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Backwater Paddle Company’s Assault hand paddle screams “Don’t mess with me, I’ve got your number”. Its scary fish skeleton and teeth motif are a theme carried into the paddle blades physical design, which includes a hook as well as the paddles second set of dentures.
The blade hook assists kayak anglers grab onto an overhanging tree branch or jetty and draw a kayak in. The teeth allow the reverse kayak motion by providing some traction to push away from structure.
With a design evolved from a World War II US Air Force jungle survival tool by company head Ed Halm, the paddle is constructed of 10% fiberglass and infused polypropylene plastic. The Assaults construction ingredients allow it to float should it try an escape. Absconding is hindered by a foam grip and lanyard.
ON WATER TESTING
In practice, the best endorsement of the Assault’s utility is that the tournament guys use them to gain an edge. “They help set up a silent cast at a snag. When a kayak is disoriented by wind or current, or drifting in too quick, reaching for a full length paddle can create noise and spook fish”, says tournament kayak angler and Hobie guru Scott Lovig. “A quick forward or reverse re-orientating paddle stroke with the Assault can be done with one hand, while a rod is ready for a cast in the other. Alternately, the hook can allow attachment to a branch upstream of a target snag”.
In verification mode I tested the Assault in amongst the timber on Lake Fyans, a Victorian trout and redfin water. Paddling a Dagger Drifter II, a kayak more workhorse than a nimble fox, the Assault achieved all expectations. When mooching from tree to tree, only one or two paddle strokes were required to aim a kayak bow, and then fire a cast. With wind assisted kayak motion drifting onto a tree, the Assault blade is effectively an oversized rudder guiding you in.
The hook and teeth aided snag traction, and I was also impressed that it allowed me to navigate under branches more easily than a full paddle length would. In shallow water over rocks, an Assault hand paddle could also save more expensive paddle blade damage. To test the Assault’s strength, I thumped it around during testing and it was unbreakable, no kayak fishing gear is, but there’d have to be a whole lot of force and a good fisherman’s tale behind snapping an Assault. If you’re an in tight and snaggy kayak angler, the Assault is a worthy multi-tasking paddle buddy.
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