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What Makes A Great River Fishing Paddle?

Posted: 06.12.2014

I am often asked about the paddles that I use and why I use them.

There are a variety of paddles that you can use on the river and a lot will come down to personal preference. Here are a few key characteristics I look for in a good river paddle for kayak fishing.

  • Acceleration: acceleration is really a function power. In river situations you need good acceleration to avoid obstacles, overcome current and obtain upstream.
  • Power: Blade design is critical to producing more power in each stroke. Blade designs based on white water paddles tend to be more powerful. Power is needed to help position and maneuver the typical gear laden fishing sit on tops in moving water scenarios.
  • Durability: It no secret that river paddles will take a beating. Rock, gravel and the occasional push off a river obstacle can take its toll on a paddle. No environment is more laden with potential “paddle breakers” than a ledge and rock infested river.
  • Adjustability: With the development of high and low seating options for fishing kayaks, having the ability to adjust the length of a paddle shaft can be critical to keeping your paddle stroke in the water and efficient.
  • Light Weight: When river fishing, you have to be an active paddler to hold position and get to the fish. A day of paddling on the river with a heavy paddle can ware you out!  The lightest paddle you can afford should be your target. In general, the lighter the paddle the higher the cost. Believe me though it is worth the price if you fish a lot. Many of my guide clients are amazed at the noticeable difference in weight when they spend some time with one of my carbon paddles.

Here is an example of the paddle that I use which has all the attributes listed above and more.  For over a year, I’ve been using Adventure Technologies Oracle Carbon paddle which is based off the AT-2 white water paddle blade. The Oracle Carbon is considered a touring paddle but it is designed for high angle paddling which is a much more efficient paddling angle for running rapids and negotiating moving water. Take a look at the video to learn more about the paddle that I prefer for my river fishing. You’ll also be able to visually see what I mean by an aggressive white water blade design.