Tag Archives: kayak fishing

2013 Successful Year For Backwater Paddle Company

The Assault Hand Paddle is what Backwater Paddle Company was all about in 2013!!  Our latest engineered hand paddle, with a bad-ass graphics package and made from polypropylene plastic, has caught the attention of the paddle sports world!  Wherever you go, you break out an Assault Hand Paddle, they will come check you out!

Assault Hand Paddle Photo

Assault Hand Paddle in OD Green.

With the explosion of paddle sports and kayak fishing, the last few years have seen a tremendous growth in kayaks, paddling accessories and equipment.  The Assault Hand Paddle’s debut could not have been more perfectly timed!  We have 100% of the kayak hand paddle market at our disposal!  We have no competition in that department, whatsoever.   Time to capitalize!

Since May, when we first introduced the new plastic hand paddles to the paddling public, we have seen continuous growth and sales, not only here in the states but in Australia also.  The paddles won a “Best of Show Award” at the Australian Fishing and Tackle Show earlier this year!  The English kayak angling community just received their first Assault Hand Paddle last month, and are giving them a try.

We have picked up two dozen or so new retailers for our paddles this year.  Most of the big named online paddle sport stores all carry our paddles.  Many of the larger brick and mortar paddle shops are coming on board.

We are still working on the monster outdoor retail stores, like Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, Cabelas, etc.  We have just got into fighting shape for the big dawgs!   They debuted a new Bass Pro Outpost in Palm Bay, Florida, right here in our neck of the woods!   We wrote to them asking about local manufacturing representation in their community stores.  We also threw in the “veterans” angle…now, waiting for their response.  Veteran owned…American made!!

Predator Kayak Fishing Hand Paddle

Predator Kayak Fishing Hand Paddle

From where we were a few years back, the Predator Kayak Fishing Hand Paddle, the original wood designed hand paddle, was simply a “proof of concept” on the hand paddle theory.   John Oates, a fellow kayak angler and paddle sportsmen from up north, provide us with the inspiration for development of the hand paddles.  It was from an article he penned for a local fishing rag, in that he mentioned using a ping pong paddle for kayak propulsion.  That set the wheels in motion!

Piranha Kayak Fishing Hand Paddle

Piranha Kayak Fishing Hand Paddle

Well, the Piranha Kayak Fishing Hand Paddle was born shortly thereafter, for a more utilitarian cause.  Still designed and made from wood, the patented “hook and teeth” blade design allowed the paddler or angler more functions with the hand paddle.  You could now grab onto or push off objects safely.  More function means more usage!  More usage means more money!!

However, the manufacturing process for the wood hand paddles in comparison of inflatable sups, was very time consuming.   We could not effectively reduce the handling and labor costs per paddle.  The only option was to move forward into the plastic market.  Wow…what a blessing that has been!!

Moving forward…2014 is about getting the Assault Hand Paddles into the big box outdoor retail stores.  Once we have established a large enough consumer base for the Backwater Paddle Company brand and our hand paddles, the full size kayak, canoe and SUP paddles are next on the agenda.

Backwater Paddle Company plans on becoming a full scale paddle manufacturer to rival Werner, Bending Branches, Cannon, etc.  We will not just be a “one hit wonder!!”   Our patented “hook and teeth” blade design will seamlessly flow into the full size market.  I can already see the paddle sportsmen licking their chops for the full size version of complete paddle function and design.

To a very prosperous and Happy New Year!  Paddle on my friends!!

Backwater Paddle Company Logo

Backwater Paddle Company Logo

Fresh Catch…Assault Hand Paddle

Kayak Angler Magazine, a division of Rapid Media,  provided a review of the Assault Hand Paddle by Backwater Paddle Company.  Thanks for your time and consideration…and photos!

Below is the article provided by Kayak Angler Magazine:


Assault Hand Paddle in action.         Alexander Gashnikov

  Fresh Catch: Assault Hand Paddle



 assault 2

The Assault Hand Paddle is a one-handed paddle that gets around. 

We’ve all been there. The fish of a lifetime darts under your kayak and then pulls you into the rocks, pilings, brush and over the falls. What do you do? Panic? Flail? Nope, just grab the Assault Hand Paddle!

