The 9 Best Paddles for Kayak Fishing 2021 (a Full Buyer’s Guide & FAQs)


These days, kayak fishing technology seems to be getting better all the time. Some of the gear that’s being produced is seriously impressive.

You only have to check out this review on the best pedal drive fishing kayaks to see what I mean.

But for the most part, a kayak is going to be pretty useless without the humble paddle – they have gone hand-in-hand for thousands of years, after all.

So, take a look at this article on the best paddles for kayak fishing, with a full buyer’s guide and FAQ section to help you choose.

And you won’t be left up shit creek without one.

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

The 9 Best Kayak Fishing Paddles 2021

Wilderness Systems APEX Angler Carbon Paddles

Wilderness Systems APEX Angler Carbon Paddles

Known for their excellent recreational kayaks, Wilderness Systems naturally do a range of some of the best paddles on the market.

The Apex Angler is one such model, a fully carbon kayak paddle that’s super-lightweight, fully adjustable depending on the paddler and the size of the kayak, and with a premium blade that offers a crisp, clean stroke as it enters the water and moves through the air.

It weighs just 29.5 ounces, and features powerful, mid-size foam core blades that work well in all types of water conditions.

When it comes to kayak paddles, this is on another level.

Pros

  • Premium-quality materials.
  • Designed for any seating position.
  • Super tough and durable.
  • Adjustable ferrule system.
  • Fish measuring ruler on the shaft.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive.

Takeaway

If you’re looking to purchase one kayak paddle for life, then you could do a lot worse than this option from Wilderness Systems. Another good reason why they’re one of the best kayak fishing brands operating today.

Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle

For those in the know, when it comes to paddles, Werner needs no introduction.

This model is a premium fiberglass piece, with a carbon blend that balances price with quality, and would make a solid mid-range option for anyone wanting to upgrade.

Designed for kayakers who are looking for a relaxed paddle stroke, with a versatile blade that gives enough power for a leisurely day on the water.

The low-angle blade provides a light swing weight, with excellent durability and overall performance – but I would expect nothing less from one of the best kayak paddle manufacturers in the world.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Highly rated.
  • Great choice of colors.
  • Fully adjustable.
  • Super lightweight.

Cons

  • Pricey.

Takeaway

A premium-quality kayak fishing paddle that is a great choice if you’re looking to take a step-up without paying the massive bucks. And the choice of fish-friendly colors is a nice touch.

Pelican Boats Symbosia Fishing Fiberglass Kayak Paddle

Let’s dial things back now with this budget-friendly option from Pelican, who happen to make some awesome sit-in fishing kayaks – so you should check them out when you can.

And this option just might be the best fishing kayak paddle under $100, complete with an integrated hook retrieval system, a tape measure along the shaft and a safety whistle.

That’s a lot of bang for the buck, especially since it’s also made from impact-resistant fiberglass with a nylon blade for added durability.

The drip rings are fully adjustable to suit your grip, and it features indexing to help you locate your hand position easily along the shaft.

Get it while you can!

Pros

  • Excellent price point.
  • Specially designed for anglers.
  • Attractive wood-effect blades.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • The length isn’t adjustable.

Takeaway

When it comes to value for money with kayak paddles, you’re looking right at it. This is an awesome option from Pelican that will suit most casual users down to the ground, and makes an affordable gift for the kayak angler in your life. Pair it with a good telescopic rod, and you’ll be in their good books forever.

Bending Branches Angler Classic Kayak Paddle

Bending Branches Angler Classic Kayak Paddle

Another world-class paddle manufacturer, Bending Branches are based out of Wisconsin, and have been making some seriously stunning kayak and canoe oars and paddles for a long time.

I’ve chosen this affordable Angler Classic model, made with reinforced fiberglass and nylon for durability, with a hook retrieval system located in the blade.

It’s a two-piece design with snap-button ferrule that is easy to lock into place, while the shaft has been ovalized for a comfortable grip.

The built-in tape measure on the no-wobble shaft is handy for recording those monster catches, and the extra-strong, large blades assist in paddling through all kinds of conditions without increasing fatigue.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Lightweight and durable.
  • Easy to use.
  • Lightweight and durable.
  • Responsive blades.

Cons

  • Not adjustable.

Takeaway

While it’s not going to light up the paddling world, this is still a great intermediate-level option from Bending Branches that is ideal if you want to ditch the dead wood. Perfect for use with one of these brilliant inflatable fishing kayaks.

Backwater Assassin Kayak Paddle

This certainly looks like the weapon an assassin might use, but it just happens to be Backwater’s hugely popular fishing kayak paddle instead.

It features ABS-injected nylon blades for strength and durability, with a built-in hook that is versatile enough to grab multiple objects – depending on your particular needs.

