Whether it’s a long-term hobby for you or part of your professional career, kayaking is an enjoyable way to train your cardiovascular system, increase stamina, and improve overall mental and physical health.
But great kayaking experiences must come with great paddles. So, we’ve gathered essential information on the best kayak paddles out in the market today, reviewed them, and granted each with a “Best for” category accordingly.
Without further ado, let’s paddle right in!
- Best Overall: Werner Shuna Paddle
- Best Versatility: Assault Hand Paddle
- Best Quality: Wilderness Systems Tarpon Paddle
- Best Budget: Advanced Elements PackLite 4 Part Paddle
4 Best Fishing Kayak Paddles – Our Recommendations
Here are our most recommended fishing kayak paddles.
Werner Shuna Paddle
- Key Features: Werner Adjustable Ferrule System, Lightweight, Sturdy, Straight
- Material: Carbon (Shaft) & Fiberglass (Blade)
- Length: 220cm, 230cm, 240cm, 250cm (adjustable)
- Best for: Overall
For the first item on our list, we’ve got the Werner Shuna paddle. These are manufactured by Werner Paddles, a well-established paddle company that started way back in 1945.
Werner paddles are quality made, and you can tell with the materials they use, such as carbon for the shaft and fiberglass for the blade. Besides adding to its sturdiness, the materials also make the Shuna paddle very lightweight. As a result, it’s much easier to do strokes in the water and more convenient when relocating from a fishing spot.
But what we like best about this paddle because it comes with an adjustable ferrule system. This allows you to freely adjust the paddle length according to your preferred paddle strokes and styles.
The paddle is also shaped straight instead of being bent, which means it offers even more versatility during paddling. We explain this in our FAQs section, so check that out before you go!
In any case, the Werner Shuna is a great overall paddle for the average kayak user.
Assault Hand Paddle
- Key Features: Handheld with handstrap, Teeth on blade, Built-in hook, Easy-to-pick-up
- Material: Polypropylene
- Length: 56 cm
- Best for: Versatility
Perhaps the most unique one from our list would be the Assault Hand Paddle created by Backwater company. Unlike other paddles, this one spans only around 56 cm, compared to the average lengths in the market that span up to 250 cm.
Due to its size and features, the hand paddle offers a lot of versatility especially during fishing. It’s flexible enough to push away some rocks or fallen tree branches at a moment’s notice, which are made easier with its built-in teeth at its blade.
It provides a hook that’s situated at the tip of the paddle, so you’re able to pull your kayak towards the shore. It even includes a hand strap, making it all the more reliable as you won’t have to worry about it falling off. But even if it does fall off, it floats, so you don’t have to worry about losing it to the bottom of water either.
Imagine being in the middle of reeling in a big fish, and suddenly the wind blows and misaligns your kayak, what do you do? Well, since this item is conveniently strapped to your hand or wrist, you can easily realign yourself without going through the hassle of picking up your full-length paddle.
But while it is a great tool, it isn’t recommended to be a full replacement for the average length paddle as you wouldn’t get very far with it in terms of distance. Another drawback to consider is that it’s made of a polypropylene or plastic, which aren’t known to be very durable materials for kayak paddling. But for its price, we still think it’s a worthwhile support item to get.
All in all, the Backwater Assault Hand Paddle provides a lot of flexibility and convenience in most given situations during kayak fishing and should be worth thinking over.
Wilderness Systems Tarpon Paddle
- Key Features: Featherweight, Adjustable Ferrule System, Firm
- Material: Carbon-fiber
- Length: 220cm-240cm (adjustable)
- Best for: Quality
The Tarpon Paddle is easily one of the best kayak paddles to date. They are manufactured by Wilderness Systems, who also offer kayaks as one of their main products. While the paddles are mainly built for compatibility with Wilderness kayaks, they can still be used with other off-brand kayaks in the market.
Like the Werner Shuna, the Tarpon Carbon paddle also comes with a built-in adjustable ferrule system so you can freely adjust its length to fit your preference, at least up to 20cm. The ultralight carbon-fiber material not only makes it strong and reliable, but more long-lasting than standard paddles.
With its featherweight nature, you’d also experience less fatigue and physical strain as it would be easier to paddle. But then again there isn’t much paddling involved in kayak fishing other than going to and from the fishing spots. So if you’re on a budget, you may want to opt for a cheaper yet equally light-weight paddle.
In any case, the durability of this item can’t be questioned and it’s guaranteed to last the average user quite a while, which is an essential factor to consider when purchasing kayak paddles.
Overall we’d recommend the Wilderness Tarpon Paddle for the frequent paddler looking to get a more than reliable top-of-the-line kayak paddle.
Advanced Elements PackLite 4 Part Paddle
- Key Features: Able to be assembled and easily-kept, 3-way Ferrule and push-button connector, Light-weight
- Material: Glass-filled nylon (blade) & Aluminum alloy (shaft)
- Length: 230 cm
- Best for: Budget and Transportation
Advanced Elements have been manufacturing cost-efficient paddles for over 20 years, with one of their products being the Packlite 4 Part paddle. This paddle offers a lot of features that make it all the more convenient like its 3-way ferrule system.
