What are the differences between high and low angle paddles?

I have 2 paddles ,one with wide blades and one with narrow blades. I use both for either high or low angle as the situation dictates.

@string you got this. High angle is shorter and wider to reduce the depth the blade needs to submerge to power the boat. The 18 inch blade has 2 inches less distance to travel, and the non-power blade is two inches lower. That’s 4 inches shorter and accomplishing the same thing as compared to your low angle paddle with 20 inch long blades.

Since the length of the stroke in high angle plunges 18 inches, and the blade is withdrawn, if the opposite blade is 210 cm (82.6 in) away from the water, depending on how verticle you hold your high angle, the opposite blade might travel up to 82 inches (or less) to reach the catch and then plunge 18 inches. That’s why high angle paddles should err toward short to enhance cadence.

The low angle always enters water bottom edge first. That’s why the assymetric blades are clipped on the bottom leading edge to reduce torque. As the tip hits the water first, there’s a tendency to torque the blade around the shaft. Although the torque is minimal, it’s enough to fatigue the grip over time and cause slippage from a weakening grip, as well as blisters. Since the angle of penetration is less, the longer paddle length is inconsquential. The paddle blade being narrower doesn’t exert as much torque force, the blade doesn’t plunge as deeply so length doesn’t add to the plunge depth, and the smaller sq inch surface area allows the paddle to reach a higher cadence, and the longer fulcrum length allows greater effort since the blades are smaller.

High angle still has the same clipped assymetric tip. However, the wider blade will exert more torque. They can be used interchangeably, but the length specific issues remain. High angle is usually lower cadence, so using a short low angle paddle with a 10 sq in smaller blade could be a power killer.

Good question for anyone tring to decide whether to buy high or low angle paddle.

High angle blades are “typically” designed with larger sq in paddle area, compared to low angle, but the Cyprus is an example of a 94.5 sq in high angle, compared to a low angle Kalliste with 99.7 sq in blades, or a high angle Ikelos with 107 sq in. It’s one of the things I learned from you and another member in early discussions when I joined the forum


as far as I can tell right now, you can’t use a special low angle paddle blade properly with a high angle, but you can use a high angle paddle blade at a low angle pretty well?

I am no expert, but I am my wife have been buying used kayaks and resellign them to friends for 3 years and there is a small but interested groups of kayakers now growing in the middle of Wyoming. Nearly all of the 31 kayaks we have had pass through our hands in the last 3 years came with paddles.
My experience is not the last word on the subject to be sure, but from what I have seen I believe any paddle can be used at any angle.
High angle designs work best a high angle but OK for the low angle. Low angle designs work best at low angle and are ok at high angles. Greenland paddles work best for any angle and any motion (the most forgiving) and lack a small amount of speed for a standard forward strok, but less then most people think.

There really isn’t much difference in design between high and low angle Werner carbon paddles, except for square inch blade area. The dimensions have minor tweeks to enhance the intended performance. Notice that the assymetric shape is there with both (same with Aqua Bound). The tips are clipped at around the same angle (black angle C).

94.5 sq in, 7.0 x 18.1, 22.5 oz - Cypus
99.7 sq in, 6.3 x 20.5, 23.0 oz - Kalliste
110.0 sq in, 7.7 x 19.0, 23.0 oz - Ikelos

The Kalliste is between 3/4 and 1 1/2 inches narrower (red A). That’s only between 3/8 to 3/4 inch width on each side of the shaft to influence torque when the blade enters the water low edge first.

The Cyprus has a 2.4 inch shorter blade (blue B), which means the Cyprus can be nearly 5 inches shorter overall and still have the blade fully beneath the water in the stroke. The Ikelos blades are only 1/2 inch shorter than the Kalliste (but the blades are 1 1/2 wider).

It doesn’t appear there is any reason the paddles can’t be used interchangeably. Length makes a big difference whether using the paddle high angle or low angle. The biggest factor influencing the blade design and overal paddle length depends on your actual stroke angle. If a 45° stroke angle is considered the line beteen high/low angle, the closer your high angle stroke gets to 90°, the more logical it would be to select a high angle paddle. The lower your stroke angle, the more logical it is to use a a low angle paddle.

I use the low angle approach because my left shoulder has limited range of motion and arthritis from a sepsis infection. The paddle angle is so low, my hands follow the contour of the deck and are just missing it. Why lift the paddle higher than necesssry. For that reason, I use a long paddle. In my case, a high angle paddle would probably work against my interests.

The key point to remember is a paddle is a paddle. Whether you use a double bladed pizza peel or a sturdy yards stick, it will move the boat. The question is how efficiently does it work. How much comfort dou you want, transparency as the paddle flows through the water, does it upset when the blades hit the water, does it hurt your shoulders if used. You might need a bigger blade to surf, yet many surfers use 3 or 3 1/2 inch Greenland paddles to surf. You can use any paddle you have. Even a big blade won’t hurt your shoulders if you pull gradually. It’s the exertion, not the size of the blade, so ease up on your stroke.

Where a properly sized blade matters is if you want to cover distances, paddle loaded boats, have a physique that favors power or endurance, or when you want to go faster or more efficiently. That’s when you go for a specialized paddle. Steve, Brian and Paul would rather make a paddle than buy one. Their paddles perform especially well for certain functions. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just understand the paddle and feel it perform. Then replace it if the faults are objectionable and you can’t compensate.

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Or better and consequentially respectively shorter or longer paddles?

