The Power of Pedals – The 10 Best Pedal Fishing Kayaks in 2021


When humankind first decided to create a watercraft out of a wood frame covered with seal skins, little did they realize just how popular kayaking would become.

The materials have changed somewhat, and the innovation is improving all the time, but centuries later we’re still using kayaks to hunt.

In this article, we explore the best pedal fishing kayaks in 2021 – a technology that has seriously raised the bar for the sport.

Bursting onto the scene in 1997, kayak pedals have revolutionized how we fish, as well as offering limitless recreational possibilities.

Read on to discover what all the fuss is about.

Once you’ve been in a pedal kayak – you never go back.

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

The 10 Best Pedal Kayaks for Fishing

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12

It’s only fair we start at the top of the food chain when it comes to pedal kayaks, because revered Californian company Hobie invented them.

Some 24 years later, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is the cream of the crop, a premium-quality professional craft that just about blows everything else out of the water.

With the very latest Mirage 360 drive tech and ST Turbo kick-up fins, you have powerful, near silent propulsion that retracts if you’re in shallower waters.

And that’s only the beginning, as this craft is packed with features that would make any keen angler go weak at the knees.

Pros

  • Market-leading technology.
  • Premium seating and lumbar support.
  • Retractable transducer shield.
  • Accessory track rails.
  • Pivoting tackle management system.
  • Loads of storage options.

Cons

  • Very expensive.

Takeaway

This kind of gear doesn’t come cheap, but you certainly get what you pay for.

Light years ahead of everything else, this is easily the best fishing kayak with pedals on the market. You don’t even need a paddle (although it’s still highly recommended).

Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 Pedal Fishing Kayak

As much as Hobie is the market leaders in pedal craft, Old Town are by no means far behind, as proved by this beautiful creation here.

The OT Sportsman is an outstanding fishing kayak, with a super-stable pontoon-style hull that glides silently through the water. The premium-quality seating offers an excellent field-of-view, with comfortable lumbar support for all-day fishing.

Loaded with features, it offers customizable accessory racks, custom tackle box, multiple rod holders, and universal transducer mounting system.

And the pedal drive itself has a convenient docking system to make put-ins and outs effortless.

Pros

  • Premium quality construction.
  • Cushioned floor pads for standing.
  • Large stern tank well with bungee.
  • Bow storage hatch.
  • Choice of cool colors.
  • Shuttle-track adjustable seating.

Cons

  • Let me know if you find any.

Takeaway

The oldest canoe and kayak manufacturer in the world is still producing some world-class kayaks, and for fishing – the Sportsman is no exception.

Take a look at another version of this model in this review of the best stand-up fishing kayaks – especially if you love those standing casts.

Native Watercraft Titan Pedal Drive Kayak

Backed by decades-worth of kayak know-how, Native Watercraft is another premium kayak company that knows exactly what the kayak angler needs.

Their Titan 10.5 model is one such example, a compact and practical vessel with forward and reverse pedal drive technology.

Offering the ability to do standing casts, it’s super-stable hull is ideal for lazy rivers and calm lakes, with plenty of integrated rod holders and storage options for all your gear.

Built-in groove tracks allow scope for aftermarket accessories, and the elevated seating has been designed for easy transitions between standing and sitting.

Pros

  • Relatively lightweight and portable.
  • Anchor and trolling motor compatible.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Performance hull design.
  • Underseat storage tray.
  • Environmentally conscious company.

Cons

  • Pedal drive doesn’t retract.
  • Pricey.

Takeaway

A solid pedal fishing kayak option that offers an array of practical features, the Titan’s portability is perhaps its strongest suit.

But if you’re looking for something even more compact and lightweight, perhaps you should try one of these premium inflatable fishing kayaks, instead?

Wilderness Systems Radar 115 Fishing Kayak

The Radar is a three-in-one fishing kayak from Wilderness that’s capable of being powered by pedals, paddles, and a trolling motor – all sold separately.

This sit-on-top kayak has been expertly designed to provide solid standing casts, with S.M.A.R.T hull technology that provides a super-stable platform, as well as excellent all-round performance in the water.