But let’s talk about that serrated edge, which apart from looking badass, is actually really useful for pushing off from slippery surfaces, or holding yourself steady if you need to.

Best of all, it’s made from a hybrid carbon fiber, which makes it a super-lightweight fishing kayak paddle at an affordable price.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable.
  • Drip rings include.
  • Great price for what you get.
  • Practical blade features.
  • Killer aesthetic (literally).

Cons

  • An oval grip would have been nice.

Takeaway

Assassin by name and by nature, this is a cool-looking blade that offers plenty of useful features, while remaining super durable and lightweight. It might just be the best fishing kayak paddle for the money on the market.

Bending Branches Angler Pro Kayak Paddle

The Angler Pro from Bending Branches improves upon the previous model by two ounces – which can make a difference if you want to spend longer out on the water.

The straight shaft paddle is made from a lightweight and durable fiberglass, compression molded for extra strength.

The larger blades provide a more powerful stroke, enabling you to cover more water with less effort, while the attractive blade pattern has been specially designed by the BB Pro Staff team.

But the real kicker is the fact that this has won the Angler Paddle of the Year no less than six times, which makes it a pretty hot prospect when it comes to the best kayak fishing paddles on the market.

Pros

  • Choice of stunning designs.
  • Super lightweight.
  • Fish measuring tape.
  • Easy-snap adjustment for blade angle.
  • Very strong and durable.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Fixed length.

Takeaway

This is a seriously stunning kayak fishing paddle that obviously must be doing something right having won all the awards. You might be creeping into high-end paddles here when it comes to price range, but it’s oh so worth it, just for those sexy colors alone.

Perception Pescador Kayak Fishing Paddle

Perception Pescador 2-Piece Kayak Fishing Paddle

I’ve included this two-piece fishing kayak paddle from Perception for a number of reasons, not least because it’s very affordable and has a fully adjustable fit.

But the Perception Pescador kayak is one of my favorite fishing craft on the market, and one of the best river fishing kayaks out there – so follow that link to check it out.

Obvious bias aside, this is still a great option for entry-level kayakers looking to maybe upgrade from the cheap paddle that came with their first yaks.

It features a sturdy blade designed for maximum control and maneuverability, with a line hook installed to help remove snags.

Enjoy relaxed, easy paddles with this option from Perception.

Pros

  • Excellent price point.
  • Attractive blade design.
  • Adjustable, push-button ferrule.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Might have a tendency to wobble.

Takeaway

A paddle that will go hand-in-hand with the Perception Pescador fishing kayak – as well as many other suitable watercraft – this is a great option that won’t break the bank.

Wilderness Systems Origin Angler Paddles

Wilderness Systems Origin Angler Paddles

Here we have another offering from Wilderness Systems, this time their Origin Angler model, with a large, powerful blade that’s been designed for maneuvering those tank-like sit-on-top fishing craft.

With a line hook on one edge and a fish tape measure on the shaft, the paddle is fully adjustable and weighs just 37 ounces.

The two-piece construction ensures it’s easy to break down and transport, and is ideal for day trips and longer excursions – especially to access those hard-to-reach places you’ve always wanted to fish.

Pros

  • Carbon-blend shaft.
  • Adjustable ferrule system.
  • Suitable for any kayak.
  • Name to trust.
  • Custom drip rings.

Cons

  • A choice of colors would have been nice.

Takeaway

A versatile, all-rounder that can be used in any kayak, this paddle is particularly adept for powering those larger sit-on-top craft, thanks to its high-angle blade delivery. And if you are rocking one such kayak, then I’m betting you’ve got plenty of room for an awesome fishing cooler in that huge rear tank well.

Werner Cyprus Carbon Bent-Shaft Kayak Paddle

Werner Cyprus Carbon Bent-Shaft Kayak Paddle

Premium paddle company Werner rounds out proceedings here with this stunning carbon kayak paddle with a bent ergonomic shaft.

This one is for serious paddlers only, with a superior strength-to-weight ratio you’re not going to find in lesser models.

Designed for the most powerful, silky smooth stroke possible, the mid-sized blades cut the water like a knife through butter, and are ideal for longer trips and fishing excursions.

A two-piece design, it’s highly portable, and the low-profile button release makes it feel like one, solid unit.

When it comes to kayak paddles, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Pros

  • Premium materials, design, and construction.
  • Smooth paddle stroke.
  • Super lightweight and durable.
  • Ergonomic shaft for wrist and elbow support.
  • Adjustable ferrule system.
  • Drip rings.
  • Attractive, sleek aesthetic.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive.
  • No extra fishing features.

Takeaway

The Cadillac of paddles, this is one stunning piece of gear that any kayaker would love to try for a stroke or two – at the very least. Still, that price point ensures it’s not for everyone, but I’m going to be mighty jealous if you do end up adding it to cart. I’m sure I have a birthday coming up sometime this year…

How to Choose the Best Kayak Fishing Paddle

Choosing the right paddle for kayaking can be just as challenging as choosing the right kayak – sometimes even more so.

