How to Size Your Kayak Paddle

The two most important factors in choosing the right size kayak paddle are your kayak’s width and your own height…

family of kayakers

If your paddle is too short you may find yourself banging your knuckles on the edge of your boat or be forced to lean with your strokes. If it’s too long, you’ll be carrying extra swing weight and may have less control over your kayak.

Take a look at the chart below:

Kayak Paddle Sizing Guide

Kayak Width Under 23" 24" to 28" 29"-33" 34"+
Paddler Height Recommended Paddle Length
Under 5'5" 210 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
5'5" - 5'11" 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm 250 cm
6'+ 220 cm 230 cm 250 cm 260 cm

As you can see from the chart, the wider your boat, the longer your paddle needs to be. If you’re tall, you’ll need a longer paddle, too.

Recreational kayaks are wide and stable, so you’ll need a longer paddle to be able to reach the water easily. Touring kayaks are narrower, and sea kayaks are narrower yet, meaning your paddle can be shorter since you have less reach toward the water.

Measure your kayak’s width across its widest point. If you’re kayak shopping, the manufacturers will list width as one of the specs of each boat.

High-Angle or Low-Angle Paddling?

One other factor will play a part in your paddle’s length: are you a high-angle or a low-angle paddler?

High-angle paddling is aggressive and fast. Because the strokes are more vertical, your paddle should be shorter. Whitewater kayakers and speed-lovers use high-angle strokes often.

Low-angle paddling is relaxed and meant for long days on the water. Your strokes are more horizontal and so your paddle should be longer. Touring and recreational kayakers use mostly low-angle strokes.

See all of Bending Branches’ kayak paddles

kayak fisherman

How to Size Your Kayak Fishing Paddle

When you choose a paddle for kayak fishing, your boat's width will be the most important factor, and also the height of your seat.

Kayak fishing boats are usually wide and stable, and so require a longer paddle. You can use the same chart above to begin with. Then…is your seat height-adjustable?

If it is, you’ll want a paddle that has an adjustable ferrule—the paddle can then be lengthened or shortened according to how your seat is adjusted.

Adjustable ferrules are commonly used by kayak fishermen because of their versatility and ability to accommodate wider boats and adjustable seats.

Adjustable ferrules are also great if there will be paddlers of different sizes using the same kayak. Or one paddler using different types of kayaks.

Kayak fishing paddles are designed with a wide, high-angle blade so you can paddle your gear-laden boat with ease.

See all of Bending Branches’ kayak fishing paddles

Watch this video, below, for more.

Do you have more questions about sizing a kayak paddle? Reach out to our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]