Showing posts with label bending branches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bending branches. Show all posts

Review: Bending Branches Angler Pro Paddle

Known as the engine of a kayak, the paddle plays a more important role than most people realize. Having used several different types of paddles over the last 11 years, I have discovered what I like and what I don't like, what I need and what I don't need. The Bending Branches Angler Pro meets a great deal of paddlers' needs and wants. As always though, I have a few suggestions.

The Good

I have the 240cm Angler Pro with the sea green blades. I chose the sea green, which is more like a chartreuse, for visibility and in that area it does wonderfully. Even in low light conditions the blade sticks out on the landscape especially when slicing through the air.

Sunset and the AP still bright

The fiberglass blades and carbon shaft measure in at 30 ounces which is even lighter than it sounds. Coming from a Carlisle Magic that was over 36 ounces, this was a big change. At 30 ounces, fatigue is greatly reduced but that's not the end of it. To get maximum efficiency, you have to have a tough rigid blade that can move water. The 104 square inches of surface area on the blade is the reason. For mid to high angle paddlers this is going to be very important to maximum your paddle stroke. After several miles my shoulders still feel pretty good and I can make better progress into a stiff headwind. The Angler Pro really shines in every day use and paddles under six miles. Since most paddlers are mid to high angle, this paddle fits the bill for a great majority of the population.

Needs Improvement

My greatest fear in going to a paddle with fiberglass blades was shattering it on the rocks pushing off. I can say it has not done that. I've been as rough or rougher with it than all the other paddles I've used and it has done wonderfully. The one fall back you get is a little bit of "fuzziness" on the edges and a couple of small chips. After almost five months and a dozen trips, the fiberglass is starting to feather just a very little bit on the edges. Bending Branches makes a product to help with this called Rockgard that is applied to the wooden paddles. A version of this for the fiberglass paddles would be great!

Some fuzziness on the edges and a couple of small chips

The other glaring issue is weight. Another manufacturer is selling a paddle that is 7 ounces lighter. While higher in price (about $150 more), anglers and paddlers both understand that a long day on the water demands light and efficient. An even lighter version of the Angler Pro called something like the Angler Air or the Bending Branches Whisp would be beneficial. Something lighter than 25 ounces can be the difference between six miles and 10 miles at the end of the day.

Final Thoughts

I do love this paddle. Do I wish it were lighter? Sure but I also wish my bank account were more full but in both situations, I am thankful for what I have. This is a tremendous upgrade for most folks. The Angler Pro retails at $300 and comes with camo or sea green blades. Check it out at your local paddle shop today!

Going to work!

My Personal Christmas Wish List

I am all for charity, giving and the true meaning of Christmas. Tis the season to help another out and good will toward men. Right now though, I am going to give in to my own wants and needs. Give me five minutes to get this out of my system and then I promise, I'll go back to picking out some Toys for Tots for the Santa Claus Classic (which is a cool benefit tourney on Lady Bird Lake I'll be fishing with Robert Field this weekend).

I've made lots of lists of cool gadgets, kayaks, accessories and more. Some of the stuff on the lists I already have and some of it just doesn't really work for how and where I fish. It does work for the masses though, thus, the lists.

Today I wanted to publish my personal wish list. One thing per category. Chances are I won't get any of this stuff but looking to the future, this is what I am looking at. I definitely wouldn't be heart broken if some of this showed up. Keep in mind this is MY list. That being said, I'd love to hear what's on YOUR list. So Little Drummer Boy slap me down a drum roll cause here we go:


Leverage Landing Net-Kayak Model- $69

 I need one of these. I have two nets and they both are too small and not long enough. This net would handle both of those problems.


Hydrowave Mini- $139

If it gets me just one more cull fish per tournament, that pays for itself in a couple of weeks, if not just one.
It runs on a 9V so I don't even have to splice it in. Sweet!


Bending Branches Angler Pro- $299

Since going back to paddle yaks, I need a better engine (paddle). This would be a great edition without completely emptying the bank account. It would make a good dent though.


Bomber Gear Blitz Splash Top- $100

You have to take the cold weather seriously. I have plenty of summer gear but my winter gear is sparse to say the least. Be comfortable AND dry? Yes please.


Wilderness Systems Commander 140- $1049

I have my two Malibu Kayaks which I really enjoy but for those brutally cold days I would love to own one of these. Being able to stay dry, stand and fish, as well as being a breeze to load and unload are just a few of the reasons this made my wish list. When I think stable, dry and easy to load/unload, I think Commander 140.

Fishing Bait

Hag's Tornado Baits- $4

Look, I know I am constantly talking about Hag's but these are my favorite baits in the world. I go through F4 and F8 Tornados in Watermelon Chartreuse like it's my one and only job. I do throw other baits but I haven't been on a fishing trip in several years where I haven't thrown a Hag's. Ask anyone who has fished with me what I throw. They'll agree. You can buy me as many of these as you can afford. They will get used. I promise. Top three colors for me: Watermelon Chartreuse, Purple Haze, Hag's Secret.

