The 10 Best Kayak Paddles for 2018: Great for Fishing, Speed, & Distance

Everyone knows that you need a paddle to use your new kayak, but with all the new companies on the market today, where do you start? The first place you need to look is the sizing of your kayak paddle. There are a few rules of thought when it comes to properly sizing your paddle.

The generic sizing will work for most people in most kayaks. But, if you find that this size simply isn’t comfortable for you, here are some other sizing options you may want to consider.

Top Kayak Paddle Comparison Chart

Kayak Paddle Buying Guide

Generic Sizing

Now you have your own Kayak and its time to choose your paddle. There is a simple way to pick the right size. The old-timers would have you stand and place your hand straight up into the air when you could touch the tip of the paddle that was the right size.

 

Those sizing tips generally turned out like this.

 

Paddler HeightApprox. Paddle Length
Under 5’2”220cm
5’0” – 5’8”230cm
0ver 5’6”240cm

Low-Angle Kayak Paddle Length Sizing (paddler height x boat width)

 

If you find that your generic sized paddle is not working well, you can take your height and the width of the boat to find an appropriately sized paddle. This is for low angle Kayaks.

 

Under 23″23″ to 28″28″ to 32″Over 32″
Under 5′ tall210cm220cm230cm240cm
5′ to 5’6″ tall215cm220cm230cm240cm
5’6″ to 6′ tall220cm220cm230cm250cm
Over 6′ tall220cm230cm240cm250cm

High-Angle Kayak Paddle Length Sizing (paddler height x boat width)

 

For high-angle kayaks, the sizing generally looks like this.

 

Under 26.”Over 26.”
Under 5’1″ tall200cm220cm
5’1″ to 5’4″ tall205cm220cm
5’4″ to 6′ tall210cm220cm
Over 6′ tall220cm230cm

 

For more information about sizing REI has a great article you can read https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/kayak-paddle.html

Materials

Kayak paddles are usually made from a combination of materials with the handle being aluminum and the fins being a hard plastic. The key to purchasing a good composite kayak paddle is ensuring that the seal where the plastic and the metal meet is well forged. You also want to make sure that the plastic that the paddle is made from is not flimsy. The plastic needs to be rigid so that it can withstand the resistance of the water as you paddle.

There are high-end kayaking paddles that are made from carbon fiber. These paddles are lighter and made for competitive kayaking. Generally, you won’t have a use for such a kayaking paddle unless you are in a competition scenario. They are up to 10 times the cost of aluminum and plastic paddles but can weigh ten times less.

 

Feathering and Ferrules

When choosing a kayaking paddle, it is important to make sure you select one that makes feathering easy with well-constructed ferrules.

Feathering is done on kayaking paddle to offset the resistance that you encounter. This can be done when you are battling the wind or strong currents. The same can be said of unfeathering your paddle. When the wind is at your back, an unfeathered paddle can be your best friend.

The ferrules on the paddle are the mechanism which allows you to rotate the paddle. Typically these will go in 30-degree increments, though some ferrules on more intricate paddles will allow you to move your paddle in as little as 15-degree increments. Well constructed ferrules will ensure that you will be able to quickly rotate your paddle to compensate for changing conditions on the water.

Some beginner kayakers may find that a certain position of feathering helps them paddle straighter than another feathered position of the paddle. This may be due to poor paddling technique or side dominance. Also, new kayakers are not as adept at looking at environmental cues, like wind direction, when they paddle. If you are just starting out on your kayak, you may have to adjust your feathering several times before you find the position that allows you to paddle with ease.

Color

The color of a kayaking paddle may seem like a trivial thing. However, when you are on the water, your kayaking paddle may serve as a signaling device in the case of an emergency. There are a few other reasons you need to pick high visibility colors when considering a paddle.

  • A high visibility color is going to make it easier for emergency vehicles and coast guard to see you.
  • High visibility colors make it easy for other boaters on the waterway to see you—and avoid you.
  • If you drop your paddle, it becomes easier to retrieve because you can see it, even in murkier water.

