By Neil Taylor
The Werner line of paddles are produced by a company that is, quite literally, an industry leader. That is just a plain fact. I have been using kayaks for fishing for going on 16 years now. A majority of that time I have been using nothing but Werner products. Handcrafted in the United States, they have been making paddles since 1965. At my affiliate shop, I had my choice of whatever they carry to use for myself and my clients. I was encouraged to try the Werner Skagit and it has been the paddle I have handed to my clients ever since.
Some of the Werner story: “There was no big plans to build a business… it all started as a way for the family to spend quality time together in the outdoors. With money tight and equipment generally not available, I decided to experiment with making equipment myself. I learned everything I could about fiberglass and building kayaks and soon the entire family was involved. Martha, my wife, even made our life jackets. I applied my experience as a professional engineer working with water turbines and theories about the effect of water flowing around obstacles to different paddle shapes… always keeping in mind efficient water flow off the paddle and that a good paddle should move effortlessly through the water. With the 1972 Olympics in his site, my son Werner Jr., set out to support his Olympic dream by building and selling our paddle designs. It wasn’t long before individuals and specialty kayak shops were asking for Werner’s paddles by name. “
My “everyday” paddle for almost ten years, Skagit FG IM , a majority of my former clients that become kayak anglers buy the Skagit because that is what they used with me.
The design of the blade is a basic, narrow form. The weight of the entire paddle is The bright yellow blade is great for visibility and signaling. It is lightweight and low maintenance.
The paddle is offered in length of 220, 230 and 240. The 230 is going to be the choice for almost everyone. The 240 is going to be a better choice for the people who are significantly over 6 feet tall. The two-piece paddle breaks down easier with a simple operation button for different feathering angle choices.
I have owned around 30 Skagits during this time span and I have little doubt, if I kept the ones I had originally, they would still be in use. I had one break in that entire time. I believe it probably occurred because I dropped something on the shaft of that paddle, certainly not a factory defect.
That is a great track record for equipment that is used heavily week after week. This is from their web site on their warranty policy: “Werner Paddles are warranted to be free from defects in material and workmanship for one year from the date of purchase. Within the warranty period, all paddles found to have defects will be repaired or replaced at no charge.”
The general feeling I have always had with the Skagit is of comfort and great performance. It is that perfect price range, value for the feel and durability. Other paddles I used in the beginning of my kayak years were much heavier and they gave me blisters or callouses. The Skagit feels good in the hands and enters and exits the water with ease. You can buy that $50 paddle and suffer or you can invest in the Skagit, at around $120 to $130 and you have something that you will enjoy.
Want a wider blade instead? Try the Tybee. Identical otherwise to the Skagit in design and durability, the Tybee had a wider blade.
If you have a decision to make on a paddle for your fishing kayak: If you have the chance to try out any Werner product, do so. For general uses with a kayak, the Skagit is going to be a choice you will be glad you made.
Neil Taylor is on the Werner pro paddling team, guide and owner at www.strikethreekayakfishing.com and the owner of www.capmel.com. He is also the host of the Captain Mel Classic. Werner has been added as a 2014 sponsor of the Classic.