If you are ready to dive into paddle boarding, you are in luck. We've assembled all the information you need to learn how to paddle board, select the right SUP equipment, and expand your mind to all the world that paddle boarding world can offer you right here in one amazing web page.
Learn How to Paddle Board
Paddle Boarding in Flatwater
How to Paddle Surf
How to SUP: Basics of SUP Equipment
Stand Up Paddleboarding Board Options
Paddle Boarding Accessories
Paddle Boarding in Flatwater
How to SUP: Body Positioning
When starting out the path of learning how to stand up paddle board, you first want to find the center of the board and position your feet in a parallel stance about shoulder width apart around the center point of the board. You’ll want your knees to be bent slightly. To learn the muscle memory for balancing, it's very helpful to practice rocking the board side to side alternatively with your legs. This is the counter-balancing motion that you need to learn to balance. It takes about 30 minutes to find your balance and to get the muscle memory to learn to SUP. It feels really tipsy at first, but in no time you’ll be very comfortable on flat water paddleboarding, and if you're adventurous and want to learn to paddle surf in the waves you are ready to tackle that - see below for our primer on more detailed instructions in how to paddle surf. I learned to paddle board in the waves the first time I did it, so it's not that difficult. I was catching waves before I knew it.
Stand Up Paddleboarding: Paddling Technique
For gripping the paddle, you’re opposite hand (left hand if paddling on the right side of the board) should be on the top paddle handle, and your inside hand should be palm facing in on the shaft of the paddle. All of the power in your stand up paddleboarding stroke comes from paddling in front of your body, so you want to reach the tip of the paddle out as far as you can reach, then pull back with your core only until you cross you body. Then withdraw the paddle from the water to take the next stroke.
As you pull the paddle back, you want to work it with the core of your body. Your arms should be fairly straight through-out the process. The trick to using your core when learning how to paddle board is to think of your body alignment to the paddle like an A. Your top arm extends over your head to hold the end of the SUP paddle forming one side of the A. The SUP paddle itself is the other side of the A, and your outer arm is the crossbar of the A. Keep that A formed throughout your stroke.
When you pull the paddle out of the water at the end of your stroke, you sort of drop your top hand towards the opposite side of the board and bring the paddle thru the air flatly to minimize wind resistance. The paddle should cut thru the air like a knife. You’ll see beginners doing this incorrectly and fighting against the wind with their paddle. The windier it is, the more you can feel the difference here. The paddle will be a straight shaft with a paddle that angles forward. You want the angle going forward, so the paddle has the ability to bend and recoil as you paddle it from front to back. Very frequently, beginners mistakenly paddle with the paddle angling backwards.
When first learning how to stand up paddle board, you can use short or long strokes, but experiment with the power of your stroke. If you just sort of casually stab the paddle in the water and move it backward without a good deal of effort, you will not go very fast and if you have to go upwind, you may stall in the water. Experiment with aggressively pulling the paddle back with your core for a dozen stokes or so in order to understand the different effort that's involved in really pressing it. While you don't have to paddle aggressively all the time, you should know how to in case you get into a bind. There's a big difference between renting a paddle board and tooling around, and really knowing how to paddle board. You have to really push it if you want to enjoy the core workout element of SUP.
Paddle Boarding: Alternating Your Stroke
Unless you’ve got a racing dedicated board (that typically have very pronounced V hulls), you’ll notice the direction of your paddleboard changes slightly with every stroke. It's all largely dependent on your fin size and configuration, as well as your paddle stroke, but by the time you’ve done a few strokes on the right side of the board you’ll notice the direction you’re now heading may be 15-30 degrees to the left. As such, you want to switch to the other side and do five strokes there. You alternate back and forth, and your top hand switches each time you alternate sides - grab the mid-paddle with your top paddle hand as you cross the board and move your mid-paddle hand to the top. Additionally, it helps minimize this if you lean out towards the side you are paddling on to use the edge of your board as a rail of sorts. Different SUP boards track differently based on the different shapes of their bottom. A big part of learning how to stand up paddle board is learning what SUP boards work best for the type of SUP adventure you are looking to enjoy. See our stand up paddleboarding board type discussion below.
