Fishing kayaks are no joke. They’re often significantly wider and heavier than other kayak types, which means you’ll need a kayak paddle that’s capable of propelling a heavier load while still being light enough for all-day use. That’s no simple feat.
Many kayakers don’t give too much thought to their paddles, but this is a mistake in my opinion. Paddles are the engine that propels your watercraft, so investing in an efficient, high-quality kayak paddle for fishing makes good sense.
Whether you’re trolling, making you’re way to an isolated fishing spot, or simply out for a leisurely paddle, finding the best kayak paddle for your needs can be a confusing task. I’ll break down what you need to know when selecting a kayak paddle, and hopefully help you pick the best one for your kayak.
Quick Answer: 6 Best Kayak Paddles for Fishing
Why do you need a kayak fishing paddle?
While you can get by with a cheapo aluminum and plastic kayak paddle in a pinch, a kayak paddle that’s designed for fishing can be a major game-changer.
Most of these paddles feature cutting edge materials like carbon fiber and fiberglass, cutting down on weight significantly and improving performance in the water. High-end paddles often have adjustable ferrules for changing the paddle length and blade angle on the fly, which allows you to swap between different watercraft easily.
Many also feature small hooks cut out of the blade material for retrieving a snagged hook. Some also have a ruler for measuring your catch printed onto the side of a paddle.
Kayak fishing paddles feature either a ‘low-angle’ or a ‘high-angle’ blade design. Low angle blades are suited to slow, steady strokes used while trolling or prolonged paddling. High angle blades are better suited for aggressive, powerful strokes needed when hauling a fully loaded kayak or when navigating fast-moving water.
Top 6 Kayak Paddles for Fishing
How to pick the right kayak fishing paddle?
Kayak fishing paddles come in various dimensions, materials, designs, and price points. Picking the best fishing paddle for your particular kayak can be a baffling task, so let’s break down the import features to consider when picking out a kayak paddle.
Length is one of the most important considerations when picking a good paddle. If your paddle is the wrong length, your paddling will be awkward and inefficient. Worse still, if a paddle is too short, it will bang on the side of the kayak as you paddle, disrupting your stroke and spooking any fish nearby.
The ideal paddle length for you will depend on your kayak’s width, your height, as well as your seating position. Taller paddlers, wider kayaks, and high seating positions all necessitate longer paddles than shorter kayaks, narrower kayaks, and low seating positions.
Every brand has its own specific sizing instructions, as small variations can occur between manufacturers. With that said, the following chart (with your height and kayak width) will give you a pretty good idea of what paddle length you’ll need.
Sizing Chart (Add 10 cm for high seat position)
|Kayak Width||Under 23″||24″ to 28″||29″ to 33″||34″+|
|Under 5′ 5″||21o cm||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm|
|5’5″ to 5’11”||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm||250cm|
|6’+||220 cm||230 cm||250 cm||260 cm|
A paddle’s overall weight is another key performance factor. When it comes to weight, you’ll generally get what you pay for.
The lightest paddles will feature cutting-edge materials like carbon fiber and fiberglass, cutting down on weight significantly while boosting overall performance. Cheaper paddles utilize heavier materials like aluminum and plastic – making them heavier and bulkier than their high-performance counterparts.
While you might not think shaving a few ounces off your paddle’s weight will make much difference, considering you’ll be paddling thousands of strokes per outing, even a small weight reduction can have a large impact. This will enable you to paddle longer and farther with less fatigue and increase the distance you can cover per mile.
Paddle blades are made from a variety of different materials, from cheap polyethylene plastic to durable and feather-light carbon fiber.
Plastic and Nylon blades are cheap, offer a good level of durability, but are significantly heavier than more expensive materials. Plastic blades are often paired with aluminum shafts, resulting in functional albeit heavy kayak paddles.
Fiberglass blades are light, highly durable, and fall in the middle of the pack in terms of price. They’re the most common type used in kayak paddles for fishing due to their excellent combination of weight, durability, and cost.
Carbon Fiber blades are the top of the line material used by tournament anglers and other pros. They’re extremely light, generate a ton of power, but cost more than other blade materials.
Blade shape has a major impact on a paddle’s behavior in the water and will determine the type of paddling its best suited for. Blades are generally broken down into either High-Angle or Low-Angle categories.
High-Angle blades are wider and have more surface area, generating more power per stroke. They’re suited to fast bursts of speed, and for propelling heavier fishing kayaks, or kayaks in moving water. The ‘high angle’ refers to the position of the paddler’s control arm during the paddle stroke. These paddles are ideal for kayaks with a high seating position.
Low-Angle blades are long and narrow and are suited to a more relaxed paddling pace. They generate less power per stroke but can be paddled for longer periods of time without tiring yourself out. The paddling position is lower down than with a high angle paddle.
Check out this video for an in-depth look at high vs. low kayak paddles:
Kayak shaft materials also vary significantly, from cheap and heavy aluminum to feather-light carbon fiber.
Aluminum is cheap, fairly durable, but weighs significantly more than other shaft materials. You’ll often find aluminum shafts in cheap entry-level paddles or paddles that come bundled with a kayak. These paddles also work well as emergency backups.
Fiberglass is fairly light, extremely durable, and falls in the middle of the pack in terms of price. Many kayak paddles designed specifically for fishing utilize a fiberglass shaft.
Carbon Fiber shafts are feather-light, durable, but cost significantly more than other types. Nearly all high-end paddles will utilize a carbon fiber shaft, as it offers a significant weight reduction from fiberglass and aluminum. If you’re looking for a high-performance paddle, going with carbon fiber will cost you more upfront, but you’ll generally notice a major performance bump over other types.
Most 2-piece kayak fishing paddles feature an adjustable ferrule, which is a twistable shaft with different settings that allows you to change the blade offset angle (known as feathering). Depending on the exact model, the offset angle can be set between 0° and 65°, with varying increments in between. Changing the feathering angle allows you to paddle in windy conditions efficiently without catching much wind resistance.
Some kayak paddles also feature an adjustable length – allowing you to quickly extend or retract the shaft to adjust the length. This can be particularly useful for the kayaker with multiple kayaks, or if you want a paddle that you can easily swap between different friends and family members.
Once you’ve got your paddle, make sure to check out my breakdown of kayak paddle leashes to make sure you don’t lose it in the drink!
Featured image source.
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.