For those who prefer to paddle, there are plenty of options regarding boats, and paddles too. The Old Town Sportsman series has several models that are paddle- driven only, yet still offer ample customization options. Most would agree the paddle option reaches deep into the organic roots of kayak fishing, and those who prefer that method of propulsion will go out of their way to find the most technologically advanced—or traditional—paddle on the market. And as you’d expect paddles are not all created equal. Ultimately, it comes down to comfort and the required effort to get from here to there.
If you will be paddling consistently, investing in a quality carbon- fiber shaft paddle ($150-$300) is very much worth it. After a few long trips, the 6 to 12 ounces of weight savings over cheaper aluminum paddles will be much appreciated. Optimal paddle length—measured in centimeters—is basically determined by your height, but boat width must also be considered. Manufacturers offer sizing charts, but it’s wise to discuss your objectives with an informed salesperson at a local kayak shop. “High-angle” blade styles, with broad faces to generate thrust, are commonly used with heavy fishing kayaks, but there may be an argument for other types, depending on your mission.