How to Turn A Stand Up Paddle Board
If you just keep paddling on one side of your SUP board you will follow a slow, rounded turning radius on most stand up paddle boards. Dedicated racing SUP boards and touring paddle boards tend to turn much less, but they still turn a bit. This is how most beginners learn to turn a SUP. It’s slow and inefficient way to SUP. Once you feel comfortable with balancing on your paddleboard, you can make much quicker SUP turns by just walking back one foot on your board. Position your outside foot (outside to the turn, but closest to the SUP paddling side) back as far as you can in a sort of open parallel stance. You want to dig in the tail of the board and lift the front of the board while you are paddling and this allows you to easily swing the board around as you take short paddle strokes. Once you’re around the turn, just walk back forward to the standard parallel stance in the middle of the board. Once you can do this without falling it, you've mastered learning how to SUP turn. In a pinch, you can also turn quickly with a backward stoke on the side you want to turn towards. Just do a few aggressive SUP paddles on one side, then a couple reverse on the other side and your board will swing around.
How to Paddle Surf
Paddlesurfing is Difficult, but Fun
There is a lot more going on in stand up paddle surfing than in flat water paddling. Even once you negotiate thru the whitewater and crashing waves to a safer area outside the breaking waves, there is still a constant swell you’re trying to balance against. This makes it all the more difficult to just keep your balance, especially if you’re never even done flat water stand up paddle boarding before. I learned in the waves. The balance issue is compounded by the fact that you never really know what level is as everything is moving. A good trick is to fight the urge to look down at your feet while you’re trying to balance on a paddle board and instead focus on the horizon or the beach. That’s your level. Forget your feet. The paddleboard and your feet will take care of themselves if you concentrate on the true level, the horizon. As a side note, this is also how you keep from getting seasick on a boat.
Paddle Surfing Strategy: Picking a Path Thru the Break
One of the most challenging elements of stand up paddle surfing is just getting thru the whitewater and crashing waves. Before you can even think about how you’re going to catch a wave, you actually have to get out into position beyond the breaking waves. Having a huge SUP board makes this all the more difficult. It’s best to just watch the waves for a bit before you venture out on your first paddlesurf adventure. Look to see if there is an area that the waves are consistently peaking at (the farthest out, and most central place it breaks). Typically the wave peaks in one spot and then breaks out towards the “shoulder” and then sort of dwindles out. You definitely want to head out in the shoulder area, not right in the heart of the wave break. You do this both because it makes getting out easier, and you’ll get in the way of other surfers and paddle surfers if you try to go out on the inside of a wave.
Paddle Surfing in Closed-out Areas
In many areas the waves kind of all break or close-out at once. On a stand up paddle board, and as a beginner, this will probably be your proving ground as the “good surf spots” will be crowded and no place for a paddle surfing beginner. You pose a danger to others there and you don't know what you're doing yet and you've got a massive stand up paddle board in tow that if you lose can wipe out other people.
