I was a dedicated bent shaft and hut paddler until this summer when I took a cheap ottertail out for a test run. I immediately fell in love with how much more I was enjoying paddling my solo. The problem is I smacked it on a submerged rock cracking the resin tip and putting a hairline crack in the blade. I know now that ottertails are for use in deep water! I want to replace this one with something a bit lighter. I am looking for one with a 5 or 6 inch wide blade. Any on-line sources or recommendations would be appreciated.
Mountain Equipment Co-op (NM)
I had the same experience a few years ago, and except for shallow water trips I now use a one pice ottertail for solo paddling. I own one form Ray Kettelwell, two from Shaw and Tenney and one from American Traders. Have been happy with all three vendors. Sorry I don;t have web sites handy, but they should be easy to find on your search enginge/
Beaver Tail is a nice paddle. Approx. $60.
Grey Owl makes some beautiful solid-wood paddles, but I doubt they’re light. For at least a decade I’ve been trying to come up with a reason to buy a Chieftain (black walnut), which might be the loveliest paddle I’ve ever seen.
Custom or Factory
I enjoy the redtail paddles. They are really good, and quite inexpensive.
If you want a beautiful custom paddle, and are willing to pay for the craftsmanship, check out Red River Canoe and Paddle: http://www.redrivercanoe.ca/
Grey Owl also makes laminnates which are lightweight. I have a Grey Owl paddle which weighs 22 oz.
another for the list
There are many custom paddle makers out there but I take it a 300 dollar paddle isnt what you are looking for.
I have paddles by almost all the makers listed by others. I do find the Redtails and the Bending Branches thickish with thick sides and they dont slice as cleanly as others. But perhaps slicing and freestyle isnt on your menu!
Thanks Mr Canoehead!
For the link to Red River Canoe. Great site, lovely paddles, and great dissertations on the use of different grips. Honestly, I always assumed that the large "northwoods" grip, or Maine Guide grip was shaped to provide a counterbalance to a large & heavy blade. Not so.
Think I might be ordering one this winter......
Edit: Spel Chkd