Source for Quality Ottertail paddles?

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Jul 25, 2012
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I've recently had the opportunity to try an Ottertail paddle in the length I like. Although I have a quality beavertail paddle I was surprised at how much more I liked the ottertail. There's nothing really wrong with the new paddle but still I'd like to think about getting one with just a bit more quality to it. For no better reason than I'm knotheaded and stuck in the mud, I want it in a 60" length. Anybody have any ideas where to look?

I've looked at a Google search but I don't have Yellow Canoe's magic touch and could only find lots of paddles but no ottertails.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Altoona, Pennsylvania
I use Ray Kettlewell modified otter tails and received a Fishell modified otter tail last week. Haven't used it yet, but a side by side comparison of the two suggests the Fishell paddles are good substitutes. Barry
 
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Colrain MA
I bought a Voyager Paddle this year and used it a little last week. I like it a lot but we were down in the shallow part of the river.
 
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Thanks everybody! That's just what I was looking for! Thanks for the video Glenn, I think I saw a bandsaw there in his shop, if that's really a working shop I don't know how he keeps it so clean. Well, I know but can't imagine doing that much cleanup any time I used the shop. But, different strokes!

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Western Adirondacks
I second the vote for Caleb Davis and his Tremolo paddles. I have several of them, they are a very high quality build. Caleb offers a paddle making class in which he will guide you while you make your own paddle in a few hours, and the class (including the paddle) costs for less than what you would pay for an already finished paddle.

Caleb will be at the WCHA Assembly next week.
http://www.wcha.org/annual-assembly/
 
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Interesting that the gentleman in the video uses a beaver tail style for backup. I too use a similar paddle as an alternate. It is a Badger Digger paddle. I find the Kettlewell/Fishell style modified otter tail provides much more motivation to my w/c prospector than the shorter Digger blade. But I prefer the Diggers shorter blade in whitewater or shallow water. The otter tail blade length can be cumbersome in some waters. My main reason for bringing this up is the finish. The Kettlewell is varnished and the Badger is oiled. I really like the oiled finish purely from a tactile point of view, I may look into another Fishell or Tremolo with oiled finish on a modified otter tail. Good luck finding a new paddle, Barry
 
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I totally forgot about Badger. I have not have had the pleasure of trying one. You can order them online from Rutabaga.
 
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Aberdeen, MD
I picked up a couple paddles (beavertail) last year from Dri-Ki... they're a little slow answering emails, but i'm happy with the product.
 
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Warren, Manitoba
So by "Quality" you mean "expensive"? I have a Grey Owl otter tail I bought at MEC 4 years ago that I love. I bought one for Christine at Wilderness supply last year, both were under $100 each.
 
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So by "Quality" you mean "expensive"? I have a Grey Owl otter tail I bought at MEC 4 years ago that I love. I bought one for Christine at Wilderness supply last year, both were under $100 each.

You have to remember that many here have no idea what MEC is.. I do but I don't buy from them unless in person.Their US shipping charge slays me.. Grey Owl has a very limited US distribution. I never see them in paddlesport stores here.

If a paddle is handmade it could be expensive.. Usually paddlemakers take time to select knot free wood with a straight grain that has been adequately dried so as not to twist into a propellor shape.. Mass producers may not. go through that process.

Very few good ottertails are sold down here. Bending Branches ( the chief US maker) has none.


Hand made ottertails run about $125.. There are probably more crafters around. I will check at the WCHA Assembly next week.

People who do have ottertails often make them themselves from plans offered by this book
http://www.amazon.com/Canoe-Paddles-Complete-Guide-Making/dp/1552095258

Its really not rocket science but a little patience and a good eye is called for. Once removed, you can't put wood back.
 
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Dec 7, 2011
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Maryland, USA
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I have a Badger ottertail in ash and love it.I ordered it right from the maker on the phone. I also made one a while ago in mahogany. The loom length should be the same as any other paddle you use but the longer blade length gives you a longer overall length. I carry a shorter blade paddle for shallow water.
fetch


Dave
 

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Jul 11, 2014
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Ontario Canada
I bought an otter tail style from Grey Owl. A Chieftain in solid cherry I think? Anyway, I didn't realize till I was handling paddles in the store, the differences in "feel". The slight differences in shaft profile and diameter, palm grips etc I love this one, but could easily fall in love with many of those others you're showing from Badger etc. I'm beginning to understand how some of you acquire a collection.
There's a shop not too far from here that runs canoe and paddle workshops. I keep meaning to go and make a paddle, but never get around to it. Mihun showed a great idea awhile back, marking a paddle shaft with inches for measuring fish. I'd like to make myself one, to use as a growth chart for our grandchildren. What do you think? No matter their measure, they're all keepers!
The method of paddle measure shown in the Tremolo website is how I pick my paddle. I'm not arguing the how to or why, just saying it works for me to find a comfortable shaft length.
 
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Soooo, the Ottertail must be one of those Canuck things...

It probably is. For good reason. When you consider paddling in the States...look at P net. Everyone assumes paddling involves bony rivers. No one here much thinks about lakes unless you live in MN , ME or NY. And the occasional thoughtful paddler who is out West.

Kind of makes sense too in that the ottertail was developed a long time ago when people could make a paddle on the go from trees that were a handy size in the forest. Canada has a history of long distance travel by canoe.. US by horse.. and it was hard to weave an ottertail out of grass I bet.

The Adirondacks start less than 50 km from Ontario, and part of ME used to be in Canada. The part of MN you canoe in is snugged right against ON. Political lines don't mean much in those areas.
 
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Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
You all made me do this:

IMG_0009.jpg


I haven't used it yet but I love the look and like the feel in my hands. With any luck it will get wet tomorrow AM before work.

Badger Sliver, Oiled Cherry

I bought it via the Internet from:
The Complete Paddler
919 Oxford Street
Toronto, Ontario M4E 2R2

416-255-6905
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I have a Badger ottertail in ash and love it.I ordered it right from the maker on the phone. I also made one a while ago in mahogany. The loom length should be the same as any other paddle you use but the longer blade length gives you a longer overall length. I carry a shorter blade paddle for shallow water.

Dave

fetch

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Dave, both of those paddles can't be ottertails. They are different shapes. I think the majority definition of an ottertail is that the blade gets narrower from top to tip. By that definition, the darker paddle would be an ottertail while the lighter paddle would be a sort of narrow beavertail. Or is it a badgertail?
 
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