When humans first decided to create a watercraft out of a wood frame covered with seal skins, little did they realize 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 2023 – a technology that has seriously raised the bar for the sport.
Read on to discover what all the fuss is about, as once you’ve been in a pedal kayak – you never go back.
Table of Contents
- A Quick Guide to Pedal Fishing Kayaks & Our Top 3 Picks for 2023
- The 10 Best Pedal Fishing Kayaks in 2023
- Old Town Sportsman 106 Pedal Fishing Kayak
- The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak
- Jackson Kayak Knarr FD Fishing Kayak
- Native Watercraft Slayer Propel Fishing Kayak
- Bonafide P127 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
- 3 Waters Big Fish 103 Pedal Drive Kayak
- Hobie Mirage Passport 12 Fishing Kayak
- Point 65 Sweden Kingfisher Solo Fishing Kayak
- Perception Crank 10 Fishing Kayak
- BKC PK12 Angler Solo Fishing Kayak
- Complete Buying Guide to Pedal Drive Fishing Kayaks
- Is a fishing kayak with pedals worth the price?
- Is it better to paddle or pedal while kayak fishing?
- What are the advantages of pedal kayaks for fishing?
- How fast can you go on a pedal kayak?
- What is the cheapest pedal kayak?
- Why are pedal kayaks so expensive?
- Can you put pedals on a kayak?
- Are Hobie pedal kayaks worth the money?
- Is a pedal kayak good exercise?
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A Quick Guide to Pedal Fishing Kayaks & Our Top 3 Picks for 2023
We’ll get started on the reviews in a moment, but first, it’s important to have an understanding of the features, factors, and criteria we use for choosing our shortlist.
As you read through, bear in mind the following:
- The pedal system – does it use fins or a propeller? How does it retract?
- The type of kayak – pedal kayaks are overwhelmingly sit-on-top hardshells, but is it tandem or solo?
- Kayak size – go here for a great article on choosing the right sized kayak, and why it matters.
- Storage options – pedal kayaks tend to be larger beasts with more space.
- Rudder and steering – how does the kayak turn? Is the rudder foot or hand operated?
- Fishing features – we like kayaks that have lots of practical touches to help catch more fish!
- Cost – thanks to the technology, pedal drive kayaks are the most expensive on the market. Make sure you’re sticking to your budget in relation to how much you’re going to use the boat.
If you don’t have time to read the whole article, my top three picks for the pedal drive fishing kayak podium are as follows:
|Old Town Sportsman 106||The Best Pedal Fishing Kayak for the Money|
|Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak||The Best Pedal Fishing Kayak|
|Jackson Kayak Knarr FD||The Best Feature-Rich Pedal Fishing Kayak|
I think that the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 has knocked the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler off the top spot this year, especially after we did detailed reviews of each (and you can find the links below for each kayak).
And the fact that the Sportsman is half the price of the Hobie!
The Jackson Knarr holds onto the bronze, but the new Jackson Coosa might also make the cut when more is known about how it performs.
Please note that all the pedal drive fishing kayaks in this review actually come with the pedal drive included, so the price you see is for the whole package.
Unlike some other review websites, I’ve not simply flooded the article with pedal drive-compatible kayaks – with the drive pedal system sold separately.
Do you agree with my choices?
Read on for the complete review, and see if you can find the best pedal driven fishing kayak for your needs.
How We Choose
Using the guidelines above, we regularly pour over products for several hours on end in search of the best pedal fishing kayaks currently available.
All-in-all, I’d say it took about 16 hours to examine all the pedal kayaks from the most popular brands, as well as from the less well-known companies.
We use our own kayaking experience, plus extensive research from interviews, videos, reviews, and word-of-mouth reports from industry professionals and kayak anglers to sort the wheat from the chaff.
And with a liberal dollop of common sense and a dash of our own personal preferences, this list is the result.