The AirPro Max seat offers superior comfort, and provides three adjustable positions, so it can travel the length of the boat.

And with SlideTrax accessory rails, storage galore, and removable fish finder pod, this is one fishing kayak that should be on everyone’s radar.

Pros

  • Highly versatile.
  • Front paddle park.
  • Adjustable padded footrests.
  • Large bungee tank well.
  • Watertight storage hatch.

Cons

  • Pedals sold separately.

Takeaway

So, right out of the box it’s not technically the best pedal fishing kayak – considering you need to purchase them aftermarket.

Still, the capabilities of this versatile craft justify its inclusion here, and it means someone can buy you the drive system for your next birthday.

Vibe Shearwater 125 Kayak

Vibe Shearwater 125 Kayak

I usually find myself reviewing the Sea Ghost fishing kayak from Vibe, another versatile vessel that’s one of the best ocean fishing kayaks out there – and you can follow that link for more.

But this is their pedal drive model – the Shearwater – a beautiful craft that has been designed with peak performance in mind.

And not only does it look good, but it’s overflowing with features, including a five position comfort frame seat, choice of propulsion systems, choice of center console pod designs, loads of storage options, rod holders, tackle tray slots that will take some of these kayak fishing tackle boxes, and much more.

And the fact that it’s compatible with third-party power systems allows total freedom to customize this craft as you like.

I think I’m in love.

Pros

  • Great price for what you get.
  • Multiple pod options.
  • Gorgeous aesthetic.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Four integrated gear racks.
  • Stand strap mounting point.
  • Rod tip protectors.

Cons

  • Pedal drives sold separately.

Takeaway

I mean, just take a look at it. The Shearwater is a stunning fishing kayak that has been expertly designed and kitted out to within an inch of its life – and then some.

It’s probably the sexiest thing on water since the USS Constitution.

Hobie Mirage Passport Pedal Fishing Kayak

Here we have another Hobie entry (no surprises there) with this compact and highly portable pedal fishing kayak.

The Passport is well named, as it allows you to go where others can’t, without the size and bulk of other pedal craft.

As such, it’s one of the best river fishing kayaks out there, with the kick-up fins retracting automatically when encountering any obstacles.

And all the usual refinements are here, including a scupper for a transducer, bow and stern tank wells with bungee cord webbing, and accessory track rails to customize how you see fit.

And for a Hobie kayak – the price point isn’t too bad either.

Pros

  • Relatively compact and lightweight.
  • Central storage hatch.
  • Rod holders.
  • Anchor mounting point.
  • Frame comfort seating.
  • Rudder control system.

Cons

  • More colors would have been nice.

Takeaway

Yet another brilliant pedal-powered kayak from the inventors of the tech – you’d expect nothing less from Hobie in the near quarter-century they’ve been polishing this.

I guess that’s what makes them one of the best kayak fishing brands in the world. Check out that link to see if more of your favorites are there.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Fishing Kayak

Speaking of the best kayak fishing brands, Perception is another great example, a company that boasts an extensive back catalog of top-quality kayaks for just about any situation or activity.

The Pescador Pilot just happens to be one of their premium fishing options, with a super-comfortable lawn-chair style seat for all day angling.

The pedal drive system can be fully recessed into the hull – which is ideal for reducing drag, or when you want to avoid underwater obstacles in shallower creeks.

And with gear accessory tracks, fish finder console, multiple rod holders, and a large front and rear storage options, there’s a lot to like from an angler’s point of view with the Picador.

Pros

  • Durable, leak-proof construction.
  • Additional buoyancy aids.
  • Versatile craft.
  • Solid, stable hull design.
  • Choice of cool colors.

Cons

  • Reports of some issues with the rod holders.

Takeaway

The Perception Pescador Pilot perfectly produces premium pedals for preying on perch. Or, any other fish for that matter – but “bigmouth bass” wouldn’t have sounded as good.

Regardless of what species you’re chasing, you’ll need a good kayak fishing net to help bring ’em in, so follow that link for the best.