But it’s important to get it right, which is why we’ve included a handy buyer’s guide below – so you can be sure you’re getting the right paddle to suit your needs.

However, I will preface this by saying I’m not an engineer, and in no way do I fully understand the ins and outs of paddle-blade dynamics.

I’m just trying to keep it simple and pass on what I do know – so I hope it helps.

fisherman on inflatable fishing kayak with fishing tackle

Shaft Length

Perhaps the most important aspect of your kayak fishing paddle is the shaft length – how long the paddle is from blade to blade.

Most kayak anglers prefer sit-on-top kayaks, which are much wider than their sit-inside counterparts. As such, you need to make sure the paddle you choose accommodates that extra width.

If you fancy keeping things smaller and more compact, by all means choose one of these awesome sit-in fishing kayaks and a shorter paddle to go with it.

But if your paddle is too short, you’re going to be banging on the gunwale – which will be the equivalent of announcing your arrival to the fish with a dinner gong.

Too long, and you’ll struggle with an efficient stroke, which will significantly increase your fatigue and the amount of times you turn the air blue in frustration.

There’s no hard-and-fast rules for selecting the right length of paddle, but I always recommend researching the sizing chart of the particular manufacturer you’re interested in.

They might not all be singing off the same hymn sheet, so it’s best to check before ordering.

That should give you the perfect guide when it comes to your height – the width of your kayak – and the length of the paddle you need to choose.

Material and Weight

Equally important as the paddle size is the paddle weight, and it’s here you should be thinking about spending a bit more coin to bag something as light as possible.

Less weight means less fatigue which in turn means you can stay out there for longer, travel further, and catch more fish.

Good kayak paddles for fishing are going to be super-lightweight, because you’ll also be using your rods, and you need to minimize arm fatigue.

Most beginners will likely start out with aluminum paddles – the kind that often come as part of the package with certain kayaks. They’re going to be very cheap, but they will be the heaviest and not the best quality overall.

If you’re serious about kayak fishing – or any kind of kayaking – don’t wait too long to upgrade.

At the high end, you’ll want to lean towards carbon fiber paddles over fiberglass versions. Of course, that naturally means they’re going to be more expensive, so don’t blow the budget if you can’t afford it.

Fiberglass paddles make a nice happy medium, and you can get some excellent models that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Both fiberglass and carbon fiber are very durable, so if you are investing in these paddles, they should last you for years to come.

angler fishing from the kayak in the river

Straight vs Bent Shaft Paddles

You will no doubt have noticed that there are straight and bent shaft options when it comes to kayak paddles. A whole article could probably be written about the pros and cons of each.

In a nutshell, straight shaft paddles are generally cheaper, lighter, easier to use, and offer multiple hand-locations to suit the paddler.

Bent shaft paddles are ergonomic and take the pressure off the wrists and elbows. You will suffer less fatigue, and they’re ideal for kayakers traveling longer distances.

You’ll also be more efficient in the water and performance will improve with tracking and maneuverability.

Your regular hand position is also easier to find, which can help immensely in certain situations.

The bend in the shaft can also help you with one-handed paddling, which has obvious advantages when kayak fishing.

Finally, bent paddles are preferred by many anglers because when they’re dropped into your lap, they won’t slide off from either side like a straight paddle. They are held in place by their ergonomic shaft across your knees.

All that being said, straight shafts are still the more popular choice, as they’re more affordable, readily available, and still get the job done with aplomb.

If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.

Blades

When it comes to blades, there’s a lot to consider, but to keep things simple, I’m just going to cover the high-angle or low-angle paddling style.

This is in reference to the angle at which the blade is going to be entering into the water.

High-angle blades are larger and more rounded, designed to displace more water, and thus propel you further with every stroke.

They’re preferred by paddlers looking for peak performance, distance, and speed, and you’ll find they’re more common with touring and whitewater kayakers.

Low-angle blades have a more angled, slim profile, and they’re designed for leisurely, relaxed paddles and recreational use. You’ll find kayak anglers tend to use the low-angle technique, and prefer low-angle blades as a result.

Of course, either paddle is fine in all conditions, and regular and experienced kayaks might well have a selection of blades they choose from depending on their next trip.

But that’s just scratching the surface, and you should check out this article for a more detailed explanation of kayak paddle blade types, because the technology is pretty mind-boggling.

fisherman floats on a white fishing kayak in ocean along the coast

Extra Features

When it comes to kayak angling, some paddles like to incorporate a few extra features that might be able to assist with your fishing adventures. These might include –

A handy fish measuring ruler on the paddle shaft. This is great for snapping a quick photo without the need to produce another tool. But you should still check out this article on the best fishing multi tools, anyway.

