Derek Young from Sawyer Paddles and Oars describes the steps to choosing drift boat oars with a comparison between natural and composite. Derek describes the square top oar vs the smoker bandit and why you would go with either of these.

Lots of analogies to help clarify today including the golf analogy and the fly rod analogy.  We also dig into the history of Sawyer oars and how it all started in 1967 with a hardcore boater, Ralph Sawyer in Michigan, who was a racing champion.


Click below and listen to the Drift Boat Oars Podcast with Derek Young:

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Show Notes for the Drift Boat Oars Podcast

05:54 – April Volkey was on the podcast in episode 30 and talked about the 10 year mark in guiding and how it allowed her to move onto her next part of her journey.  

08:30 – We talked about the square top oar and the history of it.  It is counterbalanced to allow for much less wear and tear on your arms.

boat oars


19:45 – The StreamTech boat is Derek’s Current boat of choice.

20:29 – The pro tip is a nice bonus that helps protect the oar blade over time.

boat oars



23:40 – The two thirds rule will help you determine the length of oars to use.  This is summarized by 1/3 of the length of oar from the oar lock in and 2/3rds length from the oar lock out.   Here’s a breakdown on oar length for a raft:


38:30 – Shop local is a great feature to help you find a dealer for Sawyer Oar products.

40:30 – Willis Boats was a big part of the start of Sawyer Oars in southern Oregon back in the day.

43:10 – Roger Fletcher was on the podcast and take about the history of drift boats.

50:30 – Cataract oars is another company I have used in the past who produce a synthetic blade.

51:00 – The cobra oars locks are killer and are tunable so you can perfectly adjust them to your needs.

cobra oar lock

59:20 – Paul Clark on the standup paddle boards is a leader in that space.


You can find Derek at Sawyer Paddles and Oars here.

sawyer oars


Top Tips on choosing drift boat oars

  1. Use stiffer oars for heavier boats
  2. 2/3 rule for choosing the length of your oars:  1/3 in and 2/3 outside of boat
  3. How tall are you in relation to length of oar
  4. What type of water are you rowing
  5. how often are you rowing
  6. What height is your rowing seat
  7. Cobra oar locks are a bonus
  8. Find Rowing tips on safety
  9. Choose flex of the oar based on boat weight



Videos and/or podcasts Noted in the Show

The smoker bandit oar


Oar lock tuning guide

photo via:

Drift Boat Oars Conclusion with Derek Young

Derek Young from Sawyer Paddle and Oars share the steps to choosing your next set up drift boat oars.  We find out the formula for choosing the right oar based on your size, your river, and your variables.