I have always used the following pitch when someone asks about a bent shaft paddle:

  • If you have wrist/joint issues use a bent shaft
  • If you have an extra $100 to spend, a bent shaft is for you
  • If it feels good in your hands when you pick it up, definitely buy one.

Having neither wrist issues, nor an extra $100 burning a hole in my pocket, I just never really even gave second thought to my own personal paddle. I survived the drama of switching from a wooden paddle to a synthetic. That was enough “modern” for me…until I made the mistake of testing out one of our AT paddles…..

We brought in AT last year after being “sold” on AT by so many of our paddling friends (as well as noticing the number of illuminaries out there using AT).  Last month my curiosity got the best of me and on a play day on the Ocoee I decided to take one of our AT’s to try out (I did stop long enough to get Steve’s guarantee that switching to a bent shaft would not be so weird that I ended up needing a bow rescue! He promised).

Verdict: It just felt good in my hands.  I am a strong proponent of an indexed paddle (oval shaft at the control hand) and the AT is nicely indexed.  Going from 45-degree to 30-degree took about ten minutes of fussing to get used to (we are talking a mere 15-degrees). And whether it was the bent shaft or the off-set, bow draw combo strokes felt smoother.  I went home and consulted with Steve on which paddle was best for me.  He steered me towards the AT2 flexi because of my history with wooden shafts (and because he wanted to see my store tab more than his for once!).

How to Hold a Paddle

Holding a Bent Shaft Paddle

Holding a Bent Shaft Paddle

One of the struggles we have always had with folks going to bent shaft was that they did not know how to correctly hold the paddle to take advantage of the ergonomic benefits of the shaft.  So I went to Craig and asked him to help put into words some do’s and don’ts about how to hold a paddle—straight or bent.  Read on for Craig’s input……