Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review - Back-up Paddles: Backwater Piranha vs Attwood Telescoping

Click any picture to enlarge

So, some guy "invents" a ping-pong paddle for kayakers.  Big deal . . .

That was my first impression when reading about Backwater Paddle Company's Predator and Piranha paddles.  Although, I liked the concept of using a short one-handed back up paddle to maneuver the kayak while holding a rod in the other hand, I just wasn't impressed.  Ed Halm did not create his paddles primarily for back up but they certainly will serve in that capacity and more.

Photo from Backwater Paddle Company

Photo from Backwater Paddle Company

We've all done it.

Used the paddle to push hard off an object, the paddle slips and we're then trying to keep from falling over.  Thank goodness fishing kayaks are by and large relatively stable platforms.

Or wind/current moving the kayak around while we're trying to place that bait or fight that fish, we end up using that long ol' two ended kayak paddle one handed trying to maneuver to just the right position.  I had even thought of ditching the long paddle and using a regular canoe paddle for my kayak so when I encountered this situation I wouldn't be trying to manhandle that long kayak paddle.  Of course, that means more water dripping in the 'yak as the paddle crosses over, hence a wetter ride.

Which of these paddles would you like to handle using only one hand?

But, hey, seems I saw a solution at Wal-Mart .  Yep!  The Attwood Telescoping Paddle for $15

Cheaper, nice bright orange.  Looks like it was made primarily for back up since it collapses into virtually a hand paddle and extends to a short canoe type paddle.  They even make a slightly longer version.  Good concept.  I was happy . . . sorta.

Attwood extended

The telescoping feature was both a positive and negative feature.  I kept having issues with the shaft pivoting even though it has a locking feature resulting in the T-handle being out of line with the paddle as seen below.

  Sometimes when I picked it up the handle would extend even though I thought I had locked it in place.  Problems easily dealt with but aggravating nonetheless.

Then, Backwater had a sale, I thought what the heck and I ended up with a Piranha in my 'yak.

Sometimes simpler is just better.  No moving parts, it floats and has some unique features that are actually useful.

Photo from Backwater Paddle Company

You'll notice the Piranha has two features not found on other paddles.  A notch and "teeth". The notch comes in handy snagging branches, lily pads and even your fishing line as that fish keeps pulling away just as you reach out to grab it.  The teeth provide traction as you push away from rocks, logs, etc, to help keep the paddle from slipping causing you to lose balance.  It, also, has a longer handle than their Predator model because it is designed to be used with a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak (higher center of gravity) rather than a sit-in-kayak (SINK) in which the paddler is closer to the water.

A security lanyard is supplied but if I'm holding it and need both hands, instead of letting it hang off my wrist from the lanyard, I just drop it in the kayak or even the water since it floats.  Looping the lanyard around rigging on the kayak, one can use the notch to catch a lily pad and hold one fairly immovable in a wind if you don't want to deploy an anchor or pole.

So.  Either will work but my preference is Backwater's Piranha.  No moving parts, unique design with features one will actually use and less aggravation.

Kayaker's ping-pong paddle?  Just more stuff to clutter a kayaker's already limited space?  Nope!  A very useful addition to my kayak equipment and something I actually use.

Ed Halm, BackWater Paddles owner, is a retired US Naval survival instructor who conducts eco-tours in central Florida.  He's an active paddler who saw a problem and set about solving it.

And there's more coming from Backwater, too.  Recently, presented on their FaceBook page is the next Piranha on steroids.

Photo from Backwater Paddle Company

Don't know what the final name will be but looks pretty cool.  I'm concerned about the size but the only way to know will be to actually try one when they become available.  Probably do great on one of those hybrids that have a even hight seat than an SOT.  Those teeth look pretty serious.  I could see using them against a gator's snout if one got too close.  Hmmm . . . a tactical Piranha!  Will it come in ninja black, bayonet mount, MOLLE straps!?!  (:-D

Just thought of another use.  That short paddle would come in handy flicking a pesky snake out of the kayak should one fall or crawl in.

There's even more with full size canoe and kayak paddles with Backwater's unique features.

You can check them out at .


Current Georgia river levels: Real Time Georgia Streamflow
Solunar Tables for your zip code: HERE
Rigging your kayak: Captain Dick
Interactive map by Angling Technologies: HERE
Georgia Kayak Fishing
Georgia River Fishing
Jax Kayak Fishing
Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing
 (you might need to be registered to view this one)

Saltwater Casting - 10 Steps to Distance and Power (DVD)

If you are a resident of Georgia and like to fish from a kayak I recommend becoming a supporting member of the Georgia Kayak Fishing Association located at



  1. HI,

    Loved the review of the Piranha and Predator hand paddles! Your pictures were great too! I reviewed them recently too and will add a link to your review to my article at

  2. Great information. Glad I made it to your site!


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