-- Last Updated: Oct-16-13 7:58 PM EST --
For recreational paddling I would stick with unfeathered because of the simple symmetry and no need to have a dominant hand. Also, some rolls work better with unfeathered paddles (such as back deck rodeo rolls)
There is a noticeable difference (less effort) to paddle a highly feathered paddle against strong wind - I would say 60 degree feather at least. So, if you see yourself doing that often, you might want to get used to a feathered paddle.
I'm not sure that 45 is a good angle though - I feel it is just enough to start causing trouble in diving blades due to strong wind (60 and more dive/lift less in head winds, 0 of course is not diving/lifting), without providing the full benefit of more feather in upwind conditions.
Feather 30 and less - what's the point? (other than to ease a transition from high feather to lower feather or to more easily find a cheap used non-adjustable paddle for less money as most ww paddles are 30 degree these days)
There are also some other more specialized situations (slalom and going through surf on a regular basis) where feather is beneficial, but they don't apply to paddlers who don't do competitive slalom or go through really tough surf or big white water more than just occasionally.
I started with about 60, then, once I discovered Greenland paddles (that are 0 feather) I switched to 0. Took me a while to adjust. Now I can switch between 0 and 60 or so with a wing paddle, and do it occasionally in strong headwinds where I'm not in too much hurry but want to paddle efficiently at less than full power (switching the feather on the fly tends to mess with my technique and I don't like it). The wing paddle and other paddles that tend to self-orient in the water well tend to make it easier to adjust my stroke with feather change, and it takes me only a few minutes to adjust. But I'm pretty sure my roll will not be automatic as I would need to think where my blade is. And, it takes me a few minutes to adjust back to 0 from 60...
Heel and Pegpads™
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