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Best Kayak Fishing Paddles Reviewed: 2021 Buying Guide

Last Updated: April 11th, 2021
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The right paddle transforms your kayak from a lumbering, lazy boat to a deadly fishing machine.

That’s not hype.

If there’s one piece of kayaking equipment that makes a transformative difference in performance, it’s a good paddle. Stiff, light, efficient, powerful: a quality paddle wrings every ounce of performance from your ‘yak’s hull.

And whether you make long runs from a launch to a submerged peak or fight the current on your local river, you need to consider paddle choice carefully to ensure you get what you need.

But if you’re new to ‘yaks, you might not know what you need, and even experienced kayakers may not know what to look for in an angling paddle.

We’re here to help, and below, you’ll find a complete buying guide as well as reviews of some of the top angling paddles.

Quick glance at the best kayak paddles for fishing:

Related: Best Kayak Fishing Rod, Best Kayak Fishing PFD

Best Kayak Paddle For Fishing Reviewed

Bending Branches Angler Ace - Best All-Around Kayak Fishing Paddle

BENDING BRANCHES Angler Ace 2-Piece Snap-Button Fishing Kayak Paddle, Black, 250cm

Amazon 

Length: 230 cm and 250 cm

Weight: 30 oz.

Shaft material: carbon fiber

Shaft type: straight

Blade material: carbon reinforced nylon

Take-down: two-piece, push-button ferrule

Bending Branches, a well-respected paddle company with decades in the business, really knows what kayak anglers crave, as the Angler Ace demonstrates.

Built from carbon fiber and carbon-fiber reinforced nylon, if you're used to low-end paddles, the first thing you’ll notice is the 30 oz. weight. Incredibly light and very, very stiff, paddling efficiency is excellent. You’ll lose none of your strength to flex, and on long paddles, you’ll quickly come to appreciate that.

The Angler Ace offers a hybrid blade shape that blends the best of slim and fat, giving you control when you need it as well as efficiency over long distances. And in a nod to real-world experience, you’ll find a line catcher notch on the left blade, something I’ve found comes in handy when you need some extra reach.

The push-button ferrule allows either matched or 60-degree offset blades, and the shaft features pre-marked increments to help you measure your fish.

For open water and long paddles to and from your honey hole, the Angler Ace is very hard to beat. And while there may be better paddles for moving water, this paddle is more than capable on rivers, too.

Amazon currently carries the 230 cm and 250 cm models, but Bending Branches rounds this out with the full line-up: 240 cm, 260 cm, 270 cm, and 280 cm.

Is this the very best paddle for kayak anglers? I’m not sure--the competition is fierce!

But I can say that you won’t be disappointed if you choose the Angler Ace.

Pros:

  • Very light
  • Extremely stiff
  • Excellent hybrid blade shape
  • Line catching notch included on left blade
  • Adjustable ferrule allows matched or feathered blades

Cons:

  • ???

Bending Branches Angler Classic

BENDING BRANCHES Angler Classic 2-Piece Snap-Button Fishing Kayak Paddle; (Black Shaft/Sage Green Blade - 260cm)

Amazon 

Length: 220 cm, 250 cm, and 260 cm

Weight: 30 oz.

Shaft material: fiberglass

Shaft type: straight

Blade material: fiberglass reinforced nylon

Take-down: two-piece, push-button ferrule

Bending Branches Angler Classic is a nod toward price-consciousness without sacrificing quality. Essentially the Angler Ace with less expensive materials, Bending Branches nevertheless manages to keep weight on par with its more expensive offering.

Fiberglass gets heavy fast, but it’s very strong and remarkably stiff, to boot. Stroking with the Angler Classic reveals that efficiency immediately, and you’ll find that each pull through the water gives you just a bit more oomph than a paddle less stiff.

Is the carbon fiber Ace worth it? That’s hard to say. In terms of pure efficiency, I’d probably give the Ace the nod over the Classic. So if long paddles are your plan, go with the Ace.

That said, the Classic is available in high-viz orange, a life-saving choice on the water.