One of the first questions people ask when they see a kayak fisherman is, “How do you fish and paddle at the same time?” Backwater paddle’s answer is the Assault Hand Paddle, a single-blade paddle with a short handle that’s the perfect size for tight maneuvers and easy storage. The polypropylene plastic paddle measures 22 inches long by six-inches wide and handle is covered with EVA foam. The paddle has jagged teeth on one side to grip tree limbs and pilings and a hook for removing snagged lines or latching onto a branch. There’s even a loop of parachute cord on the end of the handle to leash the paddle to your hand or clip it to your kayak with a carabineer.

On the water, the hand paddle really works. I’ve taken the Assault fishing for striped bass around bridge pilings and sight-casting for reds in a narrow creek. The paddle was a big hand while I was fighting fish.  I could work the rod with one hand and make adjustments to my position with the other. When a fish would dart under the boat, a couple back strokes with the hand paddle brought the line around to the right side of the kayak. I could also avoid obstacles while the fish dragged me at will.

The hand paddle really worked well when I was drifting, allowing me to keep the kayak pointed in the best direction for me to work my lure. When I was searching the bridge pilings for striped bass, the paddle allowed me to hold the bow into the current while keeping my rod ready to cast. When I didn’t  need the Assault, I tossed it in my tankwell where it fits between the crate and kayak.

The paddle was great for making slight adjustments or moving the kayak a few feet, but it wasn’t powerful enough to completely spin my kayak or propel me very far. I’d love to see an extendable handle that would make it easier to take strokes on the opposite side of the kayak. But the paddle worked great when it was needed most – in a fish-fighting emergency!

Check out the Assault Hand Paddle at www.backwaterpaddles.com.

assault 3

The hooked tip and serrated edge of the Assault Hand Paddle holds tight to structure to get close to the fish.

Veteran Owned, Backwater Paddle Company Honors Our Military

Backwater Paddle Company Logo

Backwater Paddle Company Logo

Backwater Paddle Company is a veteran owned paddle sport manufacturing business located in Central Florida.  Ed Halm, owner and retired US Navy survival instructor, brought new ideas and concepts to the paddle sports market.  These unique paddle designs have contributed to growth of the kayak angling, kayak hunting and paddle sport communities.

The patented “hook and teeth” blade design featured on the Assault Hand Paddle has demonstrated Ed’s intuitiveness in solving problems.  As a navy survival instructor, failure was not an option in decision making.  The patented blade design evolved out of physical necessity while on a paddling adventure.

To move the project forward, keeping the manufacturing here in the states was paramount to our company’s success.  Many other paddle sport manufacturers have resourced their manufacturing overseas.   Yes, as any savvy business should, we checked out the overseas option in our discovery phase of manufacturing.  No matter how hard we looked at the overseas venues, we could not wrap our head around the fact that our paddles would be made outside the US.

As a military veteran, defending our country was what my life was about.  Those who came before me, defenders of our freedom, now business owners and family men, deserved our manufacturing dollars.   When all was said and done, having the paddles made here in the states is roughly the same price as overseas.  Why then, give our business to economies outside our borders?

Having the “Made in the USA” label on our paddle products warrants the decisions our forefathers made in dedicating their lives to this country’s greatness.  I respect their commitment, Backwater paddle Company respects their commitment, and our customers have respected the choices we had in our manufacturing decisions.  We will always be “Made in the USA!”

As our company grows beyond the “one man band” stage, we will certainly enforce the philosophy of hiring veterans to work and grow with our business.  The veterans defending us today are our future employees tomorrow.   We thank you for your sacrifices today…promise, we will take care of you tomorrow.

Thank a veteran for your freedom!

Assault Hand Paddle Wins “Best of Show” at 2013 AFTA Trade Show in Australia

The Assault Hand Paddle Revolution is ON!!

Backwater Paddle Company Logo

Backwater Paddle Company Logo

The 2013 Australian Fishing and Tackle Association Trade Show (AFTA) demonstrated to the kayak fishing community that the Assault Hand Paddles are making a grand entrance into the paddle sport community.

Assault Hand Paddle AFTA Award

Assault Hand Paddle won “Best of Show” at the Australian Fishing and Tackle Association Trade Show.

