft paddles but don’t feel they offer much to a kneeler. I like to palm roll and certainly prefer a paddle that is symetrical front to back.

My favorite flatwater paddle is a Zaveral straight shaft. It weighs nothing. The catch is firm. It will not flutter. And it slices like a hot knife making in water recoveries, sculling draws and dufeks a thing of joy.

The Zav is brittle as many carbon blades are. It’s not a paddle I care to play in the rocks with.

But out of the rocks it makes my boats fly and it’s my preferred Freestyle stick.

Note Zaveral also makes a straight shaft with the backface flush to the shaft (mine has the blade centered on the shaft). You could not pay me to paddle with that thing.

My second favorite is a Bending Branches Traveler. That is light with decent catch and slice as well as relatively inexpensive. I find the smaller blade of the Traveler lends itself well to covering some distance without getting tired. The small blade does not lend it’s self to Freestyle.

For moving water I like my Mitchel Premier. Tough as nails, good strong catch and only a bit of harmonics on the slice. That is a stick I trust to bring me home in the toughest water I’ll paddle. It is my back up Freestyle stick too. I would prefer a straight blade to the curved but I can use either.

So those are my favorite paddles and why.

Do understand that the more you paddle the more you will figure out what your favorites are.