Curved blade versus flat blade

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UKnutter
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Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by UKnutter » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:32 pm

I was introduced to a flat paddle when I was learning to paddle traditional canoes and never really liked the feel of a curved blade. I still paddle my traditional canoe but also have a Wheelboy and a Prelude. I still use a flat bladed paddle. Am I missing out by still using a flat blade with these boats?

Is there a real advantage to using a curved blade that so many of you use? More power, better catch?

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by milkman » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:47 pm

With no degree I can claim in fluid dynamics or any other relevant field of study, my personal experience is that curved blades do provide better catch and thus more power in the early part of the stroke. Since in whitewater paddling it's often important to have quick, explosive power in a single stroke, I think a curved blace helps. I've also started preferring paddles that have blades that are wide at the bottom of the blade. This helps provide the maximum amount of catch and power in the early part of the stroke.

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by BobH » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:06 pm

Jim Snider wrote an article about this years ago.
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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by thomsonbytheriver » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:24 pm

Let me preface this by seconding Jim Snyder's thoughts on the matter. I've recently switched to a curved blade after 3 decades with a flat blade. I can tell you this- if you're learning to roll a canoe, do yourself a favour and use a flat blade. The power you gain in the catch is equally, (or even moreso) lost in the brace. If you rely on your brace alot, consider a flat blade. On the other hand, if you want to learn to rely less on your blade and moreso on 'cleaning' through moves with body positioning, timing and snap, then try a curved blade. It'll push you in the right direction.

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by boatbuster » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:36 pm

It is all personal preference, like so many choices in paddling. So whatever you like best!

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by jakke » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:37 pm

thomsonbytheriver wrote:Let me preface this by seconding Jim Snyder's thoughts on the matter. I've recently switched to a curved blade after 3 decades with a flat blade. I can tell you this- if you're learning to roll a canoe, do yourself a favour and use a flat blade. The power you gain in the catch is equally, (or even moreso) lost in the brace. If you rely on your brace alot, consider a flat blade. On the other hand, if you want to learn to rely less on your blade and moreso on 'cleaning' through moves with body positioning, timing and snap, then try a curved blade. It'll push you in the right direction.
That's a stout statement! There are paddles with a curved blade, where you can hardly tell the difference between the sides, if you paddle blindly. True, some designs compensate a super catch in the active side with a real sloppy backface. But Some paddles (profiplast air, Galasport Demon, to name 2), have a great backface as well.

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by ezwater » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:27 pm

I've been relying on curved blades since the latter 90s. I can't detect any weakness in low brace support or in rolling with my Mitchell or Clinch River curved blades. When sculling or executing compound strokes, curved blades do not feel unbalanced or asymmetrical.

Some flat blade designs are very good (Mitchell), but most really good paddle makers have learned to make curved blades with wonderful handling characteristics.

I've heard that some people are concerned about losing their grip, and then not knowing whether they have a curved blade paddle gripped properly. Just take off the standard grip, and put on one that is asymmetrical, more comfortable, more consistent with offside complex strokes, and that gives clear, no-sight cues as to whether you are gripping it properly.

I can't speak for over-the-counter curved blade designs, even Werner. Mitchell and Galasport are safe purchases. Clinch River would be too, except that Bailey only goes into production when the sunspot cycle is right.

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by KNeal » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:30 am

My personal experience is that the manufactured blade is what makes the difference. I've been using a Mitchell slalom (curved) blade for about a decade and can roll just fine with it (with few exceptions so don't EVER call me on that :evil: ). I've had difficulty with other blades like the waterstick that became popular several years back. I do like the Mitchell curved blade because it does have good catch and, very important, it slices through the water with no vibrations/fluttering. Weight is decent and the wood blade/composite shaft combination keeps the paddle from being to hard on my "Team Old Guy" joints and tendons.

See if you can try out other canoe paddles.
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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by pblanc » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:17 am

I don't think you are missing out on anything earth-shattering. The paddles that I have and use that have a curved blade are the Werner Bandit, the Aqua Bound Edge, and the ZRE Power Curve. I have also used a Mitchell Premier curved blade briefly.

I think the difference between these paddles and straight bladed paddles of similar quality are subtle, but I would agree that they seem to allow for a bit more solid catch and a little smoother water entry at the plant. I have not noticed any particular tendency for these to result in a weaker low brace.

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by iRolled » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:47 am

I like em curvy.

Better catch, stroke, rudder & slice.

I recommend something something with an aluminum tip if you're on rocky rivers or creeks.
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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by eddyhops » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:32 am

I didn't notice much going to a curved blade originally... I noticed a significant difference trying a straight blade after using curved a while.

In my opinion any negative effect on bracing/rolling/prying/ruddering is negligible.

Curved blades for me.
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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by edg » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:44 am

Oddly, I've used high end composite curved blades for years, and recently switched to a borrowed all wood, straight Mitchell, due to some lingering shoulder issues. I can't really tell any real difference in effectiveness rolling, bracing, or in compound strokes, and while there may be some slight loss of "oomph" at the initial catch, to me it feels pretty minor. The all wood layup, and softer catch of the flat blade seem to have helped the shoulder (although it could also be the shorter length) and I strongly doubt the that my hack level of racing, the change will add up to even a seconds worth of difference. I keep telling myself that high kneel flatties still use flat blades, so the power must be there, I just have to find it. ...edg

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by mahyongg » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:32 pm

Just a thought re: the high kneel flatties, it might be that on flatwater the turbulence introduced by the blade itself is lower with a flat/straight blade while a curved blade does indeed put the water in motion, so the catch could be better with the flat blade. But unless anyone does actually do some fluid dynamic research of paddle blades at one point (I haven't heard of any.. its all heuristics) we'll keep guessing, I guess .. ;D

I paddle curved, and have not felt the need for a better backside/brace stroke. Like forward strokes as braces more than actual low braces or something.. and for that matter, if you scull you can basically make enough pressure to walk around on your blade.. if you just push down on the blade, well that's something entirely different ;D

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by riverratNE » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:21 pm

mahyongg wrote:Just a thought re: the high kneel flatties, it might be that on flatwater the turbulence introduced by the blade itself is lower with a flat/straight blade while a curved blade does indeed put the water in motion, so the catch could be better with the flat blade. But unless anyone does actually do some fluid dynamic research of paddle blades at one point (I haven't heard of any.. its all heuristics) we'll keep guessing, I guess .. ;D

I like flat edge blades for flatwater, because it is smoother going in and out of the water (it also depends on the boat). I love my werner bandit for whitewater, and I do think it catches better. I can't say with any authority about the bracing, rolling, etc.

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Re: Curved blade versus flat blade

Post by Randy Dodson » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:05 am

I remember Kent Ford once writing about the curved blade vs. flat blade

He said that he couldn't tell any difference when he started using the curved blade, but after using it for a while, he switched back to the flat blade and wondered where all his power had gone.

I use an all wood Echo Creekstick (curved blade) and love it but it never bothers me to go back to my old Werner Nantahala (flat blade) although I haven't done that in a long time. Maybe if I tried my flat blade tomorrow, I'd wonder where all my power went.
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