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How To Choose A Kayak Paddle

Selecting the right paddle for you and your boat can make your experience on the water much more enjoyable, efficient, and maybe even less painful!


One of the first things you will need to figure out is what length kayak paddle you will need. This largely based on two dimensions; the paddlers height and the width of the kayak. Many of the kayak manufactures will offer a suggested length of paddle with handy chart, depending on the blade and shaft design.

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 seen in the table above, this is one of those places where metric and English units collide. Most kayak paddles are labeled with their length measured in centimeters, while most kayak widths are listed on spec sheets in inches. If you are unsure on your kayaks width, most sit on top and fishing kayaks will be on the wider end of the spectrum. Lightweight touring kayaks will tend to be on the narrower side and recreational kayaks will be in the medium/wide end of the spectrum.

Blade and Shaft Material

Blade and shaft material will have a large part in the cost of the paddle.

Blades will commonly fall into four main categories:

  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Fiberglass
  • Carbon Fiber

Plastic will generally be the cheapest, but on the heavier side. Fiberglass will be lightweight, but at a higher price. Carbon fiber blades will be one of the lightest weight blades and highest performing with a price to match. Wood blades can give a unique look, but will generally not perform as well as the synthetic materials.

Shafts are generally made from aluminum, fiberglass or carbon fiber. Aluminum will be the cheapest, but the most heavy option. The metal can also have a cold feel to the hand. Sometimes aluminum shafts will have a coating or rubber grip to lessen the cold feel. Fiberglass will offer a step up in performance over aluminum. The highest performing paddles will have a carbon fiber shaft. Wood shafts are sometimes seen, but these paddles are more for style rather than performance.

Blade Design

Blades will fall into two categories; high-angle or low-angle.

High-angle blades will generally be wider and are paddled closer to the boat and can provide more speed, but require more technique when paddling.

Low-angle blades will be narrower and are paddled in a more relaxed manner and are best suited for recreational, flat water situations.

Shaft Design

Shafts are either straight or bent. Some people may prefer a bent shaft as the angle your hand will travel during the paddle stroke may be more comfortable. Straight shafts are generally less expensive to manufacture and are more popular.

Ferrule System

Many paddles will come apart into smaller pieces for easier transport; generally into two or four pieces. The way that these pieces fit and lock together can offer some differences in performance and cost. One of the most popular ferrule systems is the snap-button. The snap button will allow for feathering in set increments at a relatively low costs. Some paddlers do not like the snap-button system because there will be a little “wiggle” in the paddle.

More advanced ferrule systems will allow for paddle extensions, more precise feather angles, and/or a more secure and locked feel. Feathering is when the angles of the blades are offset along the shaft to minimize air resistance during the paddle stroke.

Extra Features

Some paddles will have a nifty feature or two that we didn’t mention above. For example, many fishing paddles will have a hook retrieving notch to help pull out snagged hooks from logs or trees. Many fishing paddles will also have a ruler for measuring fish on the paddle. Be sure to shop around to make sure your not missing out on any extras that will make your time on the water more enjoyable.

Paddle Accessories

Some popular paddle accessories to consider are paddle holders and paddle leashes. These will help secure your paddle when it is not in use or if dropped. Another popular accessory are drip rings. Drip rings prevent water from running down the paddle and into your boat or on you. Most paddles will come with a drip rings, but some may not.

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How to Choose A Kayak

If your looking to get out on the water, one of the most popular and fastest growing segments in water sports is kayaking. Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Choosing the right kayak for you can greatly influence your experience on the water. If you are new to the sport and with all of the different kayaks out there, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the different options. If you ask yourself a few basic questions, you can really narrow down your options to help find your way to a perfect boat.

Sit-On-Top or Sit-In?

There are two main styles of kayaks on the market, sit-in and sit-on-top. Each serve their own purpose, but selecting the right one for you is an important decision to make. There are a few basic ideas to consider to help make this decision easier.


Sit-on-top kayaks offer a much larger and open working area. Places to strap coolers, tackle boxes, rods, and more are much abundant and easier to access on a sit-on-top kayak. Entering and exiting the boat is also much easier. This is true from the land, shallow water, and deep water. Since sit-on-top kayaks are self bailing, there is no need for a bilge pump or to empty a kayak since it cannot fill up with water. With that said, the chance of getting wet is higher in a sit-on-top, since the bottom of the kayak has drainage holes, called scupper holes. 


Sit-in kayaks are a little bit more difficult to get into, when compared to sit-on-top kayaks. Gear storage and places to strap  down equipment is more limited on the sit-in kayak. You are much more likely to stay dry in a sit-in kayak, though, with a portion of your body staying covered inside the boat and the option to add a skirt to keep water out. Sit-in style kayaks will generally be lighter in weight because they are single walled vs. a double walled sit-on-top style kayak. 

How do you plan to kayak?

How you will use your kayak most often will have great influence on the choice of kayak you will use. The main intention of use will help determine what kayak style will be most appropriate. Hull shape and length are two major aspects to consider when looking for your ideal kayak. This can be determined from your selection of a recreation or touring kayak and what type of water your plan on kayaking. 

Recreation or Touring?

Recreation kayaks will offer high stability, large cockpits, but relatively less room for storage and gear due to their hull length. Many recreation kayaks will be in the 10'-13' range in length, making them light weight and easy to transport on or in a vehicle. They will also be on the wider side when looking at all types of kayaks, giving them high stability. The high stability will come at a cost. Paddling will be slower and less efficient in these boats, but they are highly maneuverable and can turn fairly quickly. 

