I started kayak fishing in 2014, and despite some of the changes I have made to my little fleet of kayaks, one thing has remained a constant. My Bending Branches paddles have been with me since the beginning of my love affair with all things kayak related.
Over the course of the pandemic, I started experimenting with pedal driven kayaks. What's that old saying about idle hands? Anyway, I wasn't sure about pedal drives at first! They were new fangled oddities to this very traditional, paddle-driven kayaker. I initially thought that a pedal drive might eradicate the need for a paddle. Being a bit of a control freak, that thought gave me considerable pause. I wasn't sure I could totally control a kayak with just my two, middle-aged feet.
After some reading and research, I found a Hobie Compass for sale as a demo in another state. It was a leftover 2020 model, and the price was on point for my budget (aka, saving my stimulus checks). As you probably recall, finding a kayak in the midst of a global pandemic was really difficult due to supply and demand. There were literally zero Hobie Compass models to be found in my proverbial neck of the woods in Tennessee, so my search had to span out quite a distance. I spoke to Brian Tacy at Strictly Sail Kayak & Canoe in Cincinatti, Ohio by phone and learned as much as I could about the Compass before I decided to transfer my funds and take a gamble on something out of my wheelhouse. I was a little nervous when I bought my first Hobie despite the great advice given to me by the dealer. I almost felt like I was going to be "cheating" on my trusty Bending Branches paddles, but it was only after I started taking my new, shiny Hobie out on the water that I realized the paddle was still an extremely vital component of a successful day of kayak fishing, even despite the pedal drive.
Launching a pedal-driven kayak is a tad bit different than launching a regular kayak. The drive must be secured and laying down in the kayak when shoving off from the launch ramp. This is where the paddle still must be used. I will typically paddle out to a safe distance from my launch point using my Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon before I even position the pedal drive. Once I'm away from any boat traffic and in a good spot, I attach my paddle on the side of my Compass and insert my pedal drive. Despite having reverse on my Hobie, I still pick up my paddle and use it to make some quick adjustments rather than putting my drive in reverse. Truly, old habits die hard. Once I wrap-up my day of fishing on my pedal driven kayak, I head back to the dock. I stop and take my drive out usually about 25 yards out from the ramp and secure it to the floor of my kayak. Then, it's back to my paddle for that final landing on the dock. One thing that I am actually happily surprised with is the fact that I can paddle my Hobie Compass and leave my pedal drive at home. If I visit a shallow river where my pedal drive would be in danger of being damaged, I can leave it at home and just paddle. The Compass is probably the most hybrid style of pedal/paddle kayak that Hobie makes.
From this article, you might think that I only have a pedal driven kayak at this point in time, but I also still own a traditional, paddle-driven kayak. You'll get to hear about that in upcoming articles, so stay tuned for what I hope to be a great season on the water! No matter which kayak I am in, my tried and true Bending Branches paddle will always be right there with me!
Happy fishing and here's to a wonderful and safe 2021 on the water!