In these type of “close out” paddle surf areas you just pick the least bad spot to go out. Inevitably, you’ll get caught on the inside at times in the whitewater and crashing waves. As waves typically come in sets, it’s best to just wait out the paddle surfing set in the whitewater and then head for the shoulder to go out. It’s somewhat bad surfing etiquette (in a crowded spot) to cut across the whitewater during a set as you tend to get in the way of incoming surfers. In the waves and whitewater, it’s perfectly okay (and recommended at times) to paddle on your knees and choke up on the paddle and make quick short strokes when you have a chance to get out. Learning how to stand up paddle surf is very challenging so there's no shame in dropping to your knees to get thru a tough patch at times and then hopping back into your upright paddle surfing stance when the situation improves. This is not the time to lollygag around when you are heading thru the waves on a paddle board. The point is to get out as quickly as you can, while you can, so paddle aggressively. You can rest once you’re outside the breaking waves. Fortunately, a stand up paddle boarder can paddle at three times the speed of a prone surfer so you can cover ground quicker. It’s slower when you’re on your knees, but it’s still very nice to have a paddle. On the flip side, surfers can duck dive waves or do turtle rolls, while paddle boarding means you've got to go right over the top of the wave. You're faster when paddle surfing, so take advantage of your SUP paddling speed and try not to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
How to Paddlesurf : Catching Waves
Catching waves is all about positioning. As a stand up paddle surfer with a huge board you’ve got a natural wave catching advantage over surfers, both short boarders and long boarders. Note that surfing etiquette dictates you don’t use this advantage to abuse other surfers and hog waves . These massive SUPs can catch pretty much any wave and they can catch them early. Thus you’ll want to be positioned farther out than surfers. Ideally, you want to catch the wave as close to the peak as possible, then ride the wave out the shoulder. When learning how to paddlesurf, just catch whatever you can and get a feel of things. Once you're on the wave, turn so you're cutting across the wave face as opposed to heading straight into the beach. Same when you are dropping into a larger wave so you don't nosedive your paddle board. When you get off the wave, if you've paddled across the wave, you have the added benefit of being able to simply paddle straight out (in the outer shoulder area) past the breaking waves and then paddle back over towards the peak. Under good paddle surfing conditions, it's kind of a circular rotation.
As you’re scouting for waves, it’s best to be sort of perpendicular to the incoming wave direction and also well outside of where they will likely break. Once you spot a good wave, start turning towards shore and paddling to get momentum towards the beach (which helps the wave catch your paddle board). Paddle pretty ferociously right as the wave meets you, and then as the wave starts to take you on its own you want to jump from your parallel stance to a wide surfing stance (so you’re doing a 90 degree jump turn of your body on the board). And just like that you're paddle surfing. Depending on the size of the waves and the drop-in, you want to adjust your angle so you don’t go straight in (and down the wave). The idea is to turn out towards the shoulder and ride alongside the break, not straight at the beach which will result in a dangerous nose dive in larger waves that have a "drop-in". On small waves or when you are just catching white water later, your angle doesn’t really matter so much.
Once you've practiced the basics and learned how to paddlesurf, you can get more and more aggressive about the types of surfing spots you go out in.
How to SUP: Basics of SUP Equipment
Paddle Board Carriers, Racks & Transport
Stand up paddle boards are larger than people realize at first. Most SUP boards are 10' long or longer and almost 3' wide. They aren't heavy at only 25-30 lbs, but it's awkward dealing with something of that size regardless of the weight. Hard SUP boards are made out of fiberglass and epoxy resin (like a surfboard) so they fairly easy to damage by whacking a corner.
Here are a few tips to make transportation easier:
- Consider iSUPs - Seriously consider going the inflatable paddle board route instead of a hard paddle board. Inflatable SUPs are almost indestructible and can be deflated when transporting to save space and hassle. Unless you are surfing and you need the edge transition only available on hard SUPs, inflatable paddle boards are a better option. That's why 70%+ of the market buys iSUPs these days.
- Get a paddle board bag - If you have a hard board, a high-quality paddleboard bag is a good idea to protect your investment.
- Learn the SUP shoulder carry - Most all SUP boards have a handle that's designed so you can carry the board under your arm, but you can also flip these up over your shoulder to carry. Alternate between the two for comfort.
- Airplanes are a no go - Surfboards are expensive to take on airplance, but most all stand up paddle boards are over the size limit (9-10' depending on airline) for planes. If you want to travel with a paddle board, get an iSUP.
Paddleboard Paddle Sizing
Your SUP paddle length is pretty critical. Many paddles come in fixed length so you set this upon purchasing it, but it's a lot more common in recreational settings to be found using an adjustable SUP paddle. To adjust it to your height, there are 2 primary calculations you want to look at. If you are flat water paddling, you want the SUP paddle distance between the tip of the blade and the top handle to be about 8-10 inches over your head. If you are going paddle surfing, you'll want it about 6-8 inches over your head. Extend your thumb and pinky finger on your hand and place that on top of your head and you've estimated about 6-7 inches over your head. Use that as the base for setting the length of your SUP paddle.