Colin Linton from My Little Tackle Emporium (MLTE), the Backwater Paddle Company Australian distributor, entered the Assault Hand Paddles into the show.   Colin has been involved with Backwater Paddle Company since its inception.  He has diligently been promoting our paddle products and marketing our brand Down Under when the wood hand paddles were first introduced.

BLADE Kayak Fishing Journal, the premier kayak angling magazine Down Under, promoted the Assault Hand Paddle in their latest edition.  Thanks to Justin Wilmer and his crew for publishing such a fine magazine.

Funny as it may seem, the Australian kayak fishing community has really latched on to the extreme looking Assault Kayak Fishing and Paddle.   We certainly appreciate all their time and consideration in choosing our hand paddles for their kayak fishing adventures.

The Assault Hand Paddle Revolution is ON!!

Assault Hand Paddle Review By Tony Hart, Professional Kayak Angler

Tony Hart, Backwater Paddle Company professional rep, took the time to evaluate and provide a product review for the new Assault Hand Paddle.  Below is his take on how the new hand paddle works for him.

Product Review: Assault Hand Paddle

 “The Assault Hand Paddle from Backwater Paddle Company is an innovative tool that is perfect for kayak anglers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re trekking down a narrow creek in the deep reaches of the Florida wilderness or need a little help maneuvering your kayak while fighting a trophy fish, the Assault Hand Paddle will get the job done.  It’s the brainchild of former US Navy survival instructor, Ed Halm, who envisioned the idea one day while paddling a local river in Central Florida.  Ultimately, when Ed asked if I would take a look over and test the paddle out, I jumped at the opportunity.  Here’s my take on the Assault Hand Paddle from Backwater Paddle Company.

Initially, the paddle has a very unique look to it.  A “hook” on one side, and a toothed edge on the other side provide the angler with the ability to grab and/or pull away debris that is in the way.  It’s fairly light, and has the ability to float which is always a positive in the kayaking world.  For my testing purposes in the saltwater creeks of NE Florida, I was impressed with its overall ability.  I was able to use the toothed side to help with pushing off of and away from dock pilings and oyster beds.  The hook end was valuable in that it was able to assist in unhooking a jighead that was hung up in an oyster bed.   The hand paddle proved its worthiness in that it was much more easier to handle rather than my 240cm Accent Paddle.  Having the ability to be able to hold your rod with one hand and easily right yourself with a smaller tool earned the Assault Hand Paddle a thumb’s up.

Assault Hand Paddle

The other cool part of this paddle is the ability to help right yourself when fighting a fish.  We who fish for redfish know that they are a fierce-some fighting fish, with the ability to make several nice runs in several different directions.  When staked out, this can be somewhat cumbersome, especially when trying to keep tension on the fishing rod and maneuver your regular kayak paddle.  I’m sure there’s many of you who will agree with me that this can be a daunting task to say the least.  With the Assault Hand Paddle, this aggravation is a thing of the past.  Having something that is quickly deployed and easy to use to get your next trophy fish landed is of the utmost importance to a kayak angler, and the Assault Hand Paddle fits that billing.

Overall, I was very impressed with the product from Backwater Paddle Company, and will definitely recommend using the Assault Hand Paddle to the kayak fishing community.”

Assault Hand Paddle Floating

Thanks Tony for your time and consideration!  Paddle on my friend!!

The Assault Hand Paddle Revolution is ON!!

Assault Hand Paddle Touring the World

Assault Hand Paddle Floating

Since the Assault Hand Paddle debut earlier this year, our unique hand paddles have been purchased all around the globe by the international kayak angling community.   Australia has been hot on the hand paddles since their inception.   As Australia considers itself one of the extreme locations around the world,  these awesome looking paddles have captured their attention.

Backwater Paddle Company is setting up a distributor in Australia.   Colin Linton, a Backwater Paddle Company loyalist, has been working with us for years in promoting our paddles to the folks Down Under.    Colin has stepped up to lead the Assault Hand Paddle revolution to his Australian and New Zealand kayak fishing community.

BCF (Boating, Camping and Fishing) is like the stateside Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain or Academy Sports shops for the Australian sportsmen.  Colin is working on introducing the Assault Hand Paddle into the larger sporting goods brick and mortar stores around their country.