So that's it. Sure a lot of these items are pricey. Remember that part where i said, "Chances are I won't get any of this stuff but looking to the future, this is what I am looking at"? That's why. If they were all $20, I'd probably have them by now. Except the Hag's. I'll never have enough of those.

What's on your list for Santa? Dream big! You never know what might show up at your door. :)

Also, note to Santa, most of these things can be found at or (Mariner Sails and HOOK1). Thanks big guy!

Paddles: How Do I Choose?!?

One of the first questions a first time kayak owner asks is " What paddle should I get?".
"I could tell you but it probably wouldn't be right" or some variant is usually my answer. The problem is not every paddler has the same boat, do the same things, are the same height and have the same financial resources. A few resources exist but usually it is a recommendation or a price point that causes a new kayak owner to buy the paddle they get.
Folks, this is the engine to your kayak! Please choose wisely or we might end up seeing you taking a bath on your purchase as it withers away on Do you know how hard it is to recoup your money on a Pelican kayak on CL? Better luck in Vegas.
The paddle can make or break the experience but it is often thought of as, well, an afterthought.
I'll tackle a few tips and techniques for choosing a paddle here but the important thing is, go try one in the water. Places like Austin Canoe & Kayak  have a demo day coming up September 15th. Go try one after you narrow it down. It will be well worth it.
This is done from a fisherman's perspective but can also apply to touring kayaks and general recreation.

Length: Paddle length is tricky but maybe this will help. Find a paddle at a shop and stand with it at your side vertically. Now reach up with one hand and curl your fingers around the top of the blade. If the paddle hits you in the palm, it's probably a bit short. If you can't reach the end, too tall. But hang on! Keep reading. Take into consideration the width of your kayak. If you are in a boat wider than 26" you need to bump up a size. Paddles are typically measured in centimeters and range from 210cm-240cm and usually by 10cm increments. At 6'2", I need a 230cm paddle, (monkey arms, I know), but I also paddle two wider kayaks at 31" and 36" so a 240cm is really best so I don't spend all day playing the drums on the side of my yak with my new paddle.

Blade Style: There are basically four categories of blades. You have wide and flat blades, narrow and flat blades, wide and scooped/winged blades, and narrow and scooped/winged. Variations are all over the board for these but two things are needed to decide properly. The wide blades are going to give you more power. They move more water and can allow you to turn faster, accelerate in choppy water better and fight the weather. These work great for fishermen because of their versatility. They also work better in wider boats, which are typically heavier and require more to move them. Narrow blades are more efficient. If you are paddling more than 2-3 miles in a day you might think about this option. Just understand if you are in a big, heavy, wide kayak, the advantage of the more efficient paddle is nullified. The decision about a flat blade versus scooped/winged blade is up to you. Sides are split as to added efficiency etc. I will say however that a flat blade is typically more durable for fishermen when used as an alternative to a push pole.

Material: Blades and shafts can be made of aluminum, plastic, carbon fiber, fiberglass, wood and a host of blends. Carbon fiber is lighter and can reduce weight for a long day on the water but if you are fishing oyster beds or rip rap it can make your paddle into splinters if you aren't careful. At this point let me say, I would recommend if you are buying a carbon fiber paddle, invest in a push pole or backup paddle so you don't cry when it breaks. And it will break if you abuse it. Aluminum and plastic are durable but usually heavy. These are also cheaper alternatives and what most folks will be using on the water. Nothing wrong with that! Just understand you will work harder throughout a day than you would with a carbon.

Weight: Since we are talking about it above let's continue here. Typical paddle weight is between 20-40oz. It doesn't seem like a ton of range but after a few thousands strokes, your shoulders and back will let you know the difference. I recommend the lightest, most durable paddle you can find for you situation. Durability and light are usually not synonymous so this is a decision that needs to be weighed carefully.

Cost: So many variables exist when you talk cost. All of the things mentioned above will play into it. Paddles range from $29 to infinity. There is a huge difference between that Academy $29 paddle and a $199 paddle from a name brand. There is much less difference between a $200 paddle and a $700 paddle as far as performance, materials etc go. The sweet spot for a very nice paddle is usually from $149-$229. This isn't in everyone's budget so buy accordingly.

Shaft Style: I won't spend much time on this but the new line of thinking is that a bent shaft puts less torque on the wrist and arms throughout the day, especially for inexperienced paddlers. A straight shaft works for most folks.

Brands: If you spend your time on the clearance aisle, some of these may be new to you. Check out the full line at places like Austin Canoe and Kayak, Colorado Kayak Supply and others. Some names you should know are Werner, Bending Branches, Aqua Bound, AT, and Carlisle.

That's about it. I've poured it all onto paper for you so now you just have to try one or twelve. Find a demo day and go. You can thank me later.