How to Properly Use a Bent-Shaft Canoe Paddle [Video]

A bent-shaft canoe paddle is a great choice to use on calmer water, especially on long expeditions. It gives you a very efficient, straight-ahead paddle stroke, meaning less fatigue during all-day and multi-day trips.

Here’s how to properly use a bent-shaft paddle:

Place Your Hands Properly on the Shaft

Your lower hand should be placed one hand-width up from the neck of the shaft (where the blade and shaft meet).

use a bent shaft canoe paddle

Your other hand will grab firmly onto the grip of the shaft.

use a bent shaft canoe paddle

Be Sure the Paddle is Pointed the Correct Way

The most common error when using a bent-shaft paddle is facing it the wrong direction. That essentially cancels out any benefits the paddle offers!

use a bent shaft canoe paddle

It’s a bit hard to see from the front angle, but the blade should be angled forward, not back. If your paddle is backwards, you’ll be lifting water for most of your paddle stroke, especially towards the end of your stroke. That’ll cause more fatigue, not less!

When the paddle is in the correct position, you’ll be pushing the water back and lifting the paddle effortlessly out of the water at the back of every stroke.

How to Size a Bent-Shaft Canoe Paddle

You typically want a bent-shaft paddle to be 2-4 inches shorter than a straight-shaft paddle. For more on sizing a bent-shaft paddle properly, check out our Sizing Guide.

Bending Branches’ Bent-Shaft Canoe Paddles

We carry several bent-shaft paddles:

  • BB Special—Our most affordable model at an MSRP of $99.95.
  • Cruiser Plus 11—A step up from the BB Special at an MSRP of $124.95.
  • Java 11—Gorgeous pin-striping in the blade. MSRP $149.95
  • Viper—A double bent shaft for extra smooth paddling over long distances. MSRP $159.95
  • Sunburst 11—Gorgeous artistry in the wooden blade with a T-700 carbon shaft. MSRP $224.95.
  • Black Pearl II—Our all-carbon touring paddle (the next generation Black Pearl from the one shown in this video). MSRP $249.95.

Do you have more questions about bent-shaft paddles? Call our Wisconsin-based Customer Service today at 715-755-3405.

We’re happy to help!