Bending Branches’ Andrew Stern Talks Kayak Fishing on “The Final Cast”

Andrew Stern, Bending Branches

Bending Branches’ Marketing Manager, Andrew Stern

In this episode of The Final Cast podcast our own VP of Marketing/R&D, Andrew Stern, joins Josh Eldridge, Brad Hicks and Jimmy Skinner to talk Bending Branches, the Angler Navigator, the Angler Pro and kayak fishing.

Tune in below to find out “why Bending Branches is one of the most innovative and respected brands in the kayak fishing community”

Here are the main topics Andrew covers with the guys in the podcast:

A Short History of Bending Branches

In the first couple decades we made wood canoe paddles in the summer and wood hockey sticks in the winter. In the early 2000s we discontinued hockey sticks in that rapidly-changing market, and started to invest in kayaking as it was growing in popularity.

In 2010, well before kayak fishing enjoyed today’s popularity, we started to work with some of the early innovators in the kayak fishing industry to design and craft great kayak fishing paddles.

People laughed at us! Most didn’t think there was a market. But 3 or 4 years later all the kayak paddle makers started to realize we were on to something, and jumped in the game.

Now we have a paddle for everyone: canoeists, kayakers, kayak anglers, canoe anglers, paddle boarders. While Covid has been unfortunate in so many ways, the outdoor market has exploded, including paddle sports.

Winter is normally our slow season, but we have more employees right now (January 2021) than even our busy season in “normal” years. We had our best sales month in company history during 2020.

Bending Branches’ Angler Navigator

Bending Branches is known for our durable, dense, long-lasting woods. Our varnish in one of our patents, our Rockgard® tip protection is patented, and our glue is patented. So we know how to make wood paddles.

A lot of our fishing customers started to buy our Navigator kayak paddle which is designed for touring, not fishing. When we realized they wanted a wood-blade paddle for its aesthetics and quietness in the water, we redesigned our Navigator touring paddle into a more robust paddle to fit the needs of a heavier boat, lots of gear and the many different fishing environments it would encounter.

kayak fisherman using angler navigator paddle

The Angler Navigator kayak fishing paddle (photo courtesy of Travis Duncan)

The Angler Navigator is 5 ounces heavier than the Angler Pro, but it’s beautiful, durable and can take on any paddling and angling situation.

Strong in Customer Service

You can’t be a paddle company for 40 years if you don’t stand behind your products. Any time a company takes care of a warranty claim for a customer, it’s losing money. It’s more important for us to take care of our customers. And our customers know that—they like to work with a company that takes care of them.

Wisdom in Buying the Right Kayak Fishing Paddle

There are so many questions we want to ask an angler before he or she chooses a kayak fishing paddle: Your height, the width of your boat, your paddling style, what type of paddling environment you’ll fish in, how long you’ll be out.

Most people don’t invest their time researching and their money on their paddle because they’ve already spent a lot of money on a boat, fishing gear and baits. But they don’t realize the paddle is their motor. It makes a huge difference in your enjoyment of kayak fishing.

woman kayak fishing

The right size paddle makes fishing more enjoyable (photo courtesy of @five2nine_ca)

We have a Sizing Guide specifically for kayak anglers. It’s different than for touring and recreational kayak paddles. It takes into consideration:

  • High-low seat options fishing kayaks have
  • Paddling technique: high-angle or low-angle
  • Body style and paddling style
  • How much weight is in your boat

Bending Branches’ Angler Pro

Josh said, “I made the jump from the Angler Scout to the Angler Pro, and I never looked back. It’s the single best accessory I’ve gotten for my kayak fishing career so far. It alleviated back pain for me, it made my time enjoyable out there. I don’t have the soreness as often…it’s worth every penny.”

Most new kayak anglers go down this journey:

  • They buy a used kayak from a buddy. It comes with a paddle—which almost certainly will be the wrong size. Or they go to a box store and buy a cheap kayak that comes with a cheap paddle.
  • They realize it’s not working, so they try different kayaks.
  • It’s usually not until the 3rd or 4th kayak that they start to take the paddle seriously.

All our kayak fishing paddles are designed to get the most punch out of every price point. We pack as much value as we can into each one. The Angler Pro is our top fishing paddle. It’s won awards, it uses technology we borrowed from Boeing.

How Does a Great Paddle Company Stay Relevant with Pedal Kayaks?

Having a good paddle in your pedal or motorized kayak is a lot like having a good spare tire in your car. When you need it, you want to know you can rely on it!

anglerpro kayak fishing paddle in glowtek

The Angler Pro in Glowtek (photo courtesy of @reelmidwestfishing)

Jimmy explains that even though he has a both a pedal and motorized kayak, “That’s just to get me to where I want to fish. Once I get over there and am marred up in grass, the Bending Branches paddle comes right back out…My paddles still get used in all of my boats, whether they’re paddle or motored.”

Mechanized kayaks are great—but you’ll still need a paddle in many situations—certainly in the shallowest water. You need to have the confidence that when you need it you won’t have to worry about it. Many anglers feel they have more control in most fishing situations with a paddle.

And pedal kayaks are more expensive, which means most kayak anglers will still use non-pedal kayaks.

What’s the Best Branches’ Kayak Fishing Paddle for the River Angler?

The Angler Ace is where we start in terms of performance and robustness for the dollar for anglers who fish a lot of rivers. It’s full carbon tip-to-tip with our strongest blade.

angler ace kayak fishing paddle

Our Angler Ace all-carbon kayak fishing paddle is great for river fishing (photo courtesy of @adam_t_cawley)

The Classic is awesome, too, if you need something a little more affordable. It’s our best-selling kayak fishing paddle. And our top paddle for river fishing is the Angler Navigator if your budget allows. These paddles will take anything in any river conditions.

If you opt for the Angler Navigator, take care of the wood. Do some routine maintenance—sand out dents and scratches, apply a new coat or two of marine-grade varnish—and it’ll last for decades. Canoeists have been taking care of their wood paddles like this for years.

The final 10-15 minutes of the podcast the guys swap stories, talk about their favorite kayak anglers and why the paddling industry is such a great place to be.

See more Final Cast podcast videos, part of Paddle & Fin Network, on the YouTube channel.

Do you have questions about choosing a kayak fishing paddle? Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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