Point 65 Sweden Kingfisher Solo Kayak

Specializing in backpacks and kayaking, Point 65 Sweden has been on the go since 1996, but is still something of an unknown quantity in the US and Canada.

They make these ingenious modular kayaks (of course they do – sharing a home with IKEA) that you can take apart and rebuild for the ultimate in hardshell portability.

The Kingfisher Solo can come with or without a pedal drive, but the mere fact that you can break it into two sections for easy transportation is well worth its inclusion as one of the best fishing kayaks with foot pedals on the market.

Pros

  • Swedish design and construction.
  • Highly portable.
  • Good storage options.
  • Bungee tank well.
  • Accessory track.
  • Rod holders.

Cons

  • A little on the pricey side.

Takeaway

Hardshell performance with (almost) the portability of an inflatable – AND a pedal drive system?

There’s a lot to like from the Swedes with this brilliantly designed fishing kayak. I think more people should give it a try.

Perception Crank 10 Pedal Kayak

Following on from the Swedish modular design, we have another highly portable pedal fishing kayak with this super compact option from Perception.

The Crank is just ten feet in length, and it’s ideal for rivers, ponds, and calm coastal waters. The drive system allows you to go forward and reverse, while the one-handed rudder control takes care of navigation.

Rigid carrying handles make transportation even easier, and it weighs just 87 pounds all-in, which is quite remarkable considering it uses a pedal drive.

And if you enjoy portable fishing options, you should check out this review of the best telescopic fishing rods for the ultimate in travel-friendly fishing.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Removable comfort seating.
  • Accessory mounting options.
  • Side paddle park.
  • Bungee tank wells.
  • Waterproof storage hatch.

Cons

  • No built-in rod holders or accessory rails – you need to add them separately.

Takeaway

A great little craft that is one of the most affordable and portable pedal powered fishing kayaks on the market. With all that money you save, you can buy yourself a decent fishing jacket, too!

BKC PK13 Angler Solo Fishing Kayak

Considering the amount of features you get with this kayak – and the fact that it’s also a pedal drive model – means that this is another affordable option at this price point.

The Brooklyn Kayak Company is known for their budget-friendly fishing kayaks that are ready-to-go, coming with all the fishing-friendly-features you need right out of the box.

This has an ergonomic frame seat, an adjustable aluminum paddle, two waterproof hatches, three rod holders, and bungee cargo tie-downs.

You can even upgrade it with a trolling motor, but if you’re looking for everything in one package, you can’t go far wrong here.

Pros

  • Affordable price for what you get.
  • High weight capacity.
  • Super-stable hull design.
  • Hand-operated rudder.
  • Paddle included.

Cons

  • Not the best drive system out there.

Takeaway

This is a very affordable pedal kayak option with all the trimmings – considering you don’t need to add a thing, and you’ll be out there on the water in no time. And if you want to go with a partner, the BKC also has some nice tandem kayak options, too.

How to Choose the Best Pedal Drive Fishing Kayaks

There are a few things to consider when you’re in the market for a good pedal driven fishing kayak, so let’s take a look at what they might be in the buyer’s guide below.

An FAQ section will follow in case we missed anything.

angler fishing from the kayak in the river

The Pros and Cons of Pedal Fishing Kayaks

First, let’s discuss the big question – do you need a pedal fishing kayak?

To answer this, we should take a look at the pros and cons of this technology, and you’ll be better suited to make this important decision.

The Pros

There are numerous advantages to pedal fishing kayaks, with the first being perhaps the most obvious – hands-free fishing.

With most models, you don’t have to use a paddle at all, leaving you free to concentrate on reeling in your next catch.

Furthermore, pedals can take the effort out of moving around. Anyone who has used one will tell you that powering a kayak with your legs is much easier than with your arms.

Pedal drive kayaks are near silent, so you can glide up close to your quarry without risk of spooking the fish.

You can also move faster through the water, with the technology taking the strain, getting you to where you need to be in half the time.

Additionally, pedal kayaks can be a lifesaver in certain situations, enabling you to leave a hazardous area quicker than you would with a paddle. This is especially ideal if you fish in challenging conditions or locations.

