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By Ron Mc
Said before on this forum that the purpose of bent shaft paddles is to index your hand position on the shaft length for the most efficient paddling. Read this from a paddle-design weenie, and according to him, that's everything you gain from a bent shaft.
I have a bent-shaft Werner Camano that's the best blade for handling my Kestrel, and a straight shaft Werner Coryvecken to put some go in my T160.
The two paddles are 5mm different in length, and almost identical in weight - even with a larger glass blade on the Coryvecken, because there's more weight in the bent shaft.

I've been using Yak grips on the straight shaft.
The problem with Yak grips is that, when wet, they slide too easily on the shaft, and it gets annoying on the water trying to re-position them.
I have some 1/8" closed-cell foam, I used for lining a bike bag, with half a sheet left over. It's the same thickness as the Yak grips.

Decided I would try X-grip polyolefin heat-shrink tubing over a layer of the closed cell foam to make permanent spongy indexed grips on my straight-shaft paddle. This is the same textured grip you see used over hypalon and EVA foregrips on offshore rods.
I'll use 3M 77 spray adhesive to stick the foam to the paddle, and the X-heat-shrink to cover it for a grip surface. I measured the shaft diameter at 1.12 inch - with quarter-inch of foam, that's 35mm total diameter, and ordered 45mm X-grip shrink tubing.

I was happy to remove the Yak grips.
Making the permanent grips each 7 inches long, an inch longer than Yak grips, giving me a little wiggle room.
Here's the grip width masked off on the straight shaft, and showing the position relative to the bend in the nearly-matching-length bent shaft.
Made very good measurements from the top of the blade to the inside edges of the masking tape.
There's nothing in the 3M 77 spray glue that hurts either the foam or the paddle resin, and if I hate it, it will slough off the shaft with alcohol or mineral spirts.
I used a little algebra to calculate the width of my closed-cell foam. After rounding up and trying the first cut one for fit, they need to be a 1/4-inch wider than pi-times-D.
Set up here to spray adhesive on one side of the foam, and on the masked portion of the shaft. No time to take photos here, the adhesive is ready to stick in 20 seconds, and it took awhile to spray both the foam strip and the shaft masking, and strip the masking from the shaft.
positioned the shaft, and rolled it on the sticky foam, and used spiral wrap of masking to cure it for 30 min.
I kept adding a little length with each step, making the foam strips just a bit longer than the shaft masking.
So my shrink tube sections were 8" long, allowing for shrink and wrap around the ends.
Used a rocket launcher to rotate the shaft while initial shaping the X-grip shrink tube with a blow drier.
Here's after the blow drier - it may look fitted, but it's loose as all get out.
From there, I took each grip inside to the sink and used boiling water to finish the shrink.
May not see much difference here, but it's tight.
all done, and grips feel great - they have that soapy feel of the X-shrink, grip like crazy, and just-right spongy soft - much more comfortable than Yak grips, and they don't slide - or will find out on the water, but they should be stuck in just the right place.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By Ron Mc
Jerry, especially with the T160, rudder is control, and I'm just making max propulsion with the paddle. Of course a hard core-muscle paddle stroke rocks and steers the boat - I get in the habit of pushing rudder pedal on the power stroke side - every stroke - to keep the boat going straight. Modulating the rudder.
So no, even spacing from the top of both blades.

i'm fairly ambidextrous, and generally don't favor either arm for power or control - I'm so split on sports, bat right, throw left, tennis left, ping pong right.
I feather blades for big wind and work that twist into my paddle stroke either way, either hand - don't even think about which way I'm feathering the blade. I like fishing in wind, and most times I'm running either 45- or 60-degree feather.

And trying to think about steering the Kestrel with the other paddle - I may have a tendency with the balance issues of that boat to use right hand more often to both power the turn or drag it. Though with speed, you really use the thigh straps to lean and turn against the hull.
I know one thing, the big paddle totally screws me up on the Kestrel - oversteering on every stroke - a gentle stroke with the smaller touring paddle turns it into a razor, and is easier to control when I'm digging for acceleration. The Kestrel has no windcock (unless you oversteer) and even glides forever upwind - if you're not stroking the Tarpon, you notice the speed loss upwind instantly.

Also made me think about my daughter's powerful strokes in the Redfish 10 - she had a tendency to lift the hull and spin, which was totally solved by adding the skeg. Before I bought myself a Werner, bought her a bent shaft Shuna to match her stroke, and finally had to get the Camano to get my edge back, because she was leaving me behind on the flats when I was using A/T paddle. And since I added the Coryvecken, it's by far the best match for the T160.

