Bending Branches Kayak Paddle

“What is paddle feathering?” That’s a question we get all the time. If you’ve been wondering what paddle feathering is and why it matters, here are the basics…

Feathering a kayak paddle simply means you adjust the ferrule on the shaft so the blades are at an angle to each other rather than straight (as in the photo above).
The video below is by our friend Dan Arbuckle of Headwaters Kayak. He shows what it means to feather (or “off-set”) a kayak paddle, and why you might choose to do that:

Feathering your kayak paddle is really a matter of personal choice. Some kayakers like to feather and some don’t. Here are the most common reasons for feathering:
Thanks for checking out our site and to learn more about paddling! All Aqua-Bound paddles are hand-built in Osceola, Wisconsin, USA, by our staff of 40+ paddlers.

A common question we get as we’re helping people find the right paddle for them is: What’s the difference between straight shaft and bent shaft kayak paddles? Why should you choose one over the other?
Whitewater paddles are designed for power and durability. Power, because whitewater kayakers need to be able to maneuver quickly. Durability, because rivers are strewn with hazards like boulders, rocky bottoms, fallen trees and other items that your paddle will come in contact with.

The right combination of blade, ferrule and shaft is really a personal choice. It depends on your paddling style, the type of paddling you do, your body size and your budget.In the video below, kayaking expert and Aqua Bound Ambassador, Ken Whiting, takes us through the materials, shapes, sizes and costs of kayak paddles. By the end, you’ll have a much better idea how to choose one that best fits you and your paddling needs.

What is the best shape for a kayak paddle?
Blade Shape These refer to the style of paddling done with each. The wider, shorter high-angle blade packs more power, and is best for a vertical, aggressive stroke. The longer, narrower low-angle blade is for more relaxed kayaking, and offers more efficiency over several hours.
Almost all kayak paddles include drip rings. These are simple rubber stoppers that you can adjust anywhere on the blade. They help prevent paddle drip from making its way down the shaft to your hands. Ken likes to place his drip rings a hand-breadth away from the blades. We currently do not offer a kayak paddle extender. If your recreational or touring kayak paddle is too short, please take a look at our extra-long kayak paddles like the Impression Solo or our kayak fishing paddles, which are ideal for wider kayaks and solo paddling a canoe. They are available up to 280cm. It’s best to reach out to us as soon as you notice an issue. Usually we can repair small issues if found right away. Email photos to [email protected] and we can better evaluate your paddle’s unique situation.Please fill out this form to the best of your ability to start your claim. A customer service representative will review your case and respond shortly with an RA number for your reference.Since we manufacture each paddle with precision, we do not offer generic replacement parts. We prefer to have you send us your remaining components to ensure that we have a perfect fit on your replacement. Please email [email protected] a photo of the paddle and/or see above question regarding return for review or repair instructions.

We hand dip our paddles to give them an even finish, versus a spotty or uneven finish that spray varnish produces. Our process is also more beneficial for our employees and the environment as excess varnish is not emitted into the atmosphere.
Once your return has been received, we will inspect the paddle and notify you of your refund status. If your request is approved, a credit will be applied to the original method of payment. Freight charges cannot be credited.All Bending Branches paddles float. Wood is naturally buoyant and our composite paddles come reinforced with foam plugs that trap air inside the shaft to keep it afloat and water out to prevent leaks for the lifetime of the paddle.

We commonly get questions from customers about changing their current Bending Branches paddle. Examples include: Can I get my paddle shortened, lengthened, a different grip/ferrule, change the ovalization, etc.
We enjoy talking to passionate paddlers, and we want you to enjoy paddling as much as we do! If you have an issue with your paddle, we want to hear about it. Please e-mail us a photo and explain the issue as clearly as possible. We will quickly assess the situation and reply with instructions for next steps.

We commonly get questions about whether we can build custom paddles for our customers. Examples include: Can I get a different grip, decorative designs, unfinished paddles, etc.
Once the final dip is dry, we complete the process by burnishing the drip residue off the tip of the paddle. Sometimes this leaves a worn appearance, and it is generally more pronounced on our black Rockgard® tips. This is normal and will not affect the performance of your paddle.All of our wooden paddles are built with a Rockgard® tip; either black or caramel in color. Once our paddles reach the finishing area, they are ready for varnish. We hand dip our paddles in a mixture of varnish and mineral spirits and allow them to drip dry. This process is manually repeated four times.

Click here for our simple maintenance instructions and video. If you have any questions, please give us a call: (715) 755-3405. If you choose to return your paddle for review or repair, please see question above regarding returns.

Here at Bending Branches, we are a lean, build-to-order, United States manufacturer that requires standard product in order to keep our costs competitive. Therefore, we do not accept custom, non-standard product requests for new paddles. We apologize for any inconvenience.
We build strong paddles and have one of the lowest breakage rates in the industry, but we know the unthinkable can happen. When it does, we honor all reasonable requests for repair or replacements.

