I quickly learned the importance of a quality paddle when I started putting in extensive hours and numerous miles on the water. My starter paddle got the job done for me at first, but an upgrade became unavoidable as time went on. After doing some homework, I purchased a Werner “Camano” and promptly became enamored with it. I not only thought it was very pretty, but it made my time on the water more enjoyable. My paddle strokes seemed smoother, easier, and more efficient. I have a low angle paddling style for the most part, so the Camano blade shape was just right.
My search for the right paddle was over, and I went on to spend the next two years thoroughly enjoying my Werner. With catching fish being of higher priority than taking the best care of my paddle, I admit that in the heat of doing battle with some gnarly fish, the paddle was banged around occasionally. I used it to push off various structures, including some barnacle encrusted pilings, but it has held up strong and sexy as ever. Yeah, that's right - I called my paddle sexy.
My decision stood unquestioned until I got a message from a very highly-respected kayak angler. He wanted to know if I had a paddle sponsor, and if not, I was welcome to join the company he was sponsored by. Until that moment, I had not thought about paddle sponsors. I didn't really care at first, but that message was a catalyst. The thought of sharing a sponsorship with some of the people I really look up to in the sport became exciting. Extensive research, testing of potential new paddles, phone calls looking for advice, all had me torn.
I sent Werner a message, but they could not reciprocate the same deal that the other company was willing to give me. Even with a good word put in by Cory Routh, Werner could only offer a partial regional team member status, with a chance to become a full team member later on. The other company was willing to give me full sponsorship immediately with two brand new paddles of my choice for free every year. For most, that is an easy choice. And to make it even easier, my research yielded a few paddles by the other company that had attributes very similar to my Camano. The cherry on top was that a few friends owned those exact paddles, and were willing to let me borrow and test them for a while. They were all in the same price range, weighed about the same, and felt very similar to the Camano. To tell you the truth, after testing them, I couldn’t really find anything wrong with these “new” paddles. So this really should be a “no-brainer”.
But the thing is, every time I picked up a different paddle, I wanted it to be my Werner. I don’t know whether it was small details that I couldn't pick out, or some big design thing that I'm totally missing. I just knew that if I went with the other company, I'd always be wishing that I was still paddling that Werner. And even though free would be great, it really comes down to my enjoyment on the water. That's what it's all about for me.
I'm sure those friends of mine who offered me the sponsorship and let me borrow their paddles know that I mean no disrespect by turning it down. But I also thank those of you who gave me great advice, like "Stay true to yourself," and "Go with the one you believe in."
My recap of 2011 and the rest of my blog will attest to how much time I've spent on the water with this Werner paddle. From ponds, rivers, inlets and the Chesapeake Bay, to mother-shipping forty miles out in the Gulf Stream, I have no doubt that it made each trip a little sweeter. I am proud to say that I'm a paddler just as much as I am a fisherman, and I love my Werner. Those whom I helped sway over the years towards getting one will attest their undying affection for their paddle, and I’ve not heard of any regrets. I'm sure we would all agree...
We can point out all the bells and whistles and rant about quality materials, workmanship, surface area, swing weights and paddle weights, various specifications, blah, blah blah... But in the end, we love it because it just feels right, it feels good.