The pedal kayak propulsion technology developed by Hobie was ground-breaking when it first appeared in 1996 and changed kayaks for recreational use into things different from a standard kayak. The user can quickly switch from forward to reverse by pulling one of two shift cables, allowing the fins to swivel 180 degrees.
With the simple forward motion of one pedal and their feet, the dual fins enable shallow water access and quick shore landings. Traditionalists who favor paddling’s stealth and simplicity will always exist. However, the connection to the water that comes from dipping a blade and a degree of fine control and mobility cannot be got without a paddle.
Comparing a pedal fishing kayak to a paddle fishing kayak also has certain disadvantages. If you need a lightweight kayak for backcountry shallow-water fishing, you may find a paddle a better choice than using your feet and a pedal-drive model. Also, you’ll find most kayaks of this design heavier than a sit-on-top kayak of the same length.
However, a pedal kayak can give you more fishing time since you don’t tire your upper body. The question is, how does a pedal kayak work, and is a pedal kayak worth it for you? In our guide, you can learn more about how the pedal propeller system works and more.
By the end, you’ll be better informed as to whether a pedal drive system can improve your fishing exploits, or if you are better off sticking to paddles since you head into shallow water too often. (Read Kayaking With Toddlers)
Pros Of a Pedal Fishing Kayak
In addition to offering users a beneficial source of aerobic exercise, pedal kayaks are suitable for obtaining speed when traveling across the water. Therefore, choosing a pedal kayak as your watercraft has several significant benefits.
1. Fast Travel
Speed is the pedal kayak’s most significant advantage. Most people have strong leg muscles that help them sprint long distances and distribute their weight evenly.
The rotational variant of the push pedals allows you to move while exerting less energy. Additionally, it’s simpler to use one pedal forward with your feet to pick up speed, and glide across the water instead of tiring your arms.
2. Hands-Free Kayaking
You can easily use your hands when you pedal forward in a kayak. In addition, you can paddle while fishing without setting down your gear, so the hands-free operation enhances the comfort of your kayaking experience.
3. Less Splashing
Splashes from paddling frequently enter the boat. Since the pedal system works underwater, the pedaling makes it less likely that your clothing will get wet. For this reason, foot pedal kayaks also run more softly, resulting in a more tranquil experience.
4. Easier Controls
As you paddle toward shallow water with a conventional paddle kayak, you may have better control, although it can be more challenging for your to learn the paddling technique.
This skill does not need to be learned when using a pedal-power. Boaters find it much more natural to use rotational pedal kayaks, which use their legs rather than using their upper body and arms to paddle toward their fishing spot.
Downsides Of Pedal Kayaks
With a pedal kayak, you gain speed but lose the ability to maneuver precisely. Therefore, it’s essential to think about any potential disadvantages of selecting a pedal kayak.
1. You Need Leg Strength
Peddling might become exhausting if your legs or ankles are weaker than your arms, which can result from age or injury. It’s essential to think about how you can exercise while managing your energy in the best possible way.
2. Heavier Kayaks
Since a pedal boat is typically heavier than a paddle boat, it
is not recommended for situations where an ultralight kayak would be preferable. Paddle kayaks are a better selection for fishing in the shallow water of the backcountry or at a portage.
3. Shallow Waters
Navigating shallow water might be difficult with a pedal drive because you have to retract or remove the drive. And hold it on your yak with a bungee cord or two.
Stand-Up Casting Kayak Fishing
You’ll need pedal kayaks with stand-up stability if you want to stand and sight-cast to fish. Additionally, if you want to concentrate on fishing in really skinny water, as we have seen, you need to remove or retract the boat drive system.
Also, a pedal drive can be expensive to repair or replace, requiring some maintenance compared to a paddle. (Learn How To Build A Kayak Rack For An RV)
In reality, pedal kayaks are typically more expensive than paddle kayaks of comparable lengths and features, so if money is limited, start by looking at paddle kayaks. For the majority of fishers, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
A pedal fishing kayak enables users to travel further and remain out longer because most individuals have greater power and stamina in their legs than their arms and shoulders.
And the main advantage of a pedal kayak—having your hands free for fishing—far outweighs any one of the cons. Nothing compares to being able to cast and fight fish with your rod in your hands without having to pick up or put down a paddle.
