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My quest for the best custom made ottertail paddle in the world

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After some back and forth and measuring my middle finger length, I have placed an order for a paddle that was in stock on his website. Wavy black cherry, 62”. Now the wait…
 
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Beautiful paddles you guys have. I really like that grip. I have a Whiskey Jack paddle that has a similar style Northwoods grip that I like, but alas it is a tad short for me. I use modified otter tails from Ray Kettlewell and Fishell and dig them. Maybe next season I’ll add another paddle.

Barry
 

Glenn MacGrady

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That’s the one. I do love cherry! The grip and oval shaft should provide an interesting comparison to my Fishell.

Just in case you haven't grabbed the pictures before Bruce takes them down, here are the closeups of your wavy cherry blade and shaft.

Bruce Smith 62 inch Wavy Cherry Ottertail Blade.jpg

Bruce Smith 62 inch Wavy Cherry Ottertail Shaft.jpg

and measuring my middle finger length

What did this have to do with paddle selection or size?
 
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Just in case you haven't grabbed the pictures before Bruce takes them down, here are the closeups of your wavy cherry blade and shaft.

View attachment 128802

View attachment 128803



What did this have to do with paddle selection or size?

Thanks, these are better pics, I only got screenshots 😉

Bruce explained that he can make the ball of the grip a good fit for the hand. Based on feedback from his paddling classes. My 8.5cm was a good match for that paddle, so no real point in ordering custom. I rather liked the wood grain on that one.
 
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Well tracking seems to involve a bit of guessing and wishful thinking… the paddle arrived today. It is stunning! I’m surprised how finely made it is, a slender ovalized shaft and relatively small grip. It is comfortable to “paddle in the air” and I can’t wait to go try it out. The finish is warm, and gentle rotation in the sun reveals the striking chatoyance in the wood. It is wonderful to touch and hold. It is so much nicer in person than in a picture on the net, but here goes:

5217F2F4-13FF-4FF9-BD3E-B72EC58FC7F8.jpeg1C6DB584-6120-40DF-96A4-A182EFAEEAB9.jpeg7AA4A319-8E58-4422-A168-C4689A886550.jpeg
 
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Glenn MacGrady

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How should I estimate that? I expect it will have some.
Put the tip on the floor and push on it with moderate force, not trying to break it. See how much the shaft and blade bends. A stiff paddle will be hard to bend even an inch off straight. A really flexy one could bend three inches. Or you can just compare the flex to your other paddles using the same amount of force to get a relative comparison among your paddles.
 
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Stunning paddle, congrats, Woodpuppy!

Well, thanks to all you folks and this thread I've also fallen to temptation. After a lot of helpful back and forth with Bruce via email, I have one coming in the next several weeks as well. Torture, since the water finally went solid here in NY in the last week or two. I'll have to wait until thaw to try it, most likely. Still can't wait for it to get here.
 
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I hemmed and hawed a lot - of course I don't need another paddle, so how to justify?.....get something I don't already have. I have a Modified Ottertail from Fishell (which unfortunately is really too long for me - a rookie mistake made on my first 'real' paddle purchase), and a Tripper and Sliver from Badger, all in solid cherry, as well as a couple laminate paddles. I wanted something a little beefier than the Badgers for tripping, so I went with a Bruce Smith Classic blade shape (though his Ottertails were a very close runner up). Because I already have a bunch of solid cherry, I went with a maple with cherry laminate on the shaft, much like this one but sized for me.
I liked the contrast of the light and dark wood, and am curious to see how the maple compares to cherry. Will be interesting to see how the more oval shape compares as well.
 
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