Here at Bending Branches, we are a lean, build-to-order, United States manufacturer that requires standard product in order to keep our costs competitive. Therefore, we do not accept custom, non-standard product requests for current or new paddles. Additionally, this manufacturing process means it’s incredibly costly for us to manipulate an existing product, making it cost prohibitive for the consumer. In many cases, the cost of manipulation can be even more expensive than it would be to simply purchase a new paddle to fit the desired application.

If your paddle was purchased at, please contact us at [email protected] . We won’t make you fill out any time consuming forms or jump through too many hoops. We simply want to chat with you to figure out the best solution going forward. To help speed up your request, please include a copy of your receipt and your reason for return within 30 days of purchase. Returns must be in unused condition and returned in their original packaging.
Kevin Callan: I don’t use a bent shaft paddle. The reason is simple. I’m Canadian. Bent shaft paddling is the domain of Boundary Waters canoeheads, hence the term Minnesota Switch to describe their characteristic stroke.

KC: I generally keep myself healthy and fit by paddling a lot and not forcing each stroke. I can’t think of anything more relaxing and effortless than Canadian stroking down a lake with a five- to six- inch-wide straight shaft, wooden paddle. Call using a traditional paddle crazy. Or accept it as a choice that reflects the real reason we go on canoe trips in the first place—to slow down. KC: I tried a bent blade and immediately saw the appeal for beginner paddlers. First-time canoeists automatically attempt to travel in a straight line by switching their paddles from side to side. Paddling with a bent shaft encourages this natural reaction, with the stern paddler hollering “Hutt!” every three strokes to indicate the right moment for both paddlers to switch. But I’m not a greenhorn canoeist, so using the J stroke, or even better, the Canadian stroke, gets me across the lake straight and in style. Cliff Jacobson: When I learned that Kevin prefers straight paddles to bent blades for lake cruising, I just rolled my eyes. I fear that boy has spent too much time in the Ontario bush!This article was first published in the Spring 2011 issue of Canoeroots Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Why use a bent canoe paddle?
What’s the Advantage of a Bent Shaft Canoe Paddle? The design idea behind a bent shaft paddle is for your forward strokes to be more efficient over a long day of paddling. It specializes in the forward stroke, creating less drag in the water than a straight shaft paddle.
Regardless of how you paddle, the efficiency of bent blades beats straight shafts hands-down. A straight paddle lifts water at the end of the stroke, slowing the canoe. With a bent paddle, the water is pushed nearly straight back.

Inspiring paddlesports participation through quality coverage of the people, places, adventures, boats and gear, trends and events that make paddling something you’ll do for the rest of your life.But heck, if Cliff and I go paddling together, it would work out perfect if he was in the bow with the power of a bent shaft and I was in the stern with the poise of a straight shaft. We’d be like a married couple dancing across the lake.Speaking of physics, bent shafts are crap when it comes to maneuverability—try one in fast water or to turn quickly. A straight blade acts the same in both directions. If you’re doing a draw and immediately want to pry, you can. It’s the difference between wrapping your canoe around a rock mid-rapid or running a perfect line.CJ: Yeah, Kevin, I get it. What a deal! I’m actually all for slowing down. Frankly, I find that lollygagging along with a bent shaft is far more relaxing. But then, I use a pitch stroke that maximizes the advantage of the bent blade.CJ: It’s not about speed. It’s about efficiency and being kind to your body. Paddling a straight shaft is all pull back. With a bent paddle, it’s more push down. This reduces stress on your arms and back. There is also less twisting of the shaft and your hand during the stroke, minimizing carpal tunnel and tennis elbow injuries. This is a huge advantage if you are paddling solo for hours at a time. As to maneuverability, I’ll reluctantly concede that for serious rapids, straight blades do rule.

CJ: The fact is, every performance-minded canoeist on the planet prefers a bent shaft for racing, cruising and general all-round canoeing. Even your precious J stroke is best done bent. Why? Because the bent blade runs partly under the canoe during the stroke, whereas a straight blade runs alongside. It is a canoeing axiom that the closer to the keel line you paddle, the less directional correction is needed.

Kevin won’t like me having the last word, but for all you non-Luddites I’d like to share this final tip: There are good and bad bent shaft paddles. My favorites are made of carbon fiber and have 12-degree bends.
Much debate and conjecture have surrounded the argument for straight shaft versus bent shaft canoe paddles, and vice versa. We asked two of lakewater canoeing’s most respected paddlers—Boundary Waters veteran and bent shaft believer Cliff Jacobson, and guidebook author and straight shaft advocate Kevin Callan—to defend their chosen sticks. They leapt at the opportunity like gallant knights called to duty. Jacobson and Callan duel with words and paddles rather than swords and shields, but the result is every bit as entertaining…and vicious.At 45 degrees I noticed a strange thing. I no longer had to twist my wrist to change the angle of the blade on the left side. In fact, as soon as I raised my right hand to my shoulder the left paddle blade automatically squared itself to the boat, ready for a forward stroke. My top hand had a completely straight wrist.

Having paddled extensively over my lifetime on 90 degree blades and now wanting to get back into it after both shoulder replacements, what role does muscle memory play in this?…having finally succeeded in screw-rolling on both sides I am aware of the habitual practice it took to do that and worry that with 45/60 blades the default will happen and it will fail…so I have to learn all over again???

