• Happy World Photography Day!

Whitewater Bent Shaft

Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
1,239
Reaction score
458
Location
Penacook, NH on a back road
I have 2 Mitchell paddles, the double bent shaft, my main paddle and then a Mitchell single bent, I think the Cruiser. I use both of those in up to CIII with no problem. I have straight shaft paddles but leave them home for most trips, not a real fan of them anymore but what I was brought up on. Nothing wrong with them at all! I'm just comfortable running WW with my bent shafts. Not sure of the degrees on the paddles but they should be on the Mitchell page:

http://www.mitchellpaddles.com/

The blade on the double bent is wide and fairly short, would have to go measure, the Cruiser is narrower and longer. Both excellent paddles and have used them for almost twenty years now. Funny thing is when I got them everyone told me ya can't/shouldn't use them in WW. Go figure!

dougd
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2015
Messages
281
Reaction score
51
Location
Orangevale, CA
I don't do much WW, but what rivers I do paddle, I prefer straight shaft paddles. Mainly because I feel I am quicker with the strokes I need because I don't have to think about which face of the paddle to use. Probably just a practice thing. A friend of mine does WW II and up more or less exclusively and he always uses straight shaft paddles.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2013
Messages
989
Reaction score
65
I don't see why you couldn't, with good familiarity. But my bents are lightweight carbon, and we have a lot of rocks - so I don't.
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2016
Messages
535
Reaction score
363
Location
Bangor, Maine
I use a bent shaft carbon for whitewater (I, II & III). It's a Zav Z Medium, 12 degree bend. There are some strokes for which a longer straight shaft would be better, but in general I find that the power and quickness of a light bent matter more. YMMV.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
1,091
Reaction score
238
Location
Heart of the Shawnee Nation
I use a bent shaft carbon for whitewater (I, II & III). It's a Zav Z Medium, 12 degree bend. There are some strokes for which a longer straight shaft would be better, but in general I find that the power and quickness of a light bent matter more. YMMV.

Yeah, I can think of a couple strokes that would be difficult with a bent shaft. Those cupped blades also don't strike me as being perfect for some strokes.
 
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
1,315
Reaction score
1,101
Location
Preeceville, Saskatchewan Canada
When descending rock-filled rapids, Kathleen and I commonly use sculling pry strokes. I've always thought that bent-shaft wouldn't be as effective for these strokes, but have never tried, so don't know.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
I do not own this, but have demoed it. state of the art

https://www.zre.com/whitewater-canoe-paddles/

I've owned 2 of the power curve they are really nice paddles, but really fragile for a ww paddle, good for deep high volume rivers... But don't last long on rocky/bony runs. Any of the Zaveral would get destroyed in a matter of a weekend on the stuff we paddle up here. I wouldn't even think of taking my LeVass that are quite tough. For me it is a straight shaft slightly curved blade paddle. My current paddle is a ZAP(now Stinger) paddle in his HD layup!
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
35
Reaction score
6
I doubt I will ever use a bent shaft paddle in rapids again. I agree about the zav. Great paddle just not for rough use up there! I use a straight shaft in rapids as I have a lot more control. I have also gone back to a t grip for my straight shaft. However, I use a 12 degree bent for almost everything else .
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,942
Reaction score
920
Location
Raymond, ME
My new ZRE WW rrived a while back. It is light, but seems fragile. Anyone ever dip the end of the blade in resin to make it more rock friendly?

It is not fragile.. Dipping it in resin may make it unbalanced. I have used my rec racing Zav which is a flatwater paddle in rocky situations for 23 years and there is no edge damage.

Bent shafts are just about impossibly angled for cross draws and draws.. Two very important river strokes.. The bent pushes water down and boat up rather than pull boat to paddle compared with a straight.. On mild moving water this is no issue but when you have a must make move a straight will save your butt better.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
1,091
Reaction score
238
Location
Heart of the Shawnee Nation
Yeah, I won't be leaving my straight shaft Woody at home, but I'm not a thrill addict either. I walk around big stuff. Still, a frayed edge can't be good for the "balance" either.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,942
Reaction score
920
Location
Raymond, ME
Yeah, I won't be leaving my straight shaft Woody at home, but I'm not a thrill addict either. I walk around big stuff. Still, a frayed edge can't be good for the "balance" either.

Ive tried on the Missinaibi. 158 miles at low water
It wasnt the right paddle for good maneuvering but I had just gotten it and loved the lack of swing weight
No fraying
But if you fear that try finding a Norse paddle The one I have is indeed eternal but so heavy a swing weight I have missed must makes
Ita tip is metal reinforced
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2012
Messages
630
Reaction score
172
Location
southwest Indiana
I have known three or four very good whitewater open boaters who favor bent shaft paddles but they are a very distinct minority. With some pry and draw strokes you do lose a good bit of efficiency with bent shaft paddles, but these individuals are good enough to make up for it and are willing to accept more awkward steering strokes to gain greater power for maneuvers like forward ferries and attainments.

A few years ago I paddled in a downriver race on the Class II-III Nantahala River in an open boat and used a bent shaft paddle. But I know that river very well, and downriver races are all about getting downstream as quickly as possibly and not about fancy maneuvers.
 
Joined
Jun 25, 2017
Messages
510
Reaction score
285
Location
Bozeman, MT
But if you fear that try finding a Norse paddle The one I have is indeed eternal but so heavy a swing weight I have missed must makes
Ita tip is metal reinforced

My brother had a Norse--my ww bludgeon is a 58" Seda I bought used in 1981.
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2016
Messages
535
Reaction score
363
Location
Bangor, Maine
Yeah, I won't be leaving my straight shaft Woody at home, but I'm not a thrill addict either. I walk around big stuff. Still, a frayed edge can't be good for the "balance" either.

If a spot gets frayed on the edge of a Zav, you can touch it up reasonably well with clear nail polish (just to seal the matrix), or even better with a glob of five minute epoxy. I'm pretty hard on mine (it's my primary paddle, high water or low), and while it doesn't look new, it's still very solid after ~10 years.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2017
Messages
842
Reaction score
315
Congrats on your new paddle Black Fly, it looks comfortable.

I see that you forgot to ask them to delete the ZRE sticker.

;)
In my experience it takes time to develop confidence in carbon paddles as most are way stronger than anyone might assume. Rather than pampering it I would encourage you to use the heck out of it...abuse it a bit so you develop confidence in the durability so you get to use it all the time.

Regarding edge protection you don't need any. The tip is solid carbon fiber for about 3/4 inch before you get to the hollow part. But the pic shows a couple of options...on the decorated Troublemaker I put a thin edge of epoxy on it to act as a sacrificial edge; I just dipped a toothpick in epoxy and rolled it onto the blade edge. I also put a piece of electrical tape on the edge in the hope of giving it just a little bit of cushioning and support.

The Zav in the picture with the snake on it has been in hundreds of upstream paddles with constant hits on rocks. You can see a little bit of loss on the edge, but I had to slam the paddle in a car door to actually damage it enough to take it out of service.
image.jpegimage.jpeg ​​​​​​​
 
Top