And with a good rudder system, they make a great option for tackling choppier waters with stronger undercurrents.

Either way, you should always be wearing a good quality fishing PFD when you’re out on the water. Not only will they save your life, but they also offer some practical tackle storage solutions, too.

The Cons

It’s not all sweetness and light, as pedal kayaks do have their downsides.

Perhaps the most obvious is their expense. Pedal drive systems can be extremely pricey compared to a simple paddle-powered fishing kayak.

They also add considerable weight to a kayak – which can be problematic when it comes to getting you to and from the water – especially if you already have a lot of gear.

With more moving parts, more things can go wrong with pedal drives – although this is unlikely in premium-quality products.

Pedal drives can take up additional room that you might have otherwise used for storage space, accessory pods, or other practical use.

Finally, unless the fins or rotor system is retractable, pedal kayaks will struggle in shallow waters, as it’s likely they will catch on hazards and obstacles below the surface – which can cause drag and damage.

Now you can weigh up the pros and cons – it’s up to you to decide if a pedal kayak is worth it – but here’s a clue:

Yes, they are.

fisherman floats on a white fishing kayak in ocean along the coast

Propulsion System

It’s certainly worth mentioning the types of propulsion system that are available in pedal powered kayaks – but I will enter an honest caveat here.

I’m by no means an expert on this technology. If you’re looking for an in depth engineering guide to kayak pedal systems, I would suggest contacting the manufacturer.

Basically, you have two choices.

Fins or props.

As far as I can tell, fins are only used by the Hobie Mirage drive systems – I will stand corrected if that’s not the case, but every other kayak uses a propeller.

Either way, I would recommend choosing a system that can easily retract, so you can avoid underwater obstacles and navigate shallower waterways.

For a more detailed and informative look on these two systems, take a look at the video below.

Kayak Size

Does size matter? When it comes to a kayak – yes it does.

It depends on where you’re going to be using your kayak the most. Kayaks that are around 9-10 feet are more suitable for quiet rivers, lakes, and inlets.

Longer kayaks are ideal for tackling choppier waters, and/or for traveling longer distances.

For a pedal-powered kayak, I would say the sweet spot is about 12 feet.

The shorter a kayak is, the more maneuverable it will be, but it won’t be as fast or track nearly as well as a longer craft.

Still, when it comes to fishing kayaks, you’re not really looking to win any races.

And don’t forget that storage and transport limitations should also be taken into consideration.

You still need somewhere to put your kayak when it’s not in use – and you need to be able to get it to the water in the first place.

Storage Options

The pedal system in a kayak might take up extra space, but so long as you have plenty of storage options elsewhere on board, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Any good fishing kayak worth its salt should have front and rear tank wells for stashing tackle, gear, or one of these awesome fishing coolers for your catch and/or lunch and beer.

Consider what’s going on in the center console area of the kayak, as this is around where the pedal system will be located.

Underseat storage space is also highly advantageous with more clutter on the deck.

And don’t forget about watertight storage hatches that are suitable for keeping your valuables protected, and the larger compartments will be ideal for stashing any extra rain fishing gear you might need to bring along.

angler fishing on the kayak in river

Rudder and Steering

It’s all very well being able to go forwards and backwards, but how do you turn left and right?

This is where a good rudder and steering system will come in – which – in a pedal kayak – is usually operated with one hand around the cockpit area.

Look for a rudder that can be retracted, as getting in and out of the water will be much easier, and you won’t scrape or damage it in shallow conditions.

And although there are pedal drive systems with rudders that allow for no-paddle fishing, I would heartily recommend you still take one.

You never know when you might need it, and a paddle provides extra speed, control, and maneuverability.

They’ve been a vital part of kayaking for hundreds of years – so they’re not defunct just yet.

It’s a good idea to wear a pair of good-quality fishing gloves when kayak fishing, as not only will they help with handling fish in slippery conditions, they can also help protect your hands when paddling.

Fishing Features

Don’t forget about the fishing-friendly-features that all good fishing kayaks should come with – or be capable of adding.