The first time somebody put a kayak paddle in my hand was almost 30 years ago. The feathered paddle was 230 centimeters long and had a blade angle of 80 degrees for right-hand control. My paddling mentor gave me a simple set of instructions: line up your knuckles here and when you want to take a stroke on the left, twist your wrist back and put the paddle in the water.
Great article. I often get asked why my high angle euro blade is feathered, the degree of offset, and why that offset. Mine is normally at 45 or 30 degrees. I did plenty of testing on my own, especially after speaking with Nigel Foster on his preference for 60 degrees. My reason has always been it’s what allows my wrists to stay in a neutral position. As I rotate it leaves the forward blade perfectly positioned for the catch with no wrist rotation. The degrees of feathering vary based on my comfort and how high the angle of my stroke is for the conditions. With my Greenland paddle, while almost as short as my euro blade, the thinner blade means no wrist rotation, even with a short shaft.

What is feathering a kayak paddle?
Feathering a kayak paddle simply means you adjust the ferrule on the shaft so the blades are at an angle to each other rather than straight (as in the photo above). (The ferrule is where the two pieces of the kayak paddle come together in the middle of the shaft.)
By the late 90s, I had set aside the Greenland paddle and started whitewater kayaking. I saw whitewater as a way to improve my rough water sea kayak skills. Since whitewater paddles were feathered I figured it was sensible to standardize my equipment, so I switched to shorter touring paddles and used an 80-degree feather on everything. I was firmly convinced feathered paddles were the way to go.Why not? Well, with a short paddle, once you drop below about 30 degrees of feather, you need to start tweaking your wrist again. Not back like in the old days, but sideways in an awkwardly cocked position that risks a repetitive use injury. If a neutral wrist is the best way to avoid tweaking yourself over time, then feather angles below 30 degrees don’t work.

How do you hold a bent shaft on a kayak paddle?
Who want the ergonomic benefit. And makes learning to paddle with a bent shaft way. Easier is it neutral bent shaft right for me some.
The short answer is yes, you have to learn again. That said, it will be faster the second time around. Almost all the muscle memory that you have for the roll will remain the same, so you can focus on the discrete part of the roll that needs tweaking.

The other thing about a GP, there is no tight gripping it. Rectangular loom and the thumb is there to stop it falling on the deck, the bent fingers pull, the base of the finger push and the whole stroke is shoulder (body) rotation. Bend an elbow to get the blade out of the water.
In search of the answer, I dove into the available resources, reading books by John Dowd, Derek Hutchinson and Nigel Foster. I dug into obscure magazine articles. I even carved a Greenland-style paddle and used it until I felt I had the hang of traditional sea kayaking.The traditional Greenland style paddling I experimented with in my 20s is the ultimate in low-angle paddling. The hands are held very low, just above the sprayskirt, and the paddle is long and unfeathered. What you’ll discover about the Greenland forward stroke, should you try it, is your wrists stay completely straight throughout the stroke. The shoulder, elbow and wrist are aligned differently when the hands are held low. I discovered a similar effect when I experimented with longer modern sea kayak paddles: long unfeathered paddles keep your wrists straight.So a little under 40 years of paddling, always with zero feather and high or reasonable high angle. Of course I always make my own paddles, nice and light. The last decade or more with Greenland paddles, high angle, zero feather. Where does that put my wrists? Absolutely no problem. Does the edge of the blade away from the hull tend to be forward of the inner edge? Of course it is otherwise how is the Wing effect going to work? Especially with a GP.

Where do you hold a bent shaft paddle?
Regardless of whether you use a bent shaft or a straight shaft paddle there is one correct hand position. It is the position at which your palms are flush with the shaft when you are holding the paddle. Hold the paddle at shoulder level with your elbows and hands at the same (shoulder) level.
So, there you have it. There isn’t one answer to the feathered versus unfeathered argument—there are two. If you want to avoid repetitive use injury, you should try to keep your wrists straight during your forward stroke, and there are a couple of ways to do it.I don’t get what you are saying. I use a short zero offset paddle and my wrists stay neutral in a forward stroke. Maybe you need to rotate your torso more? Squirt boater, playboater, creeker, canoeist and sea kayaker here.

Should kayak paddles float?
A simple answer to this is yes and no. There is no specific answer to the question as buoyancy depends on the paddle’s materials and design, which differ depending on the brand. Paddles are available in different forms, and they float to some extent while other types can slowly sink.
If your left blade is square to the boat, your right wrist will be cocked up and to the right in order to manipulate the left blade into this position.

