Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing
Often times when anglers make a kayak purchase, they overlook the second most important accessory, the paddle. Now, paddles aren’t always the most exciting piece of gear to purchase but it can make a major difference while out on the water. When you consider how much you use a paddle on any given trip, it only makes sense to take the time to select a kayak fishing paddle that’ll work best for you.
When I bought my first kayak, I grabbed the cheapest paddle off the shelf thinking it wouldn’t matter. Shortly after that purchase, I was at a paddle sports show looking for a lighter paddle that would provide the best performance. I couldn’t believe how much it changed the way I was able to control my kayak and position myself to fish spots. Over the course of a day, a lighter paddle can save your shoulders. When you think about how heavy cheap paddles can be, a lighter paddle can result in lifting far less weight each trip.
Kayak Fishing Paddle Size
If you’ve ever looked at kayak paddles or even purchased one, you already know that regardless of your selection, it isn’t as straightforward as grabbing one and getting on the water. One of the most overlooked factors in selecting a paddle for your kayak, is size. Paddles are not one-size fits all, far from it actually.
When figuring out what size paddle you need, you’ll need to consider some aspects of your kayak as well as you as the paddler. Essentially the two things to consider is your height, and the width of your kayak. If you get a paddle that’s too short, you’ll find yourself bending over with each paddle, eventually you’ll be in some serious pain. Before you make a purchase, be sure to take note of your kayak, it’s width and your own height.
Most paddles these days are designed with modern fishing kayaks in mind. Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing
This means they’re meant for kayaks that tend to be wider and larger overall. Fishing paddles start off larger than most recreational or other styles. With many fishing kayaks easily measuring over 32 inches in width, you’ll want to select a paddle with a 240cm shaft. This is primarily for sit-on-top kayaks that keep the paddler higher up in the water. If you fish out of a sit-inside, you’ll be closer to the water and won’t require as long of a paddle. A quick search online and you can find charts that make suggestions for paddle sizes based on height and kayak size. These are great in a pinch but if you can, go to a local paddle shop and check out the options and figure out what will work best for you.
Kayak Fishing Paddle Blades
The blades on a kayak fishing paddle play a major role in how effective a paddle will be in moving and maneuvering your kayak from spot to spot. With fishing kayaks being larger in size, you’ll need to make sure you select a blade size and material that will be strong enough.
The two main blade shapes you’ll see are low-angle and high-angle. Low-angle blades are great for flat water paddling, the type that most recreational kayaks are known for. High-angle blades are ideal for getting the most bite out of every paddle stroke. This makes high-angle blades ideal for kayak anglers as it allows them to get the most out of every paddle. High-angle blades are typically designed to have increased strength which is needed for larger fishing kayaks.
A major advantage to a high-angle blade, is depending on the material its made out of, it can become an effective paddle while standing up. Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing
If you like to stand in your kayak, you’ll find yourself reaching for your paddle every so often to adjust your position. High-angle blades are large enough that they can be used as a stand up paddle if anglers find themselves needing one. Typically, these blades are made strong enough to withstand this type of use.
With the popularity of kayak fishing growing rapidly, many companies have began working in features for anglers into their paddles, specifically the blades. Many paddles now come with a notch in their paddles that allows anglers to retrieve a bait that may be hooked up in a tree or some submerged cover. Other paddles come with a ruler on the shaft of the paddle that can be used to measure fish after you catch them. I’m not sure how much these features get used, but it’s great to see companies considering anglers in their new designs.
To steal a phrase from many paddle companies, saving weight raises both performance and price.
Lightweight materials can be critical in preventing fatigue in your shoulders as well has how much energy is transferred to your paddle stroke. You get what you pay for with paddles, the more you spend, the easier your day will be on the water. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune to get a light paddle, but expect to pay between $150 – $200 minimum to get something that’s light and strong.
Kayak Fishing Paddle Shaft
Besides the blade of a kayak fishing paddle, the shaft is the other main component. Shafts for kayak angling are typically straight. Paddle companies do make shafts that are bent, but these are typically designed for whitewater applications. Just like blades, shafts can come in a variety of different materials. Materials ranging from aluminum to carbon fiber.
Carbon Fiber and fiberglass offer lighter alternatives to aluminum and are efficient options.
Kayak Fishing Paddle: Try Before You Buy
While it sounds simple, try before you by is the best advice I can give. Just like every other accessory for your kayak, go try out paddles before you buy them. Even if you can’t get on the water, go to the local paddle shop and get a feel for how it is in your hands, the weight and the shape. While you’re at the shops, ask questions, get answers and figure out what’s going to work best for you and for your needs.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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