Kayak Paddle Guide

Kayak Paddle Guide

At Above&Below, we have a huge range of shapes, styles and sizes of kayak paddles available, there’s something for everyone. Having the right paddle for you can positively affect your time on the water and enhance your overall kayaking experience.


When choosing the right kayak paddle to demo, you ought to ask yourself a few questions;

What do you currently use and what’s wrong with it?

Perhaps you’re feeling like it’s too powerful and giving you fatigue. Or it’s the wrong length and you’re not getting the correct leverage with your strokes. Maybe its just old and worn down?

What kind of paddling you would like to be doing?

There’s no point buying a Sea Kayak paddle if you’re about to invest your time on whitewater rivers.

The general rule of thumb is the longer the boat, the longer the blades, the shorter the boat, the shorter the blades, the bigger, wider and taller the person, the bigger and wider, the blades need to be.

Sea kayaking and touring paddles tend to be longer and thinner for a longer, slower and wider stroke which gives you more stability and leverage over distance and time. White water paddles tend to be a lot shorter and fatter for big punchy movements with power, aggression and stability. White water paddles to the untrained eye look a bit similar. However, there are different shapes and different styles for different types of paddling.

The VE pro is best suited for playboating and freestyle kayaking.

Shop VE Pro

It’s short blade doesn’t require much pull through the water. When play boating kayakers find themselves in a feature, bracing and sweeping, not necessarily wanting to move the boat forward anywhere. You rely on your paddle more as stability rather than leverage. It’s short, fat and wide with a flat back surface, so it’s really nice and stable. It has a downturned cut to it which means that you don’t have to be paddling like a slalom paddler to get much of the blade in the water. It will be nice and stable in a feature and on a wave.


The VE Creeker is best suited to people that are creaking or river running.

Shop VE Creeker

This has a long length with lots of leverage. When you reach forward with your blade and pull it through the water vertically, this will give you a long slow deep stroke. It’s quite narrow and comparison to some of the other paddles, which means it’s easier to pull through the water.

The VE flyte is a teardrop shape blade.

Shop VE Flyte

This is narrow towards the neck of the blade towards the shaft and wide at the tip with a high catchment area. When you initially plant your blade in the water, you get lots of power and scoop straight away. When you’re driving your paddle vertically down the side of your boat with a lot of rotation, the narrowness of the blade allows you to pry and draw to really control your boat. When you lift the blade out of the water at the back, you gain lift and propulsion to allow you to boof as well. This has a very strong dihedral running through the middle of the blade. A dihedral is a little ridge that splits the water as it pulls across the blade so you can pull the blade through the water and gain more power when you’re doing so, so there’s less resistance at a lower impact and less effort on your part.

Whitewater kayak paddles are available in two main shaft styles. Straight or Bent.

A straight shaft gives you the best transfer of energy from your body through your shaft to your blade into the water. It’s arguably the most efficient shaft style.

A bent shaft is ergonomically more comfortable. Your wrists sit in the crease of the crank which naturally realigns your forearms and shoulders for less impact on your body. It’s a more comfortable position too paddle, but you do lose a bit of connectivity and power with the blade and the water.

These white water paddles are made from composite materials, fibreglass or carbon fibre. They are light, strong, stiff and comfortable to hold onto for a whole day on the water. They give a really efficient Stroke and performance.

Fibreglass is a slightly softer more flexible material than carbon fibre. Carbon fibre is a tighter stronger bond so you get really good purchase and performance with your stroke with lots of feedback and control. Price point wise fibreglass is a little more appealing. VE paddles make all of their white water paddles in fibreglass blades or carbon fibre with air core.

Inside the air core blade is a buoyant bubble of air which gives you better purchase in aerated water. The blade doesn’t sink as much which that gives you is more stability. It also stays at the surface when you’re rolling so it makes rolling a little easier.

Here at Above&Below, we have demos of every paddle that we sell. I highly recommend trying before you buy. If you’re not sure which is the best style to suit you, get in touch for further guidance or better still come down and try them out for yourself to make a more informed decision on your purchase.

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