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Discussion Starter #1
As I get ready to purchase new oars I am looking for your experiences with standard "square" blades vs shoal cut blades.


I have never used anything but square blades, they are great in big water where pulling power counts, but later in the season during bony conditions they leave a little to be desired.



The reality is that I now live upstream where I am running lower volume water more frequently. I don't know how many more 50K+ Cat trips I will see and buying big water gear doesn't make sense if there is a better option.



So for those who have run both, will I hate a shoal cut blade? Is the juice worth the squeeze?
 

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The folks over at Sawyer station were telling me that the shoal cut are for rowing in shoals, i.e really shallow water. For fishing and stuff. Not their best whitewater blade. Give them a call they can help you best.
 

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Get ahold of Aaron with Sawyer in Grand Junction, he's in Moab this weekend but can arrange a demo row. Personally, I've used the Shoal Cut blades for guiding anglers and running WW (MF Salmon, Selway, GR) and appreciate the additional volume per stroke in lower water. That being said, if you're only pushing downstream the classic shape of a WW blade is very good.
 

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I haven't tried them yet, but nrs has a cheaper option for that design concept of oar blade...

https://www.nrs.com/product/77290.01/nrs-helix-oar-blade

I bought a pair because I'm often running boney rivers. I will try to remember to report back after I try them.

Also of interest is that these blades are quite a bit lighter than cataract magnum blades, and even a little lighter than Carlisle outfitter 6.5" blades... Even though the helix is 7.25" wide, and 2" longer at 29".

The spine of the helix blade seems to be some sort of carbon plastic instead of metal like the Carlisle. That explains the weight difference, and also means that bending a blade is unlikely, but breaking one is more possible. Time will tell on durability.
 

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I have both, the shoal cut blades make the oar feel longer. I have 9, 9.5 and 10' shafts and found I like them best on the 9 or 9.5 shafts on the 10'ers they feel too long and have a lot of grab. They row nice in shallow water and are fine in deep water. With that said, I don't know that I'd buy them again... no specific reason why, I just don't see that much of a benefit. It's certainly not a night and day difference but maybe if you feel your oars are a little short, they might give you a bit more reach as the meat of blade is a few inches farther out the oar.
 

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You might occasionally notice some slight rotational torque on the shafts due to the shoal cut blades. But the torque is really not enough to make me want to go back to regular or magnum blades. Shoal cuts for me and the technical rivers I like to run.
 

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So after all that BS I spewed yesterday I stumbled onto 2 nearly new shoal cut blades last night and bought 'em. $100 a piece plus a canyon prospector for another 250.... all in all a great evening of craigslist shopping!

I'm now super excited to try the shoal cuts on my 9 foot sticks again.
 

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So after all that BS I spewed yesterday I stumbled onto 2 nearly new shoal cut blades last night and bought 'em. $100 a piece plus a canyon prospector for another 250.... all in all a great evening of craigslist shopping!

I'm now super excited to try the shoal cuts on my 9 foot sticks again.
I'm loving my shoal cuts so far. Have had them on the Smith and NF of the Flathead. They are perfect for MT rivers.
 

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I did a back to back comparison between cataract magnum blades and my new nrs helix.

I didn't notice a big difference in how they feathered but I'm very new to feathering so take that with a grain of salt.

I did notice that the magnum seem to float more than the helix, but helix still seemed to float... The blade didn't sink to infinity when I let go of the handle.

One positive I did notice to the "shoal cut" concept is that when my downstream oar clipped the bottom, it wasn't jarring and the oar didn't want to propel itself towards my face... The curve on the bottom of the blade meant it just bumped up vertically. I like this.
 

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OP-
What did you end up buying?

I have shoal cut blades and smokers and prefer the shoal cut in almost every instance. Probably because it's what I'm use to. I float rocky rivers and fish a lot....but almost always take them on my whitewater trips too. Now that I'm use to using them...I can't see the disadvantage even in deep water. I'm sure someone at Sawyer can explain why.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
OP-
What did you end up buying?

I have shoal cut blades and smokers and prefer the shoal cut in almost every instance. Probably because it's what I'm use to. I float rocky rivers and fish a lot....but almost always take them on my whitewater trips too. Now that I'm use to using them...I can't see the disadvantage even in deep water. I'm sure someone at Sawyer can explain why.

Nothing yet, I have been waffling back and forth about my decision.



When on the water it's for whitewater, fishing is just a bonus if it happens.
 

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You might occasionally notice some slight rotational torque on the shafts due to the shoal cut blades. But the torque is really not enough to make me want to go back to regular or magnum blades. Shoal cuts for me and the technical rivers I like to run.
Rowing feathered or oarlocks?
 

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I have been using the NRS helix for 2 seasons now for WW. They are very light and float well. They also seem to be very durable (which I was concerned about at first). They work great for the shallow rivers we like to run like the Piedra and Upper A. I also used them on the Middle Fork and they were perfect. I highly recommend!
 

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+1 for NRS Helix. We've switched our fleet to them and everyone is happy, especially last year when everything was extremely low.
 
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