SUP Fin Prep
If you have a hard stand up paddle board, you will need to ensure the fins are installed securely. There's nothing worse than being on a paddle board with no fins. You'll just go around in circles and be at the mercy of the wind. If your paddle board has a center fin box, this works just like the center box on a regular surfboard. Center fins for a SUP will come with a paddle board fin screw and plate that slides along a channel in the SUP fin box. Disassemble the fin screw and plate from the SUP fin. Lace the screw thru the front of the fin (you'll see a screw sized hole), while dropping the rear fin peg (attached to the base of the fin) into the fin box channel and slide it back. Then position the separate plate in the fin box channel and slide it either back or forward a bit to orient directly under where the screw pierces the fin base, press down, and screw it into the SUP fin box plate. By applying pressure with the screw, the fin gets secured within the SUP fin box.
If you have an inflatable SUP, there are a couple different options of fin mounting. On Tower iSUPs, we have a hook and pin paddle board fin configuration. You hook the front of the fin base over the fin box then pull back and set the pin.
Stand Up Paddleboarding Board Options
Inflatable Paddle Boards Versus Hard SUP Boards
When we started selling paddle boards in 2010, less than 1% of paddle boards sold were inflatable even though inflatable SUPs had been around for 5 years or more at that time. The problem was they were 4" think inflatable paddle boards, which rode like a banana thru the water and were pretty useless. We were one of the pioneers in prototyping 6" thick and 8" thick inflatable paddle boards in 2011, and we introduced Tower inflatable paddle boards into the market the following year at direct to consumer pricing (so half price of retail). Today, well over 70% of stand up paddle boards sold worldwide are inflatable SUPs. They've taken over, because aside from surfing and racing, iSUPs are pretty much superior all around. Inflatable paddleboards are easier to transport, easier to store, largely indestructible (while hard SUPs are very easy to damage), and safer as they're softer to the tough. Their rigidity surprises many people.
If you want to paddlesurf, then you should only be considering a hard paddle board as you need the edge transition to carve it up on the waves. While you can race with iSUPs and they're a magnitude less expensive to transport if you flying all over the place, most races are done on specialty racing paddle boards.
All Around Paddle Boards
When we entered the paddle board market a decade ago, most of the industry focus was on developing expensive paddle surfing boards and racing paddle boards as those were the sexiest niches to hang a brand on and make magazine print ads for. We saw this as kind of crazy because those segments together didn't represent more than 10% of the overall demand in the stand up paddle board market. At Tower, we just decided to focus on all around paddle boards... the other 90% of the market, and offer consumers high quality SUP boards at low prices by only selling direct to consumer. This simplifies things too as paddle surfing boards and racing paddle boards come in all kinds of specialty shapes, sizes, and materials, while you can make just a couple board sizes that can accommodate pretty much 99% of all around paddle boarders.
There's a lot of talk about different size paddle boards out there, 99% of people will be well suited with a 10' to 12' all around paddle board if they are shopping for hard boards. If you're a little heavier, go closer to 12'. If you are not as big, go closer to 10'. A little extra length on hard boards helps create enough volume to support bigger riders. Because of this, we keep things simple and only carry two models at Tower, a 9'10" wood paddle board and an 11'5" wood paddle board, both of which are all around paddle boards but with sufficient volume and rocker so that they are decent for small wave paddle surfing as well. These Tower stand up paddle boards are molded, sandwich construction boards which is the high quality and durability you need. The design is a beautiful wood laminate, which adds extra shell strength in addition to the beauty.
