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Pedal kayaks may come with a considerable price tag, but their ability to be powered by the strongest part of our bodies makes them ideal for fishing or for paddlers who wish to cover vast stretches of water with little to no effort. These kayaks allow you to be hands-free at all times, giving you the freedom to fish, take pictures, or even eat your lunch while peddling.
Pedal kayaks are hardshell sit-on-top kayaks with open hulls that are easy to mount and dismount, however, they’re some of the most expensive and heaviest kayaks on the market, mainly thanks to their pedal systems.
The majority of the time, paddlers use pedal kayaks for fishing, and even though they come with a hefty price tag, they’re still relatively cheaper than traditional fishing boats and along with being cheaper, pedal kayaks are far easier to store and transport, which also comes with the benefit of you paddling on waterways that aren’t accessible by larger boats.
Pedal kayaks do require more maintenance than standard kayaks, but If you take proper care of your pedal kayak and keep up to date with its maintenance and cleaning, then it should last you for years to come.
Whether you’re just starting out with kayaking or if you’re looking to upgrade your current kayak, then check out the best pedal kayaks. And, if you’re going to be using your pedal kayak for fishing, then head over to our kayak fishing guide.
Pedal kayaks are slightly different from your traditional kayak as the entire front section of the boat is taken up by the pedal system, which in most cases, is removable to make transporting the kayak a little bit easier.
Along with the pedal system, pedal kayaks also have dials on the left or right-hand side of the kayak seat, which control the kayak’s rudder. As you don’t have a paddle to steer your kayak, the rudder is what will alter your direction depending on which way you turn it.
As we mentioned before, pedal kayaks are hardshell sit-on-top kayaks, and even though you lose storage space in the front because of the pedal system, there is still, more often than not, a vast amount of storage space behind the seat for fishing gear or personal belongings. Some pedal kayaks also feature dry hatches, which you can unscrew and store your items inside.
You’ll find scupper holes throughout the deck of the kayak, which drains excess water that’s made its way onto the boat, and there will also be a removable and adjustable seat that you can reposition to suit your needs.
As pedal kayaks are more expensive than other kayak varieties, it is essential that you make the right decision when purchasing. Below are the most important features to keep in mind.
Typically, pedal kayaks are made from rotationally molded polyethylene which is extremely durable and sturdy. Kayaks with a higher density polyethylene will be stronger than those with a lower density, so if you can, opt for the highest density as possible.
Your pedal kayak will have a maximum weight capacity, just like any other type of kayak. It is important that you never exceed this weight capacity as it will cause your kayak to sink in water, making it incredibly difficult to handle, steer, and pedal.
It’s recommended that you calculate your weight and the weight of any gear you’ll have on board with you and compare it to the maximum limit of your pedal kayak. Ideally, you want to be at least 25% under the limit to make room for any upgrades in the future.
Pedal kayaks range from 10 feet up to around 13 feet, with the longer varieties being slightly faster on the water. As a rule, the longer the kayak, the faster it will go. Shorter pedal kayaks, however, will be lighter and easier to manoeuvre, so your ideal length will depend on if you prioritize speed or manoeuvrability.
Pedal kayaks are also considerably wide, which is great in terms of stability. The wider the kayak, the more stable it will be, which is another reason why pedal kayaks make great fishing boats. When casting or reeling in your fish, especially from a standing position, you need all the stability you can get.
Some pedal kayaks have built-in dry hatches, and others have molded-in spaces fitted with bungee cables to tie down and keep your gear safe. The amount of storage you need will ultimately come down to the amount of gear you take out with you. If you’re a fisherman, then you’ll more than likely need more storage space than a recreational paddler, for example.
Pedal kayaks come fitted with rudders that you control by a hand dial next to the kayak seat. Some rudders are retractable, and some are not. Ideally, you want the rudder on your pedal kayak to be retractable so you can prevent it from damaging on objects underwater,
Pedal kayaks, aside from their pedal systems, don't usually come with any additional accessories. Some may come with a paddle which is useful for creeping up on fishing or for paddling through shallow waters, but for the most part, they’re fairly simple. The more accessories the kayak has, the heavier it will be, so that’s always something to have in the back of your mind.
Pedal kayaks are a great option for anglers as you can pedal and fish at the same time. These kayaks are also able to reach faster speeds than regular kayaks as you’re using the strongest part of your body to power them.
With that being said, however, pedal kayaks are more expensive, heavier, and more difficult to transport, so the answer to this question is all down to personal preference.
The advantages and disadvantages of a pedal kayak are as follows:
Although pedal kayaks aren’t necessarily long, they are a considerable amount heavier than traditional kayaks, which is what makes them difficult to transport. The best way to transport a pedal drive kayak is to remove the pedal system before placing your kayak on your roof rack.
Pedal kayaks are a great option for fishing as they allow you to remain hands-free at all times. This means you can pedal while casting or reeling, and you don’t have to worry about your boat moving from its position.
One of the main downfalls of a pedal kayak for fishing, however, is the fact that the pedal drive system is louder in the water than a traditional paddle. This problem can easily be solved by taking a paddle out with you for those times that you need to creep up on fish.