Carlos Cianchini, a fellow kayak angler from Micronesia, recently purchased a set of Assault Hand Paddles and is posting his hand paddle adventures.  Where in the hell is Micronesia, you ask?  Is there a Macronesia?  All I know that these islands are somewhere north of Australia.

Of course our neighbors up north, Canada, have been all over the Assault Hand Paddle.   You would think having a mutually shared border would make shipping easy and cheap.   It seems to take forever for our paddle sportsmen in the Great White North to receive their paddle orders?  I can get the paddles to the border in two days…after that it,  takes about two weeks for the Canadian post service to get them the rest of the way.  Wonder why?

Brazil, UK, Spain and Italy are a few more countries where the Assault Hand Paddle revolution is taking hold.   Spread the word!!

The Assault Hand Paddle revolution is ON!!

Assault Hand Paddle FAQ’s


Assault Hand Paddle providing stealth and mobility!

Assault Hand Paddle providing stealth and mobility!

What are the paddles made from?

The new Assault Hand Paddles are made from a 10% fiberglass infused polypropylene plastic for strength and durability, with a UV additive for longevity.  The handle is covered with a foam hand grip for comfort and lanyard attached for security.

How big are they?

The paddles measure out to 22” long by 6” wide and weigh only 12 ounces.  We kept them under 24” so they would still be compact, yet lethal.

Do they float?

Absolutely!  They HAVE to float!

Assault Hand Paddle Floating

How did you come up with the blade design?

Out paddling one day in Central Florida, I came across a strainer blocking the local river.  I tried to dislodge the structure, but came up short handed with only a kayak paddle.  As a US Navy Survival Instructor, failure was not an option.  I envisioned how a hook would have grabbed onto the debris and a toothed end to push it down stream.  After a few mangled prototypes; today we have the patented “hook and teeth” blade design, now seen on the Assault Hand Paddle.

Are they modeled after a medieval weapon?

Not actually medieval…more from a WWII Air Force Jungle Survival weapon, now commonly known as a Woodsman’s Tool.

How tough are they?

Short of using rotary or reciprocating tools in your effort, you will not break this paddle.  If you do…we will replace the paddle.  (You better have a badass story, too!) 

Assault Hand Paddle vs, Piling!

Backwater Paddle Company’s newest paddle, the Assault Hand Paddle, is ready for everything!

Can we order other colors?

As these paddles are plastic, we can manufacture them in any color, even proprietary colors.  Currently we are working away through “camo” colors, i.e. green, brown and blue, as well as safety colors (red and yellow.)  However there is a manufacturing minimum amount.  Contact Ed at Backwater Paddle Company for more information.

Where do we buy them?

Currently from the Backwater Paddle Company’s web store.  Hopefully that will change in the next few months and they will be available in the big box retail sporting goods stores.

Other than fishing, who else can use them?

Duck hunters use the Assault Hand Paddle to stealthily maneuver their kayak for the best shot presentation and game retrieval.

Paddle sport photographers use the hand paddles to position their boats for maximum subject exposure and background framing.

Paddle sport adventurers use the hand paddles for close quarter maneuvering in tight spaces in lieu of their seven foot kayak paddle.

Will there be other paddles with that blade design?

Yes, we are putting together manufacturing projects for kayak, canoe and SUP paddles.  It may be a year or so away.  The new paddle lines will all incorporate the patented “hook and teeth” design as well some type of raised graphics package.

Assault Hand Paddle Revolution Is On!

Backwater Paddle Company reached a major milestone in its corporate development. The Assault Hand Paddle has arrived!  After nearly a year of waiting and endless manufacturing delays, it is an exciting moment in the evolution of paddle sports.

The Assault Hand Paddle is revolutionizing paddle sportsmen’s stealth and mobility.   The only paddle designed for paddle sportsmen seeking stealth and close quarter mobility.  The plastic paddles distinctive visual appeal and raised graphic design sets it apart from all other paddles in the paddle sports market.