With the pain gone, I started to reevaluate what I wanted in feather angle. Instead of performance in a headwind, I decided I wanted something to keep me paddling without pain. I knew 45 degrees was better than 60, so less was better—but how much less? I tried some whitewater paddles down to 30 degrees and they were just as neutral on my wrists as the 45-degree feather. Twenty years into my quest to understand kayak paddle blade angle I started to wonder if maybe unfeathered paddles were the answer.
That being said, if you’re holding your top hand at shoulder level you engage your shoulder muscles more. This is fatiguing over time, and while you can always buy a lighter paddle, many people prefer to use a lower top hand position that is less powerful, but also less fatiguing. This technique is frequently referred to as a low-angle paddling style. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming away from my 80-degree paddles, but dragged I was. The first challenge came when my favorite sea kayak paddle manufacturer switched their standard blade angle to 60 degrees. The lower angle was said to be easier on the wrists and was still effective in a headwind. I didn’t have much choice, so I made the switch. I had quite a bit of wrist pain in my early touring years, and it completely disappeared by the time I had eased my way down to 45 degrees. As far as I could tell, it was twisting my wrist over and over that was giving me trouble, and the 45-degree paddle eliminated this motion.

This article was first published in Issue 58 of Paddling Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.
“…. with a short paddle, once you drop below about 30 degrees of feather, you need to start tweaking your wrist again. Not back like in the old days, but sideways, in an awkward cocked position…”I got started with a feathered paddle because that’s what everyone around me was using, but it wasn’t long before I realized there were a whole bunch of people who thought unfeathered paddles were the way to go. I wanted to know who was right and which blade angle was truly best.Don’t work, that is, with a short paddle. I’d been using short, feathered touring paddles for years because they were similar to my whitewater paddles, but the Greenland paddles I used back in the 90s were long, unfeathered and seemed to work fine. What was the difference?

Bottom line advice, feathering (or not feathering) should be tailored to your stroke style and to maintain minimal rotation of your wrists with proper form.
Whitewater came next. When I broke my favorite 60-degree whitewater paddle the manufacturer told me they would replace it with a 45, but not a 60. Forty-five, apparently, was easier on the wrists and most whitewater paddlers had switched over. Following the trend, I went and shifted down to 45.Whether or not you use a feathered paddle should depend on your paddling style and paddle length, according to author Brian Day. | Feature Photo: Andrew Strain Find an unfeathered paddle, Stand upright, holding the paddle with the knuckles of both hands aligned with the top edge of the blade. Raise your right hand to shoulder level with your right elbow high. Reach forward with your left hand as if to take a forward stroke, pretending to plant the left blade in a position close to your (imaginary) boat. This will mimic a forward stroke with a short paddle. So, here we have yet another article on the virtues of feathered or unfeathered, making the obvious observations that are as old as the argument itself. When you consider that Pacific Rim paddlers didn’t feather, some didn’t even use a double blade, and Greenlanders don’t feather, it’s all moot and based more upon your paddling style as far as high angle/low angle, correct torso rotation, etc., etc.,etc. So many other factors affect which positioning works best. Clearly a headwind can be partially mitigated by a high feather angle, but that exposes the paddler to the affects of a forceful side wind that can catch the surface of the blade and exert a side force that can catch a paddler off guard, thus requiring good bracing strokes to counter that affect. At least the author took time to test out various angles and determine what works for him. So many beginner paddlers are brainwashed into whatever style their instructor/mentor/”expert” buddy tells them to use. Proper length, stroke dynamics and body posture are higher priorities than feathered/unfeathered – in my opinion anyway. Be Safe; Have Fun!Which kayak paddle blade angle is best? If you prefer a short paddle for maximum power, use a feather angle between 30 and 45 degrees. If you would rather use a long paddle allowing your hands to be held low, an unfeathered paddle will keep your wrists straight. That’s the answer. Keep your wrists straight and keep paddling.

What about long feathered paddles? As it turns out, if you use a long paddle and hold your hands low you need to twist your wrist back with even the slightest feather angles. Long paddles, straight wrists and feather angles, it appears, are entirely incompatible. If you go with a long paddle and a low hand position, you’re better off unfeathered.
Also mentioned a side wind and a feathered paddle can be disastrous. Into a head wind, we’re only talking about 10 degrees either side of straight ahead and the feather doesn’t work or is no advantage. My suggestion for all bracing, rolling and corrective strokes is to focus on controlling the stroke with the hand closest to the active blade. I you’re rolling, the forward hand controls the sweep. If you’re bracing, the hand closest to the water is in control. This is a departure from what we used to teach. In essence, you are changing control hands so that the hand closest to the work is in command. This is a simple hack that can rapidly improve success with non dominant side strokes. There’s a meme in the sea kayak world used to describe different forward stroke styles. Paddlers using short paddles are said to use a high-angle forward stroke. This stroke has the top hand at shoulder level and is very powerful. It’s the stroke I use for whitewater and touring and there is no question it is an effective technique. Here at Bending Branches, we build all our paddles to order (much like a fast-food restaurant), so paddles do not collect dust or become dated. As soon as you place your order, a real person in our Osceola, Wisconsin factory will start preparing your paddle. Shipping windows vary by product and are estimated on individual product pages. Thank you for supporting American manufacturing. At a crazy-low price, the Rise is a sturdy kayak paddle that will get you to your favorite fishing spot with energy to spare. It has an aluminum shaft and durable polypropylene blades. And one blade has a convenient hook-retrieval notch so you can rescue your line and lure in case of a less-than-perfect cast. The Angler Rise comes with a snug-fitting 3 hole snap-button ferrule that is adjustable for feathering angles 0° and 60°, L or R. This paddle is available in lengths from 230 to 260cm, in 10cm increments. We have always been independently owned and operated, and treat our customers the way we’d like to be treated. We actively support kayak fishing, paddling events and clubs, and look forward to introducing you to our kayak fishing and paddling community.*Tape measure is not an official measuri
ng tool for competitive angling or to determine the legality of a catch. Tape measure print may vary in accuracy due to the manufacturing process.

