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

10 Reasons To Go Paddling

At ACK we love paddling for a number of reasons- but we don’t want to focus on why we are obsessed!

We took to our Facebook page and asked all of our customers what makes them want  to go out

Werner SUP Paddles
Werner SUP Paddles

paddling and got some great answers. Y’all answered with everything from waking up to getting excited about the weather hitting 55 – so we thought we’d share a few with you.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. A bad week at work! Plus a beautiful sunny day!

  2. A good 6 inch rain

  3. When I’m out on the water all of the BS in life disappears for a while

  4. Rain, snow, sleet, hail and even sun makes me want to go paddling

  5. Work!

  6. Good weather and good friends

  7. Owning my first kayak I bought at demo day

  8. Just being out there. Fishing is fun but the joy of paddling makes it special

    Sunset Paddle
    Post-Work Paddle
  9. It’s such a peaceful and relaxing time that I get to share with my husband/wife and no other distractions

  10. Fishing!

  11. The “itch”

Of course we cant forget about some of the smart answers y’all sent in like “I don’t need no stinkin’ reason!” and “Why would you need a reason?!”

We have to give it to them though- a paddler never needs a reason to get out on the water.

How to Choose the Perfect Whitewater or Touring Kayak Paddle

by Danny Mongno, Werner Paddles Marketing Manager

Werner Kayak PaddlesSelecting the perfect kayak paddle is probably the most important decision you will make as a boater. That’s because the paddle is your engine, your tool to transfer energy to the water. Choosing the proper blade shape will allow you to perform at the highest level for your style of boating, and understanding how to get the perfect fit will allow you to be more comfortable, use less energy and spend more time on the water. Although it is such an important decision, it does not have to be hard.

First of all, for either whitewater or touring paddles there are some common choices that you’ll need to make. Let’s go over them now:

Shaft options
The benefits of a straight shaft kayak paddle is that it has a familiar feel; most of us have used a straight shaft at some time and it’s what we are used to. Other benefits are lighter weight and less of an investment. If good technique is used and a paddler can hold on loosely to the paddle, focusing on grasping the shaft with the “O-Kay” symbol all day, pain-free paddling can be obtained.

Whitewater Kayak PaddleFor those who have developed some aches and pains in their hands and wrists, and for those who generally hold on too tightly to their paddle (and let’s face it, we all do when we get nervous), a neutral bent shaft kayak paddle becomes an insurance policy for your body. By always keeping the wrists in an ergonomically correct straight alignment, less pressure is put on the small tendons and ligaments of the wrist and pain is avoided. Although more of an investment, it can make all the difference for spending more time on the water. The concept of neutral bent allows for a smooth transition from your old kayak paddle, as your hand position is familiar and exactly the same as it was on your straight shaft.  The only thing that changes is that your wrists remain straight while paddling.

Shaft diameter and blade size
Both of these options are really common sense and easily determined by your body size. Folks with smaller hands and smaller bodies, should look towards the smaller diameter shaft for a more relaxed grip and a small or medium blade surface area to put less stress and strain on the body. Larger boaters, generally with larger hands, prefer the standard diameter shaft and a medium to full sized blade area, depending on their fitness level.  Remember, a kayak paddle with a bigger blade is not always going to make us more powerful, especially if we are just working too hard to move that extra size through the water. If your hand is larger than 7 inches from the base of your palm to your fingertip, you will want the standard shaft. If the length is smaller than 6.5 inches, you should use the small diameter shaft. In between, you can go either way.

Spend as much as you can afford on your kayak paddle material
Touring Kayak PaddleAs I said early on, the paddle is your engine. You will use less energy on the water, run more drops, surf more waves, paddle further and perform better if you are less tired. A paddle that is lighter to move through the stroke path, referred to as the paddle’s “swing weight,” will allow you to feel fresher as the miles and hours wear on. A kayak paddle with a stiffer material will flex less, causing less water to “escape” from the blade face and for you to use less energy in your stroke to create more motion.

Kayak paddles with higher end materials like Performance Core provide more buoyancy in the blades, which helps you brace with more confidence and roll more easily, even in the most aerated water. Sure, paddles wear over time, but so does your boat, your automobile or mountain bike tires, your tools. However, think of the performance advantages you are getting while on the water. Is your paddling enjoyment worth the investment? Well, I think that sums up how to decide what to spend…how much do you value your time on the water; how far do you want to stretch your skills?

