I purchased the Eagle Ray 230cm, all carbon, TLC as an upgrade from a Carlisle paddle. Make no mistake this was very a advantageous move. I liked it very much. Over time it has proved to be very strong (I keep it by my bed to beat burglars away), in my area we have many oyster beds and rocks to deal with and it has found them all it seems. After an estimated 35 trips it has a few scratches and a scar for showing its worth. In the performance department it has proven to be a great relaxed paddling machine. It propels my 16'10" boat at a nice comfy pace. Minimal flutter, easy entry and exit, and light weight to boot.
I give it an 8 due to having to work pretty hard with it in rougher currents (should break out a high angle at these times). And that I do have a more natural high angle stroke. I have to keep telling myself to relax with this paddle. So if you are into a nice cruising speed instead of an aggressive run, then this is your paddle for big boats.My version is the EagleRay hybrid (2-piece carbon fibre shaft and nylon blades) and the TLC (Turn Lock Coupler). I found it lightweight and reasonably priced for a middle of the road paddle. The diameter was just right with good grip for bare wet hands. I use the 30* feather most often and find it easy to paddle.
The first time I used it, the coupler was very difficult to undo then I remembered a trick that I use to open new glass jars. Vibration - simply whack the coupler a few times in various spots with a blunt object and it will come apart easily.I have been guiding trips on lake Michigan and Green Bay with this paddle for the past two seasons. It works well enough; if I don't notice anything wrong with it, it's OK by me..."Set it and Forget it." That said, I have noticed this paddle a few times.
Firstly, I have had a problem with the TLC loosening for the last two months or so, usually after a few hours of paddling at a 60deg feather. Recently my paddle has ceased to pull apart anymore. I know that I have had a problem with my lower-end rental paddles not coming apart (apparently the ferrule swells for some reason), so this must be a problem through the line.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the shaft of the paddle has a series of small, raised ridges on it, which prevent it from being totally smooth. I am not sure what purpose the ridges serve, but I think that it takes away from the overall feel and appearance of the paddle. Also the carbon layup is not quite as nicely executed as other paddles; there are some inconsistent spots where the carbon has apparently stretched. This may actually be a cosmetic blem, now that I think about it...pro purchase is usually factory "seconds."
Usage wise, the paddle does pretty well. I have always felt that the Eagle-Ray blade design is pretty solid. While not a standout for either surfing or long distance touring it does both reasonably well. It also handles most maneuvers, including rolling adequately, though for whatever reason, I have had more luck with other paddles when doing a sculling draw.
All in all, this has been a pretty good paddle for me. If I were to buy a lifetime paddle, this would not necessarily be it, but as someone who earns their living with a paddle and kayak, it has served me quite well.