Sawyer Oars vs all the others?

I have a Hyde Low Pro (14.7 ft long) fiberglass drift boat (approx weight 275 lbs) and mainly drift class I-II water (White river/Norfork river in Arkansas, Taneycomo/North Fork of the White river in Missouri, Pere Marquette river in Michigan) and have pondered upgrading my original oars (Carlisle 2 piece oars).

My question is (for those of you who use or have used the Sawyer Square top hybrid with Dynelite wide or shoal cut blades)...will I really be able to notice a difference in the way the boat handles or increased efficiency/decreased arm fatigue with these oars?
Is shoal cut the way to go?

I am mainly in low water conditions with very very little technical rowing required (mostly back rowing to slow down and extend out drifts and avoiding rocks/logjams).
What is everyone's impression/experience with the Sawyer oars?
Thanks for your input.

Derek Young

Emerging Rivers Guide Services
Where are you located? I have a pair of both the SquareTop 9' Shoal Cut and 9" Dynelite Wide oars, if you're close to the Snoqualmie or Yakima I'd let you demo them for a float, of course I'd be fishing....

Thanks so much for the offer and that would be perfect...unfortunately I live in Saint Louis, MO. Half the country away from you guys. What do you like about the sawyer oars over the other oar manufacturers?

Derek Young

Emerging Rivers Guide Services
In full disclosure I have a business relationship with Sawyer, but would use them regardless because they are simply the best I have found in terms of workmanship, performance, and weight. The Shoal Cut has become a favorite because it provides an effective profile in the water for tactical rowing, especially in low water conditions. I like the longer and narrower Dynalite for pure paddling trips, but for guiding the difference is in the analogy of a knife versus a spoon. I like to be able to push and scoop water with the Shoal Cut, allowing a shorter and more powerful stroke. Sometimes you need a knife, and the longer blade is great for that.

They are also very aesthetically pleasing with the counter-balance built in, versus wrapping weights, etc.

Hope you can find someone local to get a chance to row with them. Or head out here for a guided trip and I'll give you some time on the oars.



Active Member
Lived a mile and a half from Sawyers plant for 17 years in Oregon and used them exclusively on my driftboats for years. The Dynalites are fantastic. No better product on the market and a great company. I prefer cataracts for rafting and big water on my rafts here in CO and have never been a fan of counterbalance on any of them (personal preference). Either will be a huge improvement over the carlisles. If you're only doing class 1 and 2 you'd be fine with about any of them. Just depends on how much $$$ you want to part with. Enjoy!!!
I have a Hyde low profile XL boat and a couple pair of Sawyer Square Top oars, both with the shoal cut blades. One pair has the Dynalite blades and the other is the V-Lam oars.

Previously, I owned a cataraft with Carlisle oars (that I counterbalanced with removable York barbell weight sleeves), and a Clackacraft LP driftboat with Cataract counterbalanced oars and magnum blades. I also owned and rowed the Hyde with Cataract counterbalanced oars and magnum blades before switching to the Sawyer oars last year.

First thing, in my experience, was that the Clackacraft rowed much better than the Hyde, and I was quite pleased with the Cataract oars I had with that boat.

I found that the Cataract counterbalanced oars were lighter in the oar locks than the Sawyers, undoubtedly due to the heavier amount of weight used in the counterbalance process. However, the slightly heavier feel of the Sawyers is not that much, and isn't particularly tiresome to me after a full day of rowing.

Personally, I like both Cataract and Sawyer oars, and believe you should notice improvements in rowing with either versus your Carlisles.

I think the shoal cut blades really come into their own when rowing in low water situations because they can move a considerable amount of water with only a part of the blade below the water line, if needed. I am on the Yellowstone River here in Montana, primarily, and I also like them for moving and controlling the boat in the windy conditions we often have here, although they can require some extra muscle power in those situations. Being right on the river, I am also seeing an increased number of guides using Sawyer shoal cuts these days over previous years, if that tells you anything.

Between my 2 pair of Sawyers, I like the V-Lams the better because they are slimmer and lighter overall than the Dynalites, however, I do not believe the laminated wood blade is nearly as strong as the Dynalite blade, so I wouldn't recommend it if you were going to use it where it would get pounded on rocks day-in-and-day-out, or if you regularly had to use your oars to push off the bank, etc.

There is without a doubt a difference in feel between a wood shafted and composite shafted oar. I know people who hate wood oars and other who absolutely love them. Visa Versa with composite oars. That being said unless you can go test them out you are taking guess at what you would like.

I personally prefer the Sawyer Square Top Shoal Cut Oars. They are lightweight, comfortable in the hand, flexible (ie- not to ridged), durable, and fairly affordable. I would suggest only buying 1 pair and getting a cheap break down spare oar.
To everyone who has taken the time to reply and give me feedback on the sawyer oars...many thanks!! I am hoping to try them out at a local (4 hrs away) dealer with my drift boat and see how they row compared to my current composite setup.
Thanks for the input guys.


Active Member
ad Sawyer MX's (I think, composite shafts) years ago on a 114ft woodie. When I bought my Clackacraft it came with Carlisle's. I now have Sawyer square tops with the Dyna-lite blades. What a difference! The square tops are a wood shaft which is taped from just below the wraps (mine have extra long wraps) down to the blade, reinforced with some kind of wrap. I'm guessing a graphite material. These oars, combined with Sawyer's Cobra oar locks, is like comparing a Carbureted Corvette to an LS-5 Vette.

I am here in St. Louis too. I have a set of Sawyer Square Tops with Shoal cut blades. Best purchase ever. I had a set of cataracts which did a fine job getting my Clacka HH II down the river but when I made the switch I was grinning from ear to ear. In my opinion they move way more with fewer strokes. I am way less fatigued after a full day on the river. Best upgrade to the boat I could ever make.