Kayak Paddle Feathering: What is It and Why does it Matter?

“What is paddle feathering?” That’s a question we get all the time. If you’ve been wondering what paddle feathering is and why it matters, here are the basics…

What is Paddle Feathering?

Feathering a kayak paddle simply means you adjust the ferrule on the shaft so the blades are at an angle to each other rather than straight (as in the photo above).

(The ferrule is where the two pieces of the kayak paddle come together in the middle of the shaft.)

If you have a snap-button ferrule, your feathering options are limited to the angles allowed by the holes. Aqua Bounds’ snap-button ferrules offer 0º and 60º angles. This is the type of ferrule system you’ll see on the most affordable paddles.

Ferrules like the patented Posi-Lok Ferrule System give you unlimited feathering angles for the ultimate in customization. A high-quality ferrule system will allow you to change feathering angles easily while you’re out in the water. 

Why Does Feathering Matter?

Feathering your kayak paddle is really a matter of personal choice. Some paddlers feather and some don’t. Here are the most common reasons for feathering:

  • When it’s windy and the wind is at your face, you can feather your paddle and adjust your wrists so the blade that’s out of the water is flat instead of broadside to the wind. You’ll notice less wind resistance. On the other hand, if the wind’s at your back, you may want the wind to catch your blade since it’ll push you forward a bit with each stroke. So in that case, don’t feather.
  • In high-angle paddling, many paddlers find feathering is easier on their wrists for long days of touring or fishing. This is something you’ll want to experiment with. Try it and see how it works for you. If you have unlimited feathering options, try different angles and see what you like.
  • Feathering could give you a slight edge in paddling speed if speed and efficiency is important—say in racing or a fishing tournament.

Whether you feather your paddle or not isn’t a right-or-wrong choice, but a preference. Many kayak paddles have adjustable ferrules that permit the paddler to adjust the feathering on-the-fly to fit the specific situation. Most kayak paddles today can be feathered between 15 and 60 degrees. 60 is most typical, except for whitewater paddlers, who usually use 30 to 45 degrees because of the rough conditions they face. Experiment the next time you’re out in your kayak. Try feathering in different conditions and see if it helps you. Try different angles if your ferrule system allows for it.

It’s all about enjoying the time in your kayak on the water!

Please call our Wisconsin-based Customer Service if you have more questions about kayak paddle feathering: 715-755-3405

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