How to Choose a Paddle That’s Right For You

Blade shape and paddling style – From a Fisherman’s perspective

Simply put, if you focus on a paddle that fits you it will means less fatigue, more time on the water and more fish in your boat.  A lot goes into a great paddling paddle and each manufacture will happily tell their story, so do your research, try stuff out and make an informed decision. However the constant between all brands is that you are going to see two general blade shapes.  They will differ some, but generally you’ll have short and fat or long and skinny.  Each shape is designed specifically to perform better with your paddling style.  Now sure you can use anyHooked-Kalliste. Back face Paddle blade, paddle however you want, but to get the most from your paddling match the blade shape to your paddling style.  Let’s take a closer look.

Long and Skinny.  This shape is for “Low-Angle” paddling.  In this style your top hand is shoulder height during your stroke, and much more relaxed as it puts less pressure on your smaller muscle groups.  This allows you to spend more time focusing on landing fish. Continue reading How to Choose a Paddle That’s Right For You

You Saw What?! 10 Interesting On The Water Finds

Canoe Relaxation

We asked our Facebook fans, “What’s the strangest thing you’ve found while out on the water?” As you might imagine, there were some interesting responses. Here were 10 of our favorites on the water finds:

1. A canoe which had been lost in a tornado and floated 30 miles down river. (It was returned to the rightful owner) — Found by James H.

2.  A baby deer! It had fallen off an island in a large lake we were paddling. Several live on it and swim across to forage. It must have been born on the island. It’s mom got our attention by grunting at us and kind of lead us to it while we paddled – until we heard it cry. It was probably a few days old. We aren’t sure how long it had been paddling. Hubby got out – (water was only a few feet deep at the shore) picked it up with one hand and put it on the land. It curled up and fell asleep immediately. We’ve seen it since – growing and doing well. — Found by Jan G.

3. Chupacabra — Found by Gabe G.

4. I found an old Nazi belt buckle while fly fishing in Germany. Also a bowling ball in the same stream! — Found by Kevin I.

5. Bongos, oh yeah and a tongue in a jar! — Found by owners of Diablo Paddlesports

6. I was on a date after a big rain and there was a long-stemmed rose floating in the debris. Too bad my date couldn’t take credit! — Found by Stacey B.

7. Myself — Found by Dave E.

8. A waterproof Digital camera that I still use today.  — Found by John N.

9. 5 baby alligators — Found by Bob M.

10. Brand new Bending Branches paddle. No 1 claimed it. — Found by Rodney M. (he’s a lucky guy!)

So what have you found out on the water during your paddles? Let us know by commenting below! The entire collection of responses can be found here.

10 Of Your Biggest Paddling Accomplishments from 2013

ACK's own Andrew caught his first ever King Mackerel in 2013.
Andrew caught his first ever King Mackerel in 2013.

With 2013 behind us, many paddlers are looking back at their paddling accomplishments from 2013 and feeling good about what they were able to do with their kayak, canoe or paddleboard. I wanted to get a sense for exactly what people had accomplished over the past year so I started asking around. Here were the most common 10 that I heard:

  1. Buying a first kayak, canoe or paddleboard. No wonder we had to ship so many kayaks out last year! 2013 was a year that many paddlers made their first big purchase and they were certainly proud of it.
  2. Going kayaking more than in 2012. For many paddlers, just getting out more than they did in 2012 was their biggest accomplishment. I can attest, making time for paddling can sometimes be hard but always worth it!
  3. Not flipping over, falling out of the kayak, or losing anything over board. Add a couple of gear leashes and you’ll be a shoe-in for this accomplishment in 2014.
  4. Taking on a particularly long or strenuous paddling trip. Going on a long kayak camping trip or taking on a difficult whitewater river is a big accomplishment and in 2013 many paddlers were able to do just that!
  5. Visiting a certain paddling spot. Many paddlers were able to take a long trip to visit a special paddling destination in 2013, which is great! This also happened to be one of the 5 most common paddling goals for 2014 as well.
  6. Rolling for the first time. It’s an awesome feeling when you finally perform your first successful roll and something many paddlers learned to do in 2013!
  7. Going to the Boondoggle. The kayak fishing Boondoggle was a chance for kayak anglers from across the country to come together and have a good time in 2013. We were very glad to be a part of it!
  8. Taking a paddling class or getting a paddling certification. Whether it was becoming a certified guide or instructor or just taking a couple classes with the ACA, 2013 was a year many paddlers learned new skills!
  9. Winning a paddling competition like a fishing tournament or race. As if participating in an paddling event wasn’t enough, we heard from many paddlers who caught the biggest fish or paddled the fastest. Keep it up!
  10. Insert joke about paddling in the classroom or the bedroom. Ya..when you start asking people what their biggest paddling accomplishment was in 2013, you’re bound to hear a few bad jokes.

So what was your biggest accomplishment? Leave a comment below and let us know!

ACK Now on Instagram

Check Out ACK on Instagram!

ACK is starting off the new year with a newly minted Instagram account! With all of our fun kayaking events, plus our entertaining behind-the-scenes shenanigans, we needed a good way to show off our photos. Give us a follow, @Austin_Kayak.


Tag your paddling/fishing/outdoors related photos with #ACK, or #austinkayak and we will show off some of your best shots on our feed! Also, keep an eye out for some photo contests in the coming months — we’ve got lots of cool gear to give away!


5 Ways Passionate Paddlers are Celebrating Halloween

With Halloween on the horizon, here are 5 unique ways paddlers are celebrating Halloween:

1. Spooky Kayak Decorations, because nothing says scary like a skeleton in a kayak.

Because nothing says scary like a skeleton in a kayak.

