The hybrid kayak/paddleboards from Diablo Paddlesports have been making a big splash here at ACK and especially among our local kayak fishing customers who like to fish calm fresh water & saltwater flats. That’s why we were very excited when we picked up Sawyer’s new 3-in-1 Versa paddle, which functions as a kayak paddle, SUP paddle & push pole. Recently, one of our Houston store customers submitted the following review of how the Versa paddle performed with his Diablo Adios kayak. Here’s what he had to say:
I recently added a Diablo Adios to the fleet and as a consequence, needed a SUP paddle to get around. My dream paddle would: work as a SUP, convert to a traditional kayak paddle, be a push pole in the shallows and be available as a stake out stick as well. That sounds more like a dream than realistic requirements! Tom Flemons with Diablo showed me a broad range of choices at the Houston ACK Demo Day. I settled on a high tech / high dollar choice: the Sawyer Versa Trident. Great thanks go to Dave Graves at ACK-Houston for help in ordering and tolerating my impatience prior to delivery.
So here is the review:
This is my first encounter with a carbon fiber shaft + carbon fiber paddle. The space age materials rock! Blade and shaft stiffness translate to really moving through the water. Similar with Werner, I suppose. The wood inserts in the paddle add some weight. They look pretty but I would probably trade them for less weight and increased durability in our marsh. Most of my paddling is in less than 2 feet of water along salt marshes and shorelines. I generally don’t need to paddle great distances but fight constant wind.
SUP Paddle Review: Set up as a SUP Paddle, the Trident really pushes water. The non-traditional shape worried me in pictures: would I be able to maneuver as well as with a standard “shovel” paddle? The answer is yes and no. Paddling and turning is actually a bit easier with the trident shape. When the blade is further from the board edge, it catches maximum water. This makes positioning exceptionally easy. The trade off is less raw power in a touring set up.
Kayak Paddle Review: The Trident has a quick lock system that allows you to take off handle and replace it with a second trident shaped blade. Voila! You now have a traditional sit down kayak paddle in your hands. This is a great convenience for my needs. I will often cruise flats with a wind at my back in SUP mode looking for fish. Then I need to get back to my launch site with a facing wind. Not much fun standing, to say the least. Being able to convert to a traditional kayak paddle confuguration really makes the Trident a valuable tool. As a sit down paddle, it has less cup to the blade than you would like and tends to twist a bit with strong strokes. With that said, paddling the Adios in a sitting position is a perfectly vialbe alternative wit this paddle and my speed is good.
Push Pole Review: Dave Graves graciously suggested that I protect the pretty wood handle on the SUP extension before using it as a push pole. Two dollars of commercial neoprene, some glue and electric tape covered the wood well. This matters for my, as there are plenty of oysters in my marsh and I dread the thought of shredding a $500 paddle with oyster rash! and WOW this is where the Versa Trident shines. I can plane my Adios across a mere inch or two of water by turning the SUP upside down and going to push pole mode. Perfect for getting into grass, across flats and positioning for the perfect fly cast. It doesn’t work as a stake out stick, so I still carry one.
Bottom Line: Like EVERYTHING in the paddle world, the Versa Trident has a number of trade offs. It is neither the best touring SUP paddle nor traditional kayak paddle on the market. But its quality and design make it a reasonable alternative for both. Where it shines is in shallow water real life fishing conditions. My real need is to slip quietly along a grassy shoreline looking for tailing reds in shallow water. I drag and whell more than cross open water. I want to be able to stop and turn easily. The Versa Trident fits that requirement perfectly. The telescoping extension makes it a good tool for big craft (i.e. Hobie Pro Anglers) in shallow water where peddling may be a challenge. It is costly but worth the investment to carry one tool for three purposes.