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Canoe paddle collectors

Jul 31, 2017
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Calling all canoe paddle collectors: consider posting any pictures or comments relating to some of the paddles you have enjoyed, kept, broken, or moved on down the line.

I am hoping you all will help to curate an authoritative and centralized thread on nice paddles, paddle characteristics, and paddle preferences. There are so many nice paddles out there, many of which are no longer available as new, and for which there is very little information online. I’ll add measurements and takes to my posts as I go.

A post on the board this week indicated a milestone of membership and administrative desire to grow the canoe-focused brand. In that spirit I’m trying to start something I see as an empty info niche at present. While there are some threads here and on other forums, they seem to be more narrow than might benefit a broad consideration. I’ve learned a lot from many folks on this board I hope will drop by with some perspective, images, and opinions.
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Here are two Puddicombe paddles I sold recently. I bought four of them a couple of years ago. I still have one that fits me well, though it rarely gets used. Interestingly all of these had length labels that were 1” too long, in comparison to other paddles I have. For example, these were labeled 52” and 53” but those measurements must have been taken around the bend, the long way. The one labeled 53” was the exact same length as a Mitchell I own labeled 52”. Both measured 52” tip to tip on the non power face side, the short way. Either way they are beautiful sticks with durable epoxy finish and rock guard. I believe these are either 14° or 15° bends. These were in the 17-20oz range, heavier than some Puddicombes are reported to be, and noticeably blade heavy. These were also sold under the name wildwood, as indicated by the paddle sock branding.320B86C9-E0FB-4513-8CBE-3A30C86C9E0A.jpeg00BE6467-D271-488D-B863-14271406C3E4.jpegFC72ECFA-9BF8-491F-8D88-5E682E41FF20.jpegEC82E487-B285-4C46-AD14-D91B1FC8602B.jpegB70FB5D1-9AAA-4461-947B-65DA5BD85A72.jpeg
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Some whitewater paddles I use without regard for their future. The Werner bandit in their orange fiberglass layup is incredibly well suited to the level of beatering I so regularly achieve in whitewater. Here you can see a new one and one after a few seasons. I paddle on the left mainly in whitewater and the glass bandit wears down like a graphite pencil. At 24-27oz, not a light paddle but it is well balanced and stiff. I prefer it much more than the very flexible, all black aqua bound paddle, which I keep as a spare and loaner. The blue one is the Werner bandito, which is a smaller blade version of the bandit. I like it for shallow river touring. It doesn’t have quite as much bite when you really want it in whitewater. Anyway the bandito seems to have the same length spine as the bandit, so less to wear down. Incidentally I’ve also owned an all carbon bandit but found it much too stiff and painful for my shoulder.958A6AB5-4264-48B9-B9A0-02293CE016E1.jpegC1F93C99-E8DA-4101-8235-81DD3C47206D.jpeg02795B10-07F2-4EA0-B6A5-652EFEFB35FD.jpeg13F00144-64A1-4B07-B250-219798753493.jpeg
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One more for now. This is a Quimby with a 32” shaft and small cruising blade, made on spec in 2019 and purchased new. Not light and not as well balanced as I prefer, but esquisite nonetheless. It seems beefy and durable and has proven to be an excellent tripping paddle. It’s all about the details with this paddle and I’ll post more pics later to showcase.9EFA40E2-4BFF-4B93-8507-A5438E12A61A.jpeg
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Here is a bent shaft carbon paddle produced under the brand name Barton. The Bartons are not to be confused with the paddles made by Black Bart (Bud Moll). The power face is totally flat with no dihedral. The non power face has a dihedral that is notably hollowed.

My understanding is that the company started in Michigan and then was sold to a new proprietor in Minnesota. I’ve had paddles with labels from both places and they seem to be quite similar. I’d call them a medium weight build, in the 13-14oz range for a 50” paddle. They all have blades that are 8.75” wide and 18-19” to the throat with what I’d guess is a 14-15° bend. This one has a shaft with wrapped texture akin to a taped hockey stick. One I sold to a close friend has a smooth finish without the wrap and was more like 10oz with a notably lighter build, with a Minnesota label. I don’t have any pics but I have seen a straight shaft barton paddle that is slightly asymmetric (one and not two power faces). 38EC256F-1DBB-4F65-BF8A-01D5152334F9.jpeg55597E3A-5DD9-4A6E-9FD5-29C5B3564064.jpeg35F2655A-C7C4-442A-A60B-C83269BD7899.jpegFD6B8EFC-F1FB-4DC4-81BC-352F604C7269.jpeg19E34688-C84B-4A2E-A442-58A98CF9B564.jpeg7AC772FF-94EC-4FC2-8617-2282D4587EFF.jpeg697E5FCC-933F-48A1-9FC1-5F2C2640E72F.jpeg
Well kona, I'm not a collector but I think I'm older than you so happy to show a little respect for a few paddles from the 1990's and the folks behind them. I don't have exact weights.

A couple of matched cedar straight shaft Puddicombe paddles. They are quite light. Nice flex. Very comfy grips. Lots of taper in the shafts and quite full and oval in the middle by your lower hand. Totally clean in the water if not as knife-like as a Quimby or Moore. With the epoxy edge and fiberglass blade overlay they should be able to take hard use. Nice paddles and pretty darn sexy.

