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scrapiron
member (15)member
 
11/07/2019 10:14AM
Just started in the canoe world and need to get some paddles. I've got a Sawyer x17.

We'll be mainly in lakes and saltwater inshore (so some shallows). Right now thinking a bent shaft for the bow person and a beaver tail for the stern paddler. Or can we use a bent shaft for both positions? We are all experienced kayakers but new with the canoe. And right now not comfortable dropping $ for carbon paddles just yet.

Is there a big difference between Bending Branches or Wenonah (Grey Owl)? Looking to spend around $100- $120 per paddle. Any other brands I should investigate?

Bending Branches: BB Special for the bent shaft and the Beavertail for the straight.
Wenonah: Boundary Waters for the bent shaft and ? for the straight
Grey Owl: Sprite for the bent and the Guide? for straight

Thanks for any advice!
 
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Tomcat
distinguished member (296)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/07/2019 11:12AM
I prefer T handle, straight shaft, straight blade paddle similar to Werner Luna. Only paddle I own or use.

Werner Luna Paddle

 
TreeBear
member (16)member
 
11/07/2019 11:33AM
Other people may have stronger opinions on this, but, in my experience, a paddle is all about feel. There may be general rules like a bent shaft is "a little harder to rudder with", but I have never had issues with a bent shaft in the stern. You will also get to choose length, handle/grip style, and the degree of bent shaft. The options are as wide and varied as your imagination.

Yes, certain blade shapes and grips and lengths are designed for certain applications, but for the average paddler, it's all about feel. Palm grip or t-handle, what feels best in your hands?

Length; sure there is a length that is recommended, but find a paddle that fits your stroke. You don't want to feel like you're reaching. The guidlines for length are a great place to start.

As for blade shape, a big wide blade will move more water, a smaller blade will be less fatiguing. Somewhere in the middle is generally good, and you will find all sorts of shapes and hybrid shapes of blade along the way. If you have friends who paddle, and will let you test what they have, you can get a real good feel for what you like and don't like in terms of feel. Also go to a store or outfitter with paddles and jut hold some.

Like I said, there isn't any really terribly wrong answers in terms of paddle shape, but some will be more practical than others.

As for brand, the ones you have listed have great selection. I own a Sanborn and a FoxWorx. Sanborn are amazing, but can be expensive. I love my FoxWorx bent shaft, and they have really good deals from time to time. I know NorthStar canoe has paddles also, though I have not personally used one.

Good luck. Hope this helped some.
 
MReid
distinguished member (155)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/07/2019 12:07PM
Paddle selection depends mostly on style of paddling. Straight shafts are a bit more versatile, and bent shafts are more efficient for covering ground. Each have variations (straight--beavertail, ottertail, Sugar Island, etc.; bent--carbon vs wood, 8-10-12 degree bends), but the strokes are similar within the class. For many, a good J stroke is the ne plus ultra of canoeing style, others like the raw efficiency of sit and switch. Straight shafts are better for J strokes and most of the "typical" canoe strokes, and are more adapted to casual canoeing (or whitewater). If you want to learn all the canoe strokes, e.g. the "art" of canoeing, then straight shafts are better for learning, and, as I mentioned, more versatile. Having said that, I've paddled bent shafts almost exclusively for over 35 years, and rarely notice their shortcomings (e.g. in whitewater, big waves). But I like fast boats and efficiency. If I paddled a wood and canvas boat, I'd have a Grey Owl beavertail (and probably a ottertail, and some Sanborns, and....). Once you have a basic paddle, you can expand from there--a nice paddle really rewards both your skill and your enjoyment. I think I have 10 paddles currently (and I paddle solo).
 
