Pedal Fishing Kayak: To Buy or Not to Buy?

6-minute read

Pedal fishing kayaks are surging in popularity. If you’re considering buying one, too, we thought you’d be interested in hearing what avid kayak anglers think about them.

woman angler getting a couple pedal fishing kayaks ready for the water

We asked our National ProStaff and Regional Ambassador team members to weigh in on the pros and cons of a pedal fishing kayak.

Hear what they have to say, then you can decide for yourself if a pedal kayak is a good option:

Advantages of a Pedal Fishing Kayak

#1 It’s Hands-Free, Especially in Wind

Several anglers named this hands-free advantage as their top reason for going with a pedal-drive fishing kayak:

“I’ve been using pedal drive kayaks since early 2019 and the #1 best thing or advantage is hands-free angling.” (Christopher Arnold, Ambassador)

“A pedal drive is handy while targeting a specific piece of structure, as you can use the drive to maintain your position, leaving your hands free to work the rod and reel.” (Dave Ohmer, Ambassador)

“Pedal kayaks can make fishing a little more hands free when fishing with conventional gear.” (Clay Grace, Ambassador)

“Hands are mostly free to fish.” (@samcox2537)

“Pro: the ability to be hands free.” (@chapa_texasranger)

“Hands free.” (Joey Monteleone, ProStaff)

man and woman fishing from pedal kayaks

“My favorite aspect of my pedal kayak would have to be the ability to fish while moving with the current.” (Justin Hausner, ProStaff)

“A couple favorite things about a pedal kayak are the ability to pedal in reverse while fighting with a fish so you don’t potentially get pulled forward toward where you caught it and possibly blow up the spot and scare away any other in the area.” (Rob Wright, ProStaff)

“My favorite thing about a pedal drive kayak is it’s great at keeping position in the wind.” (Brad Hicks, Ambassador)

“The pedal kayak keeps me on a spot in the wind.” (Marty Hughes, ProStaff)

#2 Cover More Distance Faster

This was another big reason anglers love a pedal kayak:

“My favorite thing is a pedal kayak extends your daily range (distance), covers water faster and is easier for getting back to shore in high winds/waves.” (Eron Dodds, ProStaff)

“I can pedal way further consistently than I can paddle. I can get to my spot and then paddle it to fish it thoroughly.” (Jimmy Skinner, Ambassador)

“The biggest pros of a pedal kayak is your hands are free, which can allow you to be more efficient with your time, and the ability to get places faster! (Clay Kayak Fishing)

“Pros: more distance to cover and you’re able to throw more casts as you move.” (Tackle Fishing Adventures)

“I’m faster than my friends ;)” (@zantedschia)

“I LOVE paddling while doing my kayak fishing. However, I do a lot of my kayak fishing on the big waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan in Door County. For this, I love my Jackson Coosa FD for two reasons. #1 with the wind and waves my ability to back pedal to hold myself in a spot similar to the spot lock feature on my boat's Minn Kota Terrova is important. #2 while pedaling from spot to spot, I can troll one of my swim baits and many times I hook into a nice smallmouth bass, which is what I chase.” (Bill Schultz, ProStaff)

“You can cover water faster, and it’s good exercise!” Rob Wright (ProStaff)

man netting a fish from a kayak

#3 Versatility

Many kayak anglers love the versatility of being able to pedal OR paddle, depending on the situation:

“My favorite thing about a pedal kayak is it affords me the versatility of utilizing it as a pedal drive or a paddle-driven kayak.” (Courtney Bennett, ProStaff)

“I have to second the versatility they offer. I can use my boat as strictly pedal, strictly paddle or both.” (Robert Brown, Ambassador)

“The versatility.” (Jimmy Skinner, Ambassador)

Disadvantages of a Pedal Fishing Kayak

Even avid pedal users recognize a pedal fishing kayak’s limitations:

#1 Can’t Fish Shallow, Weedy Waters

“The worst thing is pedaling these kayaks through shallows where the drive may hit.” (Christopher Arnold, Ambassador)