Touring kayaks may appear similar to recreation kayaks in appearance, but these subtle differences have drastic affects. Touring kayaks are longer in length, but narrower in width. This makes the touring kayak very efficient and quick when paddling, but less stable and will feel more "tippy." This efficiency in paddling is ideal when covering distances or looking for a bit more speed. The extra length also allows for the boat to track straighter in the water and for more storage room for gear. Many touring boats will also have a rudder or skeg, adding more tracking and maneuverability in tides or currents. 

What Kind of Water?

  • Creeks, small rivers? 
  • Open or larger rivers?
  • Lakes?
  • Seas, Great Lakes, oceans, coastal regions?
  • Any combination of the above?

Creeks and small rivers will often have small openings, downed trees, culverts and many other obstacles. Navigating a smaller boat on these types of waters is often ideal. 10'-12' are very popular options for these types of waters. On lakes and more open rivers, boats with more length will track straighter and paddle with less effort. Twelve foot boats are very popular for inland lakes and rivers.  Seas, oceans, Great Lakes, or other large bodies of water is where the longer kayaks shine and perform best. The type of water where you think you will spend most of your time should significantly help determine what length of boat to get. 

Specialty Kayaks - Fishing, Tandem, Whitewater

Some kayaks are specially designed for accomplishing certain things. Kayaks focused on fishing will often have extra storage space, straps, and holders for an angler's gear. Tandem kayaks will have extra length to accommodate an extra seat for a second paddeler. Whitewater kayaks offer extra buoyancy and high maneuverability for whitewater navigation. If any of these specific tasks are up your alley, you are well on your way to finding your ideal boat. 

Transporting Your Kayak

The easier it is for you to move and access your boat, the more you will be able to enjoy and use your boat. Whether you will be traveling often with kayak on the top of your vehicle or leaving it near the water in a boat house, how you transport and store your boat should be considered before purchasing a boat. Shorter and lighter boats are easier to maneuver when compared to long or heavy boats. Long boats can also be tricky to transport, so length should also be considered in addition to weight.  Carefully consider how you will transport, store, and access your boat when determining what type of kayak to get. 

Other Considerations

There are also many other factors to consider when choosing a kayak, but the above are some of the basics and most important. Some other options to consider are the hull material, color, seat design, special features, and construction methods.

One of the best ways to know if you are making the right decision when purchasing a kayak is to try it out. Sometimes it is better to "feel" the difference, rather than reading about kayaks, looking at specs, and analyzing hull designs. It's also more fun!

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NuCanoe – The Flint

The Flint, from NuCanoe, will be available starting in January 2018. This boat is made for the kayak angler.   This boat measures in at 11’3″ and weighs around 67 lbs. Where this boat shines, is with all of the features included right off the bat, while still having a platform for complete customization for the more advanced angler or the gear head angler.

NuCanoe has really found their stride with this boat. It’s evident that they have done their homework and have designed a great boat for the kayak angler, while at the same time keeping the boat affordable and approachable for the beginner ($999 MSPR).

NuCanoe boats are known for their stability and this boat is no exception. The deck provides an open feel with multiple points to store, attach, and access your gear while out on the water. A few of the more prominent features on the boat are:

  • 2 Rod Tip Holders – for horizontal rod storage
  • A Hawg Trough Holder – To measure up your fish, leaving no doubt of your fish tales
  • Side Handles with Built-in Paddle Holders
  • Freedom Tracks – To attach numerous accessories from NuCanoe or other popular kayak accessory manufacturers
  • Adjustable Pinnacle Seat
  • 4 Flush Mount Rod Holders – for vertical rod storage
  • A Rear Storage Hatch
  • A Square Transom – Perfect for small trolling motors and other accessories

Many of the add-on accessories that work with other NuCanoe boats, such as the Frontier or Pursuit, will also work with this boat.

For more information please visit NuCanoe or contact us here at Red Fox Outfitters!

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2017 Shiawassee River Fest

The 2017 River Fest, put on by the Keepers of the Shiawassee, is a family friendly event that will take place at the Linden Mill pond on June 25th. The event will feature a Kids’ Fishing Tournament, Cardboard Boat Race, live music, food, and much more. The fishing tournament and boat race will both have prizes to the winning participants.

Red Fox will be providing demos on paddle boards and kayaks, along with fly fishing demonstrations. This is a great chance to take some boats or paddle boards out for a spin!

For more information, see the River Fest webpage on the Keepers of the Shiawassee site and the Facebook event page.

See you out there!

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Adventure Paddle – Sunday June 11th, 2017

When: Sunday June 11 – Registration starting at 11am, Paddle Start Noon-2pm

Where: Water Works Park in Holly, MI

Event Details

The Headwater Trails group, out of Holly, will be hosting the Adventure Paddle from Water Works Park in Holly to Strom Park in Fenton  and providing help along the way. There will assistance at the railroad tubes in Holly and a take out point at Fish Lake Road, if the trip to Strom Park is too far. There will also be a tow boat across the Fenton Mill Pond, for those who don’t want to paddle.

The event is free for Headwater members or $10 for non-members. Membership for Headwaters is $20 per person, or $22 for a family. There will also be a $5 shuttle for anyone who would like their boat and themselves transported back to the start at Water Works Park in Holly.

The weather for Sunday is looking perfect for day out on the river!

See you out there!

More Details and Registration Form