Now, let’s take a few simple steps toward fitting you with the perfect whitewater or touring kayak paddle:

Choosing a Whitewater Kayak Paddle:

Choose the shape of your blade  based on the style of paddling you are doing.

river running kayak paddle1. River running or creek boating:

As we paddle downstream we are faced with many features: holes, waves, eddies, ledges both small and large (i.e. waterfalls). To navigate your way through these obstacles your forward stroke will be far and away the most valuable tool. A river running kayak paddle will have a larger portion of the blade shape at the upper tip, or a focus above the center line of the kayak paddle. This oversized tip allows paddlers to reach the water sooner and get instant bite at the most important part of the forward stroke, the catch. For those paddlers looking  primarily to run rivers or steeper creeks, this is your best choice.

play boating kayak paddle2. Play boating:

As the sport of whitewater kayaking has grown over the years the ways we “play” the river has expanded. For some the feeling of front surfing a glassy wave is what provides that all-day smile while others need to notify the local air traffic controller before they start their aerial assault on the river. No matter what your idea of play boating is, the proper shaped blade will help your performance. By down turning or “drooping” a play boat blade shape, with more focus of the blade surface area below the center line, the kayak paddle will engage the water sooner, allowing paddlers to perform play boat control stokes with greater ease.

3. What if you can’t decide?

If just getting to the river and enjoying your time on the water with your family and friends is your ultimate goal, with no set agenda, we say play the percentages.  What do see yourself doing the most out there? Then buy the blade that works best for that application. Remember, the proper blade shape is going to offer you maximum performance in your discipline, but that is not to say you can’t “cross train”.

Length options

Now that you have the proper blade shape for your paddling style, let’s be sure you have the perfect fit. The perfect fitting kayak paddle will assure comfort and better paddling efficiency.

1. River running kayak paddles will always be longer, again due to the importance of the “catch”. The catch is where the blade first enters the water, where you have the most energy in your stroke. So if your paddle has some extra length you will have more “catch length” and take fewer, more powerful strokes. Generally speaking, short people use 194 cm, medium people 197 cm, tall 200 cm.

2. Play boating kayak paddles tend to be shorter, as you will need to perform more dynamic paddle strokes when performing play boat maneuvers. You will also need to take much faster, higher cadence strokes as you attain upstream to catch waves or drop into holes. For a general rule of thumb, short people should look to a 191 cm, medium at 194 cm and those long folks 197 cm.

Choosing a Touring Kayak Paddle:

Angled Paddling

Choose the shape of your blade based on the style of paddling you are doing.

low angle kayak paddle1. Low angle = “more options”:

Most people enjoy the low angle style of paddling. Low angle paddles have longer and narrower blades designed to pull through each stroke with the right amount of surface area for good power while maintaining a smooth forward stroke. The low angle stroke puts your hands at about shoulder height, is more relaxed and puts significantly less pressure on your upper body, arms and shoulders.

high angle kayak paddle2. High angle = “more commitment to technique but far better tracking”:

This is typically a more aggressive style of paddling with a faster cadence and a larger variety of strokes being used on each paddle outing. By focusing on keeping your top hand about forehead height as you take your stroke you will notice the blade travels closer to the kayak. With the blade traveling in this path your boat will track significantly better and go straighter. Werner’s wider, shorter blade shape puts more surface area of the blade into the water in this position. This does place more emphasis on proper torso rotation since more pressure can be put on your shoulders in this higher angle paddling style. The commitment is worth it though for those looking to take their paddling to a higher performance level in longer, sleeker, light touring and touring kayaks.

3. What if you can’t decide?

What do see yourself doing the most out there?  Look at the boat you’re paddling and your goals in the sport and then buy the blade that works best for that application. Remember, the proper blade shape is going to offer you maximum performance in your discipline.

Length Options

Now that you have the proper blade shape for your paddling style, let’s be sure you have the perfect fit. The perfect fitting paddle will assure comfort and paddling efficiency.

1. Low angle kayak paddle

Here are some easy to follow rules:

  • 6 ft or under, use 220 cm.
  • 6’1″ and over, use 230 cm.
  • If you kayak is over 28″ wide, add 10 cm to the length of the paddle, after you choose based on your height.