2. Dressing Up Like Mr. CanoeHead, this insurance salesman turned super hero is a reference no one will probably get.

Mr. Canoehead

3. Paddling a..Pumpkin? It’s a farmer thing.

It's a farmer thing.

 4. Paddling in Costume, just call him The Super Paddler.

Just call him the Super Paddler.

5. Giving out these to Trick-or-Treat-ers. Who cares what it tastes like, it’s wrapper is a canoe.

Who cares what it tastes like, it's wrapper is a canoe.

So what are you doing to incorporate paddling into your holiday? Let us know by commenting below!


[Inspiring Adventure]: Two Girls and a Tree Named Makeba

Have you ever wanted to build something with your own hands? Have you ever wanted to go on adventure that might leave you feeling like you’re living in a bygone era? Well here’s an inspiring story for those with a bit of old-fashioned wanderlust:

Packed only with essential camping and boating supplies (plus documentation tools like cameras and journals), best friends Amy Lukas and Mary Catterlin, who call their project “Two Girls and a Tree Named Makeba”, recently set out on a trip to circumnavigate Lake Michigan in their own hand-made dugout canoe. The trip itself took the two women exactly three months to complete and they ended up traveling close to 1,200 miles in their own boat! I’d consider this a daunting task in a ready-made store-bought canoe, let alone one of my own design and creation!

The boat itself, made from a cottonwood tree and weighing in around 300 pounds, took Catterlin 4 years to complete and once finished, Lukas helped fit the boat with a sail and outriggers before the voyage.

Catterlin and Lukas say they, “spent a quarter of a year camped on beaches, campgrounds, sleeping aboard boats, and in the homes of many new found friends.” That doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend three months if you ask us!

The two friends have recently been touring around the northern United States giving presentations to captive audiences. Oh and if you’re wondering, Catterlin says, “Makeba is named after Miriam Makeba, a calypso singer from South Africa who spoke out against apartheid, in link to the famous explorer Jacques Cousteau and his boat named Calypso.” So there ya go!

Check out this video of their excursion and let us know what grand trip you might be plotting out and remember, ACK is the place to be if you want to outfit your adventure!

Trent @ACK

Announcing the 2013 Spring Kayak Demo Days!

It’s that time again! The 2013 Spring Demo Days are almost here and we hope you are as excited as us to experience one of the most sought after events in the paddling community.

This year, we will offer two days of full out on the water action for all three demos! Expect to see and demo a wide selection of kayaks, standup paddleboards (SUPs) and canoes. Expect raffles, lots of vendor representation and clinics all day long on a wide range of topics. We’re particularly excited about some new clinic topics this year, like Kayak Fly Fishing with Diablo Paddlesports.

Here are the dates and information but for complete details and maps, click here.

Austin, Texas:
Date: April 6 & 7 (Saturday & Sunday)
Location: Hyde Park Quarries
Sat 10am-4pm & Sun 12pm-4pm (rain or shine)

San Marcos, Texas:
Date: April 13 & 14 (Saturday & Sunday)
Location: Texas Ski Ranch
Sat 10am-4pm & Sun 12pm-4pm (rain or shine)

Houston Demo Days:
**There will be two locations this year to better serve Houston area residents!**
Date: April 13 (Saturday)
Location: Independence Park
Time: 10am-4pm (rain or shine)

Date: April 14 (Sunday)
Location: Elizabeth Kaiser Meyer Park Pond
Time: 10am-4pm (rain or shine)

As always, these events are FREE to attend! Check back in for the latest details including clinic times and topics! 

For more information, directions and maps, visit

Boat Pinned? Learn the Z-Drag

Boat pinned in fast moving water? Learn the Z-Drag System. With a length of rope, a few carabiners, and a couple of slings you can quickly set up a simple system to free a pinned canoe, kayak or raft.

Tie a loop in the end of your throw bag and attach this to a central point on the boat with a carabiner if possible. There will be significant force so make sure the attachment point is sturdy and that the carabiner is load rated. Throw the bag of rope to shore. Loop a sling around a tree, pole, rock or some other secure object (this will be your fixed anchor) and secure the sling to itself with another carabiner.  Pass the rope from your throw bag through this carabiner. Using another sling make a Prusik knot on the rope as close to the pinned boat as possible and attach a carabiner here and pass the rope through this carabiner. To ensure that you don’t lose ground once you begin pulling, add another Prusik knot to the rope between the fixed anchor and the boat, attaching this to the anchor sling with a carabiner. This will act as a brake should you lose your grip.


Holiday Shipping Schedule

If you’re planning on gifting a kayak this year (whether for friend, family member or…ahem, yourself), and you want it to arrive by the 24th, time is running out! Take a look at our Holiday Shipping Schedule and you’ll see that Friday, December 14th, is the last day to order to ensure your kayak gets delivered on time. The schedule also shows shipping cutoffs for non-boat orders as well. Happy Holidays everyone!

In the News: Man Calls 14-Foot Canoe on Boston Harbor Home

Next time you visit Boston, look out into the Harbor and see if you spot an older gentleman paddling a very loaded 14 foot aluminum canoe with patches of duct tape decorating it’s hull. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ve spotted Michael Richard Smith, who has been calling the canoe his home for the past two months. His routine involves paddling about the Harbor during the day and then setting up a tent on one of the many harbor’s docks or islands for the night.

It was nice to read that not only did the local Police and Coast Guard check in on him to ensure he hasn’t docked anywhere that poses a security risk to either himself or anyone else, but they also outfitted him with a new reflective PFD & whistle. Read the full story here.