We are anglers, paddlers, and all around water enthusiasts. Getting on the water is in our veins and it has been our mission to share this obsession. We started and continue to be a Made in America kayak manufacturing company, honing in the craft of expertly engineered kayaks such as Bonafide, Native Watercraft, Liquidlogic, and Hurricane. With decades of experience, we decided to expand our offering and create a one-stop shop for all your paddling accessory and fishing needs. Bending Branches brings passion, experience, and craftsmanship together to build a smarter, more durable, more beautiful paddle. Since 1982, Bending Branches kayak fishing paddles, split paddles, and canoe paddles have been making a difference in how passionate paddlers fish, canoe, and kayak. Built to last and packed with extra features, a Bending Branches paddle will prove to be one of the most functional tools you’ll ever take with you on the water. Developed over years of immersion in the community of kayaking anglers, the Bending Branches team has spent countless hours designing, prototyping, testing, and perfecting each of their paddles to meet anglers’ needs. The result is a paddle that gets you to a great fishing spot easier and quicker and with less strain on your body. Every Bending Branches paddle is uniquely constructed — each is hand manufactured to provide high performance and a responsive feel for the journey no matter how long or how challenging your excursion. Be part of a 40-year testament to wood, willpower, and Wisconsin — choose a Bending Branches paddle and see the difference it makes on your kayaking adventure. There is no better feeling than getting out there, exploring a new or familiar waterway, the sound of a screaming reel, or the rush of adrenaline a new rapid offers. We have curated the trusted gear to allow you to do more of what you love and offer expert advice along the way. Let us be your favorite partner for all things watersports and for your next BIG adventure.Please expect shipping delays over the 4th of July holiday weekend. We will be working hard to get your orders out as quickly as possible. We will be closed July 1st-4th for Independence Day. Orders placed after Thursday, June 30th will be shipped an estimated 1-3 business days after Tuesday, July 4th. Factory Pickup orders placed after June 30th at noon EST can be picked up on or after July 5th. We apologize for any inconveniences the delays may cause. Have a wonderful Independence Day from all of us here at Big Adventures and hope to see you on the water! If you decide to upgrade to a more expensive, lighter paddle (which I suggest you do), there are composite paddles are made of high-end materials, making paddling easier and equally providing buoyancy. Examples of such materials include carbon fiber shafts with sturdy plastic blades and fiberglass. When talking about shape as a factor affecting the buoyancy of kayak paddles, we are not talking about the shaft’s shape. Even if it affects the ergonomics and makes some good for fishing and others for racing, it does not affect the kayak paddle’s floatation ability. Instead, the diameter of the shaft affects buoyancy. A wider shaft will have a larger pocket of air trapped inside and will float better than a narrow diameter one.Whether kayak paddles can float was more prevalent in the past since paddles were often made with much less buoyant material and were of a more straightforward construction. Nowadays, the majority of paddles float, with some floating better than others.

New kayakers often ask the question do kayak paddles float? A simple answer to this is yes and no. There is no specific answer to the question as buoyancy depends on the paddle’s materials and design, which differ depending on the brand. Paddles are available in different forms, and they float to some extent while other types can slowly sink.
You might ignore how serious the situation is until you start drifting away downstream without a paddle. You will be unable to paddle over to get the paddle since you would have to be with the paddle already. If you find yourself in this situation and the current is not too bad, you can exit the kayak, swim over to your paddle, and start kayaking again. But do you know there’s an easier way that doesn’t make you wet?

A paddle leash helps you secure the paddle on your kayak. If you have been afraid of kayaking because you don’t know whether kayak paddles float, worry no more because it doesn’t matter as long as you have a paddle leash. To use this simple method, hook or clip a leash to the kayak or yourself to keep the paddle secure at all times.
The blade of a feathered paddle that is out of the water will cut through the air more efficiently. This helps in reducing the air resistance, making for slightly more efficient strokes. This may not seem like it would make much of a difference, but over the course of thousands of paddle strokes, it does give you an advantage. Some paddles like the Eagle Ray Carbon are adjustable and will allow you to feather them or rotate the blades to match your preference. However, most are fixed paddles.