Assault Hand Paddle Floating

The paddle matters!  Some say the Assault Hand Paddle’s unique and versatile blade design is a cross between medieval weapon and sports racquet.  Whatever your observation regarding this state-of-the-art paddle, it is 100% efficient.  The unparalleled blade design evolved out of physical necessity.   Paddle sportsmen needed a smaller and more functional paddle while battling tight spaces and repositioning their kayak or canoe.

The Assault Hand Paddles patented “hook and teeth” blade design provides the ultimate tool for kayak anglers, hunters and photographers.  The lightweight and compact hand paddle provides a one-handed option to position their boat for maximum maneuverability and productivity.  The single-handed paddling option allows the paddle sportsman to continue to fight fish, hunt ducks or shoot photos while staying on target.

Backwater Paddle Company’s patented “hook” blade design permits grabbing, snagging or snatching objects to retrieve or position your craft.  The paddles “teeth” provide positive purchase while pushing or shoving off objects.

The genesis of the Assault Hand Paddle came from its former wooden siblings, the Predator and Piranha Kayak Fishing Hand Paddles.  These earlier generation wood paddles were proof of concept that seven foot paddles were not the answer for every paddle sportsman.  With the rapid growth of paddle sports, it became evident paddle sportsmen needed a smaller, more compact and practical paddle in their daily endeavors.

To enhance product and market availability, the plastic Assault Hand Paddle was designed incorporating the innovative features of Backwater Paddle Company’s prior wood hand paddles.   Not only did we want a completely functional plastic paddle, but a paddle that created the “wow” factor.   With plastic, we had an opportunity to make an awesome visual statement, as well as product longevity.

New Assault Hand Paddle by Backwater Paddle Company

New Hand Paddle Design

The Assault Hand Paddle will retail for $29.95.  We expect to have them in outdoor retail and big box stores later this year.  As of now, they can be purchased from Backwater Paddle Company’s web store.

Backwater Paddle Company’s future includes a kayak paddle, canoe paddle and SUP paddle. They will all incorporate the patented “hook and teeth” blade design, as well as the awesome raised graphics package.

Backwater Paddle Company is looking for paddle sport pro staffers, representatives, wholesalers and distributors willing to use, introduce and disseminate our products into the paddle sports market.  Contact Ed at Backwater Paddle Company for further information.   You can visit our website or place an order at www.backwaterpaddles.com.   The Paddle Matters!

Paddle on friends!

Backwater Paddle Company Has New Assault Hand Paddle Mold Ready

Finally, after eleven months of tooling, Backwater Paddle Company’s newest paddle, the Assault Hand Paddle, is ready for manufacturing.  The final mold inspection was recently performed.  A couple of dozen sample paddles were made.   The mold tooling project was signed off and paid in full.

We are just waiting on some small particulars from the manufacturing end.  We expect to have paddles available in a couple of weeks.

Assault Hand Paddle Biting

The Assault Hand Paddle project was beset with problems from the beginning.  Backwater Paddle originally entertained the idea of manufacturing the paddles overseas.   The overseas contact we had abandoned the project in mid stream, leaving us stranded.  We spun our wheels for four months with nothing to show for it.   NO, there was no money invested or lost with the overseas exploration.   After very little thought, we decided the overseas venture was not the way to go.  Stay at home!!

Having explored the stateside tooling and plastic manufacturers, we opted for a company in Valdosta, Georgia.  Peliton Plastics took on the project.  However, they were extremely busy and subbed our project out to one of their affiliates up in Kentucky, for the same quoted price.

The project was more than the Kentucky company could handle.  They had to upgrade their CAD system, their memory, their tools, etc, etc.   All this created delays, massive, mind blowing delays!

To make a long story short, we finally got our mold after eleven months.  Did I tell you that the mold was supposed to take only four months to make?  With so many problems, delays…all we could do was laugh about our predicament.  All we could really do was…hurry up, and wait!!

Assault Hand Paddle Float Test

Backwater Paddle Company’s Assault Hand Paddle performing the first float test. The paddle floats extremely well!

Another main concern was flotation of the plastic Assault Hand Paddles.  We were not sure if the paddles would float on their own.  The manufacturers felt “pretty sure,” but not certain.  As soon as we got our first sample…it floated perfectly!!

Assault Hand Paddle Mold on Injection Machine

Assault Hand Paddle mold with water cooling lines connected. Waiting for pressure injection machine to close and shoot mold with polypropylene plastic.