With it, you can freely adjust to having your paddle straight and left or right at a 60-degree angle, whether left-handed or right-handed. This also allows you to rotate the paddle easier to get the best grip. You could also leave it as it is, but it’s still good to note that not many paddles have this versatile feature.
Of course, it isn’t called PackLite for nothing. With its convenient push-button connector, weighing just about 5 lbs, the paddle can be easily assembled and packed back up in a few minutes. This is especially great for when you’re traveling to and from spots a lot such as in fishing.
Since the bulk of the paddle, excluding the blade, is made of aluminum alloy, durability isn’t its best feature. You could probably find stronger paddles with fiberglass or carbon-fiber material in the market, albeit at a greater price.
That being said, this paddle is more of a budget and economical alternative that’s great for recreational kayaking and kayak fishing, which is why we’ve included it in this list. Overall, with its convenient features and affordable price, we’ve set this paddle as Best for Budget and Transportation.
Best Fishing Kayak Paddle – What to Consider
Take into account the following factors for choosing the best fishing kayak paddle.
Paddle blades mainly come in two forms, which significantly affect your experience in the water. They can either be short, wide, and high-angled, or long, thin, and low-angled.
Shorter and wider blades allow for more aggressive paddling. They’re significantly more powerful than their thin counterparts as you can take larger strokes and push more water behind you. These paddles are usually angled high, which allows for more speed and power, resulting in faster travels in a short time.
Longer and thinner paddle blades are recommended for long recreational hours on water. It’s meant for leisurely trips and slower-paced strokes. Being low-angled allows the whole paddle to be less unwieldy and thus, produce less fatigue.
The lengths of your paddles should be aligned with the kayak you have or plan on purchasing. While there are many kayaks out there, common ones would be recreational kayaks or sea/touring kayaks.
Recreational sit-on-top kayaks are generally built for stability and are perfect for slow and long cruises in a lake or the sea. Since it’s a sit-on-top, you’re farther away from the water, so you’ll need a longer paddle. The recommended paddle lengths for recreational kayaks would be around 230cm to 250cm.
On the other hand, sea or touring kayaks are mainly built for speed and mobility. Also, it’s usually set up to be closer to the water. A shorter paddle length of 230cm to 250cm would be recommended for kayaks like these.
Paddles often come in two forms, based on the shape of its shaft. They can either be straight or bent.
In a bent or cranked paddle, there’s a specific area meant for your hands that’s bent, allowing you to minimize the amount of wrist flex during forward strokes. Although, this might come as a double-edged blade, as your hands would only be restricted to that area.
On the other hand, straight paddles are said to offer more versatility for varied stroke options as you can freely shift your hands when the need arises. In the end, we think it all comes down to preference so it’s best to try out and test some minor strokes with your chosen paddle first before investing in one.
Surprisingly, not many people know that this even existed in paddles, probably because entry-level ones don’t always have this feature. A ferrule system is usually located in the middle of your paddle shaft, allowing you to adjust your paddle length according to your preference.
It’s important to note whether the paddle you’re getting supports it or not. Though not necessary, it does add a bit more overall flexibility to your kayak paddle.
Budget and Material
Paddle blades and shafts aren’t all made with the same material, as some of them are lighter but more firm than most. Generally, the more expensive, the lighter the paddle gets, as the material changes to a higher quality.
The bottom line is, lighter materials are best for kayak paddles but are more expensive. That said, here’s a ranking of the lowest to the highest in terms of quality:
Plastic Blade & Aluminum Shaft
We use plastic as a generic term here, it may be named something like “polymer” or “polypropylene” from products you see online and locally.
These are low-priced materials typically made for recreational kayak users. While it is cheap, it’s not the strongest as it’s known to break easily and crack under the sun when left for too long.
Fiberglass Blade & Fiberglass Shaft
Fiberglass is a mid-tier level material that offers decent performance and quality. It’s just a little bit more lightweight than plastic but definitely stronger.
Nylon Blade & Carbon Shaft
A good budget would only get you the best of the best. Carbon-fiber is ultralight materials meant to reduce the physical strain from your kayak strokes.
We highly recommend investing in a paddle with this material, especially if you are or planning to be a long-term paddler as it can be a worthwhile investment.
Here are some commonly asked questions when it comes to choosing a fishing kayak paddle and their quick answers.
What makes a good fishing kayak paddle?
Since you’re going fishing, you’d probably want a paddle with low-angle blades, which generally come longer and thinner than other paddles. This makes it so when you occasionally transfer from place to place, it wouldn’t be as taxing to your stamina.
Which kayak is the most stable for fishing?
For fishing, we recommend kayaks from the Lifetime brand collection as they are said to be ultra lightweight, if not the lightest. These kayaks also have longer keels, which are located at the bottom of the hull of your kayak and are meant to keep it turning from side to side.
What size kayak paddle should I buy?
The size of your kayak paddle should supplement the type of kayak you have and how you want your kayak experience to go. Typically, shorter and wider kayak paddles are great for speed and aggressive paddling. Longer and thinner paddles are commonly utilized for lengthy hours in the water.