Bending Branches…a customer review.

First, I am not a writer so I find it hard to say that I have writers block.   But I am trying to write an article for Rogue Fishing Company (coming soon) and am finding that the right words are as elusive as bass for a lot of the field on Chickamauga la couple of weeks ago.  So instead of doing what I should be, I am going to sit my tail down to tell you a little tale of a paddle.  

Let me start by saying I have no affiliation with Bending Branches, I am not sponsored by them nor do I sale their products.  I do use their paddles, and will forever sing praises, to all that will listen, about their customer support!  

Once upon a time, in a land known as Silver Point Tennessee, a fat old dude walked into Caney Fork Outdoors and met Ryan Martin.  Little did I, uhhhh, the fat old dude know…Ryan was about to introduce me…him…to an addiction that would consume every waking hour of the rest of his life.  Ryan took him to the back room and pulled a Jackson Big Tuna from behind a stack of kayaks.  The fat old dude was like “oh yeah”.  Then Ryan took him to a wall of paddles and the dude was mesmerized by them all.  But at this point, he knew nothing and chose a lesser weapon (paddle) to conquer…..

Ok, the reality is my wife had researched tandem kayaks, had contacted Ryan at the Caney Fork Nashville store and we rode up to pick it up.  We did stand at that wall of paddles with no idea what to choose.  I had never even been in a kayak, had no idea what it meant to choose a paddle.  

That first paddle was – hold up – maybe it is just my luck with paddles…dang it.  I had almost forgotten that first paddle.  It was an Accent.  

Within a few months, I had moved on to Hobie and the wonder of the pedal drive…but still carried a full paddle because I like to fish extremely shallow.  So, I was leaving a tournament on Kentucky Lake when I saw that paddle fly out of my truck.  

I turned around, it was still intact.  

I stood by the road counted as fifteen cars flew past it, still intact.

One more to go…a silver mini van.

I watched as that mini van hit that paddle dead center – dead center.

It exploded!  

Move on many more months.  Joy asked Ryan to get a Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon paddle for me – to replace the one I had lost.  

It was light, strong and beautiful.  It was (is) so incredibly easy to paddle even the biggest kayaks; making it easy to grab with one hand and push away from obstructions.  It was probably a sin how much I adored that paddle.  

Then in the early morning fog at Yellow Creek, during the first month of our short lived affair, I was backing toward the ramp and heard crunching.  Like the mini van, I had hit the it dead center and backed down the full length of the paddle.  As strong and beautiful as that paddle was, it was never going to support the weight of a Nissan Titan.  

Enter Bending Branches customer support interaction one.  

I was headed to Lake Erie the next week and knew I would need a paddle.  I knew I could never get mine to them and back in time.  I knew that it would never make it to my house in time.  But the folks at Bending Branches told me no sweat.  They would ship me a new paddle to my destination and make sure it was there when I arrived.  It was there.

It was light, strong and beautiful.  It was (is) so incredibly easy to paddle even the biggest kayaks; making it easy to grab with one hand and push away from obstructions.  It was probably a sin how much I adored that paddle.  

When I got home, I placed the broken paddle in a corner and used the new one for almost two years; until Lake Lanier at the end of this summer.  I was motoring across the lake when a boat flew by, causing a big wake.  I rode the waves and cruised on…fishing for over an hour, moving about two miles away.  Then I caught a nice fish, it hit the side of the kayak.  And it shouldn’t have.  That is where I always hang my paddle when on the water.  I went back looking for it but it was so windy, and the paddle was gone.  My guess; someone picked up a paddle and had no idea what a great piece of craftmanship it was, or its value.

I came home in tears and initiated my second interaction with Bending Branches customer service. 

They (Susie) calmed me, told me to send the crushed remains of the first carbon paddle and said no sweat. Just pay to ship it.

So, between that shipment and the rest of the story, I took Joy’s paddle (had bought Joy one also) and went to the National Championship on Guntersville.  I had left telling her that I wouldn’t use it, but needed it for bonus bucks.  

Well, I found fish in a spot where I had to paddle almost a mile through about 6 inches of water.  The first time I used a heavy old Accent paddle, the second time…I had pulled out her Bending Branches Carbon Pro despite my words…and used it to get to the area.  

It was light, strong and beautiful.  It was (is) so incredibly easy to paddle even the biggest kayaks; a sin how much I adored that paddle.

Back to shipping it.  

Since I had already invested enough in Carbon Pro paddles that I should have a personalized parking spot at their facility in Osceola, Wisconsin, I chose the cheapest option available to me and used the USPS.  Forgetting about all of the internal chaos of that organization this close to this election where it felt that the system was a pawn in some game…and it never arrived…well, the USPS couldn’t find it…the shattered remnants had disappeared – last being tracked in Memphis.  

More detail about what happened next:

The beginning…September 28 – email to Susie.  

Thank you.  I will box it up as soon as I can and get it to you.  

Thank you so much!!!

October 12 – to Susie.

Hi Susie…I sent my Carbon Pro Paddle just over a week ago and was wondering if it had arrived?

October 13 – to me.

Hi Mike,

It does not look like we have received it yet. Is there a tracking number that tells you differently?

Messaged to USPS about tracking….response…it was scanned in Memphis and your case is “resolved”…..

My reply to them….

Does this really feel resolved to you?  Memphis to St. Paul is 12 hours and 14 minutes.  October 5th was 18 days ago.   I could have driven it there myself almost 36 times by now; we’ll stopping to pee and eat…maybe only thirty….but at least 18 times.   

I reckon I am just not satisfied with this response  as “resolution”.  

October 23 – to Susie 

I guess I wasn’t meant to have a Carbon Pro!!   Maybe one day it will miraculously appear…..I can hope.  Starting to feel like I have as much hope that the one I lost on Lanier will teleport itself home!  

And then October 27th….after several other reassuring e-mails…

Hi Mike,

SUCCESS! We have the paddle! 

And finally…it is home.

Long way around to say this….no one at Bending Branches knows me, or owes me anything.  They didn’t have to go out of their way to get a replacement to Lake Erie, or to be so nice to me when I lost my second paddle…or to help me try and track down the original broken pieces and magically form them into a new Carbon Pro.  

Susie didn’t have to be so understanding and cooperative.  Nope.  None of it.  And she sure didn’t have to drop a pretty freaking cool shirt into the box with that paddle.  

But that is what they seem to do…that is who they seem to be.  And I appreciate them for the care I experienced.  

Now I need to get back to that Rogue Fishing article…and maybe order a couple of paddle leashes from them.  Do not want to go through this again…so soon.  

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