- Great for 99% of riders
- Perfect for what most people do, which is paddle around on flat lakes or bays
- Okay to take out the surf (if they're designed correctly), so you only need one board
- Widely available to demo at paddle board rental places
Inflatable paddle boards have taken over the SUP industry over the past decade, and for good reason. They've literally gone from less than 1% of the market to well over 70%. INC Magazine named Tower's inflatable paddle boards one of the most impressive products in the US on the 2015 INC 500 (list of America's fastest growing companies, which Tower ranked at #239). Prototyped in 2011 and introduced to the market in 2012, Tower was among the first companies to introduce 6" think inflatable paddle boards to the market and they changed the game. Suddenly, iSUPs ("Inflatable Paddle Boards") were nearly as rigid as hard boards (fiberglass SUPs), and had added benefit of being easier to store and transport, safer for kids and anybody falling and hitting their head, an virtually indestructible (as opposed to somewhat brittle hard boards).
While we discuss all around paddle boards above, we were referring to hard board SUPs as those were the original "all around paddle boards". Today, however, most people that are looking for an all around SUP should really be looking for an inflatable stand up paddle board. They're just perfectly suited for the all around paddler that will use their SUP on lakes, rivers, bays, and even playing around in small surf. With their 6" think volume across the entire length of a SUP, a 10' inflatable paddle board can support a 350 lb person easily. A 10' hard board of normal construction and thickness would support about a 200 lb person, so another added benefit of inflatable paddle boards is that a shorter board works for pretty much anyone. You don't have to get a 12' behemoth hard SUP if you are a bigger SUP rider.
While there are all different sizes of iSUPs, 99% of the population can get away with and ~10' all around iSUP. Our 10'4" Adventurer iSUP works for pretty much everyone. There are racing iSUP shapes that are longer and narrower, and we make a tandem touring boards that's 14' and 8" thick. That SUP board, called the Xplorer, can support up to like 800 lbs.
- Unbelievably rigid - virtually as good as hardboards
- Nearly indestructible
- Easy to store
- Easy to transport
- Forgiving when you fall or hit the board
Touring Paddle Boards
If you plan to traverse long distances on your stand up paddle board, or carry some gear with you on your SUP, it's a good idea to get what's called a "touring paddle board". These SUPs are longer and typically have a more pointy nose. On hard SUP that are touring boards, they also have a displacement hull where the front of the board cuts thru the water as opposed to having a front rocker that goes over the top of the water. Touring SUPs also frequently have cargo nets.
The benefit of having a longer touring paddle board is that the extra length helps you both glide and maintain a straight course. Like a big ship, it's just harder to turn. This extra glide lets you paddle board at a faster clip to get where you are going faster, and with less paddling effort. Touring stand up paddle boards come in both inflatable SUP form and in hard board form.
- Designed to go fast and glide
- Great for hauling gear
- Excellent tracking
Paddlesurfing was really where the sport of stand up paddle boarding originated. The early entrants envisioned paddle boards and just long surfboards with a ton of volume that you could stand up on and use the assistance of a paddle to catch waves. When the surf was small, this was a great way to still enjoy the waves. Early brand in the paddle board industry only made SUP surfing boards. Once people started to use their boards for SUP flat water recreational paddling, exploration, and exercise as well, it took a while for the brands to understand that the sport was evolving and really 90% of the market wasn't ever going to go in the waves and try paddle surfing. That's really when the SUP market took off, but because the roots are in SUP surfing, there is a tremendous range of SUP surfing boards to choose from. There are paddle surfing boards under 8' long and ones over 12' long, and the shapes are all over the map. Some of the shorter boards are sinkers and can barely support the weight of a small rider so they can be very difficult to balance for most people.
When you first start to paddle surf, you want to use a big board that you can balance on. Something 10' with a long of volume up to something that is about 12' is ideal. The bigger rider you are, the more length and volume you tend to require. We make two models of hard paddle boards, both of which are all around paddle boards, but also work pretty well for SUP surfing. Our 11'5" wood paddle board works for big riders up to 270 lbs, and our 9'10" wood paddle board works well for anyone under 220 lbs. Both are unusually thick boards so they have extra volume in a shorter package and this makes this perfect as cross over paddle boards that can be used for paddle surfing as well as flat water SUP.
