What Does Feathering Do Canoe?

Feathering is an essential technique that every canoeist should master. It refers to the angle at which the paddle blades are aligned during a stroke.

Feathering can greatly improve your paddling efficiency, reduce wind resistance, and prevent strain on your wrists and arms. In this article, we will explore the benefits of feathering and how to properly execute this technique.

The Benefits of Feathering

Feathering your paddle blades has several advantages:

  • Improved Efficiency: When you feather your paddle, one blade is positioned parallel to the water’s surface while the other blade cuts through the air. This reduces wind resistance and allows for a smoother stroke, resulting in increased efficiency.
  • Reduced Strain: Feathering helps to alleviate strain on your wrists and arms.By angling the paddle blades, you can minimize unnecessary twisting motions, preventing fatigue during long paddling sessions.
  • Better Control: Feathering provides better control in windy conditions. By aligning one blade with the wind, you can maintain a straighter course and prevent being blown off track.

How to Feather Your Paddle

Now that we understand the benefits of feathering, let’s learn how to execute this technique correctly:

Step 1: Find Your Natural Feather Angle

Your natural feather angle is the angle at which you feel most comfortable paddling. Start by positioning your hands shoulder-width apart on the shaft of your paddle with both blades aligned horizontally. Gradually rotate one wrist until you find a position that feels natural and comfortable for you.

Step 2: Adjust Your Paddle

To feather your paddle, you’ll need to adjust the position of the blades. Most modern canoe paddles come with adjustable ferrules that allow you to change the feather angle.

Loosen the ferrule and rotate one blade to match your natural feather angle. Tighten the ferrule securely to lock it in place.

Step 3: Practice Your Stroke

Once your paddle is properly feathered, it’s time to practice your stroke. Start by dipping one blade into the water and pulling it backward, maintaining a relaxed grip on the shaft.

As you reach the end of your stroke, twist your wrists slightly to align the blade parallel to the water’s surface. Repeat this motion on the other side, alternating strokes as you paddle forward.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Take some time to get comfortable with feathering and experiment with different feather angles until you find what works best for you.


Feathering is a valuable technique that can greatly enhance your canoeing experience. By reducing wind resistance, minimizing strain on your wrists and arms, and providing better control in windy conditions, feathering can make your paddling more efficient and enjoyable. So next time you hit the water, don’t forget to feather!

Photo of author

Emma Gibson