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In designing world class canoe paddles, in the forefront of development is durability, beauty, and performance, thus proprietary technology Rockgard is applied to each wooden paddle. This proprietary technology maintains the integrity of the paddle, seals moisture and protects the most vulnerable areas tips and edges. The unmatched shock absorption that Rockgard provides which helps wooden paddles last six times longer. So, whether maneuvering through rocky river water or if you’re in need of a push off the rock to keep you moving the Rockgard protected paddles are the answer.Bending Branches based out of Osceola, Wisconsin is the largest paddle manufacturers in the world and for good reason. In 1982 co founder Dale Kicker’s idea of building a better, more durable canoe paddle started with high hopes in a family two car garage in North St. Paul. Bending Branches (named for those bent shaft paddles), blossomed into the largest canoe and kayak paddle manufacturers in the world today. The company now based across the St. Croix River has over 50 employees making more paddles than any other company, more than 160 different types of paddles. As the world’s largest manufacturer of quality canoe and kayak paddles, Bending Branches remain a privately held company staffed with paddling enthusiasts. The innovation of designing, prototyping, testing, and finally perfecting each and every Bending Branches paddle, until it is lighter, stiffer, smarter, and more durable than the first.

Do bending branches paddles float?
All Bending Branches paddles float. Wood is naturally buoyant and our composite paddles come reinforced with foam plugs that trap air inside the shaft to keep it afloat and water out to prevent leaks for the lifetime of the paddle.
What makes Bending Branches world class paddle different than every other paddle in the world? Quality made Paddles you can trust. Lightweight Paddles so you can spend more time on the water. Innovative Products to elevate your paddling experience. Tranquility of being outside much more tranquil.Welcome to our Bending Branches online store where we carry all the Bending Branches canoe paddles, kayak fishing paddles, kayak paddles, and stand up paddles! Expert recommendations from our experienced on the water staff for over 40 years!

Tennessee Bending Branches Authorized Dealer with all Bending Branches paddles in stock. Shop the largest selection of Bending Branches paddles online store here.
The Four Time Angler Paddle of the Year Bending Branches Angler Pro is a must use! The new Angler Pro boasts all new patterns, it’s lighter than the previous generation of Angler Pro by two ounces, with larger blades for a more powerful stroke. The Angler Pro has a smooth forward stroke for effortless paddling, with the snap button or plus telescoping ferrule, the Angler Pro can be adjusted up to 260 centimeters for wide, sit on top fishing kayaks. From canoe, kayak fishing, touring, to stand up paddles, Bending Branches a world class America made paddle to fit your next adventure on the water! The spirit of adventure continues to drive Bending Branches to enhance your paddling experience.We brought in AT last year after being sold on AT by so many of our paddling friends (as well as noticing the number of luminaries out there using AT). Last month my curiosity got the best of me and on a play day on the Ocoee I decided to take one of our AT’s to try out (I did stop long enough to get Steve’s guarantee that switching to a bent shaft would not be so weird that I might end up needing a bow rescue! He promised).The two other options for an incorrect grip can cause some problems. If you hold up your hands holding the paddle and form a bit of a “V,” it is a wide grip. Take some strokes. It shortens them up and you lose power because the paddle can’t hit the water as far ahead of you.This grip is a little wide, and you feel the paddle in the web of your thumb and index finger. Now slide your hands in just a bit, until your palms are flush with the shaft. If you are still holding elbows and wrists at shoulder level, it appears that your pinkie is lined up to your elbow, more or less. This is the correct grip, which is apparent because the entire palm and fingers have even contact with the shaft.Regardless of whether you use a bent shaft or a straight shaft paddle there is one correct hand position. It is the position at which your palms are flush with the shaft when you are holding the paddle. Hold the paddle at shoulder level with your elbows and hands at the same (shoulder) level. Slide your hands on the shaft until you roughly form a rectangle, or a 90 degree bend at the elbows and where you wrists meet the shaft.

Final Comment: We feel good recommending AT bent shaft paddles because they have a correct bend and are wonderfully indexed. A well indexed paddle shaft has an oval-shape grip-area so that you know the blade angle (for strokes and roll sweeping) when you hold either end of the shaft. You find this with more expensive paddles, and it is worth paying for it.
“When people are out whitewater kayaking they tend to focus on reading water and balance and sometimes miss the subtleties that can also affect their paddling. Your grip on your paddle is one of the small things that deserves some attention and is easy to overlook.Verdict: It felt good in my hands. I am a strong proponent of an indexed paddle (oval shaft at the control hand) and the AT is nicely indexed. Going from 45-degree to 30-degree took about ten minutes of fussing to get used to (we are talking a mere 15-degrees). And whether it was the bent shaft or the off-set, bow draw combo strokes felt smoother. I went home and consulted with Steve on which paddle was best for me. He steered me towards the AT2 flexi because of my history with wooden shafts (and because he wanted to see my store tab more than his for once!). Your palms should be flush with the shaft without turning your hands, meaning that the paddle has a correct bend. A bent shaft for years that is too bent causes irritation because you twist your hands outward to hold it. You want to make sure of proper hand placement in order to take advantage of the ergonomics. Folks liked the close grip because it caused more leverage between the arms, and felt like it made power. What is really happening is stress to the muscles and ligature of the outer-forearm; they are not working in concert with inner arm muscles.If you are considering a bent shaft paddle, choose a length that allows for your correct grip at the bends, rather than buying a length you used with a straight shaft or that you think you need. Having neither wrist issues, nor an extra $100 burning a hole in my pocket, I just never really even gave second thought to my own personal paddle. I survived the drama of switching from a wooden paddle to a synthetic. That was enough “modern” for me…until I made the mistake of testing out one of our AT bent shaft paddles….. In the late nineties I noticed a lot of North Georgia boaters passing around a “diamond” grip, paddling with hands a little too close. Bad technique can be infectious, but I haven’t noticed “Georgia diamond” as much in the last few years so hopefully it is correcting itself.

