Don’t be that rube banging into your fellow paddlers when you’re handing off a hot lure out on the bay. Sidle up smooth and snake-like when you’re on the water. Learning to move your kayak sideways is a must-have skill for any kayak angler and the draw stroke will help you approach a dock or another kayak with style.

4 Steps to Perform the Draw Stroke

There are a few ways to move your kayak sideways. Flailing half sweeps with the paddle is the most common silliness I see. Then there are the advanced paddle acrobatics of a sculling draw. However, one of the most effective and controlled methods is a simple draw stroke with a “T” or slice integrated, which is an intermediate stroke that is both functional and efficient. It also has a quicker learning curve than the sculling draw.

man on red kayak demonstrates the draw stroke
Slide your kayak sideways with the draw stroke. | Feature photo: Jeff Herman

1 Place Your Paddle Blade

Start by rotating your upper body in the direction you want your kayak to travel. With the power face towards you, place the paddle blade in the water at your hip about two or three blade lengths away from your kayak. This will place one hand at about eye level reaching across your body. Your lower hand, above the active blade, will do the work.

2 Pull Toward You

Pull the active blade toward you using your lower hand until it is at the side of the boat. Your top hand should remain stationary. Do not hit your kayak with the paddle, that can make you unstable.

3 Turn the Blade and Push

Keeping a loose grip on the paddle shaft with the top hand, roll your lower wrist forward so the blade turns perpendicular to the kayak, power face toward the stern. Then, push the blade so it slices away from the kayak without killing your sideways momentum.

4 Back to the Start

When the blade returns to the starting point of the draw, turn it parallel to your kayak and repeat the process.

Cover of the Early Summer 2013 issue of Kayak Angler MagazineThis article was first published in the Early Summer 2013 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Slide your kayak sideways with the draw stroke. | Feature photo: Jeff Herman



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