While you may not find it completely necessary to get a high visibility paddle, it is a safety element you may want to consider. This is especially important if you have a hunting or fishing kayak that is designed to blend in with the water and surrounding flora.

 

Emergency Spare

All kayakers should keep an emergency paddle in their kayak. These paddles are different than traditional paddles because they are collapsible and will fit in either a dry storage compartment or in the kayak near your feet. Emergency paddles will not likely be double-bladed like the regular paddles because of space constraints.

If you are looking for a good spare paddle check out the Attwood Telescoping Paddle.

It is the most space conservative paddle and will allow you to make it safely to shore should your paddle become lost unusable.

Best Kayak Paddle Reviews 

 

Werner Skagit Straight Paddle

The Werner is a midsized low-angle blade kayaking paddle. The blades of this kayaking paddle by Warner are the real star of the show. They are a fiberglass reinforced nylon, and they have injection molding designed to make them impact and water resistant — they are also wear-resistant. The blades must paddle designed to be lightweight yet maintain their shape even during rough use conditions.

The paddle has drip rings and high visibility colored blades making it look like a high-quality paddle. You can order this paddle in sizes from 240 cm to 260 cm. There is a smart view adjustable ferrule system designed for quick adjustments on the water. The ferrule system is sturdy and holds up easily under use.

Altogether, this paddle offers you the most bang for your buck. You get quick adjustment feathering features of a professional paddle and the high-quality construction elements as well.

Pros

  • High Visibility
  • Multiple Sizing Options
  • Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon

Cons

  • Cost

 

Seattle Sports Sea Whisper

 The Sea Whisper carbon paddle is a tough two-piece carbon shafted kayaking paddle. Although the shaft is made from carbon fiber, it is deceptively heavy weighing in at 3 pounds. It is two pieces making it easy to adjust. The paddle is available to order it at varying lengths from 210 to 240 cm.

One of the nicest features of the Sea Whisper is the quickly adjust ferrule allowing more experienced kayakers to adjust their feathering easily to the water and wind conditions. Unfortunately, this feature is cut short when the clamping mechanism is loose and poorly fitting.

Altogether this is a nice semi-professional kayaking paddle. The Sea Whisper would be a good introductory model for those who do not need a full professional kayaking paddle. If you want something more than a basic kayaking paddle the Sea Whisper will have what you need.

Pros

  • High Visibility Paddles
  • Multiple Lengths
  • Carbon Fiber Shaft
  • Quick Adjust Ferrule

Cons

  • Very Heavy Paddle – 3 Pounds
  • Clamp-on Ferrule Is Loose

 

Naviskin Aluminum Kayak Paddle

The Naviskin kayaking paddle is available in three colors; black, yellow, and white. It has a lightweight and durable construction the shaft is made of aluminum, and the blade is a plastic polymer blend. There is a ribbing down the center of the blade to reinforce the blade while paddling through rough water.

This kayaking blade does feature a feathered blade design. There are three locking positions allowing you to adjust the feathering depending on the kayaking conditions. The locking mechanism easily adjusts for you to change the feathering over to break apart the paddle for storage. This easy adjustment may be a downside to the construction of the paddle because after some use there seems to be a bit of looseness to the blades.

Altogether this is a nice paddle for the price. As long as you are not going to be in whitewater, you should not have any problem using this paddle for extended periods of time.

Pros

  • Feathered Blades
  • Three Locking Positions
  • Splash Guard

Cons

  • Connections Can Come Loose after Extended Use

 

Airhead Deluxe Kayak Paddle

The Airhead Deluxe kayaking paddle is a two section aluminum paddle featuring a curved plastic blade. The shaft of the paddle is made of lightweight aluminum. The paddle shaft features drip rings as well as foam handgrips. The shaft has three different locking positions for you to be able to adjust the feathering of the kayaking paddle.

