Here’s a great article by Werner Paddles own Danny Mongno explaining the differences between a low and high angle paddle.
Fishing paddles-Blade shape and paddling style
Simply put, if you focus on a paddle that fits you it will means less fatigue, more time on the water and more fish in the boat. A lot goes into a great paddling paddle and each manufacture will happily tell their story, so do your research, try stuff out and make an informed decision.
However the constant between all brands is that you are going to see 2 general blade shapes. They will differ some, but generally you’ll have short and fat or long and skinny. Each shape is designed specifically to perform better with your paddling style. Now sure you can use any blade, paddle however you want, but to get the most from your paddling matching a blade shape to your paddling style. Let’s take a closer look.
Long and Skinny
This shape is for “Low-Angle” paddling. In this style your top hand is shoulder height during your stroke, and much more relaxed as it puts less pressure on your smaller muscle groups. This allows you to spend more time focusing on landing fish. Try for yourself and see how the longer, narrow blade shape “fits” in the water better and presents more surface area of the blade to the water. Now the disadvantage is that with every stroke the blades travel away from the side of the boat, making the boat turn slightly as you travel across the water. Less of straight line means more time to get from point A to B.
Short and Fat
When high angle paddling, your top hand will come up to about forehead height. Notice that your blades travel much closer to the kayak helping you to track significantly straighter. Again note that the short and wide blade shape “fits” in the water better in this position. It can be harder on the smaller muscle groups, but as you commit to perfecting your paddling technique, it will allow you to be a more efficient paddler. The common misconception is the fatter blade is faster, more powerful. Generally the blades are the same overall size and again the shape difference is to match style. To truly become more powerful, faster, work on technique. Here is a great, short, video for the kayak angler and their forward stroke.
Still not sure what paddling style is best suited for you? Ask yourself, “What do I see myself doing the most out there?” If your answer is to get out there, relax and maybe catch a few fish, low angle would be the way to go. If your answer is to get out in the water and focus on better technique for more efficient paddling, high angle would be the ticket for you. You can always get out there and try paddles out. The day you become a kayak fisherman, you have to think like a paddler first. Consider your paddle fit as much as you would consider any of your tackle.
Don’t forget, a bad day of fishing is still a great day of paddling.