How to determine guide paddle size... - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-15-2012   #1
 
Ashland, Oregon
Join Date: May 2011
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How to determine guide paddle size...

I have a 13.5 and a 15' raft....and have always just rowed with oars/frame rather than paddle raft it. I kayak and have ww canoed a lot and am wanting to get into paddle rafting, guiding etc....what is the best way to determine paddle length? I am looking for some initial statements about where to begin based on body and boat size. I imagine that fine tuning is personal beyond that ? Thanks in advance. (Oregon rivers are running!)

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Old 12-16-2012   #2
 
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portland, Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oregon595 View Post
I have a 13.5 and a 15' raft....and have always just rowed with oars/frame rather than paddle raft it. I kayak and have ww canoed a lot and am wanting to get into paddle rafting, guiding etc....what is the best way to determine paddle length? I am looking for some initial statements about where to begin based on body and boat size. I imagine that fine tuning is personal beyond that ? Thanks in advance. (Oregon rivers are running!)
I always had short, med, and long ones and just distributed based on the heights and strength of the group. A guess would be shoulder height. I can check the paddles in my garage tomorrow and let you know if it was even close
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Old 12-16-2012   #3
 
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
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Get Carlisle Outfitter paddles. 60" maybe on or two 57" for smaller folks and children and a 66" for yourself. Affordable and will last. It is what most commercial outfitters are using. I like the 66" for guiding as it keeps me sittting upright.
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Old 12-16-2012   #4
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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Starting shaft length should be roughly equal to shoulder height plus height of your butt above the water.

I agree with salsasean and Avatard. Get a variety, don't worry about having "the" perfect paddle for yourself for a guide stick. It's going to get abused like the others. Unless your 13' boat has a really tall kick, you'll probably find that you want a shorter stick for it than for your 15.5'.

I have a "preferred" 66" stick that works great on my 156R and pretty good in my 13.0Trib. I jumped in my buddy's 143D (diminishing tubes) and hated it. I had (what felt like) a foot of shaft in the water above the blade. It felt really slow, awkward, and unwieldy. A 60" paddle felt better--and coincidentally, that and 57" paddles were what most of the paddlers were using. Our butts were all about the same height above the water in that D boat.

Hit a local guide service and see if they're selling off any old paddles. They might have slightly bent shafts, chipped blades, and gouged handles, but you can pick them up for $5-15 each. Get on the water now and upgrade in the future if you want.

TheBoatPeople.com also used to sell used paddles.
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Old 12-16-2012   #5
 
Ashland, Oregon
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thanks!!!! - This is all very helpful. I like the idea of going the way of used and the variety of sizes with the above general guidelines.
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Old 12-16-2012   #6
 
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Fort Collins, Colorado
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I personally don't see a need for a guide paddle. I always use standard "custy" paddle, and because paddles come and go, I'm not sad when they get lost, stolen, float away, or I get drunk and forget them.

More importantly, if you are guiding low water rivers where your paddle might kiss the bottom, you are putting your shoulders at major risk by using those long shafts and stiff blades.
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Old 12-16-2012   #7
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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I personally don't see a need for a guide paddle. I always use standard "custy" paddle, and because paddles come and go, I'm not sad when they get lost, stolen, float away, or I get drunk and forget them.

More importantly, if you are guiding low water rivers where your paddle might kiss the bottom, you are putting your shoulders at major risk by using those long shafts and stiff blades.
I just like them because I'm taller than average--needing a bit more length to submerge the blade. Same justification when on a raft with stern kick and my butt's higher off the water.

More blade area doesn't matter much to me.
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Old 12-16-2012   #8
 
North Bend, Washington
Paddling Since: 2009
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Mine is a Werner and it comes up to my chin. I hate feeling like I have to lean backwards to get my guidestick in the water so I don't use custy paddles to guide with (unless the you know what has hit the fan and then anything works).

I also hate the Moosebeater (heavy and unweildy Carlisle behemoths). I did 3 back to back trips on low water with one once and I couldn't lift my arms the next morning. Then again- I AM a girl and enjoy not killing myself....
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Old 12-17-2012   #9
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
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Werner Guide Stick 60" and I'm 5'7" and am often running small boats on shallow rivers. It's held up really well for a couple of years (the t-grip broke off and I got a warrantied paddle so I've basically been on the same paddle for 6 years now), but I do switch to a cheap Carlisle for low-low water season.

I have plenty of friends who just use cheap paddles for their guide stick. I only bought the Werner because I have pro-deal and was guiding paddle rafts 6 days a week. $95 for several thousand trips comes out to about a nickel per use. I wouldn't pay $1 per use for the difference between it and a Carlisle- as a private boater who usually rows it might cost you $5 per use...
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Old 12-17-2012   #10
 
Huntington Beach, California
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Assuming you are looking for the best paddle for your use while guiding a paddle raft, the length will be determined by your position sitting and braced in the boat and the length of your torso. You need to be able to reach the water such that the blade of the paddle is fully immersed. Make your choice on paddle length based on these criteria and you should be good. Boat tube diameter and kickup vary, but not significantly.

Blade surface area is also very important as regards your size, strength and guiding style. Bigger blade allows for more power and stronger moves (basic physics). In my experience the longer you guide, the smaller the blade needed. Less wear and tear on the body and experience allows you to need fewer and smaller corrections.

Also recommend switching sides in the boat when guiding. Stick to your favorite in tough situations and use the other side during calm stretches. Much better for the body in the long run!
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