The blades on the Airhead Deluxe paddle are quite different from any other kayaking paddle in that they have a nice curve to them. This is both a positive and a negative feature of the blade. If you happen to like using the curved blade, then it works wonders for you and helps with your speed. Unfortunately, some people just couldn’t get used to the curved blade and seem to hate it. The curved blade was a love-hate relationship with the Airhead Deluxe kayaking paddle.

If left out for too long or not cared for properly this aluminum is prone to rust and can easily fall apart. Make sure that if you use this kayaking paddle in salt water, you rinse it carefully and dry it thoroughly before storage.

Pros

  • Two Section Kayak Paddle
  • Curved Blades
  • Foam Handle Grips

Cons

  • curved blade
  • connections can rust
  • not for taller paddlers

 

Bending Branches Classic Paddle

The is a kayaking paddle designed for the fisherman. It has an integrated tape measure on the shaft marked with high visibility paint. The tape measure allows you to see the length of your fish without having to bring additional equipment to your boat which is very useful. There is also an integrated hook retrieval system on the kayaking paddle which is useful for bringing in fish sure retrieving lines that may be stuck in stuff under the water.

The kayaking paddle does feature multiple rotation points for feathering and fiberglass reinforced blades. Unfortunately, the reinforcement on the blades doesn’t mean that the paddle won’t give under a strong current. Since this is a kayaking paddle designed primarily for fishermen, it’s not surprising that it’s not built to withstand Whitewater conditions.

The Bending Branch Classic is best used in calm waters where you can find a nice honey hole for fishing.

Pros

  • Multiple Rotation Points for Feathering
  • Fiberglass Reinforced Blades
  • Built-In Tape Measure

Cons

  • Gives a lot in the Water

 

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

The Carlisle Magic Plus has a large blade and is available in 220, 230, and 240 cm sizes. The total weight of this kayaking paddle is only 35.6 ounces making it ideal for longer trips. The reason that this kayaking paddle is so light is that it has a fiberglass shaft and a glass filled polypropylene blade material. The blade is designed to be high impact resistant meaning it should be ideal for shoving off and shouldn’t break.

The are several angle adjustments, making it easy for any kayaker to fit the paddle to your paddling style. The durability of the paddle makes it suitable for flatwater or rapid. There is a nice flare on the handle which helps with grip. Though some may find the flare a bit too big if you have smaller hands.

Some paddlers found that this paddle could be hard to take apart. If it was a lot easier, it may end up being a little less stiff or secure in its feel, so this may be a 50-50 split on whether or not it’s a good or bad feature.

Also, some kayakers found that they got water stuck into pieces of the paddle and couldn’t get it out. This could be problematic and cause damage over the long-term. Overall this is a high-quality paddle and good for multiple kayaking situations and environments.

Pros

  • Fiberglas and Polypropylene
  • Weighs 35.6 Ounces
  • Brightly Colored
  • Variable Sizing

Cons

  • Can Be Hard to Take Apart
  • Water Can Get Stuck in Separated Pieces

 

Sea Sense X-Treme II

The Sea Sense X-treme II is a basic paddle that comes with a feathered blade design. The paddle is made of aluminum and plastic making it lightweight. There are two handgrips placed on the paddle for added comfort.

The paddle does feature a ridge down the center for added strength. Though, some kayakers felt the paddle was a little unstable in rapidly moving water. The two-piece construction was durable enough for slow-moving and easy water.

The lightweight construction is designed to float. If you accidentally drop or lose your paddle, you should be able to retrieve it. The only downside to this paddle is that it is all black making it difficult to see when in the water if you do drop it.

Pros

  • Three Locking Positions
  • Floats
  • Adjustable Drip Guard

Cons

  • All Black
  • Not For White Water

 

Shoreline Marine Rounded Kayak Paddle

The Shoreline Marine is a two-piece constructed 96-inch kayaking paddle designed for comfort. There are foam grips in place for your hands to ensure maximum comfort. Some kayakers found that these grips could come loose with extended periods of use.

