Fishing & Hunting Tips

How to choose a kayak paddle – The Ultimate Beginners Guide

Howdy folks, hope you are doing great. Hey, do you want to take your kayaking or kayak fishing experience to the next level? How about increasing your kayaking time without any arm fatigue or body stress? Lemme give you the smartest decision! Invest in a good kayak paddle and thank me later! 

Kayak paddle is one of the essential equipment to have after a kayak itself! A little education on kayak paddle and affording the right one can change the whole kayaking experience of yours! Welcome to TopReviewGeek, folks! We’re going to enlighten you about kayak paddle today. Hope there won’t be any confusion after reading the whole article about “how to choose a kayak paddle- the ultimate kayak paddle 101”.

Before we dive deeper into the article, let’s give you an effective budget hack! If you’re kayaking budget is 700$, invest 450-500$ on a kayak and spend 200$ on a decent kayak paddle. Here’s an awesome review article about Best kayaks under 500$ where you will find some awesome kayaks in the best budget.

If your budget is around 1000$, spend 700-750$ on a kayak and invest the rest on a premium kayak paddle, maybe fiberglass or carbon fiber one which will ensure the ultimate performance and durability! Feel free to check out our recent article on Best kayaks under 1000$.

Let’s take a quick look at what we’re going to discuss today. For choosing the best kayak paddle, you need to consider these 4 facts.

  1. Paddle length
  2. Paddling Style
  3. Blade Design
  4. Materials

So without further ado, let’s jump into the main blog. Shall we?

Paddle length

Proper kayak paddle length should be your first concern. If the length isn’t suitable for your kayak, I’m worried that it can turn into a total waste of money! So, don’t take the fact “paddle length” lightly.

For choosing the right length, consider these two factors.

  1. Paddlers height
  2. Kayak width

Generally speaking, if you’re taller paddler and you have a wider kayak then you must need a taller paddle. So that you’re paddle have the perfect contact with water and produce a successful and effective stroke.

Vice-versa if you are a smaller paddler with a less wide kayak like the touring or recreational kayaks, then you need a smaller paddle, or else you find yourself in a complicated situation paddling with it, your body will become more stressful and can’t perfectly stroke with it.

There’s a chart for you recommended by an avid paddler team. Look at it and you will have the exact idea about which paddle length you need considering your height and kayak width.

Paddle Sizing Chart

Kayak width

More about the kayak width, let’s give you a quick idea about the typical width of each type of kayak. Just determine which type of kayak you have, calculate your height and then look at the chart above to pick the perfect size. Simple isn’t it!

Seat width

Many paddlers miss this point which is considered crucial. SOT or the Sit-on-top kayak which is widely used as fishing kayaks have increased seat height. So if you own a SOT, consider adding 10 cm with the calculated length. Or else, you won’t reach the water properly.

Suppose you have a kayak with a width between 29”- 33”, you’re paddler under 5.5” then you will be needing a paddle length of 230 cm (according to the paddle sizing chart). But if you’re kayak is a sit-on-top kayak, make it 240 cm.

Paddling Style

There are two common styles of paddling.

  • Low-angle: This paddling style is more relaxed and perfect for touring and casual recreational If flowing with the wave is your thing then, low-angle paddling is the style for you. It won’t generate much power from each stroke which affects the speed. But here’s the catch, it won’t tire you even after paddling for a long time. Satisfying, right?

You’ll be needing a longer paddle for this.

  • High-angle: if you need to produce more power or aggressive paddling is your cup of tea, then high-angle paddling should be your preferred style. Needless to say, this will enhance the effectiveness of your stroking but also demands a sportsman spirit.

You’ll be needing a shorter paddle. The blade needs to be shorter as well as wider.

Blade design

While buying a paddle for your kayak, the next thing you should consider is the blade design. To be more precise, think about its shape and size. This has a lot to do with your paddling stability and precision.

Blade shape

Do you prefer low-angle or high-angle paddling style? The paddling style again makes an impact here.

So as we discussed a bit earlier on this article, Low-angle blades are narrow and long. If your purpose is to relax, some casual and long-distance kayaking then low-angle blade shape is what you need! That leads us to the fact that it will be slower for less effective strokes. But then again, who needs speed on a recreational kayak, right?

High-angle blades are short and wide as it is designed for maximum power paddling at a higher angle. This blades also have more contact with water which means you need more muscle power to paddle with a high-angle blade.