Are bent shaft paddles worth it?
With a bent paddle, it’s more push down. This reduces stress on your arms and back. There is also less twisting of the shaft and your hand during the stroke, minimizing carpal tunnel and tennis elbow injuries. This is a huge advantage if you are paddling solo for hours at a time.
When it’s all up to you, you need a solo paddle that you can count on. Bending Branches’ Slice Solo is that paddle. The Slice Solo canoe paddle uses many of the same materials as the Slice kayak paddles, making it both lightweight and durable.These cookies are used to help improve your shopping experience. They allow useful functions like seeing your recently viewed products so it’s quick and easy to find them again.

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What is the best feather angle for kayak paddle?
between 30 and 45 degrees Which kayak paddle blade angle is best? If you prefer a short paddle for maximum power, use a feather angle between 30 and 45 degrees. If you would rather use a long paddle allowing your hands to be held low, an unfeathered paddle will keep your wrists straight.
These cookies are used to collect information about you and your visit to the shop. They help us to identify popular products and understand your browsing habits so we can display relevant adverts to you.Although having a two-piece paddle has benefits for transportation purposes, it does result in a weak point in the shaft. Depending on the locking mechanism and how secure it feels, this may or may not impact the paddle’s performance. The easiest adjustment systems to use also feel the most secure to paddle with. Good design can make a product user-friendly and improve performance. The security of each paddle’s locking mechanism accounted for 20% of its score.

Those looking to enjoy extended journeys in their kayak will want to consider the lightweight Kalliste, Pungo, Apex, or Camano, with the Kalliste standing out in this field. These paddles are significantly lighter than other kayak paddles in this review fleet but are also more expensive. Heavier paddles tend to be more affordable, making them better choices for short, casual kayak tours.
All the paddles we purchased offer the opportunity to adjust the feather of the paddle blades to suit a left-handed, right-handed, or neutral paddler. Some paddles offer a greater degree of options for the more discerning paddler. The Wilderness Systems Apex FG and Pungo take this to another dimension with the additional feature allowing paddlers to adjust the paddle length. The Perception Outlaw stood out in this metric due to its unique ability to be converted to a SUP paddle. When considering how easy each paddle is to adjust, we also factor in how easy it is to dismantle it, experimenting with cold hands and under pressure (in choppy, white cap conditions when we really did not want to capsize).The design of the dihedral blades and high-end materials used in the Werner Kalliste, the Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Carbon, and the Werner Camano enabled these paddles to perform exceptionally well in our tests. The Kalliste stood out for its ultralight carbon construction and buoyant blade design. None of these blades flexed under pressure, providing an efficient power transfer for the paddler. In addition, their materials provide the paddler with extra assistance to help them float across the water. Other paddles tested in this review (such as the Whisper, Sea Extreme, and Pelican Poseidon) have basic plastic blades, which, although durable, flex under pressure and deliver a less efficient power stroke.

Offering the option to adjust the feather of the blades and the length of the paddle, Wilderness Systems provides the ultimate adjustment system. The LeverLock employs a simple lever-lock mechanism that is adequately sized and easy for paddlers to use even when their dexterity is challenged. This system enables the paddler to release a plunger washer that keeps the paddle pieces locked tight together when tightened. The result is a paddle performance that feels uncompromised and exceptionally secure.Searching for the best touring kayak paddle on the market? After researching the 50 most popular two-piece kayak paddles, we picked 14 of our favorites and spent over 100 hours rigorously testing them side by side. We toured for many miles with these paddles, analyzing their feel, performance, and quality of construction. We ventured across lakes, meandered through meadows, and endured high winds and waves. We pushed these paddles to their limits (and slightly beyond) to identify the pros and cons of each design. We got to know them exceptionally well and pass on our findings to help you select the best paddle for your next kayaking adventure.

This review was headed up by multi-discipline paddler, coach, and educator Sara James. Sara is a well-rounded adventurer with a 15+ year background in paddle sports, including touring kayaking, Class V whitewater kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and squirt boating. She has covered thousands of miles in different kayaks worldwide, including guiding and safety kayaking on river trips in France, Nepal, California, and the Zambezi, Zambia. Her other passion is education, and on top of working as a high school teacher, she is an instructor for California Watersports Collective. Having watched hundreds of kayakers learn to paddle, she is confident she has an eye for what works. She supplements her expertise with feedback from her adult and youth students as well as elite kayaking professionals. Sara also tests kayaks, PFDs, life jackets, and dry bags for GearLab.
For its price point, the Perception Outlaw deserves mention, outperforming many more expensive paddles in this metric. Other paddles for a similar price point typically use a snap button system which allows the most give when paddling. After extensive use, these paddles tended to become even less secure over time, resulting in a less efficient paddle stroke and an overall less enjoyable paddling experience.