11/07/2019 12:16PM
Good selection sizes styles, in your price range, FoxWorx Paddles
I have a few prior to name change from Camp Paddle, lighter and more comfortable than the BB's I have.
Personal choice is what it's all about. What feels good to you in hand and on the water is the important point to consider, try as many as possible first, you will change in what you like with experience, so expect to buy a few over the years. My personal ideas probably not be shared with others but to each their own. I personally like full bent short shaft min/med blade width and very slightly longer straight wide as possible, to me tools for use not a piece of art, nor do I care for long skinny blades, beaver/otter tails. But that's me not necessarily you!
I finally decided to spend $$$ on custom spec-ed Zaverals. They are worth every cent paid and my only choice now.

butthead
 
schweady
distinguished member(6679)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/07/2019 12:42PM
You can certainly use a bent shaft paddle in both bow and stern positions. We do it all of the time and prefer it to any return to straight shaft designs. The backward bend in the paddle allows the blade to enter the water more vertically and remain in the water more vertically through a longer portion of the stroke. With my BB Cruiser Plus bent shaft, I'll try any of the various fancy strokes you might want to perform, and I find them every bit as effective as with a straight shaft, at least in the context of our occasional and recreational use.

We do carry a basic wood straight shaft as our spare paddle. Need to have something on which you can clean the walleye, you know. :-)
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
11/07/2019 01:00PM
We use bent shaft paddles in both bow and stern virtually 100% of the time. Lakes, rivers, whatever. We like them. They're comfortable to us and they propel us exactly as they should. No issues.

Frankly, I can't imagine doing a canoe trip and paddling strictly straight blades because I feel the bent shaft paddles are so much more efficient in the water.

And for those who say a bent shaft isn't good for ruddering in the stern... I say, the bent shaft is the perfect ruddering paddle because it's already bent. I have no issue utilizing that corrective stroke while paddling.
 
scrapiron
member (15)member
 
11/07/2019 04:16PM
WOW! Great and informative responses! Thanks!!

I'll check out FoxWorx and their bent blades to see what's what.
 
justpaddlin
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/07/2019 08:26PM
I agree with all the comments. Bending Branches and Grey Owl both make good paddles. FoxWorx are pretty light and reasonably priced. Nothing wrong with using bent shaft in both bow and stern. Straight shafts best for learning. Lots of personal preference involved. All that said you might consider two Grey Owl Scouts to start off. They are nice paddles..my wife won't use anything else. They are low priced and relatively light since they are not laminated lay-ups. They would be good for learning canoe paddle strokes and good enough that you won't feel the need to upgrade for a while and even when you eventually upgrade (perhaps to bents) you'll still enjoy using them. Personally I like straight shaft carbon fiber paddles with short blades since I get the control of a straight shaft with the quickness and ease of use of a bent. I kneel but if I sat I might use my bent shafts more.
 
11/07/2019 09:04PM
Might want to check or troll the for sale section. Could drum up some deals for starter sticks.
I have a few I could part with.

butthead
 
WhiteWolf
distinguished member(4046)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/07/2019 09:17PM
As usual; great info here. My .02 is that most times people end up with a paddle that is slightly too long - based on some chart or etc. at the retail store. Someone posted on "feel" -agree 100%. I'am a stern paddler 95% of the time and switching sides nearly every 3-4 strokes when covering long distances is key and a shorter paddler is something I really like. in the Bow might be different.
 
Banksiana
distinguished member(1961)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/07/2019 09:48PM
justpaddlin: " They are nice paddles..my wife won't use anything else. They are low priced and relatively light since they are not laminated lay-ups. "

Generally lamination saves weight over single piece construction.

If you tend to sit in the seats a bent is a better option with the X-17, if you kneel go straight.
 
scrapiron
member (15)member
 
11/07/2019 10:03PM
More solid advice, thanks everyone!

We'll be in the seats 99% of the time I imagine. I think we'll start with bent shaft paddles- anything that makes it easier helps get us out on the water. :)

On the next topic- size. Measured the BB way- flat chair, tape measure from chair to tip of nose:
Wife's torso is 30" so a 52" bent shaft?
My torso measured 33.5 so a 54" bent shaft?