2. High angle kayak paddle

Here are some easy to follow rules:

  • 6 ft and under, use 210 cm.
  • 6’1″ and over, use 215 cm.
  • Kayak width general does not come into play since most high-angle paddlers are in more narrow light touring and touring kayaks.

If you have questions about boating styles or kayak paddle choices, give the folks at ACK a call, 888-828-3828, or email at customer@austinkayak.com.

Happy paddling!

 

How to Choose the Perfect SUP Paddle

by Danny Mongno, Werner Paddles Marketing Manager

As someone who’s paddling his SUP (Stand Up Paddle board) every chance I get, I’m here to tell you folks that investing in the best paddle you can afford is super important.  Every stand up paddler is unique, but we all share a common goal – paddling as efficiently as possible so we can spend more time on the water. Nicer paddles mean lighter swing weights and stiffer blades. These features lead to longer, better paddling sessions. Depending on your paddling style, that could mean more exercise, more fishing, more shoreline exploring, more wave surfing or more rapid running.

Jessica Cichra doing some SUP Yoga. Photo: Werner Paddles
Jessica Cichra doing some SUP Yoga. Photo: Werner Paddles

Try this simple test and you’ll see what I mean. Grab your household broom and a metal yard shovel. Now, stand on a chair and paddle with the broom. Use good technique, top hand directly over your bottom hand so that the shaft is totally vertical. Reach way out toward the bow of your imaginary board with the “blade,” then finish the stroke at your feet. Paddle five times on each side and then switch to the shovel. Feel the difference? Now imagine fighting that extra weight over the course of an hour-long paddle, or maybe a three-hour paddle.  Not fun!

Okay, we’re not paddling our SUPs with broom bristles or shovel blades. But when you upgrade from low-performance plastic blades and aluminum shafts to fiberglass or carbon fiber, you’ll feel the difference. Sure, lightweight materials cost more, but you’re in luck; since a SUP paddle has only one blade, it costs less! You can get a really nice fiberglass paddle for around $200.00, whereas a comparable kayak paddle is more like $275.00.

In addition to being lighter, higher-end blades are also stiffer. The inherent flexibility of most lower-quality blades diminishes the force in your stroke, whereas a stiffer high-quality blade transfers more of your paddling energy to the water. For the casual paddler, this means fewer strokes, less fatigue, and more time on the water. For the performance-minded paddler, it means more BOOM every time your blade digs in.

Fiberglass and carbon fiber are the lightest, stiffest materials available for constructing SUP paddle blades. But which is best for you?  Well, that depends on what kind of paddling you like most. For whitewater paddling, consider a rugged fiberglass blade. For longer distances and deep water paddling, lightweight carbon sure feels good after a long day.

The Werner Tonga SUP Paddle
The Werner Tonga SUP Paddle

Blade size and shape is also important. The early SUP paddle designs were derived from the wider, tear drop shaped outrigger canoe paddle. Although this shape has a place with the very recreational paddler, the more slender, rectangular blade shape is where the sport is heading, like the one on the Werner Tonga SUP Paddle. This shape is much easier on the body, for a shorter or all day paddle and allows room to go in performance as skills grow. Different blade sizes, from small to full help fit every paddler’s body size and strength.

Once you’ve found the right blade for your paddling style, you’ll need to consider paddle length. SUP paddles are sold in varying lengths to accommodate paddlers of different heights and with different styles. For touring, fishing or fitness paddling, look for a paddle that’s about 10” longer than you are tall.  If you do plan to head to the coast to play in the waves, a slightly shorter paddle works best – approximately 8” longer than your height.  A longer paddle provides a longer, stronger stroke for flatwater, while a shorter paddle enables the quicker, shorter strokes needed to navigate more challenging water. ACK offers several adjustable-length paddles that quickly adapt to fit multiple paddlers. They even stock the three-piece Fiji adjustable for easy breakdown and storage – perfect for travelling with inflatable boards.

With lots of paddles to choose from and lots of details to consider, finding the right SUP paddle can seem like a daunting task – but it’s not!  By following these easy tips and investing in a lighter, stiffer, better-performing paddle, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your SUP experience. And the experts at ACK are always there to help. SUP on!