And thanks - I'm happy with the result. The two boats and two paddles are apples and oranges, and both function so differently - all part of the fun.
The 7" permanent grips, btw, have a full hand position in range, so you can find a sweet spot, and don't have to move a Yak grip around.
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By Ron Mc
oops - you get to learn from my mistake.
I discovered with the X-shrink tube too short, the grip will slide over the foam - when I tried it, was able to show foam.
Easy to solve, and I had just enough X-shrink left over to re-do the grips with 3" to spare.
With a cut started, it was really easy to tear off the old grip.
I added an inch to each side, 10" pieces, so the wrap would shrink tight on the shaft and give it traction.
Also, pouring the boiling water to shrink the X-grip tube, start at the middle and work to one end, return to the middle and work to the other end - this squeezes all the air out.
Now the grip is rock-solid and still cushy soft, and I'm guessing both air- and water-tight as well.

adding a ps here - something else I get tired of chasing around is my paddle leash - having it slide toward one end of the paddle shaft and drag on my leg when I'm making tracks.
So I took the 3" leftover piece and used it to make bump-stops in the center of the paddle for my paddle leash.

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By TexasJim
Ron & JW: I use a Pacific Designs paddle that has a round center tube. I wanted padded grips, so I used bicycle handlebar cushioned tape to wrap them. As I use a 60 degree feather, and I'm right-handed, I wanted the right grip to be the "control" grip. Before I wrapped the right grip, I put a 7 inch strip of the grip tape on the forward and aft sides of the tube. When I wrapped the bar tape over that, it gave me a distinct "oval" shape to that grip. The left grip is round. I covered the ends of the wraps with electrical tape, and wrapped that with round lacing twine, which I coated with clear nail polish to prevent un-wrapping. This has worked great for three years.
The padded bicycle handlebar tape was surprisingly hard to find. No local shops had it, and I ordered it from a bike shop in San Francisco. I used red, to match my kayak, but it has faded to white. No problem.
My backup paddle is carbon fiber and has a flattened section on the right grip area. If I used it a lot, I'd cover it like Ron did.
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By Ron Mc
hey Jim, I actually got here because I began following a thread on the rod-building page on FFR forum about Winn Grips and Winn Tape. The Winn Tape is essentially bicycle bar wrap for golf clubs and fishing rods. But it's also thin material, and if you want to add cushy padded thickness, still need the foam base.
As I described, chose this way to duplicate the grip of Yak Grips, without the sliding around when wet.
And yes, padded bar tape is a great solution.
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By JW FunGuy
I know exactly what you mean Jim, I had a round shaft paddle and it drove me nuts. And you are exactly right. Your “control” hand just controls the position of the paddle. It stays in place so that the blade is aligned to be in the right position entering the water. (And more importantly in a whitewater boat and rolling it has the blade in the proper position as well) Without some form of indexing you never know if the blade is in the right position. I think on that paddle I ended up epoxying over a small (1/4” ?) piece of tubing to make it oval. I think that is another thing I like about wood paddles, they can put such a nice oval in the shaft!
I still prefer a 90 deg offset (old dog...) but having your paddle blade lined up correctly without having to look at Is important for any paddler. Even if you don’t use offset blades. And if you want a dissertation on why you shouldn’t use straight blades ask, otherwise I will spare you the lecture. :roll:
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By Ron Mc
no flat-water Olympic paddlers have used a bent shaft paddles since 1991 (Canoe and Kayak vol.37;1 “Shaft Style” Greg Barton p. 27). This would suggest that for racing and thus power strokes the straight is the way to go. Other theories suggest that although a straight shaft paddle favors more power for you top arm the bent shaft allows a more effective angle for your engaged paddle in the water and allows for proper back position and thus more overall power. In the case of weight the straight is almost always the winner here and a main reason I am still on team straight myself. It is also easier to make a straight shaft stronger since there is less ovalization and the more uniform the shaft is the stronger it will be.

Oval loses the strength to weight battle in paddle design, as does bent shaft, and the article I quoted implied this was a sure way to get in a fisticuffs.
Straight paddles are lighter, but again, the whole point of my exercise was indexed hand position, and the cushy grip conforms to a real hand better than a hard round shaft.

I think it's fair to say go all carbon with bent shaft for the swing weight factor, and straight shaft can make good paddles with economy.
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By FingerMullet
Mr. Ron,
Thanks for the tip on DYI grips. I’ve been searching & reluctant to buy grips for my Werner Shuna Hooked paddle because of the shifting grips when they get wet. I saw some 1/8” self-adhesive foam on Amazon I’m going to try with the adhesive spray for extra measure.
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