The 10 Best Pedal Fishing Kayaks in 2023
Complete Buying Guide to 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.
The Pros and Cons of Pedal Fishing Kayaks
First, let’s discuss the big question – do you need a pedal kayak for fishing?
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.
There are numerous advantages to having a pedal system in a fishing kayak, but any kayak angler will tell you that hands-free fishing is number one.
With most pedal kayaks, 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 faster than you would with a paddle kayak. Very useful if you like to 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.
It’s not all sweetness and light, as even the best pedal kayak will have its downsides.
Perhaps the most obvious is their expense. Pedal drive systems can be extremely pricey compared to a paddle 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.
It’s highly likely you’ll need one of these awesome kayak carts to help, or rope in a buddy to take one end.
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 uses.
Finally, unless the fins or rotor system is retractable, pedal kayaks can struggle in shallow waters, as it’s likely they will catch on hazards and obstacles below the surface – which can cause drag and damage.
I will preface this section by admitting 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.
But 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 pedal 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 at these two systems, watch the video below.
There are so many styles and types of kayaks available today that it can be difficult to keep up, but for the most part, they can be narrowed down into the follow categories:
Hardshell vs Inflatables
There aren’t that many inflatable kayaks with rotational pedals available at the moment – although that is changing. Still, for the time being, pedal power is synonymous with hardshell kayaks.
This article on hardshells vs inflatable kayaks will tell you more.
Sit-On-Top vs Sit Inside
Likewise, I don’t think there’s a sit-inside kayak that features pedals, and the vast majority of kayaks with this technology are sit-on-top versions.
Read this article which pits sit-on-top against sit-inside to see which is better for the kayak fisherman or woman.
Tandem vs Solo
There are tandem kayaks with pedals out there, but they can be difficult to get hold of and/or very expensive, so I’ve not included any in this article.
However, if you are looking for a boat for two, head on over to this article, which explores the best tandem fishing kayaks available. A couple of options there feature pedal power.
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 long – or thereabouts.
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.
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.
Underseat storage space is also highly advantageous.
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.
Rudder and Steering
A pedal system will help you move forward and back, but how do you steer kayaks with pedals?
A hand-operated rudder will be located somewhere within easy reach of the cockpit area.
Look for a rudder that can be retracted, as launching will be much easier, and you won’t scrape or damage it in shallow water.
And although it’s possible to power and steer these craft without a paddle, I still highly recommend you take one.
You never know when you might need it, and a paddle provides extra speed, control, and maneuverability. Check out this review on the best paddles for kayak fishing.
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.
Just because the kayak comes with a pedal drive, doesn’t mean it should cut corners on fishing features.
While it’s possible to catch fish from just about any boat, a fishing kayak should only be considered a fishing kayak if it has one or more of the following:
- Flush mount rod holders.
- Articulated rod holders.
- Horizontal rod holders.
- Transducer/fish finder scupper holes.
- Accessory gear tracks.
- Tackle trays.
- Staging areas.
- Paddle parks.
- EVA deck pads for standing.
- Fish rulers.
- Anchor point.
You’re not going to get a good pedal drive fishing kayak for anything less than $1500 – and that’s if you’re lucky.
Yes, I know, I feel your pain.
Kayaks with a pedal system are not cheap, and they’re not set to reduce in price anytime soon.
Ask yourself the question – “how much kayak fishing am I going to do?”
If you’re a super-keen kayak angler who is on the water more than off it, then a high-end pedal kayak could be a worthwhile investment.
And if you’re of advancing years, they can seriously help you keep active without overdoing it, and you can’t put a price on your health, can you?!
But if it’s a bridge too far, and/or you’re not going to get a lot of use out of it, why not check out this review of the best fishing kayaks under $1000, instead?
Remember, you could always buy a pedal drive capable fishing kayak and add the drive system at a later date to spread the cost.
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 yak 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?
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 using a paddle 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!
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 2023.
Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy pedaling!