See ACK’s line-up of Werner SUP Paddles now. Plus, for a limited time, there are some great opportunities in the ACK Outlet to save on some high quality Werner SUP paddles…check them out!

Werner Hooked Paddles Land at ACK!

Get excited kayak anglers! A new shipment of Werner Hooked Paddles have landed at ACK and they can’t wait to hit the water. These paddles are made for fishing and…wait, how can a paddle be made for fishing?

What Makes a Great Kayak Fishing Paddle?

Fishing with Werner. Photo Credit: Werner Paddles.
Fishing with Werner. Photo Credit: Werner Paddles.

Werner Paddles believes that a great paddling paddle makes a great kayak fishing paddle. For decades, they’ve been making just that, and kayak anglers from all over have been taking advantage. A high performing paddle means less fatigue, more time on the water and more fish in the boat. To compliment the performance of their paddles, Werner has taken their most popular designs and given them a kayak fishing makeover with new color options and graphics. The result is their new Werner Hooked Paddles.

Lineup of Werner Hooked Paddles

The new Werner Hooked Paddle series includes a line-up of four different popular models. The Camano and Skagit for low angle paddlers and the Shuna and Tybee for high angle paddlers (ideal for wider boats and those with elevated seating).

Camano: A great combination for paddlers who want gentle power and relaxed all around touring stroke. Features Werner’s award winning low angle mid-sized blade design.

Shuna: Werner’s most popular model for high angle paddlers with plenty of power yet also light and durable so it’s great for active or relaxed paddling.

Tybee: A great mix of performance and value and popular model for high angle paddlers who enjoy a faster cadence in their paddling stroke.

Skagit: Unbeatable value for a fishing paddle that is suited well for new entrants and experienced fishing kayakers alike. Has a low angle mid-sized blade design.

Order Now & Score a Free Subscription to Kayak Fish Magazine !

As if the paddle wasn’t enough, Werner has partnered up with Kayak Fish Magazine to offer a free year long magazine subscription to anyone who purchases one of these new paddles. Check out the video below for details:

Already bought one? Just head here to claim your free subscription: http://www.kayakfishmag.com/editors-pick/werner-hooked/

All the Characteristics of a Good Kayak Fishing Paddle

Werner's Shuna Fiberglass Paddle
Werner’s Shuna Fiberglass Paddle

Kayak fishing is a booming sport and we have tons of paddling anglers on the lookout for gear suited specifically for their needs. It’s been a common preference among these sportsmen and women to paddle wider sit-on-top kayaks and use taller, elevated seats or even stand up to increase their line of sight for casting. The result is that their paddles need to be longer and often, more aggressive to take advantage of the high angle that comes from sitting in an elevated seat or standing.

Our friends at Werner Paddles have delivered a pair of paddles that are both of these things. Their Shuna and Tybee paddles are now available at ACK in straight shaft lengths up to 250 cm! Of the two, the Shuna is more suited for advanced paddlers looking to upgrade to a higher performing & lighter weight paddle while the Tybee offers Werner quality at a great value, which makes it a great fit for entry or intermediate level paddlers. Both of these products should be considered if you’re a kayak angler on the look-out for a new, high-quality paddle!

Werner Paddles Team Update

Haley SUPing (left) and Rush (right).

Werner Paddles has added two big names to their whitewater paddling teams including the multi-talented Haley Mills and world renowned white water paddler Rush Sturges. These are some exciting additions and I encourage you to check out a little more about each paddler on the Werner blog for Haley and for Rush.

Werner is known for it’s high performance paddles for all types of paddling conditions and we’re excited to see what these new athletes bring to the already impressive list of names on the Werner team. You can be sure that we’ll keep you updated!

Joseph @ ACK

See Rush in our past blog about the Grand Inga Project.

Werner Paddles Rep Taylor Robertson Shares SUP Expertise

We wanted to share some video footage from Werner Paddles representative Taylor Robertson from our 2012 Fall Demo Days. Taylor has been in the industry for over 14 years now and is very knowledgeable about stand up paddle boards and the paddles that go along with them. We’ve included two videos from a seminar he gave at our Demo Days event. In the first video he discusses proper launch and paddle stroke techniques. In the second, he identifies a number of the different paddles that Werner has available and discusses some key features of each. These are both great watches for those interested in learning more about stand up paddle boarding. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us Taylor!