You may have heard of Backwater Paddles over the years, and you may have even seen their Assault Hand Paddle, a one handed quick adjustment paddle for a kayak. Now they’ve taken the hook and teeth concept to a full sized, double bladed kayak paddle called the Backwater Assassin Kayak Paddle. I got one ordered and spent several hours at a Heroes on the Water event last weekend putting it through the ringer.
The Backwater Assassin comes in two adjustable lengths. 230-240 and a 250-260 size are available. The adjustment is a slide and lock style ferule that allows you to adjust anywhere between the 10 centimeters. The blades are made from durable ABS plastic and the shaft is carbon fiber. The 250-260 Backwater Assassin I ordered weighed 37 ounces. If you drop it in the water it floats. The Backwater Assassin Kayak Paddle retails for $165 for the 250-260cm.
The lake we were fishing was down from the normal level so mud covered the banks pretty well. That sink up to your knee gray, stinks like death mud so I got to test out the Backwater Assassins blade strength pretty quick. I slid my NuCanoe Pursuit into the water and climbed aboard. When I sat down, I could tell the water wasn’t very deep and I’d need to push off. Test #1.
Between my weight, gear weight, and kayak weight, I was trying to move close to 400 pounds off the bank in the mud. I buried the blade of the paddle in the side of the bank and moved about an inch. I realized it was going to take more torque, and I had a backup paddle, so I really leaned into it. That force got us off the shallow bank and floating like God intended. I felt good about the blade strength.
The next test was paddling. 37 ounces is four ounces heavier than my normal paddle so I was interested to see how it played out paddling. Something really bizarre happened. The normal paddle I use has very light fiberglass blades that are very rigid. Almost all of the weight is in the shaft.
The Backwater Assassin was the exact opposite. The blades were the heavy portion. That made the paddle seem a lot lighter than it actually is. When you paddle it, the weight of the blade almost dips to the water for you similar to a balance or a see saw. as you start the motion back toward the other side the weight dips the blade. It took a minute to get used to. The normal shoulder fatigue I get from my normal paddle I didn’t have.
The lake we were fishing at had lots of grass in it and I was able to utilize the teeth on the blade several times to clear grass from a line or use the hook to pick up a lure floating in the lake one of the soldiers had lost. I also flipped the paddle to use the hook to pull another kayak closer to me a few times so I could retie a bait or hand off a new lure. It was surprisingly useful.
Points of Improvement
I’d love to see the blades of the paddle come in bright, high visibility colors like lime and yellow. With ABS plastic it should be possible and would add some safety built in for big water.
I thought the ferule was a little tight the first time I put the paddle together. I definitely don’t want it loose but the light powder coating on the internal piece didn’t reduce the friction much. I felt a little nervous really wedging it in there. I’m sure it’ll loosen over time.
I’d also like to see a fish ruler screened into the shaft of the paddle. Yes it’s not official but it gives a good idea of length on the fly without having to guess too much, especially when you’re fun fishing.
If an air cell technology could be used to lighten the paddle blades a couple of ounces each without loosing rigidity I bet more people would look at it. It seems the trend is buying on weight which could be a hindrance.
If I am fishing in grass, on the river, or around wood, this will be my new go to paddle. The price point is great, the features are great, and the paddling motion is pretty cool. Before I replace it for my long, deep water fishing trips I’ll need to test it with more paddling hours. My shoulders will have to figure out if the weight and the distribution of the weight is problematic for 10 mile treks or not. I won’t know until I try.
If you’re in the market for a new paddle, the Backwater Assassin Kayak Paddle is definitely one to check out.