Once you get really good at paddle surfing, you will likely want to gravitate towards a shorter, more aggressive surfing shape so you can really carve up the face of the waves during your SUP surfing sessions. And 8' or 9' board will also be a lot easier to transport back and forth to the beach as you tend to have to hike more when you paddlesurf. I would highly encourage all flat water paddleboarding enthusiasts to give it a try in the waves. SUP surfing is like a whole different sport, not really that difficult in small waves, and incredibly fun.
- Most fun part of SUP
- Ample rocker so you don't nose dive
- Shorter boards can be difficult to balance
- Great turning performance on the wave
- Need the edge transition only available on hard SUP boards
Racing Paddle Boards
Racing SUPs are another niche segment of the larger stand up paddle boarding market. In the early days, paddle boarding enthusiasts were either SUP surfers or SUP racers. There weren't a lot of recreational all round paddle boarders out there. There was a lot of focus on racing paddle boards by early brands, and biggest events were paddle board racing events. One of the biggest was called the Battle of the Paddle and the racing events included long marathon like paddle board races in the open ocean as well as relay races from the beach out thru the surf around a buoy and back several laps. Racing paddle board design was optimized to compete in this race and ones like it, and there were a lot of variations on hull design experimented with.
In general, racing paddle boards tend to be longer SUP boards with pointy noses that are frequently displacement hulls, or alternatively kind of bulbous noses. SUP racing boards are also very narrow. The narrower they are the more they cut thru water like a knife, and the faster they are. The problem is that they become very tippy the narrower they get. Most beginner stand up paddle boarders, and many regular SUP enthusiasts can't even stand up on a true racing paddle board. Racing paddle boards have a very sleek and sexy look to them so many beginners buy one as their first board an end up regretting it. It's no fun if you can barely stand up, so be cautioned that you only want to go with a racing paddle board if you are confident in your skills and really need the speed benefit.
Most racing paddle boards are 12'6" in length. It's a racing class standard size. There also tends to be a 14' max class so you will see a lot of 14' SUP racing boards. Then there are unlimited SUP racing classes where the boards that can be any length. SUP racing events started popping up all over the world and the same top racers were competing in all of them and thus it became quite an expense and hassle to transport these 12.6' to 14' plus boards to every race around the world. It's not like you can just take them on the plane with you. So consider then hassle and expense if you are looking to really get serious about SUP racing. As a reaction, inflatable SUP racing class has popped up. Much easier to transport these anywhere as you can roll them up like a sleeping bag and take them with you anywhere very inexpensively. Our 12'6" iRace is a very economical option if you are looking to dip your toes into racing paddle boards. Our 14' Xplorer is also an extremely fast paddle board because of the rigidity provided by its 8" thickness, but not sometimes iSUP racing classes may limit the length of SUP racing boards allowed to compete.
- Built for speed
- Narrow and easy to tip, so challenging for beginners
- Pay attention to SUP racing class length specifications
- Lightweight, expensive construction materials
Paddle Board Yoga
Paddleboarding attracts a lot of fitness oriented people. That's the great thing about paddle boarding. It's got the cool soulful appeal of surfing, plus the adventurous appeal of kayaking, plus some amazing fitness benefits as it's kind of the perfect full body workout in nature. The people who got into paddle boarding for the workout quickly started experimenting with doing on the water yoga workouts. Yoga is a lot of about balance, and by doing it on a somewhat unstable platform in the water, it ramps up the difficulty level. More importantly, doing yoga out in the open air in nature alongside a beautiful beach or lakefront environment is so much more Zen then some yoga studio. So yoga enthusiasts flocked to the sport.
Initially, when virtually all stand up paddle boards were hard boards, brands started making SUPs with full length flat traction pads to make it comfortable to do yoga on a SUP. Prior to this, traction pads were only in areas of the paddle board that would need to be stepped on so they went up just in front of the midline and all the way to the tail (sometimes with a kick tail for surfing). These full length traction pad boards were very comfortable for laying down on so paddle board yoga really took off. Once people tried yoga on an inflatable paddle board, the game changed again. While hard boards could add padding with a 1/4th inch foam pad, they were still hard boards underneath. Inflatable paddle boards had rigidity over the length of a 10' span, but any single point along that length was actually quite forgiving. For SUP yoga, this was ideal as you could bury an elbow in the forgiving iSUP to support your entire weight and not hurt your elbow.