Like the Ace, expect a push-button ferrule that allows you to switch between matched blades and 60-degree feathering. You’ll also find the same measuring marks on the shaft, identical blade shapes, and the line catching notch on the left blade.

If you’re on a tiger budget than the Ace allows, go for the Angler Classic and don’t look back!

Amazon currently carries three lengths, but Bending Branches has the full range if you need those options.

Pros:

  • Very light
  • Very stiff
  • Excellent hybrid blade shape
  • Line catching notch included on left blade
  • Adjustable ferrule allows matched or feathered blades

Cons:

  • Not quite as stiff as the Angler Ace

Werner Cyprus

Werner Cyprus Straight Shaft Kayak Paddle 2 PC

Amazon 

Length: 220 cm, 230 cm, and 250 cm

Weight: 23.25 oz.

Shaft material: carbon fiber

Shaft type: straight

Blade material: carbon fiber

Take-down: two-piece, push-button ferrule

I’ve had to run short stretches of rapids on several rivers, including some unexpectedly technical sections when the current was really ripping around nasty rocks. If you fish rivers where the current can run stronger than yesterday’s coffee, a fat-bladed, ultra-stiff paddle is just what you need.

Werner’s Cyprus is perhaps the best paddle for river fishing I’ve ever reviewed.

Built entirely from carbon fiber, this featherweight provides instant, total energy transfer with each stroke, improving control measurably over more flexible options. And the fat blades on the Cyprus really bite, moving way more water than longer, skinner options.

Werner is known for its awesome ferrule system, and you can adjust the two-piece Cyprus in 15-degree increments from matched to 75 degrees of right-hand offset. I appreciate that customizability, and I expect it at this price point!

While not designed specifically for anglers, the Cyprus is built around our needs where the current is strong.

Pros:

  • Extremely light
  • Extremely stiff
  • Excellent blade shape for moving water
  • Adjustable ferrule allows matched or feathered blades with great customizability

Cons:

  • Expensive

Werner Camano - Best Kayak Fishing Paddle for Open Water

Werner Camano Fiberglass 2-Piece Paddle - Straight Shaft Red, 220cm

Amazon 

Length: 240 cm and 250 cm

Weight: 30 oz.

Shaft material: carbon fiber

Shaft type: straight

Blade material: fiberglass

Take-down: two-piece, push-button ferrule

For open water and long paddles, the Werner Camano is an excellent choice.

Werner matches their unbeatable carbon fiber shaft to fiberglass blades, cutting costs while maintaining ridiculous stiffness. That’s something you’ll notice right away as you paddle--and something you’ll appreciate the longer your trip.

The Camano sports longer, thinner blades than the Cyprus, offering greater paddling efficiency and less control. As a result, it’s an excellent paddle for getting from point A to point B, especially as those distances grow. But it’s not ideal on moving water and in strong currents.

Like the Cyprus, though, it offers the same awesomely adjustable ferrule, allowing matched or feathered blades in 15-degree increments, all the way to 75 degrees of right-hand offset.

It’s also available in high-vis colors, which I strongly recommend for open water where powerboat traffic is a dangerous reality.

Pros:

  • Very light
  • Extremely stiff
  • Excellent blade shape for open water and long paddles
  • High-vis colors available
  • Adjustable ferrule allows matched or feathered blades with great customizability

Cons:

  • ???

Backwater Paddles Assassin

Backwater Paddles Assassin Carbon Fiber Paddle - Adjustable 250-260

Amazon 

Length: 230-240 cm and 250-260 cm (adjustable)

Weight: 38 and 42 oz.

Shaft material: carbon fiber composite

Shaft type: straight

Blade material: nylon

Take-down: two-piece, screw ferrule

Backwater Paddles made a name for itself with short, one-handed paddles designed for hard-core anglers who needed a tool to get their ‘yaks, canoes, and pirogues into the rough stuff.

The Assassin is the natural next step in their product line: a two-piece kayak paddle that can give harsh environments a beat down.