I'm 6'2, she's 5'10". That paddle length still seems long. I know, I know, there are more accurate ways to figure this out. I'm thinking along with WhiteWolf... should I reduce the above length by 2 inches?

FoxWorx Foxfire Bent Shaft- too much paddle to start with?


 
WhiteWolf
distinguished member(4046)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/08/2019 12:04AM
I'am 5' 11". 50" is big for me. I can handle 49", but 48" is my preferred length. I know that sounds short and all but it's what I like. A few inches doesn't sound like much but when my bow paddler and I switch and he gives me his 51" - it just doesn't feel right especially swinging it from side to side. 54" imo is WAY too big even for someone taller than yourself. But I guess it's all what you get used too..
 
11/08/2019 08:33AM
I've used bent shaft paddles almost exclusively for 30 years.Unless you're way into Whitewater or Free style paddling, I've found you can do pretty much everything with a bent shaft that you can do with a straight. But you get the added efficiency for forward movement in a bent shaft. I've used Bartons ( no longer in business), Wenonahs, Grey Owl ( wood), and currently use a Zaveral. Pricey but a Great paddle. You can get a discount if you get a blemished. I seriously could not find the blemish.
 
THEGrandRapids
distinguished member (153)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/08/2019 09:26AM
I've posted this before. I make paddles and find this to be my favorite method of sizing.

 
scrapiron
member (15)member
 
11/08/2019 10:38AM
Thanks THEGrandRapids.

My 'bluezone' is 36 inches. whoa!
 
11/08/2019 11:01AM
Take time to consider BB Sunburst paddles, been using them for 15 years. I am 6' 1" and prefer a 52" bent paddle or 54" straight for stern.
 
justpaddlin
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/08/2019 11:11AM
scrapiron: "More solid advice, thanks everyone!


We'll be in the seats 99% of the time I imagine. I think we'll start with bent shaft paddles- anything that makes it easier helps get us out on the water. :)


On the next topic- size. Measured the BB way- flat chair, tape measure from chair to tip of nose:
Wife's torso is 30" so a 52" bent shaft?
My torso measured 33.5 so a 54" bent shaft?

I'm 6'2, she's 5'10". That paddle length still seems long. I know, I know, there are more accurate ways to figure this out. I'm thinking along with WhiteWolf... should I reduce the above length by 2 inches?

FoxWorx Foxfire Bent Shaft- too much paddle to start with?"

I'm not sure what you mean by "too much paddle" but that Foxfire looks very nice so no matter what you mean the answer is no. It's nice that they offer it in one inch size increments. Fortunately I kneel so don't have to take any responsibility in helping you choose the right length.

You're actually wanting to size the right shaft length, not the overall paddle length. The height of your seat can affect proper shaft length. You want to make sure the paddle blade is fully underwater during the power phase of your stroke and as the shaft gets "too long" it may be harder to do proper vertical paddle strokes (with your hands stacked) and you may to do sweep strokes which aren't as efficient. It sure would be good to borrow some bents to help you figure out sizing...if you are near SW Michigan you could try a couple of mine.

Just FYI one option you have would be to buy a couple of Zaverals in their sturdy and less expensive Recreational lay-up and also request blems. They would still be around $215 each but if you are brave you can order them on the long side and request that the handles not be glued. The handles will stay in place fine with electrical tape. Then you can use them and shorten the shafts a little at a time with a hacksaw until they feel perfect. It's easy to cut a carbon fiber shaft with a hacksaw...just wrap tape around it before cutting to help avoid fraying at the cut. This approach would pretty much guarantee that you get top quality paddles that fit and help you avoid any "trial and error" boo boos around buying the wrong length paddles.

Alternatively you might buy one Foxfire first and trade between yourself and your partner to see who likes it best and then you'd have a better idea of the ideal length for the other person.



 
sedges
distinguished member (469)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/08/2019 11:29AM
Matching cadence bow and stern is important for efficiency and stability in rough conditions.

