Most people who are buying their first kayak or canoe will buy a standard pair of kayak paddles which more often than not are thrown in at no extra cost by the kayak dealer. Obviously buying a set of paddles is just one of the kayak accessories you will have to consider when taking up the sport.
Before splashing out on an expensive set of paddles consider the fact that together with the kayak you will need to also purchase a life jacket, paddle leash dry bags and so on.
Like most things you get what you pay for and whilst entry level paddles will get you from A to B and will be perfectly suitable for playing around in the water while you decide if kayaking is for you, you will notice the difference in performance when you come to upgrade your paddles further down the line.
It is probably a good idea when buying your first set of paddles to opt for a set that will allow you to adjust the angle of the blades to a feathered position. A feathered blade is where the position of the blades are at an angle to each other and can be adjusted to a ninety degree offset to suit your paddling style.
There are various adjustments but usually there are spring loaded clip fasteners on the shaft of the kayak paddles which allow both halves to be rotated until you obtain the desired positions and then clipped into place. Essentially it is just a question of trying out the various positions to find out which one is best for your style of paddling and what type of water you are paddling in.
It does not matter if your are paddling a rigid body or inflatable kayak as paddling an inflatable kayak will not require any special type or style of paddle.
A canoe paddle is traditionally a single blade and is can be used from both a sitting and kneeling position. Kayak fishing paddles have blades at both ends and are used alternately in order to propel the boat forwards and backwards.
If you are going on a long journey I would advise to try and buy the lightest paddles you possibly can within your budget making sure they are also decent quality. You will be surprised how even the smallest variation in the weight can make a huge difference when holding them for hours on end. You only have to hold your arms out in front of you for a short time to feel the strain so now imagine holding some kayak fishing paddles as well and you will appreciate this advice.
The best way to choose the best paddles for kayak fishing is to visit your local kayak sales dealer and ask their advice as they will be able to find the best paddle length and style for the type of kayaking you will be doing and what paddles will be best for the type of boat you will be using.
Kayak Paddles Overview
Bearing in mind you will be using your kayak paddles for going forwards and backwards as well as turning and bracing you will want to make sure you have a decent set of kayak paddles if you are serious about kayaking.
Paddles are one of the most important kayak accessories to have because without them you are not going to get very far.
Recreational kayaking is one of the fastest growing outdoor sports today. More and more people are finding out the joys of kayaking.
The great thing about kayaking is it s something that just about anyone can do and if its just about having a leisurely and fun paddle around then a cheap set of kayak paddles will suffice and there is no real necessity to learn the more advanced paddle strokes. However if your intention is to do a lot of paddling and especially over long distances then it will pay you to learn some paddling techniques.
Kayak paddles are made from various materials but are usually carbon, fibreglass, aluminium or wood. Kayak paddles have two blades attached to either end of the shaft. I have broken down terms normally associated with the various parts of your kayak paddles.
The Tip – The very top of the paddles.
The Blade – The blades are the ‘bat’ like part of your kayak paddles which are at the end of the shaft. They are dipped into the water alternately allowing you to propel the boat.
The Shaft –This is the part of the paddle which you hold. The shaft design can be straight or crooked depending on what style suits you.
Convex – Convex simply describes the shape of the blades. If the blades have a scoop like curve then they are convex paddles.
The Power Face – This is the scooped side of the blade, if you imagine the blade was a spoon this is the part of the blade where your food would be loaded.
The Back Face – This is the back of the blade, the opposite side of the power face.
Drip Rings – Drip rings are small rubber disks that normally slide up and down the shaft and are designed to stop water dripping down the shaft or onto the paddler.
For optimum paddling performance you should hold your kayak paddles with a loose grip so that there is minimal strain to your wrists and forearms.
Ideally you should hold the shaft so that your forearms are at a ninety degree angle. A good way to size this up is to place the shaft on top of your head and then place your hands on the shaft so that your arms are at a ninety degree angle. You can move your drip rings along the shaft and use them as a marker.
The best place to get a feel of what paddles will be right for you is at your local kayak dealers.
Good kayak dealers will help you with your selection and some kayak dealers will allow you to demo sets of paddles before you make up your mind.