You cannot believe how complicated the mold tooling and pressure injection systems are.   The molds are not some simple, two sided, diametrically opposed plates, clamped together and plastic poured in a hole!  Unclamp and viola, a paddle!!  Not even my friends!!

The Assault Hand Paddle mold weighs about 500 pounds, a quarter ton of steel!  It has two steel milled plates with the paddle design.  Two massive steel plates that hold all the mechanical parts and ejection pins, are all bolted together.  A forklift moves the mold from shop to machine.

Even a water cooling system is piped into the mold.  The above photo shows the water lines connected into the side of the mold.  Some 250 tons of pressure is generated to hold the mold closed while 400 degree polypropylene plastic is forced in.  Pretty impressive operation when you see it all working.

Assault Hand Paddle in sepia.

Found photo of original Assault Hand Paddle used by early explorers to paddle the waterways and defend against the natives.

We have so many potential customers commenting on the uniqueness of the paddle design.  Many say it looks like a primitive or medieval weapon!  I like that, as a former naval survival instructor!  Maybe that is where the concept lies?  Maybe some early explorers used an axe like device to bushwhack and double as a defensive weapon?

We searched old archived photos and found a file photo of just such a weapon.  Hmmmm….makes you think?

Assault Hand Paddle photo on rock

Backwater Paddle Company’s newest paddle, the Assault Hand Paddle, on display.

Nevertheless, Backwater Paddle Company hopes to get our new Assault Hand Paddle out to the paddle sports community soon.

As usual…still waiting!!  Paddle on my friends!!





The Beachside Resident, Cocoa Beach’s Local Paper, Featured Backwater Paddle Company Owner Ed Halm

Tobin Bennison, writer for The Beachside Resident, a local Cocoa Beach paper featured Ed Halm, the Owner of Backwater Paddle Company in its January 2013 issue.  The article appears below:

Ed Halm is one fascinating character.

Born at the US Naval Base in Port Lyautey, Morocco, Halm moved back to the U.S. as a toddler when his family settled in upstate New York.

– Related: Office Moving In Miami.

After high school, he trained and served in the U.S. Navy as a survival instructor before retiring and relocating to Central Florida 20 years later.

Tapping into a love of the outdoors he cultivated during his days in upstate New York, Ed now lives in Cocoa Beach, where he is an avid paddle sportsman, a certified naturalist, kayak eco-tour guide, and owner of Backwater Paddle Company, which is set to release its newest in a line of unique, patented “hook and teeth” paddles, “The Assault,” in spring of 2013.

1v9 20questions EdHalm Ed Halm of Backwater Paddles

You’re a retired US Navy survival instructor. Tell us a little about your experiences in that career.

When I joined the Navy, I originally enlisted in the nuclear propulsion field. A few years into the nuclear power program, I was provided an opportunity to interview for some special training programs. Being an avid outdoorsman and sportsman, I was selected for, trained, and qualified as a naval survival instructor. Land survival became my area of expertise. Basically we taught naval and marine aviators, DEA, CIA, FBI, and other special operation groups tactics to survive and evade in the wild should they ditch their aircraft in enemy territory. Our curriculum included locating water, building fire, making shelter, trapping and snaring animals, identifying edible plants, terrain navigation, wilderness first aid, rescue signaling, and the psychological aspects of surviving. We taught these courses in conjunction with the theaters our troops would be operating within. These weeklong courses were extremely challenging and tested the internal fortitude of our best military and civilian personnel. Being a survival instructor was certainly a rewarding experience. From the curriculum we taught and the field experience we delivered, I knew our intensive training program could provide drastic lifesaving survival decisions for some our forward deployed troops.

And you’ve had a long passion for nature since your youth.