I really enjoyed and appreciate my interactions with Peter Puddicombe.20220707_152416.jpg
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A couple of Grey Owl Freestyles. The one on left has a blade that was ground extra thin by Grey Owl at my request. They warned me it would be more fragile but I use my paddles and have damaged many Freestyles in low water. The blade eventually got the tip reshaped and reinforced with epoxy/carbon by Ron Sell of Unadilla Boatworks so it is better than new. I also reshaped the grip a little and it has some painted details from an Ann Arbor artist. It's slicker than snot in the water. Regular stock Freestyle on right. I like Grey Owl paddles.
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A 56 inch straight shaft made by Ron Sell of Unadilla Boatworks. Ron's big grips are super comfy. It's made of Spanish Cedar and pretty light. Comfy tapered shaft. It has a carbon fiber insert in the blade and can be used hard. I like the painted details. Ron makes nice paddles and this one is a pleasure to use.
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A one of a kind Moore Cue clone on the left made by Mike Thomsen of Thomsen Boats. It was a gift from my close paddling friend Brian Moll and the model is Forward Pry since that was my nickname for him ever since he jammed his paddle on some rocks going over a drop in the Huron River and launched himself right out of his Wildfire. Shown next to a real Moore Cue on the right in Sport construction. They had specs for weight, balance, & flex. Not a durable paddle with edges around 1mm but really quite special in deep water.

I really enjoyed and appreciate all of the interactions I had with Patrick Moore. I wish I had taken his canoe lessons when I had the chance.
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I too have a Puddicombe Wild wood paddle.

I remember buying it from him at one of the MidwestMountain's Spring events, years ago!

At the time, I purchased it for $200. He and his girl friend were there, selling his paddles. Yes an interesting, and entertaining couple !

I was worried going home and telling my Wife what I did ! Knowing the amount of money I spent !

Then I remembered her saying, she wanted to buy me a Terry Redlin print.

When I got home I told her that paddle was better than any Redlin print ! That was all that was said !!

Sorry if this offends the ladies ! But wrapping your hands around one of Peter's Wild wood paddles, is like holding Marylin Monroe !

I cherish mine ! only actually used it a few times. I prefer to beat up my old "BB Special". Over thirty years old, Bending Branches, has been reglassed twice. It has served me well !

Glad to see others with Peter's paddles !

Oh, mine is a bent shaft .

This is a good idea to show off paddles, except most of us probably don't have good gallery pictures available. I do have a few.

Here is my most recent purchase, a Bruce Smith ottertail made of butternut with dark walnut inlays on the shaft and grip. My thread on this paddle seemed to have spurred about four other members to buy paddles from Bruce.

Bruce Smith Ottertail Full2.JPG


Bruce Smith Ottertail Shaft2.JPG

These are two Wenonah Black Lite 10° bent shaft paddles I also bought in 2021.


This trio, from left to right, is a 30-year old Mitchell straight shaft, curved blade whitewater paddle; a 38-year old Blackburn Brothers 2.5° Lutra Pro S blade paddle (designed by Mike Galt); and a 32-year old Mitchell 15° Lutra S blade paddle.

Paddles back face.jpg

The following is not my paddle, but it is an actual picture of the first Blackburn Brothers Honey Island Cruiser paddle, a model that predated the Lutras. The Cruisers and Lutras were the ne plus ultra paddles of the early age of (freestyle) sport paddling in the '70's and '80's, when big blades and slow paddling cadences were the rage.

First Honey Island Cruiser.jpg

The two pictures below of my Huki V1-B outrigger canoe in the magical Sparkleberry Swamp of South Carolina show a carbon blade Mitchell Leader double bend paddle and a double scoop blade Sawyer Manta 11° single bend paddle.

Huki and paddles Sparkleberry.JPG

Huki and paddles 2 in Sparkleberry Swamp.JPG
I am one of Glenn’s happy victims. Here is my 62”cherry Bruce Smith ottertail next to my 66” Fishell Ray Special.

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Two lovely wooden paddles to add to this thread.

Left paddle is a Keith Backlund signature model. Backlund was widely known for his paddles in the whitewater community. This custom paddle was designed and made for a customer who paddled open ocean settings in Kruger boats. It is moderately lightweight and moderately durable. It has a half dynel sleeve, glassed blade, and a tip edge protector, probably epoxy or the like. The palm grip is very comfortable. big blade with an incredible spoon shape and double dihedral that is faired and not hollow. The blade shape is something else. It is a very special paddle and a treat to use, even though the balance is more blade heavy than I usually prefer. Backlund’s signature series was apparently reserved for Backlund’s top and most time consuming offerings. This one was reported to have been made in 1997, later than most of the paddles he made, according to my research.

Right paddle is from Cricket, their Hemlock cruiser model, which their old website indicated as spec’d by David Curtis. It is symmetrical and has a protective edge entirely around the blade, along with glass on the blades and half way up the sleeve. It has moderate weight and very nice balance with an interesting and semi northwoods style grip. It was listed as a small blade in the cricket line, reported to be modeled after the old blackburns and boutique paddles that followed from more known makers. I really like it, even though it is 1” shorter than my most preferred straight paddle shaft length.

Yes on those you are probably talking about the grip is oiled and the rest of the paddle is varnished. The longest one I bought new in 1969 from Shaw and Tenney all the others are older but I have no idea how old
Yes on those you are probably talking about the grip is oiled and the rest of the paddle is varnished. The longest one I bought new in 1969 from Shaw and Tenney all the others are older but I have no idea how old
I just got a Fishell paddle set up the same way - varnished blade and shaft, oiled grip (hopefully a bit easier on my hand). I can already feel the difference when holding the paddle! Cannot wait for Algonquin and the Adirondacks this summer!!!
First is my raggedy exercise paddle. Manufacture unknown. My wife bought it many years ago when we young. My first shorter bent shaft, 48 in. What a great surprise.

I didn't know how to take care of it during the first decade, so it's stained in all the places the varnish got chipped.

I was given a Viper. The double bent paddle shaft is very distinctive. The net effect is it has a moderate bend for your low hand and a light bend overall. It has reinforced blade and tip so is tough enough for tripping. It feels different, but I've liked it on longer trips.