Aqua-Bound offers some of their touring paddles with the Snap Button option, or, for a little extra, you can get the significantly superior Posi-Lok system, which is considerably more secure and easy to operate. Based on our testing experience, we find an extra ten bucks easily justifiable when this option is available.
The Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Carbon was also a top performer in this metric. The polished finish of the Posi-Lok’s internal shaft isn’t prone to collecting sand or grit. It was consistently easy to use. The abX Carbon Reinforced Nylon blades withstood use in rocky and sandy conditions with no evidence of wear on the blades. Running close behind for quality of construction, although we didn’t like the blade design of the Perception Outlaw, we felt it had a robust construction, particularly given its price point.The fiberglass shaft is heavier than the carbon fiber used in the pricier models; however, it still weighs less than most other paddles in this price bracket. The only indicator that this is a budget paddle is the snap button locking system used to connect the two pieces of this paddle. Although functional, this mechanism produces some play in the paddle shaft and is prone to jamming if not cleaned frequently. Robust, durable, and highly effective with some basic care, the Werner Baja paddle should keep you happy on the water for years to come.

What is the advantage of a bent shaft kayak paddle?
Bent shaft paddles allow your forward stroke to be more efficient and produce more control/torque with every stroke—specifically the inclination of the paddle blade—making turning strokes easier.
We gave the Bending Branches Whisper accolades as an economical paddle that allowed aspiring kayakers to get out on the water regardless of their budget. The polypropylene paddle blades are durable and withstand significant use or abuse, even in rocky conditions. Despite the low price point, we still felt this paddle delivered a dependable performance and would be willing to lend it to our friends for their first outings in a kayak.

After using this paddle multiple times, we noticed that the two pieces became challenging to dismantle or adjust. The snap button adjustment point is often jammed and sensitive to any grit or sand. We noticed this issue on all the paddles with a similar snap-button locking system. Although this would not prevent us from using the Magic Plus, it is something to consider if you expect to disassemble it regularly for travel. Overall, this paddle offers solid performance for nearly half the price of our top contenders. It’s heavy, but if you are not concerned about additional weight and are looking for a reliable and affordable paddle, the Carlisle Magic Plus is the one for you.
At first, kayakers may not notice the impact of the weight differences between paddles. However, once you are a mile into your journey, your arms will notice the extra weight. A lighter paddle also helps paddlers to maintain their form as they fatigue less quickly. This further enhances their overall performance as paddlers and can maximize the efficiency of each of their strokes.

The Carlisle Magic Plus is a top performer when it comes to quality of construction. The fiberglass-reinforced blades will handle anything you throw them and are not prone to dings, scratches, or dents like some paddles made of more fragile materials.The Werner Kalliste, Skagit, and Camano also performed adequately well in this metric. Their Smart View internal locking mechanism provides a secure feel, resulting in no rotational movement in the paddle while kayaking. We noticed that out of the water, a horizontal pull resulted in some give, but we hardly felt this when using the paddle in the water.

The aluminum shaft made the Whisper paddle much heavier than the top-performing paddles. However, compared to paddles of a similar price bracket, it falls in the lighter category. The flex in the plastic blades resulted in a less efficient transfer of power, which concerned the performance athletes in our testing group. Overall the design is nothing to write home about, but it is sufficient enough that you can use this paddle on your kayaking adventures. Outdoor adventure enthusiasts who want to get out on the water to explore but are not concerned about having a performance paddle will be grateful to have such an affordable option.We based 40% of each paddle’s score on performance, making it our most heavily weighted testing metric. If you are a beginner kayaker or use your kayak as a means to enjoy another hobby, such as birdwatching or fishing, this metric may not be as relevant to you as weight or ease of adjustment. However, as you spend more time in your kayak, you will quickly feel the difference between a high-performance paddle and a budget option. The fiberglass-infused nylon and polypropylene blades fared well in the gravel tests, showing how these materials can withstand quite a battering. Despite this durability, the snap button system in the paddles’ shaft lowered their overall quality of construction scores, as they are prone to jamming. Luckily, a frequent rinse and monthly application of silicone lubricant should help you extend the life of this component. Additionally, proper storage and transport will extend the life of all paddles considerably. Those that invest a couple of hundred dollars in a paddle may also consider obtaining a travel bag. The Wilderness System Pungo Glass is a quality performance paddle with the added benefit of being exceptionally easy to adjust. Utilizing a carbon blend shaft and fiberglass blades, this paddle is lightweight and transfers a lot of power without being too stiff on the joints. The mid-sized dihedral blade suits various paddling styles and experience levels, making this paddle a popular choice among all our testers. The Pungo Glass was upstaged in pure paddling performance by only the most elite full-carbon models, which also retail for considerably higher prices.Although flex in the paddle blade does not equate with higher performance, a slight flex in the shaft delivers a more comfortable stroke and improved efficiency. Therefore, we prefer paddles with a carbon or fiberglass shaft over those with a more rigid aluminum shaft.