I have always been involved with nature. Having grown up in upstate New York, we lived extremely close to nature. Out my back door were the woods and mountains. I spent a great deal of my adolescent time immersed in the wilderness. Tracking, hunting and trapping wildlife, as well as fishing and camping became second nature to me. I never saw a large city until I joined the Navy. Residing in Florida, I felt compelled to obtain local knowledge and understand our diverse natural environment. Hunting, fishing and paddling are ubiquitous Florida outdoor sports. However, the arenas for participation provide distinctive topographical challenges and unique ecosystems that are found only in our state. To be an effective survival instructor, outfitter, guide or resident sportsmen, obtaining local knowledge and information is paramount to successfully understanding and competing in your native surroundings. When I became a local kayak eco-tour guide, I not only wanted to provide an educational experience with qualified information, but a tangible adventure in a safe atmosphere. I want my guests to experience the real Florida in an educated manner! I want them to be exhilarated! I want them to have that magical sensation, an adventure that will keep them coming back. To achieve that level of competency, I knew I had to completely immerse myself in the local environment and understand the complexities of our unique ecosystems. I wanted to set the standards higher for quality information, paddle safety and system expertise. Fortunately, the University of Florida offers an intensive Master Naturalist Program that exclusively defines our local ecosystems. The mission of the Program is to promote awareness, understanding, and respect of Florida’s natural world among Florida’s citizens and visitors.

1v9 20questions EdHalm3 Ed Halm of Backwater Paddles

Tell us about some of the tours you lead here.

I am a part-time kayak eco-tour guide with Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach. They provide full-service kayak eco-tours to visiting guests and local residents. We spend two to three hours paddling, locating and identifying various plants, animals and wildlife in the Thousand Islands, Banana River Lagoon, Indian River Lagoon, and other Florida marine environments. We’re different from the other guide services in that we are the largest and oldest, as well as the most experienced and professional guide service at the Thousand Islands. Our guides are all certified, trained, rescue-equipped and insured. Our professional staff includes two master naturalists, a survival instructor, and retired surveyor. All Adventure Kayak staff are avid outdoorsmen, sportsmen, and experienced paddlers. We provide very comfortable sit-in kayaks, detailed paddle lessons, safety instructions, and an experienced guide on every adventure.

What might novices be surprised to learn about the tours you conduct — and our local environment at large?

First of all, no paddling experience is necessary! We provide the most stable and comfortable kayaks available. We also provide the novice paddler with detailed paddle lessons. Secondly, there is nothing out there that will eat you if you go swimming (falling out of your kayak)! Thirdly, the water is only knee-deep, for the most part. Having said that, our guests can comfortably enjoy their adventure and concentrate on the wildlife that abounds. Our guides provide a detailed interpretive tour of the local wildlife. The Thousand Islands and the Indian River Lagoon system are one of the most bio diverse ecosystems in the states. Manatees, dolphins, otters, stingrays, crabs, fish, and birds are routinely located, identified, and observed in their natural surroundings from your kayak. Our departing guests leave their kayaking adventure expressing a newfound appreciation for nature and an exhilarating experience with our company and guides. All of our guests express a sincere desire to return, to bring future guests and paddle again with us. Many are even overheard making kayak purchasing decisions after finding out how easy and fun paddle sports are!

1v9 20questions EdHalm2 Ed Halm of Backwater Paddles

Have you paddled anywhere outside of the state? What makes Florida — and the Cocoa Beach area — so unique an environment?

I’ve paddled all over the southeast. Owning a paddle sport manufacturing company provides me with many opportunities to travel. Backwater Paddle Company sponsors fishing tournaments, trade shows, and exhibitions throughout the states. The places I like to paddle outside of Florida are usually further north, within the mountains. Florida is a topographically challenged state — it’s flat! I take advantage of the mountain lakes and streams that course through northern mountainous states. The beauty of paddling in Florida is you can find water everywhere. You generally have great access to the mostly flat water, and perfect weather. With two climate zones to paddle in, tropical south Florida and temperate north Florida, seasonal paddlers are in heaven. Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands is easily my favorite place to paddle when in town. These unique mangrove islands are only found here in the Banana River Lagoon. They provide novice and intermediate paddlers with all kinds of challenges. Locating wildlife within the islands is relatively easy. The mangrove trails and tunnels that are located within these isles test your paddle skills and overwhelm the senses. Elsewhere in Florida, the Silver River flowing out of Silver Springs in Ocala is an awesome paddle. It’s only two hours north of here. If you’re fortunate enough, there are a couple of bands of wild monkeys that can be seen foraging along the banks of the river while you paddle through. These monkeys apparently escaped captivity many years ago and still inhabit the forest surrounding the river. You do not see the monkeys every time, but patience and persistence pays off. Once you get up to the springs area, the water is crystal clear. Another great paddle is the Suwannee River in northern Florida. There are so many springs, river camps, and easy access to the Suwannee that portions of the river can be day paddled or packed into one- to two- week camping excursions.