There are three positions that the blades can be locked into on this blade making it ideal for multiple wind or current conditions. The contour molded blades give this paddle a unique design and style. Despite being all black, kayaking paddle does have a nice look. The drip guard complements the overall style of the paddle. Unfortunately, the blades can get a bit wobbly after extreme or extended use.

This paddle is best used in shorter trips or calm waters because of the wobbly blades and less sturdy pole. Whitewater kayakers would not be satisfied with the durability of this kayaking paddle.

Pros

  • Repositioning System
  • Feathered Blade
  • Drip Guards

Cons

  • Blade a Bit Wobbly
  • Foam Grips Come Loose

 

Carlisle Day Tripper

The Carlisle Day Trippers a low-cost paddle that comes in multiple sizing options ranging from 220 cm to 240 cm. The overall weight of this blade is 37 ounces. It is made from a lightweight tempered aluminum, and the blade is a polypropylene plastic.

One major design flaw with the Carlisle Day Tripper is that it does not float so if you accidentally drop your paddle it will sink to the bottom of where ever you are kayaking. Be sure you keep a firm grip on this paddle. Also, there are no splash guards featured on this paddle so be prepared to get wet.

There are multiple feathering positions which make it a user-friendly kayaking blade and suitable for multiple kayaking conditions. The tempered aluminum makes the shaft fairly durable, and the blade material shouldn’t crack even under rough and tumble circumstance.

Pros

  • Multiple Sizing Options
  • Weighs 37 Ounces
  • Multiple Feathering Position

Cons

  • Will Sink
  • No Splash Guard

  

Bending Branches Scout Paddle

Another angler focused paddle by bending branch, the Scout model of kayaking paddle is another fisherman friendly kayaking paddle. The Scout paddle features a hook retrieval system designed to help you retrieve your line from snags and other underwater hazards. There is also a measuring tape pain and onto the shaft to help you measure fish without having to bring additional equipment onto your Kayak.

The measuring tape paint on the Scout paddle may rub off after a few uses so if you wanted to stay, you might need to seal it with some clear paint or nail polish varnish before you take it out on the water. Also, the push button to adjust the ferrules may stick so be prepared to adjust that for a little while before you hit the water.

Altogether this is a perfect kayaking paddle for any fisherman. The hook retrieval system and measuring tape alone make it worth the price. But the heavy-duty drip rings and quick adjusting feathering make it an even better buy.

Pros

  • Quick Adjust Feathering
  • Heavy-Duty Drip Rings
  • Hook Retrieval System

Cons

  • The Pushbutton May Stick
  • Measuring Tape Paint Rubs off

 

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

The Werner and the sea whisper are going to be the best kayaking paddles that you can get in 2017. Both of these kayaking paddles offer you quick adjusting Ferrule system as well as high-quality construction materials.

If you are a new kayaker who is not going to benefit from all of the different feathering positions available on a kayaking paddle than the Carlisle Magic Plus or the Sea Sense X-Treme II are both suitable kayaking paddles. They are moderate line paddles that will give you some adjustments without costing you extra money and giving you features you won’t need.

For those of you who are hitting the water with the intention of fishing, the best kayaking paddles for fishing are going to be the Bending Branches fishing paddles. Either the Scout or the Classic is going to offer you exactly what you need on the water when fishing. The integrated measuring tape and line retrieval system on these paddles are amazing features perfect for any angler.

No matter which paddle you choose from this guide you should be satisfied with your choice. There’s something for everyone depending on your needs. Whether you’re looking for a basic paddle while you get used to kayaking (like the Carlisle Day Tripper) or you need something to transition to a more serious kayaking paddle (like the Werner) you will find it here. Get your paddle and get out on the water to enjoy the best water sport of all time.

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