“The downfall to a pedal kayak is fishing shallow weedy waters.” (Eron Dodds, ProStaff)

“Pedal kayaks can sometimes spook finicky fish and keep the angler from fishing more shallow water.” (Clay Kayak Fishing)

“Have to deal with making sure you’re in proper depth, and it’s a bit noisy.” (Tackle Fishing Adventures)

“The worst thing about the pedal kayak is that up here in the northeast our lakes get very weedy, overgrown with seaweed. Which makes these expensive drives pretty much worthless. However having a high quality paddle on board can make all the difference fishing these lakes.” (Justin Hausner, ProStaff)

man standing in his pedal fishing kayak, paddling through weeds

“Super shallow or weedy areas are a challenge for the pedal kayak.” (Marty Hughes, ProStaff)

#2 Not as Maneuverable as with a Paddle

“I feel like I have more control of the kayak with a paddle. A pedal kayak does not turn as well when you need it to and it does not stop as quickly. I also feel it makes way too much noise so it spooks the fish.” (Dee Kaminski, ProStaff)

“Least favorite is that it's nearly impossible to adjust your position right or left when not moving or while moving slowly. My paddle is always at the ready.” (Dave Ohmer, Ambassador)

“Least favorite thing about a pedal drive kayak is the turn radius on them.” (Brad Hicks, Ambassador)

“The paddle (not the pedal) helps me maneuver well in the trees and when turning sharply.” (Marty Hughes, ProStaff)

#3 Costly, Heavy, Need to Maintain

“The downfall to a pedal kayak is… the added weight if launching hard-to-reach areas or when portaging to get to the water!” (Eron Dodds, ProStaff)

“My least favorite thing about a paddle drive is the additional weight factor.” (Courtney Bennett, ProStaff)

“Least favorite is the weight. Period. Most are super heavy. But now technology is changing and we have options like the Itrek 11 which is super lightweight, paddles well and pedals great.” (Jimmy Skinner, Ambassador)

“Too damn heavy.” (@aron.dro)

“It can over-complicate the kayak experience.” (@chapa_texasranger)

“The thing I like the least is probably the extra periodic maintenance to keep the drive in tip top shape and the chance for a mechanical failure.” (Robert Brown, Ambassador)

“On the negative side, the potential for mechanical failure, additional weight.” (Joey Monteleone, ProStaff)

“Least favorite, but required for them to last, is the maintenance part. Just not the most fun part. Also, it takes up extra storage while transporting.” (Rob Wright, ProStaff)

“The biggest cons I see to pedal kayaks is the cost, because generally speaking they are exponentially more pricey!” (Clay Kayak Fishing)

“More moving parts to break, and expensive!” (@bone_collector_kayakfishing)

man getting his pedal fishing kayak ready for the water, on a cart

Don’t Buy a Pedal Fishing Kayak if…

For some of our team members, a pedal kayak just isn’t an option. Some just prefer to paddle rather than pedal:

“Paddling is therapeutic for me, pedaling just feels like work. If I pedal, it will be a bicycle.” (Chris Funk, ProStaff)

“I feel the same way—I prefer to paddle.” (Dee Kaminski, ProStaff)

“Pedal systems directly translate to more time with your line in the water. Theoretically that increases your opportunity to catch fish. But I prefer to paddle because of its simplicity. It’s really as simple as that for me. I don’t compete in tournaments, so for me, time on the water is where I find the win.” (Terrell Hester, Ambassador)

Fly anglers are usually anti-pedal because of the obstruction factor:

“Those pedals can be a nightmare when fly fishing, and that’s why I mostly paddle.” (Clay Grace, Ambassador)

“Pedal kayaks are not the best option for fly anglers.” (@fishingwithgrace)

“In the way for fly fishing.” (@bone_collector_kayakfishing)

We hope that helps in your decision on whether to buy a pedal fishing kayak. A big thanks to our ProStaff and Ambassador team members who took the time to offer their opinions!

man fishing from a pedal fishing kayak

(All photos by Open Road Visuals)

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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