How did the Backwater Paddle Company get started?

It started on a paddling excursion down the Econlockhatchee River outside Orlando a few years ago. During a routine paddle trip, I came across a strainer, a debris blockage that caused us to portage our kayaks a short distance around the obstruction. I tried to dismantle the strainer from my kayak using my paddles, but conventional kayak paddles offered little assistance. Having spent some time trying to figure what I needed in a kayak paddle, other than for propulsion, I tried various blade shapes and designs to solve my problem. I figured I needed a hook to grab onto objects and a serrated edge to provide positive purchase when shoving off. I eventually came up with the infamous “hook and teeth” blade design. After a successful proof of concept and beta test of the new paddle design, I applied for and received a patent. Once I secured the patent, I moved ahead with CAD design, financing, marketing, and manufacturing of the design. I searched the established paddle manufacturers and found no paddle product that even remotely provided the security, stealth and maneuverability Backwater paddles provide.

1v9 20questions EdHalm4 Ed Halm of Backwater Paddles

Tell us more about their unique design. What makes them so special?

After a few failures and hacked up paddles, I finally designed a concept paddle that incorporated a “hook and teeth” cutout into the kayak blades. The hook allowed for the blade to snag, grab or pull objects. The teeth allowed for a positive pushing action from the paddle. These patented paddles can now push, pull and propel the paddle sportsman. I figured having a paddle blade with those unique “hook and teeth” features would have allowed for a quick and easy dismantling of the aforementioned strainer. My first prototype kayak paddle design was code named the “Raptor Project.” It incorporated the new hook and teeth design into kayak paddle blades. As we started to move ahead with the kayak paddle project, a new paddle concept evolved: hand paddles. That revolutionary idea has temporarily put the Raptor Project on hold. We decided that in a paddle sports market with no hand paddles, we should move forward with the hand paddles project first. The sport of kayak fishing hit the paddle sports market full speed. Backwater designed the first kayak fishing hand paddles for the paddle sports market. Of course, creating your own niche carries your own marketing problems. It was an uphill battle at first to introduce such a new paddle concept to the paddle sport industry. Backwater Paddles was initially trying to solve the paddlers’ dilemma: How do you paddle and fish, or paddle and hunt, or paddle and photograph with only two hands? It takes two hands to paddle, and at least one to fish. You either have to paddle or fish? The hand paddle provides single-hand, stealthy maneuverability of your kayak. It allows for a one-handed paddle operation while you continue to fish or hunt. Once the paddle sports community saw the paddle design and observed the results, the hand paddle concept took off. The concept has revolutionized stealth and mobility in the paddle sports industry.

How is the upcoming Assault paddle different from the Piranha and Predator models?

The Assault Hand Paddle is the next generation hand paddle to be released by Backwater. We started manufacturing our wooden hand paddles — the Predator and Piranha — from our paddle shop in Cape Canaveral. The Predator and Piranha were our first hand paddles to be introduced into the market. The whole hand paddle concept was met with great enthusiasm by the kayak angling community. From that initial optimism, we simply moved ahead with a new and improved hand paddle design. A modified plastic hand paddle incorporating a raised relief graphic package soon evolved. Vector Cad Service in Merritt Island diligently worked on designing the new Assault and the badass graphics package. The wooden hand paddles are being replaced with the new Assault Hand Paddle made from a high-density polypropylene polymer. These new paddles will float and come in various colors. The colors being considered vary from a safety angle — orange and reds — to a stealthy approach with blue, black and green.

Backwater Paddle Company’s new Assault Hand Paddle will be available for the 2013 spring fishing season. They can be ordered through www.backwaterpaddles.com or through their national distributor, Outdoor Specialty Innovations. Contact Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach at www.kayakcocoabeach.com or call (321) 480-8632. Ask for Ed to be your next kayak adventure guide.

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