I think the OP has been answered, but I'll add my experience with ZRE's.
I consolidated my paddle usage down to two this past year, both ZRE's: a Power Surge bent and a Z Light straight shaft. Some forum members here shared their experiences with the ZRE straight shaft before I bought mine, since it has two idiosyncrasies.
Both the PS blade and ZL blades have a similar squashed shape with long concave shoulders. The purpose of this blade shape is to get the meat of the paddle in the water immediately at the catch and to have a certain blade area. That necessitates a long skinny shoulder. Making that shoulder concave allows the blade to get further under the chine and closer to the keel line than other blade shapes.
The PS blades have asymmetrical faces, which are best for straight ahead paddling, and they also have asymmetrical grips, which are ideal for bent shafts. The ZL blade has symmetrical faces, which make it more predictable for a straight shaft that will be sliced and palm rolled.
However, ZRE unfortunately puts its asymmetrical grip on the straight shafts. UNLESS they can locate a symmetrical carbon Barton grip, as they did for me, or you insert your own symmetrical wooden grip. I frankly wouldn't spend a fortune on a ZRE straight shaft unless it had a symmetrical grip because I am too much of palm roller.
The blades obviously end at the glue joint with the shaft.
How deep do I insert the ZRE? I don't think I do anything different from any other paddle. It's all by feel. I don't look to see; it's just automatic with experience. I certainly don't bury much of the shaft unless I want to scoop under the hull, or unless I'm rolling the canoe in the Niagara Gorge. With my longer shaft straight paddle, my top hand is of course held higher than with my short bent shaft.
ZRE's are the best slicing blades I have ever used, simply because they are so thin and short, which presents almost no frontal area to the water on a slice.
I paddle 90% of the time on my knees, and on flatwater I paddle 90% of the time with the bent shaft. My strokes are no different with a bent than they are with a straight shaft, other than that my top arm is lower because of the shorter shaft on a bent.
I don't do full in-water returns with palm rolls with the bent as I so with a straight. But that's not because the slice or return is more difficult; it's simply because I don't want my next stroke to be with the back face of the bent.
The ZRE bent is elegant and superior for the partial in-water return and outward slice of the Canadian and Florida forward stroke techniques.
I also like to do some freestyle moves with an inverted bent shaft paddle, such as sideslips, bow jams, and even axle and post turns.
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
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