How to Choose the Right Oars for Your Boat

Trying to decide what are the best oars for your boat rather depends on the actual boat itself and your physical size and rowing technique. Having the correct oars will seriously improve your rowing experience and enjoyment. The correct leverage ratio is critical to the performance of your boat and you should aim for a 7:18 leverage. The length of the oar will largely determine this, and so your next decision is what blade you should opt for. This is divided into two categories, spoon and flat, with different variations of both. Here’s a selection of tips how to select the right oars for you and your boat.

The Shape of the Boat

Generally, spoon blades are more efficient than flat blades, but this does depend largely on the hull. If your boat has a rounded bottom, and is a canoe, whitehall, or a wherry then, as a rule of thumb, a spoon oar is your best choice. But crafts such as, skiffs, prams, and dories that have a flatter hull it tends to make little difference if you choose flat or spoon oars. However, many boats hulls fall in-between these two categories and are best propelled with spoon blades.

Flat Blade Oars

Most flat blade oars will be a quarter inch thick at the end, and usually they have a rib that runs down the shaft towards the blade. This rib is there to provide strength as well as to look aesthetically pleasing. These types of blades are normally wooden made from ash or spruce. Ash oars tend to be heavier, and if you are intending to go in rocky water are the choice to select. However, for general purpose rowing the lighter spruce oars are easier to handle.

Spoon Blade Oars

There are many choices when it comes to spoon blade oars, some are longer and have narrower blades, and these are excellent for recreational rowing. They also come into their own when the water is rough as they are very forgiving and just skip over the top of the waves. Wider spoon blades are roughly the same length but have different balance and are differently proportioned. The size of the blade increases with the length of the oar. Rowers opt for spoon blade oars when they are looking for performance and want to go faster.


As we have seen before the length determines the leverage ratio of the oar, and the main concern for the length of the oar is how much it weight it has outside the boat. Most oars are between four and a half feet long to five and a half feet. But some spoon blade oars are over eight feet in length. All properly crafted oars will have a tapered shaft, this helps to cut down their outboard weight and also gives more flexibility to the oar. The choice of oar you choose for your boat is quite critical how both you and your craft perform in the water, so choose wisely.