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One of the most important decisions when folks first start kayak fishing is one that I think a lot of people overlook, and that is choosing the right paddle for them and their kayak. I know when I bought my first kayak I used whatever paddle it came with regardless of length, weight, or material. I really didn’t know much about paddling or paddles for that matter, I was just happy to have a paddle and a kayak because now I could go catch redfish on my own. It was great to be out on the water, but I was doing a lot more work than I needed to.

Like a lot of folks that begin kayak fishing I was a fisherman first and a paddler second. In fact I still am that way, but I have become a better paddler over time and at the very least I know a lot more about paddling now. At the time I didn’t know how important it would be to become a good paddler in order to become a better fisherman. I’ve come to realize that your paddle is the most important tool you have while kayak fishing so it is important to spend a little time learning about paddles to know what might be right for you. You want a paddle that fits you and your paddling style.

I wanted to highlight Aqua Bound as they have a dedicated page on their site that will really help shorten that learning curve. Their Kayak Paddle Sizing Guide takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process and is an excellent starting point for finding a paddle that is perfect for you. This guide will work for any brand of paddle out there, but if you’re in the market for a new paddle I can attest to the quality of an Aqua Bound paddle.

The first step to choosing the right paddle is finding your ideal paddle length. Below is a table from Aqua Bound that dumbs down this process using your height as well as the width of the kayak. If you’re unsure of the width of your boat, measure your kayak at its widest point.

Next you’ll want to look at the weight of the paddle and when considering weight you are really considering the material used in the paddles construction. The easiest thing to do is buy the lightest paddle you can afford. The lighter the paddle, the lighter the swing weight, reducing joint strain and overall fatigue. Aqua Bounds says;

“True enthusiasts typically choose a paddle with a stiff, efficient and responsive carbon shaft, which dramatically reduces the weight. Along with a carbon shaft, compression molded carbon or fiberglass blades are lightweight yet stiff to deliver more power with every stroke.”

That is the route I’ve gone. A lot of folks question the durability of carbon, but I have found it to be very durable. My paddles from Aqua Bound perform many tasks beyond paddling (push pole, anchor, selfie stick) and they have yet to fail, even after a decade of use.

You’ll also want to consider the blade shape of the paddle. Your paddling style is the biggest factor when determining whether you should be paddling with a short wide blade or a long skinny blade. More from Aqua Bound:

High Angle

“High-angle paddlers keep the shaft more vertical during their stroke (perpendicular to the water). These paddlers typically use a shorter, wider blade and a paddle with a shorter shaft. This more upright paddling style permits a more powerful, athletic stroke. Paddlers who prefer to use a fast cadence (whitewater, racers, touring with fast cadence) usually prefer this shorter shaft, wider blade paddle, too.

Low Angle

Low-angle paddlers keep their paddle relatively horizontal (parallel to the water). Paddlers who use this more relaxed, cruising stroke often find that a paddle with a longer, thinner blade is the most energy efficient. That could be why this is the most common paddling style in North America.”

The above summary is just a brief look at some of the key steps to choosing a right paddle. A lot of the information was paraphrased from the Aqua Bound site, so be sure to check out the Aqua Bound guide for a complete look at the process. Hopefully this post will help guide you to choosing the right paddle of your own. With the right paddle you’ll find that trips in the kayak will be even more enjoyable than they are now.