Choosing a Kayak Fishing Paddle
Hi, Jeff Little here. I'm the regional Pro Staff director for the Wilderness Systems Fishing Team, and in this Paddling.net video, fellow Pro Staffer Juan Veruete and I will be covering how to choose the right paddle for your boat and your fishery.
Juan Veruete: I'm going to show you the paddle that I'm using out here on the river today. The first things I want to talk to you about is the shaft length of the paddle. It's really important to pick the appropriate shaft length for these wider boats we're using on the river.
This one, in particular, fits me well. It's a 230 cm paddle, which is nice with these wider boats. It allows me to clear the gunwales of the boat and not be banging all day long and scaring the fish. But also, the added feature of this paddle that I really like is that I can take this 230 cm paddle, open up this ferrule, and extend it out to 235 cm. That's great when I go from my lower seating position to a higher seating position, because I can use the same paddle for both of those types of paddling, both of those types of situations with my seats.
Jeff Little: Much like Juan, I prefer a longer paddle. I also like to have the bent shaft. I have it for different reasons. It is nice that it's ergonomic and you can paddle comfortably with it, compared to a straight shaft. But also, when you're not using it, you set it down. A straight shaft is more likely to slide off your lap and get away from you, whereas that bent shaft, it puts it right where you need it. You always know that bent part of it keeps it right where you expect it. Also, with a bent shaft, and we're out here on the river today, snags are just a part of fishing. So say I'm snagged up there, and I got to get back up to it. How are you going to do it? Are you going to put your rod down and just paddle up to it? Trust me, that doesn't usually go very well because you end up in an even worse tangle with all your line out across bottom of the river. What you want to do is grab the rod and then grab the paddle right in the center, and this bent shaft allows you to one-hand paddle. Your elbow goes right in the bend, right there, and you're able to apply more force, and use your elbow on this side as you move back upstream to get to your snag. So, two more advantages for that bent shaft paddle as opposed to a straight shaft.
Alright, as you can see, side by side, the two different paddle blades, two different designs, on the top here, more aggressive bite for more white water-type areas. And on the bottom here, one that's more suited for flat water. You can use either of these in either condition, but this one's definitely for more flat water, this one's more for whitewater.
Light Paddle Weight!
But whatever paddle you end up getting, what you want to do is to get the most lightweight paddle that you can afford. It's an equivalent of the bass boaters who have their trolling motors to keep them in place. In the same way, we have our paddles. You hear about the guys that run bass fishing boats upgrading from a 35 pound thrust trolling motor to a 60 pound thrust. The equivalent is this: our paddle. You're going to get more power if you use a lighter paddle.
In my garage at home, in the corner, I got a stack of old paddles that I'll probably never ever use again. Sometimes I give them away to people. Those are the ones I started off with when I was kayak fishing. I would get the cheap one, and I see a lot of people do this. Next year, they upgrade because they borrow a friend's lightweight paddle and say "Well, all right, we're going to buy the next lighter weight paddle." You really do yourself a favor when you get yourself the lightest weight one you can afford. The first time, you don't end up doing upgrades each year. You end up with the one you're going to use for years to come.
This has been Jeff Little with Wilderness Systems Kayaking, wishing you more time with your line in the water.