Become a better paddler and you can go farther, more efficiently, and have lots of energy left over for the fish fight of your life. These six paddle tips will help you catch more, and have you looking stylish while you do it. Don’t be that guy who scrapes and bangs into the launch – or that guy who splashes and slashes to make a turn. What? You’re that guy? Read below.
Boat Ramp Paddling Basics
Returning from a triumphant day on the water, you want to look smooth when you hit the launch ramp. Instead you charge bow first into the concrete, grind to a halt, teeter on your keel, and flop over into the water. Not cool. The reverse sweep stroke could have saved the day.
1. A few feet from the ramp, rotate at the waist to turn the paddle face parallel to the kayak.
2. Insert the rear blade into the water behind your hip then untwist your torso to sweep the paddle out and towards the bow.
3. The boat will turn sideways and slide to shore. Then step out on the dry side and take a bow.
Bow Rudder Like A Boss
Making a course adjustment with a reverse stroke kills for- ward momentum, wastes en-ergy and breaks the paddler’s cadence. For a smooth turn that looks cool, use the bow rudder stroke.
1. While paddling for-ward, insert the paddle blade like a forward stroke except turn the blade par- allel to the kayak. This is called the neutral position.
2. To steer, roll back your lower wrist to open the blade angle slightly and cause the boat to turn toward the paddle. Always look in the direction you want the kayak to go.
3. Keep your upper arm bent 90 degrees at the elbow and the forearm even with your eyes. This poises your upper arm to compensate for water pushing against the blade. When the boat is heading in the right direction, tran-sition the blade angle into a forward stroke to contin- ue paddling. This is a great stroke to make slight ad- justments while paddling forward, but it also works well when I’m fishing in current or wind. I can use the bow rudder to keep my boat facing into the tide or wind without changing my position.
Jeff Herman is a Jackson Kayak, Werner Paddles, and Railblaza pro staffer and an ACA certified instructor.
This article first appeared in the Summer/Fall 2015 print issue of Kayak Angler magazine. For more great kayak fishing content, subscribe to Kayak Angler’s print editions and digital editions, download issues on your device or view this issue for free on your desktop.