Are you in the market for a new paddle to get you into uncharted waters? We took this roundup of paddles for anglers to the Madison River in Montana for a river-based test.
A paddle that will work hard is imperative. That’s especially true if you plan on spending hours on the water finding unpressured fishing holes. And the real gem is a paddle that does all that without sacrificing durability or function.
So to really find the best options, we put some paddle contenders to the test on the fast-moving water of Montana’s Madison River. The river proved a great platform to push these paddles as hard as we wanted to see if they lived up to their hype.
The Best Fishing Kayak Paddles
Paddle styles and types saturate the market, so choosing the right one can be difficult. A paddle that the angler is comfortable and confident in can change an average day into an epic one without the energy expenditure.
We tested all four of these paddles on open water with experienced anglers, and all passed our durability and functionality test with flying colors. The option is up to you for preferred construction materials and cost. Hopefully, this will make your choice a little easier.
Bending Branches Angler Classic: $140
The Angler Classic is properly named with a sturdy fiberglass shaft weighing in at 34 ounces. A three-hole adjustment allows the paddles to be adjusted from 0 to 60 degrees. There is also a convenient tape measure that runs the middle of the paddle for early measurements on any catch.
The paddle shafts are reinforced with fiberglass for extra strength and sport a hook retrieval system on the right paddle to grab any tangled line. This paddle can be found in 220-, 230-, 240-, 250-, and 260-cm sizes to ensure an optimal fit.
Bending Branches Angler Classic Review
On the water, this paddle gave me full control of my inflatable craft. The strong shaft and paddle combination was great for the varied water depths. A stout shaft design felt great against the current with no give, and the three-hole adjustment provided the paddles a different feel as we changed our direction mid-trip.
The sleek paddle moves water and allows for a maximal glide. Its fiberglass shaft was sturdy through fast waters and felt great in hand. And the stout design gives the angler solid control. Overall, a robust paddle that allows for navigation in any adversity, from tree branches to rocky shorelines, this paddle handled everything we threw at it.
Bending Branches Angler Ace Plus: $215
A similar design to the Angler Classic with a carbon-fiber twist. With the same tape measure between paddles and hook retrieval system in the blade, the Angler Ace weighs in at 31 ounces. With a very similar design to the Angler Classic, the three-hole shaft adjustment allows for adjustments from 0 to 60 degrees. To match the carbon fiber shaft, carbon-reinforced nylon blades finish this smooth design.
Angler Ace comes in 220-, 230-, 240-, 250-, and 260-cm sizes. And the “PLUS” allows for adjustments between 230-245 cm and 240-255 cm for an array of anglers.
Bending Branches Angler Ace Plus Review
The Angler Ace’s lighter shaft doesn’t compromise the functionality of the paddle. Strong and durable, this carbon-fiber paddle felt great in hand. Ideal for anyone looking to spend a long, strenuous day on the water, the lightweight design saved some wear and tear on my back and arms throughout the day.
The lighter shaft allowed for ease of use but did not compromise its sturdiness to the fiberglass counterparts. Another adjustment with the three-hole shaft came in handy, giving me the ability to adjust the angles of the paddle without sacrificing the function or mobility midday.
This lightweight design feels much like the Angler Classic and sacrifices zero of its durability with the lighter shaft. The hook retrieval system also comes in handy when reaching for stray lines snagged on the shoreline. In fast-moving water, this lightweight shaft allowed for quick adjustments on the fly.
Carlisle Predator Fiberglass Angler Paddle: $77-138
The Carlisle Predator is a sturdy, eye-catching paddle. This paddle is constructed with a lightweight fiberglass shaft and weighs in at 39.8 ounces.
Accompanying the lightweight fiberglass shaft are asymmetrical, lightweight, glass-reinforced polypropylene blades. These blades come in two variations of urban camo that give the Predator a unique and appealing look. The predator can be found in 220-, 230-, 240-, and 250cm sizes.
Carlisle Predator Review
On the water, this paddle is a brute. The Predator allowed for direction change quickly and provided confidence against any rock foes we came across. The glass-reinforced polypropylene blades seem to be nearly indestructible and felt great against the current. This, in combination with the fiberglass shaft, gave me the full confidence to take on any part of the Madison.
This paddle has a no-nonsense approach and is ready to go as soon as it touches the water. The stout construction gives the angler great control and maneuverability on the water without sacrificing weight or durability. These paddles feel great moving large amounts of water, helping any angler get into holes others may not venture.
Backwater Assassin Carbon Fiber Hybrid Paddle: $249
The Backwater Assassin gives a gnarly first impression with its serrated edge. The patented “hook and teeth” design allows for a better response from the paddle through any water. This full-sized paddle is the predecessor of the famous Assault Hand Paddle and weighs in at 38 ounces and 42 ounces for its two sizes. Constructed with a stout carbon hybrid shaft, this paddle is the real deal. Two adjustable lengths are available: 230-240 cm and 250-260 cm.
The Assassin lives up to the hype in design and function. The serrated edges give the angler ultimate control in the water. An oversized, ABS-injected nylon blade ensures maximum durability. This paddle has an oversized hook on the right paddle, making retrieval of snagged lines or runaway decoys a breeze.
Backwater Assassin Review
The design allowed for comfort during both high- and low-angle rowing. The oversized paddles felt great in fast-moving water and provided maximal control in the current. Its noticeably sturdy paddle construction allowed us to utilize the Assassin in a multitude of ways with no question on durability. As we dug our paddles in and pushed offshore, the “hook and teeth” design truly held up to any debris we came across.
This rugged, serrated paddle is everything it claims to be. The patented serrated edges gave us control maneuvering away from the dock or through rocky river bottoms.