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How to Pick the Right Kayak Paddle

When I’m giving kayaking and kayak fishing talks at sports shows and expos, I like to spend some time talking paddles.  Most people spend more time picking their kayak than how to pick the right kayak paddle.  But, your paddle is the way you move your kayak, so, you should try to buy the most expensive, lightest paddle you can afford.  Lighter paddles are less fatiguing, meaning you can enjoy your time on the water longer and feel less sore at the end of the day.  Also, more expensive paddles use better components and last longer.  The formula is that each ounce lighter paddle equates to 100 pounds per hour you don’t have to pull around.  So, a 3-ounces lighter saves you 300 pounds extra per hour.  I would suggest a paddle no heavier than 31 or 32 ounces.

How to Pick Your Blades

Standard sized blades are perfect for most recreational kayakers and designed for a low-angle stroke with the paddle relatively horizontal while paddling.  For those wider, heavier sit-on-top fishing kayaks an oversized blade is the best choice.  Oversized blades have a bigger bite, more control and high-angle paddling where the shaft is more vertical during your stroke.  Aqua-Bound makes several quality paddles from 29 ounces to just over 31 ounces that will be great for whatever type of kayak you paddle.  A few to look at are the Manta Ray and String Ray Carbon at $199 and the Hybrid versions at $149 and just slightly heavier.

How to Pick the Right Kayak Paddle

How to pick the weight for your paddle

If you want to go even lighter, which I personally prefer, you can look at the Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon at 26 ounces or the Angler Pro at 29 ounces.   Both come with over-sized blades for my sit-on-top fishing kayaks and have the option of a telescoping ferrule, which I love.  This allows the paddler to easily expand the paddle up to 15 cm longer depending on wind and water conditions.  For you touring kayakers who don’t want the over-sized blades but want a light 23-ounce high-end paddle look at the Aqua-Bound Tango and Whisky Carbon.  At only 26 ounces and less expensive, the Tango and Whisky Fibreglass versions.  

How to Pick the Right Kayak Paddle

What is the right length?

Picking a paddle is also dependent on your height and the width of your kayak.  For example, if you are 5’7” tall and your kayak is 24” to 28” wide, then a paddle 230 cm would be best.  However, that same paddler in a wider sit-on-top fishing kayak, depending on width, might be best with a 250 cm paddle.  You can find sizing charts on most paddle company websites.  Generally, most touring kayaks are narrower and require a shorter paddle, with recreational and fishing kayaks wider and requiring longer paddles.  Ideally, the staff at your local outfitter should also be a great resource.

How to Pick the Right Kayak Paddle

Again, you should put the same research and effort into buying the right paddle as you do select the right kayak for your type of paddling.  If you have any questions about selecting the right paddle for you, email me at and I’d be happy to assist.

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