Bending Branches’ ProStaffers Chad Hoover and Gene Jensen team up in this video to explain how great paddling technique makes you a better kayak angler.
Anglers need a bigger blade with a bigger power face (the side of the blade that pulls the water on each stroke). They need to displace more water than the average kayaker because:
- Fishing kayaks aren’t built for speed, but for stability and hauling gear.
- Fishing kayaks are wider than touring kayaks, so there’s more drag pulling through the water.
- Their boats are heavier due to the amount of gear they carry.
Chad’s Top Tips for Paddling Technique
- Buy the best possible paddle you can first rather than “buying your way up” from entry-level to intermediate to high-end. You’ll save money in the long run.
- You spend as much time with the paddle in your hand as your rod and reel. It’s worth the investment.
- A lightweight paddle will reduce fatigue and repetitive-motion injuries.
- An adjustable ferrule is almost a necessity with modern fishing kayaks. Adjustable-height seats and the option of standing up or sitting down means either bringing along multiple paddles, or one adjustable paddle.
- A wet paddle dripping into calm water “sounds like a bomb going off to the fish!” Spin your paddle to get the drips off once you stop.
- Keep your paddle from hitting your kayak. The sound reverberates into the water, spooking the fish.
- If you can read the label on your paddle blade, you know it’s right-side-up.
- The drip rings should be about a 4-finger width from the shoulder of the blade. Then the water will drip outside the boat as you’re paddling.
The Importance of Knowing How to Paddle
- Hold the paddle properly: The power face of the blade needs to be towards you.
- Paddling technique for fishing is different than for touring. You’ll use less torso rotation because you’re always looking ahead of you.
- Practice a smooth catch in the water with your paddle blade and a clean lift-out with each stroke. Then you’re not spooking the fish by splashing more than necessary.
- Experiment with feathering your paddle blades for a more efficient stroke, especially when paddling into a headwind.
- Know which is your “glue” hand and your ”grease” hand (explained in the video at minute 7:30).
The Importance of Choosing the Right Paddle
Chad comments his thinking used to be: “I’m not a paddler, I’m a fisherman.”
But he discovered he was paddling 60-70 miles a week when kayak fishing. Because he wasn’t focused on becoming a better paddler, he finally realized he was always working harder than he needed to.
Now he recommends working on your paddling right away. He even goes so far as to say: Buy the best paddle you can first, even if it means starting with a lower-end kayak.
The last words of advice from these pro anglers? Don’t be intimidated by those who know more than you do! Just take what you learn and get out there and fish!