First off, don’t expect featherweights. Designed as a tool to beat back foliage, snag branches, cut water grass, and generally force your way through tight spots and into hidden honey holes, the Assassin isn’t going to compete with anything Werner offers.

That’s a fact.

Instead, it’s a paddle for anglers who fight their way into swamps, mangroves, and salt marshes. If you fit into that category, you’re as likely to use a paddle as a push pole as you are to stroke. And in that role, it really shines.

Paddling efficiency, even with a stiff shaft, is ho-hum, a reality you can chalk up the unusual blade shape. Designed more for power and control, the Assassin holds its own in currents.

The shaft is adjustable, allowing customized lengths in two sizes: 230-240 cm and 250-260 cm. This is accomplished via a screw-down ferrule that also allows infinite feathering options.

Of course, the price of this system is weight, and this is easily the heaviest paddle on our list.

You’ll find that the blades feature a big notch, useful for snagging line, branches, rope, and weeds. There’s also a serrated “edge” on the tip that can help you grip mud when you need to push or cut weeds when they get in the way.

Many anglers won’t be well-served by these additions, but if you’re one who will be, don’t hesitate to trust the Assassin.

Pros:

  • Excellent blade shape for push-polling and fighting foliage
  • Adjustable ferrule allows matched or feathered blades with extreme customizability
  • Adjustable lengths
  • Very, very tough

Cons:

  • More push-pole than pure paddle, this isn’t the best option for long journeys

Aqua Bound Manta Ray - Best Kayak Fishing Paddle for Rivers

AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle, Black CR Blade/Carbon Snap Button Shaft, 250 cm

Amazon 

Length: 210 cm, 220 cm, 230 cm, 240 cm, and 250 cm

Weight: 29.5 oz.

Shaft material: carbon fiber 

Shaft type: straight

Blade material: carbon fiber reinforced resin

Take-down: two-piece, Posi-Lok ferrule

Aqua Bound’s Manta Ray is a fantastic alternative to the Cyprus, especially if the price tag on the Werner scares you away! Built from high-end materials and designed to perform, it’s an excellent choice for kayak anglers who run rivers in search of prey.

The carbon fiber shaft and carbon-fiber reinforced resin blades are very, very light, almost matching the Werner while offering extreme stiffness. Ideal where you need to accelerate, stop, or turn on a dime, you can count on these fat blades to bite hard. You’ll notice that power transfer immediately, and if you’ve been testing your skills with skinner, more flexible blades, prepare to be impressed!

Aqua Bound’s Posi-Lok ferrule is simply amazing, offering infinite ferrule angles without adding weight. Easily my favorite of the bunch, it’s a feature that’ll quickly spoil you, leaving you asking why paddles that cost twice as much can’t offer this kind of tech.

Given the blade shape, the Manta Ray wouldn’t be my go-to for long paddles, but on rivers, it’s very, very hard to beat.

Pros:

  • Extremely light
  • Extremely stiff
  • Excellent blade shape for moving water
  • Infinitely-adjustable ferrule allows matched or feathered blades

Cons:

  • ???

Things to Consider When Selecting a Fishing Kayak Paddle

Length

Paddle length is really important, and generally speaking, fishing kayaks need slightly longer paddles to clear their beam on each stroke.

Paddles are measured in centimeters, with available lengths typically ranging from 210 cm to 260 cm. A paddle that’s too short or too long for you and your ‘yak will feel awkward and reduce your paddling efficiency.

Two measurements are critical when assessing the right paddle length for you:

  • Kayak width - All other things being equal, a wider kayak demands a longer paddle. That’s because the narrower the ‘yak, the easier it is to reach the water with the blades. Fishing kayaks tend to sport a wide beam, making them more stable and providing more deck area, and typically, fishing paddles need to be a bit longer than those you’d select for touring or recreational kayaks.
  • Torso height - The longer your torso, the longer the paddle you need.
    One simple method to assess your torso height is to sit in a chair and measure the distance between your crotch and the tip of your nose. That distance is your torso height, and it’s a good place to start to choose the best paddle length for you:
    measure kayak paddle length