A bent shaft in the bow and beavertail in the stern will make matching cadence difficult unless it is a real short beavertail (long bents really don't work). Two bents is best, but if one person doesn't especially like the bent a shorter straight shaft with a blade shape similar to the bent will work well. Often a stern paddler will prefer a straight for easier steering strokes, but make it short enough that you can easily match cadence with your bow paddler.

We travel with two bents which we use most of the time. Our spare is a heavy duty straight shaft that we get out for a shallow rocky passage or one that requires strong draw strokes to maneuver.
 
scrapiron
member (15)member
 
11/08/2019 11:29AM
Whew, those BB Sunburst sure do look nice (and light!) but are outside my budget. Same with the Zaverals- I love the idea of getting a perfect/custom fit but want to stay within $200- $250 for two paddles. And shipping, I always forget about shipping. :(

So silly me... remembered I've been using a SeaSense 54" paddle and that has seemed too short for me. The blade is only 14.5" long-not sure if that matters. I've got about 3.5 inches between the bottom of my and and the top of the blade (using Badgerpaddle method of 90 degree arm bend).

'too much paddle' meaning too much $. :)

We're in NC and canoeing isn't a 'thing' around here. A veritable wasteland. I talked to Dale @ FoxWorx and he suggested the Classic bent for me and the Microlite bent for my wife. Just outside my budget, but doable.

I like the idea of ordering one and seeing how it feels, thanks for that suggestion.
 
sedges
distinguished member (469)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/08/2019 02:01PM
I would not recommend spending a lot on first paddles. Hundred bucks a piece would get you a decent paddle that you could use for decades. After you have been paddling a while you will know what you want to fine tune your paddle decisions. Those few ounces you shave off cost a bunch, as does fancy layups. Bending Branches are $99 at REI if you have one near enough to visit. Two bents and a straight for $300 minus the dividend would be $270. Oh yeah there is tax.

Much cheaper than that often do not have comfortable shaft and grip shapes and have very bad finishes. This is the only one I might consider:

https://www.cavinesspaddles.net/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=BS14

This company has made real cheap, poorly design paddles for decades, but recently developed a more sophisticated line and they are OK for the money. Oval shaft and OK top grip. Free shipping, too.

If you have any woodworking interests, laminated paddles are amazing easy to make and fun to experiment with.

I'm in NE GA where are you in NC?
 
scrapiron
member (15)member
 
11/08/2019 05:38PM
I'm in Raleigh, NC.

I see what you did there. :) Added a straight shaft paddle into the mix.

On one hand I agree- I'd like to keep the investment small till I get a feel for what works. On the other hand, I know there's a typical entry point to get past the junk stuff- with paddles it seems to be around $100. And then there's the, well, for 'just' a little more, you step up a level or two. I do want to get the most efficient paddle for my bow person- will make a difference on enjoyment/use/participation as I found out with kayak paddles.

Looked at the Cavieness paddles at Cabela's.. they're still making terrible paddles. wow did they stink. Rough, bent, crooked, etc. Sure, they were around $20- $25, but bleh. I'll look at the premium line you linked.
 
TreeBear
member (16)member
 
11/08/2019 10:51PM
Yah, paddles can get expensive quick. There is also a lot of junk around if you look for it, but there is always ways to get nice paddle cheaper. Watch for the sales during the off season. I know my Sanborn came in a 50% of sale at one point in the past. My FoxWorx paddle came from their "specials" page and is a "prototype" paddle made from spare pieces put together that they were selling cheaply. Just because there are $200 paddles out there, doesn't mean you have to spend $200 to get that paddle. Unless you are looking for this paddle in a week or two, black friday and cyber monday are coming up. Paddle companies sometimes post sales like any other company during that time. Also, January/February rolls around and the paddle companies start posting their "seconds, defects, and one-of-a-kinds" for really awesome deals. In my experience waiting around is worth you while, unless you need it right away. Good luck. There are a lot of really awesome options around, and the searching process can be fun!
 
andym
distinguished member(4442)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/09/2019 07:13PM
I had not seen the Badger paddles method of sizing and tried it on one of my paddles. Seems to work pretty well for me. And I like that it makes a good point about it being the shaft length that matters and not the overall length of the paddle which depends on the blade.