Just because the kayak comes with a pedal drive, shouldn’t mean it scrimps on rod holders, fish finder scupper holes, mounting rails and accessory tracks, and other useful functions.

The ability to add lights and cameras can be useful, too.

But if you can’t mount a flashlight on your kayak, you could always just use one of these practical fishing headlamps if you’re out in low light conditions.

Cost

Yes, I know, I feel your pain.

Pedal fishing kayaks are not cheap, and they’re not set to reduce in price anytime soon. This kind of technology doesn’t just grow on trees, y’know?

Especially if you want a premium-quality system that’s going to last.

Consider if you kayak fish regularly enough to splurge on a pedal kayak.

But if you’re of advancing years, they make a great investment to keep active without overdoing it, and they can be well-worth the extra cost.

There are deals to be had – so check back through the article to find them.

angler sitting on fishing kayak on calm water of river

FAQs

Is a fishing kayak with pedals worth the price?

I would say so, yes. Once you’ve experienced the freedom, power, and control that a pedal kayak gives you – you won’t go back.

Sure, they’re expensive, but give it a try once – and you’ll know why.

Is it better to paddle or pedal while kayak fishing?

They both have their advantages as outlined in the buyer’s guide above – and it might well depend on the conditions.

But for the ultimate in control, speed, and maneuverability, I would say pedal power is the best every single time.

Not to mention the hands-free fishing and relatively little effort you’ll need to exert when using them.

What are the advantages of pedal kayaks for fishing?

In a nutshell – they’re faster, near silent, offer hands-free fishing capabilities, and many provide turn-on-a-dime control.

They’re also just so much more enjoyable than swinging your arms with a paddle. Anyone who’s ever taken a date to a recreational pedal boating lake will know exactly what I mean.

How fast can you go on a pedal kayak?

Depending on the kayak, the pilot, and the conditions, I would say you’re looking at around 8-10 MPH on a pedal drive system.

Or, I should say, around 6-8 knots.

What is the cheapest pedal kayak?

In this review, the cheapest pedal kayak is the Vibe Shearwater, but note that it comes without pedals.

For an all-inclusive pedal kayak, the cheapest here is the Perception Crank.

It’s likely there are pedal kayaks that cost even less – but I seriously doubt they’re going to be as good.

You get what you pay for these days.

Why are pedal kayaks so expensive?

I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s because of the intricate and complex technology and materials used in the drive system itself.

They nearly always come with premium lawn-chair style seating too, which can drive up the price considerably.

At any rate, fishing kayak manufacturers tend to put all their know-how into pedal kayaks, and you’ll regularly find they are their flagship models.

Can you put pedals on a kayak?

Depending on the kayak, I think it might well be possible to do a spot of DIY and add a pedal drive to just about any craft.

That said, if it’s not initially designed to be compatible with one, you might be opening up a whole can of worms unless you’re a do-it-yourself god.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money upfront, look for kayaks that are designed to be compatible with pedal drives – but the drives are sold separately.

You can always add them at a later date if you so choose.

Are Hobie pedal kayaks worth the money?

Hobie kayaks invented the pedal drive technology and are the market leaders in this aspect.

Their kick-up fin system is ingenious, and, as users will tell you, the crème de la crème when it comes to pedal kayak fishing.

But is it worth the money? Far be it from me to decide – let me know what you think in the comments.

Is a pedal kayak good exercise?

Yes – in fact, it’s a great way to stay in shape – especially if you’re not getting any younger.

Not as challenging as paddling alone, pedaling a fishing kayak is like using an incumbent exercise bike in the home.

Only this time, you’re fishing in the great outdoors – so it’s a triple win in my book. Just don’t forget to wear a decent fishing hat if you’re out under those harmful UV rays.

Here’s to a healthy and happy heart for many more years on the water!

Summary

Kayak fishing is already an incredibly enjoyable hobby, but when you add pedals the fun just goes off the charts.

I hope this review has helped you choose the best pedal fishing kayak in 2021.

Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why.

Tight lines, and happy pedaling!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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