The next thing to assess is your paddling style:

  • Low-angle paddling - If your hands remain below your shoulders when you paddle, you’re taking strokes at a low angle. Doing so reduces fatigue over long paddles and is very efficient.
    But it can’t provide sudden power for accelerating, stopping, or turning.
    If you make long paddles to and from where you fish, you’ll probably do a lot of low-angle paddling, and you’ll want to opt for a slightly longer paddle.
  • High-angle paddling - If your hands rise above your shoulders when you paddle, you’re high-angle paddling. This style allows the paddle to enter the water at a steep angle, applying more power to each stroke. 
  • In unpredictable water, where control is at a premium, this is a must. If you fish moving water like rivers, you’ll probably do a fair amount of high-angle paddling, and you can opt for a slightly shorter paddle.

Feathering

Feathered blades are offset, greatly improving their efficiency. As you make each stroke, feathered blades demand a slight twist of your wrist to turn the blade into the water. Contrary to what you might expect, most people find that this is gentler on their wrists than matched blades.

By contrast, matched blades are aligned. Many paddles are designed to allow you to adjust between feathered and matched and to decide which hand rotates during the stroke. 

You’ll need to experiment to find what works best for you.

Straight vs. Bent Shaft

The choice of shaft style is a question of what you do on the water.

  • Straight shaft - A straight shaft paddle runs in a straight line between the blades. They’re an excellent choice for fighting strong currents and allow you to quickly transition between types of strokes to maneuver quickly.
    If you fish rivers, creeks, and other moving water, you’ll definitely want a straight-shaft paddle. I also find them easier to use when fishing, as they come out of your lap in the right position to stroke.
  • Bent shaft - These designs feature two bends in the shaft to change your hand position, allowing a more natural grip. For longer trips, this can reduce fatigue and stress on your wrists and increase paddling efficiency.
    If long paddles are the norm on your fishing adventures, and you tend toward open water, a bent-shaft paddle may be the best option for you. But for most anglers, most of the time, a straight-shaft paddle is the better choice.

Shaft and Blade Material

The most common materials for kayak paddle shafts are aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. Each has its advantages.

  • Plastic is not a great choice for paddle shafts as it’s just too flexible to provide power. But as a budget material for blades, especially when reinforced with glass, fiberglass, or carbon, it can be a great option.
  • Aluminum is used in shafts as it’s both inexpensive and durable but comparatively heavy. It can also get really hot in the sun. Common in less expensive paddles, this material is a good choice for beginners and spare paddles.
  • Fiberglass is strong and light--an ideal combination for a paddle shaft. A popular choice for more experienced kayakers, paddles and blades made from fiberglass provide excellent performance.
  • Carbon fiber is ultra-light and incredibly strong but often many times more expensive than fiberglass. Paddles constructed from carbon fiber are something to consider if kayaking fishing is an important part of your life.

Blade Shape

While small differences in blade shapes and sizes may appear inconsequential, they actually have huge impacts on performance. There are two basic, polar opposites and a huge range between them.

  • Short, fat blades are better for any situation demanding immediate power for steering or stopping. Stronger, fitter kayak anglers may want fat blades as they can apply more power to each stroke.
  • Long, skinny blades are better for endurance. Driven by the need for efficiency, if you’re paddling a long way to where you fish, or paddling continuously throughout the day, a skinnier blade may be the better option.

One, Two, or Four-piece

Kayak paddles come in three configurations for transport and storage.

Some paddles are a single piece, offering the lightest possible weight and the strongest possible shaft. But most takedown at a ferrule in the middle, and some also offer the added feature of removable blades. Four-piece paddles are very easy to store, though most people don’t find a two-piece paddle problematic.

Final Thoughts

The best kayak paddle for you depends on your needs and budget, and though any of the options on our list will serve you well, each has strengths and weaknesses that you should match to the conditions you face and the kind of fishing you prefer.

We hope that this article has clarified what you need to consider and helped you get a handle on some great options. If it has, we’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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