Hobie Mirage Drive
When Hobie introduced its Mirage Drive in 1997, the concept of a pedal-powered kayak gained momentum. The employment of fins of various sizes depends on the type of kayak. Hobie kayak is now the most effective pedal fishing kayak with a mirage drive and fins.
It has excellent fins that consume less energy than others. Hobie fishing kayaks can travel quickly on the water because of this. Over time, serious kayak fishermen favored the Hobie Mirage Drive on their boat because it was a revelation and engineering marvel.
The Mirage Drive’s obvious flaw was that it could only move forward, not backward. With the release of a toggle, the Mirage Drive 180 from Hobie reverses the fins and propels the kayak in full-power reverse, providing a solution to the problem.
Their most recent design, the Mirage Drive 360, enables the fins to function at any angle, allowing sideways motion when navigating confined spaces.
One major drawback of the original Hobie Mirage Drive was bending the rod in front of the fins by hitting obstacles. The revolutionary kick-up fin safeguards your drive if you hit an underwater hazard.
Hobie continues to provide their forward-only “Glide Technology” GT drive in their entry-level kayak.
Hobie’s original Mirage Drive’s patent expired in 2017, and Pelican International introduced a pedal-powered fishing kayak with a drive resembling Hobie’s Mirage unit, thus cutting the cost of pedal drive kayaks for new kayak fishermen. (Find the Best Kayak Fish Finder)
The ability to instantly reverse pedaling backward is the clear advantage of this style of the pedal drive over the traditional Mirage Drive.
Native Fishing Kayak
You can quickly switch forward and reverse using a propeller-powered drive while holding the rod with both hands and reeling in a fish.
Presently, Old Town, Native Kayak, Feelfree Kayaks, Wilderness Systems, and other manufacturers provide kayaks with propeller drives.
Propeller-Based Pedal Kayak
The second pedal fishing kayak uses rotational pedals and a propeller for propulsion. This kayak’s initial variety was unveiled in 2008 by The Native Watercraft.
A fishing kayak with pedals and propeller drive still has advantages over traditional kayaks, even though it isn’t as quick as one with a mirage. All you have to do is push pedal to turn the propeller.
That is how this pedal fishing kayak operates. People will often place the propeller underneath the kayak, which is effective since it causes the fishing kayak to move as the propeller does.
The paddlers have the option of paddling in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Because the propeller is not very large, you may conserve energy when pedal kayaking.
The pedal fishing kayak’s initial benefit is the ability to move more quickly. Even though speed has nothing to do with fishing, you can return home quicker with little effort. Your hands are free thanks to a pedal kayak for fishing, which is another advantage. As a result, your hands are more comfortable and easier to use when fishing.
The drawback of a pedal kayak is that you must have access to the underwater space to operate one. (Learn How Long Does It Take To Kayak A Mile)
The Kayak Hull
Because they are built to withstand the particular stress and torque a pedal drive produces, pedal-driven kayaks frequently weigh more. Pedal kayaks also have the same design tradeoffs that buyers of a paddle kayak must consider.
Longer, skinnier kayaks are faster, shorter kayaks are more maneuverable, and wider hulls offer more stability.
Although these parameters allow for better comparisons, greater stability, speed, and turning are also affected by differences in hull shape, such as a classic V-hull against a tunnel or catamaran-style hull.
If you frequently fish in wide ocean seas, choose a hull to withstand waves and chop.
Think about the location and sort of fishing you intend to conduct. The best fishing kayak options for your style of fishing should be easy to find, and questions you have should be able to be answered by a trustworthy kayak dealer.
How you transport your kayak, significantly larger, heavier pedal-powered kayaks, may affect your model. For example, will you haul the kayak on a kayak trailer, a tall SUV, or a pickup bed?
Again, assess the advantages and cons and compromise. For example, a longer hull may be great for open-water fishing, but if it’s difficult to transport, consider a shorter model.
Car-topping a kayak involves more than weight. While lighter, shorter, wider kayaks are harder to lift, you can “lever” a 13-foot kayak onto an SUV roof rack by placing the bow on the rack and the stern on the ground tying it down with straps and a bungee cord.
What will the purpose be is the most important question to ask yourself while determining whether to use kayaks with pedals or not.
High speed or struggling in shallow waters can detract from the tranquility of the kayaking experience.