Monday, July 10, 2017

Review - The New Bending Branches Angler Pro Kayak Fishing Paddle

One of the cool things about having a blog is every now and then I get the chance to do a product review.  A few months back, the crew at Bending Branches asked for feedback on their new 2017 Angler Pro kayak fishing paddle.  I purchased my first Bending Branches paddle in 2010 and it’s still in service today.  Naturally with that kind of durability, I was excited for the opportunity to give them honest feedback.  Especially after learning it's being sold at a lower price point.  Yep, they’ve made improvements without raising the price.  That never happens!

The new "Raptor" color.

One of the things I respect is that these paddles are made in the USA.  You can actually walk up and shake hands with the person who made your paddle…maybe not the actual person, but definitely someone from the factory.  In June, I did just that while traveling through Wisconsin.  I made a phone call first because, well, a random dude showing up outside your office makes people uncomfortable.  Also, while seeing the factory is cool, I really wanted someone to show me some good spots to fish. 

Not only was the fishing terrific that week (Read about it here), I also learned how the entire process works from start to finish.  Disclaimer, my wife explained it to me later because I was busy talking to Bill from Branches about the fishing.  However, I do remember seeing the three sweet color options available and something about “lean manufacturing” and how every Angler Pro is made to order.  Meaning when an order is placed, the paddle is made and shipped soon after.  There’s no standing inventory to pull from which is important because that new paddle you just purchased is literally a new paddle.  It hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse for a year waiting to be sold. 

Bill with the new "Radiant" color option.

The next afternoon, I put the new Angler Pro in my hands for the first time and was instantly impressed.  I didn’t have the specs at the time but I did have my earlier version of the same paddle to compare.  The prior version is 30 oz and the new version felt lighter.  You can see from the picture that the blade has also been redesigned.  Full specs are included below. 
The new Angler Pro is slightly shorter

Slightly wider

New ridge down the center creates rigidity and directs  water over the surface of the blade.

 I’m sure someone vaguely familiar with fluid dynamics can offer a better explanation but all I have is that the blade sliced through the water so easily and silently, I had to do the Aaron Rodgers “Discount Double Check” more than once to be sure it was actually in the water.  At least that’s how my kayak angler mind explained the feeling in my hands.  The new Angler Pro was a joy to paddle because it felt like I was moving water without the normal resistance or sound that happens when you pull a blunt object through water. 

Mile 7 on the Buffalo National River.  

Fatigue and discomfort are two things that can have a negative impact on your outing.  After a month of regular use, I’ve yet to experience any shoulder soreness or develop any blisters.  The Angler Pro comes with an oval shaped carbon fiber shaft that offers both, comfort and a solid grip.  It has just enough flex to be forgiving on the elbows and wrists but doesn’t sacrifice responsiveness.  Rest assured when you need to move water, it will move water.

Buffalo National River

It’s still offered in the Plus Ferrule and Snap-Button Ferrule designs.  I prefer the plus because it can be adjusted from 240 cm to 255 cm with infinite feathering options which allows me to use it with several different kayaks.  For example, I use it at 255 cm when in my Jackson Kayak (JK) MayFly but like it slightly shorter at 245 cm when I’m paddling my JK Cuda 12.  Another advantage for those with children is it will grow with your young paddlers as they grow and change kayaks. 

My daughters on one of many trips this summer

Recently my family paddled 9-miles on the Buffalo National River.  My 10-year-old daughter paddled her JK Skipper the entire trip using the new Angler Pro and never complained.  The ability to adjust the paddle length, the light weight and the over-all comfort provided her with a great experience.  It was a proud moment for me and I think the paddle made a big difference.  We’re both looking forward to more paddling adventures together.

Whether you’re paddling several miles between fishing holes or just trying to get your kids more involved in the sport, this paddle should be at the top of your list.  The award-winning features that made the Former Angler Pro, YakAngler’s Kayak Fishing Paddle of the year from 2013-2016, have been improved.  The quality and performance that I’ve come to expect from Bending Branches is undeniable in the new, 2017 Angler Pro. 

2017 Bending Branches Angler Pro

New, lower price points! $299.95 (Snap) $324.95 (Plus)
New patterns: Dorado, Radiant, and Raptor
New lower weight: 28.5 oz
New oversized blade shape and profile
Available in lengths from 230-260cm in 10cm increments and in the Plus ferrule, 230-245cm or 240-255cm

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