Today, most paddle board yoga enthusiasts use inflatable paddle boards, and there are even rectangle floating platforms that aren't even iSUPs that are rising in popularity that are only used for paddle board yoga and other on the water cross fit workouts.
- Wide, stable paddle boards are best
- Need a flat paddled traction pad
- iSUPs are ideal as they are soft at points, but rigid along length
Any wide, stable paddle board makes a good platform for fishing. Really, paddle boards are like ultra portable one-person boats. It's not only that you can maneuver them into pretty much any fishing hole that's got more than 8" of water, but it's that a SUP is pretty easy to get to the water in the first place. If you roll up an inflatable paddle board, you can throw it on the back of a four wheeler and take it to very remotely accessible fishing holes. We even make inflatable backpacks so you can hike an iSUP into a mountain lake that may have never even had a boat on it in the history of humanity.
Fishermen are always looking for an angle to fish where other's can't as that's how you'll find that places that haven't been fished out. All this opportunity presented by SUP boards was just too much for fishing enthusiasts to resist. Pretty quickly after stand up paddle boarding was invented, fishing paddleboards were popping up everywhere. Any stable hard board SUP was made due by just popping a cooler on it for the seat, a tackle box up front, and maybe a bucket or net to hold your catch. As soon as iSUPs came onto the market in a big way, anglers flocked to them for their extra portability. With inflatable SUPs, fishing paddleboards could go anywhere. Check out our more extensive primer on fishing paddleboards. (https://www.towerpaddleboards.com/fishing-paddleboard)
- Wide, stable paddle boards are best
- There are dedicated fishing SUPs, but any SUP board can work
- Unmatched accessibility to fish in hard to reach spots
Paddle Boarding Accessories
Paddle Board Paddles
To standup paddle, the two things you definitely need are a SUP board and a SUP paddle. Unlike kayak paddles, which have paddle blades on both ends, a SUP paddle has a T-handle grip on one end and a blade on the other. Unlike canoe paddles, SUP paddles are much longer and typically 6-10 inches taller than the rider. You paddle with one hand on the top T-handle grip, and the other around the mid-shaft of the board with your hands a little more than shoulder width apart. The blade of a SUP paddle angles slightly forward so it can bend and recoil as you apply paddle pressure.
SUP paddles come in fixed length, 2-piece adjustable, and 3-piece adjustable for travel. The strongest and best SUP paddle to use is always fixed length, but it can also be a hassle for a couple reasons. First, they are a hassle to transport because they don't break down. Second, they are a hassle to build as you buy them uncut and have to cut them to the rider height recommendation and glue on the T-handle. Lastly, as they don't adjust, they only work ideally for the intended rider... so you shorter buddy can't use your paddle. Still, any serious stand up paddle boarding enthusiast has a fixed length paddle cut perfectly for them. The 2-piece adjustable SUP paddle is the most popular choice for recreational paddlers as it's decent performance wise but also has the on-the-spot flexibility to be used by any of your friends. Rental places love these of course. The 3-piece paddles were really introduced into the market as "travel friendly paddles" only, and they were typically sold with inflatable paddle board packages. They work just fine for recreational paddling, but with all the connection points, you have to always worry about water seeping in with continual submersion and putting your paddle at risk of sinking.
Our recommendation is you get a 2-piece paddle as your first paddle, unless you are buying an inflatable paddle board then get a 3-piece so it fits and stores nicely with your rolled up iSUP. Then as you get more into the sport, grab a 2nd paddle that's either a fixed length or a 2-piece, depending on how serious you are about the sport.
Paddle board paddles come in several different construction and material types.