Blade Size

Let’s make it easy to understand. A larger blade size has more surface area and contacts with more water than a smaller blade. They’ll be able to generate more powerful stroke, as a result, more speed. But don’t bet on that! Don’t grab the biggest one you find.

Handling a larger blade requires more strength and results in more strain on your body. If the paddler is not that strong or muscular, it’s wise to have a paddle with smaller blades.

However, if you’re in a fishing kayak which is packed with lots of gear and the weight is heavier, than a larger blade should get your consideration.

Shaft design

There is a wide range in terms of shaft design, understanding the design is more important for a smooth paddling experience. Let’s get into it!

  • Diameter: Not everyone’s hand is the same size, some have small hands while some have hands like Andre the giant. Jokes apart, considering the hand size there are two options available in the market. This comes in a standard or small size. Most paddlers are comfortable with the standard size. But if you have a smaller hand, pick the small-sized shaft for a better grip.Diameter also controls the weight of the paddle. A small sized shaft produces less stress on arms.
  • Straight vs Bent: you’ll find straight shafts and bent shafts. Straight shafts are widely used because of budget-friendly options. However, if you paddle a lot or have any wrist issues. In that case, a bent shaft is more suitable.Bent shaft paddle designs are focused to make the stroke more effective while keeping the wrist comfortable. The only downside of a bent shaft is, it tends to be expensive.
  • Two-piece vs four-piece: For ease in transportation and storage, shafts nowadays comes in two-pieces or four-pieces option. You can easily break the paddle into several pieces and carry it in your carry-on bag. Great convenience, right?I do have a paddle which has a four-piece shaft, I use it with my inflatable kayak.
  • Adjustable: The most versatile option you can get from a paddle that has an adjustable shaft. Investing in an adjustable shaft could be the wisest decision if you’ve got more than one kayak.

Speaking of several kayaks, the different kayak has a different width and sitting height. If you own multiple kayaks, you will need multiple paddles for different scenarios. But when you can afford one of these adjustable ones, a single paddle can get the job done. Some SOT or Sit-On-Top fishing kayaks also offers adjustable sits where these paddles will come in handy!


The material of the paddle has a significant impact on overall performance and price, we’ll go to that later. But now let’s concentrate on the general materials of kayak paddles.

Paddles have two major parts. And different types of material have been used to construct these two parts. Here they are…

  1. Blades
  2. Shaft

Blades Materials

  • Plastic/ plastic with the treatment of fiberglass: you can call it the economical blades or the cheap blades. Whatever you name it, plastic blades are the heaviest and least rigid blades which are the main downsides of it. As a result, they don’t perform that well. These blades are mostly used in recreational kayaks where you don’t need much speed.Plastic with the treatment of fiberglass may improve the performance and durability level but not that effectively like a composite (fiberglass/ carbon fiber) blade does.
  • Fiberglass: with amazing durability and performance, fiberglass made paddles are the mid-range budget options for a paddler. Good news is, they are slightly cheaper than the Carbon fiber blades. They have a little bit of flexibility so they don’t perform quite as well as carbon fiber. The flex makes them a bit more impact resistant though, it helps when you’re paddling around rocks.
  • Carbon fiber: if you want the best out of it, try carbon fiber blades. No wonder, why these are the high-end ones. Blades made from carbon fiber offers the lightest and highest performance you can get from a paddle. If you wanna get the ultra-light performance paddle, get the carbon fiber ones. Cut’s the water with great precision.

We all know carbon fiber is famous for its ultra-durable yet lightweight characteristics. Since carbon fiber is very strong material, blades made of carbon fiber are typically made to be as light as possible and can be a little more susceptible to sharp impacts compared to fiberglass blades.

Shaft Materials

  • Aluminum: these are wallet-friendly options you have. Aluminum made shafts are durable enough to do the job while it has a major downside too! Since aluminum catches temperature, it can be uncomfortable to hold when it’s hot or cold outside. Especially in freezing cold water, things could get serious!
  • Carbon Fiber and fiberglass: you can call it composite materials which makes the shaft extremely lightweight and offers the highest performance. Carbon fiber and fiberglass shaft are great for insulating your hands from the water temperature. It obviously increases the price of the paddle but hey, you can’t put a price on your satisfaction.

So, If you’re ready to spin the money, get carbon fiber and fiberglass made the composite shaft. Trust me, it will be a lifetime investment.

Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sports fisherman and hunter, love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting.

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