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I'm ordering a paddle from Jim Snyder this month and wanted to get some inspiration for wood and design choices. Anyone have photos of their wooden guide stick?

I've always used a 63" paddle, but I've been told that shorter might be easier on my shoulder. Any input on length would be great.

I know this has been discussed before, but there aren't a lot of photos of these paddles online and I'd love to see more of these works of art to help me customize mine!
 

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Go no shorter than a 63, unless you're short, ever. Wooden guide sticks, especially Jimi's are great for big water. And if it's just for big water 66 or 69. Most of what we run in CO - lower flows - wooden guide sticks are hard to justify, stiffer and it hurts to hear them hit a rock. Stay with something you don't feel bad beating the shit out of, custy or Werner. But, when we do have big water, and the woodies come out, it's special!
 

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Thanks Peev. I am short - but I've also found that tall guides prefer shorter paddles than me. I have to sit high on the stern to see over my crew so a little bit longer than the standard 60" Carlisle Outfitter paddle helps me reach the water - especially when I draw. That said, I'm looking for one paddle for the 9-16 foot rafts I guide between 350 and 5,000 cfs and I'll probably err on the short side because of this. I want to be able to R2 small boats with it as well.

I've tried and a 66" paddle feels too long for me, even on big boats. I used a 64" Cataract this year and it felt just a bit too long too, especially if sitting on the side of a smaller raft. I have 62" written on my order form right now, but am looking for a good reason to go shorter - especially if it might help my right shoulder hurt less.

I'll definitely use a cheap paddle for my low water Arkansas trips next season, but during runoff and on the New and Gauley I want to use something nice. I had the pleasure of using a Blunt Family paddle, a Backlund paddle, and a Jim Snyder paddle this fall. They were magical and I was immediately hooked! Since Keith has passed and Kenny is not currently making paddles I figure it's time to pull the trigger before Jim decides to retire and quality wooden paddles vanish!
 

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Randaddy, awesome! Interesting. I'm taller and for comfort hate using anything shorter than a 66. And for big boats? No way. R'2ing, fuck that on going shorter. A lot of taller people I know feel similiar, funny shit.

Goes to show what works for one is the opposite for the other.

k2andcannoli, nice line up.

Hope to SYOTR,

Peev
 

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I'm 6'5" and use a 66" carlisle with an oversized blade. I sit alone in the rear compartment on the middle of the stern with both feet wedged under the rear thwart when leading paddle rafts. This puts me a good foot or so higher than if I was in a position more to the side, so a longer paddle works in my case. I tend to use a standard sized 'custy' paddle when on smaller rigs (r-2 to r-4). We have different body types and my experience may not apply to your query (based on your description of your self as 'short') but perhaps you as well may need more than one paddle in the quiver for different types of trips. But if you seek that one magic paddle, I agree to err toward the shorter end of the spectrum.

That's a pretty sweet collection of woodies in that photo, and it looks like they have taken the punishment that I would be concerned about for the type of boating I do. The carlisles are pretty bomber, but I may have to look into a custom paddle for myself now that I think about it after seeing this thread.
 

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This guy's guide paddles are not fancy laminated wood, but not a bad option for those of you looking for made in USA. Norse makes a paddle with a fiberglass shaft, that flexes just like the werners and may make it a little easier on your shoulders. I use a Black Stick with the heavy duty shaft and biggest blade Norse makes. The big blades are not recommended for sore shoulders, as the blade grabs a lot of water, almost pulling you out of the seat. Norse makes various blade sizes.

Norse Paddle Company LLC » High Quality and Durable Compression Molded Composite Boating Paddles
 

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Discussion Starter #9
K2, whose collection is that? I sure wish I would have bought a Backlund when I had the chance!

Ha wish those were mine, I'm just a fan of Jim's work.

Look at this beauty
That's beautiful. I never knew Jim Snyder made oars. I've used some beautiful oars from Kenny, but like I said above, he's not making anything right now.

DoStep, thanks for the input. I don't always get to sit alone in the stern - sometimes the vacationing family's college-age daughter gets to sit next to me and I have to scoot up the tube a bit to make room. It's then, and times in 12 and 13 foot boats, that even the 64" paddle is a bit too long. I hope you get something nice - anything will be an upgrade from the Carlisle!

Dutch, the Norse is definitely not an "easy on the shoulder kind of paddle but they are sweet! I know a guide who has had his for 30+ years!
 

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Congrats Randaddy. I kayak with a Jimistyk and now anything else feels clumsy and inadequate. I use a slightly shorter stick and his slightly smaller blades to keep my 65 year old shoulders happy. The image of the paddle lineup is beautiful. I give my stick a light sanding and a coat of spar varnish when it starts looking like the paddle on the far right. The one second from the right needed a coat a while ago. I ELF a ton on the Ark so my paddles know hard use and I expect to get in excess of a thousand days out of mine. You might consider just working out the wood choices and design flourishes with Jim. He's got an educated opinion. :)
 

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Tim Kennedy
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Wood sticks

I just finally got a wood kayak paddle made by Jim this year. I love it. The flex and feel of the wood is great for my used and abused shoulders and elbows. I learned to paddle and raft guide in the Ohiopyle area over 20 years ago. Lots of paddlers around those parts use Backlund and Snyder sticks, as well as others: RainbowWave, Gonzo, etc. I can't believe it took me so long to finally get one.

I think I will order a wood single bladed paddle from Jim this winter, as well. I raft guided for many years, and have used a Norse (64"), Werner (62"), and Carlisle (60" and 62") raft paddles. From my experience, I prefer a paddle with a standard sized blade, and a length around 60"-62". I am about 6'2" with a long "wingspan". I prefer to sit closer to the side and a bit lower and J stroke/sweep/pry when I am in the back of the boat. In my opinion, if you sit in the middle of the back and rudder (draw/pry) or need a larger blade to move the boat, you are doing it wrong.;) I don't guide much at all anymore. But, I do have a Shredder now. So, I will probably order a 60" paddle (same length as a custy Carlisle). The longer ones tend to "trip up" when R2ing, and that length would be better for Shredding. If I do hop in the back of a "round" boat, I can still use the 60" by sliding down closer to the water. That's my story. Don't know if it helps you at all. Regardless of what length, shape, wood you decide on, I think you'll be happy. They really are functional works of art.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Tim! Beautiful paddle! Unfortunately I have to sit up higher, "wrong" or not, so I can see over the people in front of me! In steeper terrain I can usually scootch up and see fine. I think I might be down to 61" now...

I'm in Leadville and guide on the Ark. If you want to get out in that shredder with our matching Jimmy Sticks this Spring let me know!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I ordered my paddle! A 61" round tip paddle with curly maple T-grip, bang strip, and tip veneer. Aspen fairing strips and fat walnut pinstripes should give some beautiful contrast in the blade. An extra layer of glass should help it hold up to Colorado May and August. I'll post a photo when it shows up in a couple months.

I resisted the temptation to follow my inner Terrentino and have "Bad Mother Fucker" inscribed on the blade, opting rather to keep it simple with my name and phone number. If you find this paddle, please call. Please.

Thanks again for the photos and input folks!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
My paddle arrived! Thanks for the photos and discussion y'all! Jimmy added a little glitter and a slightly red finish. The hanger is really cool too, made by Bruce Smith in Ontario.


 
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