- Aluminum SUP Paddles - On the low end, you can get a paddle shaft made out of aluminum but they are heavy and while strong, their flex characteristics aren't great so they can break instead of bending like you really need to them to. The blades are typically plastic. Also, they can sink if you get a low quality one, which isn't ideal. We stopped selling aluminum paddles at all over 5 years ago because they just aren't the quality our customers expect. The 3-piece ones also sink a lot, so buyer beware there.
- Fiberglass SUP Paddles - Fiberglass is a great option for an economical SUP paddle that also has great weight, strength, and durability characteristics. Blades are typically plastic.
- Wooden Paddles - There are full wood paddles on the market that are absolutely beautiful paddles, but as SUP paddles are so long in length they can break. A lot of times you will see wood hybrid paddles with a wood blade and a carbon fiber or fiberglass reinforced SUP paddle shaft. These are good options, but they tend not to be the lightest.
- Carbon Fiber SUP Paddle - The lightest stand up paddles with also great strength characteristics are carbon fiber paddles. Often times the blade in carbon fiber as well, but sometimes it's plastic. AS carbon fiber is strong over length, but brittle at points to touch, there are many hybrid carbon fiber paddles where certain elements use other tougher materials. Perhaps a carbon fiber SUP shaft and a carbon fiber blade that's lined with rubber around the blade edge. We offer what we consider to be the best of all worlds, a carbon fiber and Carbon Kevlar hybrid paddle shaft and blade with a special edging.
Check out our SUP paddle sizing instruction above.
Paddle board leashes are highly recommended if you are going out in any water with a current or if you are paddlesurfing in the surf zone. One end of the SUP leash attaches around your ankle or calf, and the other end attaches to a standardized surf leash attachment point on the rear of your board. The leash is typically about the length of your board so that if you fall off in the waves it will allow the board to get a sufficient distance away from you while still be tethered so you don't get whacked by the board. The idea is you use a paddle board leash when you don't want the SUP to get away from you as you can get into trouble if you're suddenly swimming far away from shore, or in a current. It's a good way to drown. A paddle board will float away faster than you in a current so be careful and always wear a leash if there is any question.
A leash is not required all the time, and we don't recommend it for just tooling around a lake that has no current. The SUP leash will frequently drag off the end of a board creating extra drag in the water and getting tangled up in seaweed, so if you don't need it, don't use a SUP leash. You can get a paddle board leash that is all or partially coiled to keep in up on the board, and this is typically used in open ocean racing SUPs.
A paddleboard bag serves two purposes. First it protects a paddle board from damage when you are storing or transporting it out of the water. In high-quality paddle board bags, there is a 4mm-10mm high density foam padding incorporated into the bag that will cushion any bumps you encounter. Second, a paddle board bag protects a SUP from exposure to elements and sun. EPS foam and epoxy SUPs can be damaged by excessive heat which leads to delaminating of the shell from the foam core. A paddle board can also be discolored by long term exposure to UV rays. A paddleboard bag serves as a barrier and sometimes a reflective surface to ward off these damaging elements.
You only need a paddle board bag for hard boards, which are somewhat brittle and thus can easily be damaged, especially when transported as they are huge and a little ungainly to handle. Inflatable stand up paddle boards don't require these protections as they are kind of indestructible to begin with. The only thing you have to protect on an iSUP is the traction pad if you plan to leave your board in excessive sunlight for long periods of time like on a sailboat. The recommendation is you put the traction pad down in that environment, and really, it's not a great idea to store you board in direct sunlight 24/7.
There's a wide range of quality on paddleboard bags, so examine what you are buying. The cheap bags will have very little paddling, the zippers with fail, and the exterior shell will get cut easily. While a cheap bag is better than no bag, it's not ideal. We used to carry low-end paddle board bags, but we got out of that business as they just didn't provide a good customer experience. WE only sell premium quality travel bags now with 10mm of foam protection, very high-end zippers, and super tough materials. Our paddleboard bags are among the finest in the industry, yet at incredible pricing because of our direct to consumer only business model.
Shop direct to consumer from Tower's selection of stand up paddle boards today!