Contributed by Scott Shaw
It was late spring 2014,when I was introduced to Kayak fishing by a good friend of mine. I had always fished from my grandfather’s boat or from shore. Not being able to afford the high price tag on a true bass boat along with all the required maintenance, I saw a kayak as a way for me to get out on the water for a reasonable cost. So a few weeks later I purchased my first entry level kayak an Ascend FS12T along with an entry level paddle. In the beginning I noticed my arms would be fatigued after a few short hours of paddling, I just figured I wasn’t used to paddling and that it would get better over time. Still after four or five months my arm would be fatigued, casting was harder and I just seemed to be using more energy than others I was fishing with. This is when I started doing some research on paddles and paying more attention to my strokes everywhere I went. About a month went by when I realized I was losing power in my strokes because the paddle I was using was flexing a lot at the mid section. Throughout my research I kept seeing the name bending branches come up under paddle searches, the reviews of their paddles on a handful of sites I visited were outstanding. So I decided it was time to upgrade my paddle, this was a sport that I could see myself doing for a long time and I needed to make sure I had a reliable, quality paddle that would not cause so much fatigue. The paddle I ended up purchasing was the Bending Branches Angler Classic Plus.
The Classic Plus I purchased had a telescoping ferrule that went from 240cm-255cm. For the width of my kayak this was perfect. One of the main reason I had chosen the Plus version of the Angler Classic versus the snap button ferrule was because I was still trying to figure out exactly what length I was comfortable paddling with. The Plus version allowed me to adjust the paddle to anything between a length of 240cm-255cm. For my Ascend kayak I ended up settling in somewhere around the 245cm mark. A few things I noticed right away while paddling with my new angler classic vs my old paddle was the lighter weight, the more comfortable feel in my hands and the power I seemed to get with every stroke yet didn’t have to use anymore effort. It only took me two to three trips fishing with this paddle to realise what I had been missing with the less expensive paddle. I finished the 2014 season with my angler classic and loved every minute of it.
In the winter of 2014 early 2015 I had decided I was going try my hand in some tournament fishing from my kayak. Having faith in both my kayak and new paddle I felt confident going into my first tournament season. I had my ups and down that season but my equipment didn’t let me down. Fast forward to late summer 2015. I had finished first place in an event(the highlight of that year) gaining a spot to the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship in early 2016. Flying high the rest of that season off the win, I was confident and thankful for the paddle choice I had made. Late fall 2015, on a cold brisk morning I decided to take my kayak out for one last rodeo before I had to put it up for the season and prepare for the 2016 NC. Only for that day to change my 2016 for good.
Got to the lake early that brisk morning and like always loaded my gear on the kayak and began to drag it to the lake like I had done in every outing I fished. After about a 1/8mi drag I launched the kayak, leaned over to the hatch to hook up my battery and realised something was wrong. There should not be this much water in my hatch already and rising. So I landed back on shore, removed my gear to realise I had warn a hole in the bottom of my keel. This day was over before it began. Now my dilemma, what do I do about the hole. Over a few weeks I went back and forth on what to do, how to patch it, do I patch it. When I finally came to my conclusion what I was going to purchase a new kayak instead. I would have to give up my trip to the 2016 National Championship but in the long run it would be worth it. So in march of 2016 I purchased a FeelFree Lure 11.5 a kayak a few of my friends had upgraded to the season before. This kayak was wider and more stable then the previous one but it was also a little higher and slower. Still fired up to start my 2016 season I prepped the new kayak and dove head first into the season.
A few months in, loving the new kayak, I started feeling similar fatigue and power loss while paddling. I decided it was time for an upgrade in paddles again to something a little lighter and strong. I upgraded to the Bending Branches Angler Ace Plus.
Keeping the a same plus system as my classic and the same length, this paddle was made of 100% carbon vs the fiberglass the classic was made from. Upgrading my paddle also allowed me to lose 4oz off the weight. 4oz doesn’t seem like much but after a full day of paddling it means alot. I finished my 2016 season with my Angler Ace Plus and again qualified for the 2017 KBF National Championship thru the Kayak Bass League where I finished 12th in the KBL Championship. When I qualified I told myself I’m going to make the Championship this time. Over the winter of 2016 I was honored to be accepted to the Bending Branches Ambassador Team. So I thought to myself, there is only one more paddle I can upgrade to and why not. So I decided to upgrade for the last time to a Angler Pro Plus paddle. This “Cadillac” of paddles is made from Aviation grade T-700 carbon making it the lightest paddle in the fishing class, weighing in at only 30oz. Another benefit to this paddle is the surface area of the blade. Going from 95 sq in on the classic and ace blades to 104 sq in on the Pro blade allows for more power with the same stroke.
After being accepted to the ambassador staff I have also learned a few more things about the plus ferrule vs the snap ferrule which have benefited me so far this season. One do to the telescoping function of the paddle I am able to adjust the length depend on what seat position I am in. If I lower my seat all the way down I can shrink the length to 240cm allowing me the same strokes with a less awkward length of my paddle. Once in the high position I can extend the paddle to 255cm for a more comfortable paddle at that height. I have also learned that the plus ferrule allows me to feather the blades either to the right or left(depending on preference) allowing the blade that’s not in the water to cut through the wind better saving paddle energy. Being able to feather the blades was a huge energy saver for me at the 2017 KBF National Championship and will continue to be all season long.
So whether you’re an entry level kayak angler or a seasoned one, look no further than Bending Branches for amazing kayak fishing paddles, not only for their quality in craftsmanship and reliability on the water but also for the piece of mind that you’re fishing the one of the best paddles on the market.