more than I think about them. When you've been paddling canoes for nearly 50 years, your strokes tend to be whatever works for what you're trying to accomplish, without stopping to consider which one might work the best.
Others have covered all the ways I've used pry strokes. My stern pry substitute for a J stroke is for when I'm not in a hurry to get somewhere, because it's more relaxing and easy than a J stroke, but doesn't move the canoe as fast. I use it a lot, and my paddle shaft NEVER touches the gunwale, because I keep my hand in the right place so that the heel of my palm is what comes in contact with the gunwale, not the paddle. Main reason for this is that I hate the SOUND of a paddle shaft hitting the gunwale. I want to be paddling quietly, not banging my way down the river.
I do a lot of bow wedging pries when I want to make a quick turn while slowing the boat slightly. In that stroke, I keep the paddle more vertical, plunge it as deeply as the water will allow, reach only a little forward of my hips, and push outward and slightly forward. If I want to make a quick turn while maintaining speed, it's more of a reaching sweep pry, where I reach far forward and push outward and slightly to the rear, continuing the stroke into a sweep.
Since I do a whole lot of fishing out of my canoes, a lot of strokes are for positioning rather than propulsion or correction, and they are strokes that the paddler who is only looking to move the canoe downstream or upstream probably seldom uses. Whichever way the paddle is lying across my knee and the gunwale while I'm fishing, I grab it and do a pry to turn the canoe without making it move forward. If I need to turn the bow away from the paddle side, I reach a little in front of my seat and pry. If I need to turn the stern away from the paddle side, I reach a little behind the seat and pry. On the other hand, there's often a bit of difference when fishing between moving the bow a little to the off side, and moving the stern a little to the paddle side. It's a subtle difference in positioning. If I want to move the stern to the paddle side without affecting where the bow is quite as much, I'll use a stern draw rather than a bow pry.
I don't think about this stuff, I just do it. But when I'm sitting here typing, I can analyze what I do a little more.
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