Integrated line hooks on the blade can be useful for retrieving line, lures, hooks, or anything else that’s out of reach.

Serrated, or reinforced edges can help with pushing your craft away from obstacles and hazards.

Some paddles even incorporate a safety whistle – which is a nice touch.

And when you start getting into the higher-end paddles, they’re going to offer you all kinds of extras when it comes to aerodynamics, start talking about dihedrals, and minimizing wind-resistance through your paddle stroke.

Unless you’re looking for premium features, or you want to be a tournament pro, none of this is really necessary, and most casual paddlers won’t notice that much of a difference, anyway.

Cost

Much like kayaks, the cost of the paddles can vary wildly. You can buy some products that are more expensive than the kayaks themselves. Check out this review on the best budget fishing kayaks to see what I mean.

When it comes to your budget, you should consider your own experience and your skill level. Also, think about how often you’re actually going to be using it.

There’s no point dropping $500 on a paddle if you’ve never been kayaking before, and you only go out once or twice a year.

Having said that, if you know this is a sport/pastime you’ll enjoy for years to come, it’s much better to bite the bullet now and buy the best you can afford.

It will save you money in the long run when you don’t need to upgrade every year.

There’s one final caveat here though. Just because a paddle is super-expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “the best.” It’s all about what’s going to be “the best” for you.

Extra tips

I heartily recommend improving your paddle technique before you splash out on a top-of-the-range paddle, because money can’t buy experience.

It doesn’t matter how good the paddle is if you’re not competent at using it, so if you need to brush up on your stroke, don’t be afraid to seek help from paddle sport clubs, or online resources.

It’s also a good idea to wear a pair of quality fishing gloves, as they’ll not only protect your hands from sharp objects, hooks, and fins, but they can help prevent paddle blisters, too.

And seriously consider using a paddle strap – especially if you’ve just spent a small fortune on a new paddle. The last thing you want is to see it go floating off down the river.

Finally, never venture out onto the water without a personal flotation device – and you can try these fishing PFDs that also provide extra storage room for tackle and gear when you’re already short on space.

man wearing life jacket and fishing on a kayak in the sea

FAQs

What is the best kayak paddle for fishing?

This is an interesting question, because the “best kayak paddle” doesn’t exist – and it never will – for fishing or any other type of kayak-related activity.

It all depends on what is best for you. Each individual paddler is going to be different.

Having said that, there are obviously some paddles out there that are better than others and more suitable for the type of fishing and kayaking you want to do.

Do your research, check reviews, watch some videos, enjoy the experience. Like Arthur was drawn to Excalibur – the right paddle will find you in time.

What length paddle should I get for my kayak?

It depends on how tall you are, what you’re comfortable with and how wide your kayak is. Wider kayaks are going to need longer paddles.

The same can be said for taller kayakers – the taller you are, the longer the paddle will need to be.

Check with the paddle manufacturer you’re interested in to see their specific sizing guide.

When in doubt, you could always choose a paddle that has an adjustable length – which is often the preferred method for kayak anglers, anyway.

Is a longer kayak paddle better?

Not necessarily. It’s true that you can go further and faster with a longer paddle, but if it’s too long for you then you’re soon going to tire.

Again, suit the length of the kayak to your height and the kayak’s width – and you won’t go far wrong.

What happens when you use too long of a paddle for kayaking?

You’ll end up over-exerting yourself, fatigue will set in, and you’ll spend much less time out on the water doing what you love than you originally wanted.

Is carbon paddle worth it?

Yes, definitely, 100%.

Of course, you’re going to be spending a lot more money for this kind of tech, but when it comes to kayak paddles – the lighter, the better.

And you can’t get much better than paddles made from carbon.

That said, you should really only be spending top dollar if you’re regularly paddling, traveling longer distances, and/or more experienced.

Fiberglass and composite paddles can be used as good – for a fraction of the price.

Does paddle weight make a difference?

Very much so. Lighter paddles are going to be easier to use through the paddle stroke, and will reduce fatigue significantly over the course of your time out on the water.

How do you pick a fishing kayak paddle?

Take your own height and the width of your kayak into consideration, decide what kind of stroke angle you prefer in order to choose the blade shape, and then whether you need extras like tape measures or retrieval hooks built-in.

After that, your biggest decision might just be what color it’s going to be.

Summary

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of kayak paddles on the market, and choosing the right one can be a real challenge.

The best paddles for kayak fishing should help you pilot your craft, provide some useful fishing-friendly-features, and give you more time to actually catch the critters in the first place.

I hope this article has helped sort the wheat from the chaff, and you at least have a better understanding of what you look for.

Let me know which paddle you’ve gone for and why.

Happy paddling!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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