It does leave out variations in seat height above the water but that tends to be a much smaller effect than body size.

Other than that, I like the advice given already. I would get two bent shaft paddles that use up most of your budget and a cheaper straight as a spare and to give that a try too.

For a really inexpensive straight shaft paddle, consider a Carlisle metal/plastic paddle. They're about $20 on Amazon and we use them for guests and sometimes as our own spares. They get the job done.
 
mschi772
distinguished member (292)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/09/2019 07:22PM
Am I insane for being really interested in trying a bent-shaft ottertail? I've never even heard of one existing, but I'm thinking about having one made to experience what it might be like.
 
unshavenman
distinguished member(1149)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/09/2019 11:13PM
I see Sanborn currently has their wilderness paddles on sale. You might want to check them out: Sanborn Wilderness Paddles
 
mjmkjun
distinguished member(2513)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/10/2019 07:54AM
I highly recommend Fox Worx paddles, also. Their site has a discounted section that's worth a glance. I don't care for bent paddles but to each his/her own style. In fact, I purchased a Zaveral bent shaft but can't warm up to it. It's super lightweight, tho.
The selections out there are mind-boggling, aren't they? Good luck with your search. It's a personal, kinda intimate thing selecting a paddle--especially in-store.
Ultimately, I paddle with a double blade (kayak) paddle--especially for crossings on lakes. I'm just more efficient with a yak paddle. (soloist)
 
justpaddlin
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/10/2019 08:37AM
mschi772: "Am I insane for being really interested in trying a bent-shaft ottertail? I've never even heard of one existing, but I'm thinking about having one made to experience what it might be like."
You're not insane, just passionate and curious. I'd guess that the biggest reason we don't see bent shafts with long blades is that it would be awkward to get the long blade out of the water after each stroke. Long paddles also don't swing as effortlessly as short ones so they will slow down your cadence pretty dramatically (a 10% increase in length increases swing inertia by around 40%). If you try using a straight shaft Ottertail like a bent shaft you can get some feel for the awkwardness. If you have a bent Ottertail made you'd want to keep the shaft length on the short side.
 
TrekScouter
distinguished member (366)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/10/2019 09:13AM
sedges: "Matching cadence bow and stern is important for efficiency and stability in rough conditions.

A bent shaft in the bow and beavertail in the stern will make matching cadence difficult [snip]"


+1 on this. You’ll want to have paddles of reasonably similar style front and rear. A long narrow beavertail and a short fat racing blade are not a good match, regardless of who sits front and rear.
 
mschi772
distinguished member (292)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/11/2019 02:50PM
justpaddlin: "mschi772: "Am I insane for being really interested in trying a bent-shaft ottertail? I've never even heard of one existing, but I'm thinking about having one made to experience what it might be like."
You're not insane, just passionate and curious. I'd guess that the biggest reason we don't see bent shafts with long blades is that it would be awkward to get the long blade out of the water after each stroke. Long paddles also don't swing as effortlessly as short ones so they will slow down your cadence pretty dramatically (a 10% increase in length increases swing inertia by around 40%). If you try using a straight shaft Ottertail like a bent shaft you can get some feel for the awkwardness. If you have a bent Ottertail made you'd want to keep the shaft length on the short side."


Well, if I ever have one made, I'll look you up and let you know how it goes. I know just the guys who'd make one for me, too. Winnebago Paddles made this custom bent-shaft for my girlfriend a couple years ago now, and it has been awesome.
 
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