My paddle blade (Braca Hurricane) works best at around 45 degrees and well enough at lower angles. At a 90 degrees angle this paddle is just too long to judge it properly.

Personal preference (high angle vs low angle) aside, it seems to me that the goal is to get good energy transfer by fully immersing the blade during each stroke … not just part of the blade or not the blade + part of the shaft.
Several variables will influence how that can be accomplished including the dimensions of the boat (esp gw width and seat height), the paddler’s physiology (ie length of arms and torso) and paddle construction (blade dimensions and overall length).
I’m beginning to think that for most of us non-racers, working on getting the paddle blades correctly positioned in water is the priority and whatever angle it takes to make that happen given the variables is fine.


I think the Braca paddles are in a distinct class of specialty paddles. There’s so much room for personal interpretation. The essence is how the paddler moves the blade through the water. There is no one paddle that does all. Another forum member told me that he when he isn’t a large power blade, he preferred a Cyprus high angle 94.5 sq in paddle for high or low angle vs. the Kalliste 99.7 sq in. It has to do with personal technique.

If you paddle with other kayakers, swap paddles. Discuss likes and dislikes. Push it to the limit. Look for where it falters, flutters, creates bubbles; paddle it in your comfort zone; find its strong points and weaknesses; try it high angle and low angle; how long does it take you to transition from exit to catch. I find it very hard to go anerobic with the Kalliste. Primarily because I increase speed so incrementally. It depends on each person’s physiology. I’ve been at it for over 15 years and still haven’t figured it out. It would be fun if it wasn’t such hard work. The fun part is interacting with other kayakers while trying to find solutions and improve efficiency, or sitting around discussing it, but then that isnt kayaking. That’s sitting around talking about it.

@Buffalo_Alice I agree. Going fast and racing are two different things. Nothing I suggested will win a race - flat fact. If you want to paddle a sprint, it doesn’t matter what kind of paddle or what length you have, a high angle stroke will give you more acceleration. A bigger blade will lock your paddle in location better than a smaller or thinner blade, but one thing is certain: if you overpower any blade, you’re just plain wasting energy.

Ten years ago, I didn’t care about efficiency. I simply pushed the boat, then recovered. No can do anymore. Now every Cheerio matters. I burn thst nugget, it’s gone; now ever stroke matters. I want every catch to be splashless, the stroke to remain perpendicular through the arc to provide the boldest resistance, and the exit can’t do anything more than shed water drops. I’m a busted up old timer trying to relive the glory days. To some extent, its working. Two years ago my shoulder hurt for a week afterwards. Now a shoulder that felt constant pain feels just plain nuetral the day after a kayak trip. Everbody has to find his or her zone.

No two sequential strokes are truely alike. Sometimes depth of the stroke or controlled slippage is necessary to keep on a straight track. I learned from Steve that you can never overpower the blade. Brace your legs, grunt, scream karate yells, push and pull, do what you gotta do. You’ll increase your speed, but it’s comparable to flooring the accelerator everytime you pull away from a traffic light or want to catch up to the car in front of you. That’s fine if your parents own a gas station. That’s just my thought approaching the problem.

There are few paddled craft outside of the kayak (you can include canoes) with more adapted designs and potetial for efficiency. While Olympic kayaks and paddling form are marvels, its hard for the average kayaker to mimic the technique, which centers mainly on sprints (I tried and my belly hit my chin). Olympians have evolved a technique that matches their huge energy reserves to a given distance. The boats are efficient, but can’t be used in ocean surf. The speed is possible because they have virtually no wake to trap the boat. They slap the water and waste energy, but they are so fit, they have the nessesary energy and more in reserve.

If a paddler wants to go out and float around talking sports, no special gear is needed. What you will find if you pay attention to the paddle stroke, is more connected to the boat; it might not be fun but you’ll enjoy it more, you’ll go further with less pain, and best of all your technique will improve.

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cm … cm inches is dead in the paddle world

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I like to use both. Werner literature is always in cm and cm2. REI lists in inches/sq in. Kayaks can be either metric or inches. By listing and converting, the reader doesnt have to translate. Id rather do the work for the reader if they take the time to look at my message.

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I don’t see any CM² I’m lost :scream::flushed:

Greek :flushed::scream:

i have to convert :scream::flushed::scream:

Multiply in2 by 6.45 to get cm2.
And do it without asking Siri or using a calculator to stay sharp.

@PaddleDog52 I was going to send you a steak, do you want me to chew if first?

94.5 sq in = 610 cm2
99.7 sq in = 643 cm2
110 sq in = 709 cm2 or (107 sq = 691 cm2)*

  • depends on which site you read, so I just listed inches.

@Buffalo_Alice I down have a Siri. I just say Computer convert

@PaddleDog52 I’m unsure of your question. I hope it’s answered though. "cm . . . cm inches is dead in the paddling world. Not my paddling world. They represent actual dimensions so they’re valid anywhere. I can convert the sq in, paddle inch size, and oz. to metric, but that would be exceedingly tiresome and a bit jambed up in such a little space. Or you could be a peach and do it for me so I can go back to “The Gentlemen”.

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Works every time and doesn’t talk back like Siri.


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it’s spying on you. :laughing:

i have no trouble converting just saying jyak should list both if he wants to make it easy as he said :joy::laughing::laughing::laughing:

they built the Empire State Building with :pencil2::memo::pencil2::pencil2::pencil2::memo::pencil2::memo::pencil2: