The oldest kayak and canoe manufacturers in the world, Old Town has roots dating back to 1898, so they know a thing or two about the industry.
For angling, their flagship line is the Sportsman range, a selection of premium fishing kayaks that are up there with the best in the world.
Of all the options available, this will be the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 review, as it’s one of the highest-rated pedal drive kayaks on the market, and demands a closer look.
Let’s get started.
Our Verdict on the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 Kayak
There are pedal drive kayaks, and then there are Old Town pedal drive kayaks. It tops fishing kayak reviews in just about every department, and garners high praise for the folks who are actually using it out on the water. It’s easily one of the best fishing kayaks ever made.
- The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 Pedal Kayak Review
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The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 Kayak – What is It?
First released in 2020, the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak is a feature-rich fishing machine that has already achieved legendary status in the kayak angling community in the short time it’s been with us.
It’s rare you’ll find anything less than a five-star review for this kayak, which has been designed by kayak anglers for kayak anglers, and every inch has been put to good use.
The Sportsman 106 is compatible with paddles, pedals, and power – so you can add a trolling motor if you choose – although for the purposes of this review, we’re exploring the pedal version.
However, you can also check it out at this link if you don’t need a pedal drive, or you’d like to spread the cost and purchase one at a later date.
And for more of the best pedal drive fishing kayaks, you can check out that link. It’s always a toss-up between this model and Hobie’s Mirage Pro Angler for the top spot.
What’s it For?
The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak has been designed to handle just about anything, from saltwater offshore adventures, to inland lakes, rivers, and waterways.
Like most fishing kayaks, I wouldn’t use this on whitewater, but it can certainly handle a bit more chop than your average craft.
And even if you’re out there on a blustery day when the wind gets up, the pedal drive will help keep you in the right spot – which is essential for catching fish.
The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 Pedal Kayak Review
Old Town build their kayaks and canoes to last, and the Sportsman range of fishing vessels will still be around after the Apocalypse.
Made with a single-piece of high-density, rotomolded polyethylene, the hull of this kayak is capable of taking a beating and then some.
Everything looks and feels top quality, and as soon as you start to unpack this thing, you’ll get a sense that everything from the hull to the hardware should last a lifetime.
Take a look at our complete kayak maintenance and storage guide for additional tips and tricks on making your kayak go the distance.
With over 100 years of know-how, Old Town manufactures some of the finest kayaks and canoes in the world, so when it comes to performance, there’s arguably nobody better.
The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak tracks as straight as an arrow, thanks to the rudder system and the sleek, hybrid-style hull that offers a fine marriage of stability and tracking performance.
Thanks to the pedal drive, you can certainly get up a fair head of steam in the Sportsman 106, and the streamlined bow design helps to displace the water as you effortlessly cut through it.
You can get to those hard-to-reach fishing spots in half the time with this kayak, and leave the rest of the paddling competition in your wake.
The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak has a pontoon-style hull, so it’s as stable as they come, and you can easily enjoy standing casts and reels without ever feeling like you’re off-balance.
Standing up and sitting down is a breeze, and the boat will feel rock solid as you do so. You don’t even need a stand-assist strap, although you can always add one if you think it will help.
And you can go here for more of the best stand-up fishing kayaks on the market. We included the Old Town Sportsman Big Water in that review, but Old Town recommended the Sportsman 120 as their most-stable fishing kayak.
At just over 10 feet in length, the Sportsman 106 is a compact kayak that can turn on a sixpence, not least because of the full rudder control you have at your fingertips.
It’s an absolute joy to turn this machine, and super-easy to do with the intuitive rudder control at your fingertips.
Features and Accessories
Alright, strap yourself in as we take you through a whirlwind tour of everything this absolute fishing beast comes with. We could be here a while:
- A low-maintenance, removable pedal drive system – which is obviously the jewel in the crown.
- Two flush mounted fishing rod holders behind the seat for trolling and staging.
- One forward flush mounted fishing rod holder.
- Fully customizable, 18-inch accessory tracks on the gunwales.
- A universal transducer mounting system for a good fish finder.
- Cup holders on either side of the seat.
- Horizontal rod storage – I wouldn’t use a fishing kayak without it.
- Cushioned floor pads for standing casts and reels.
- A custom tackle box.
- A side paddle clip for hands-free fishing.
- Deck scupper plugs.
- Shallow water anchor mounting point.
I honestly can’t fault it. There’s nothing here I wouldn’t use, and nothing missing that I need. As mentioned, maybe I’d add a stand-assist strap as I get older, but that’s about it.
As far as features go, I think only the Vibe Shearwater has it beat right out of the box. And keep reading, as we haven’t even touched on the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak storage options yet!
And for the transducer mount, why not check out our review of the best kayak fish finders on the market and get fully kitted out for your next fishing adventure?
Premium kayaks come with premium seating, and the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak is no different.
The fully adjustable, lawn chair-style seating is one of Old Town’s trademarks, and offers superior lumbar support for day-long comfort on the water.
It features a dual-layer Textilene material that has been UV protected, so it’s not going to fade under the beating sun. The mesh design also drains quickly and keeps you dry with excellent ventilation.
The seat itself is on a shuttle track that makes it super-easy to adjust to your height. You know you’ve found the correct position when you extend a leg on the pedal drive, and your knee is slightly bent.
I’ve sat in this thing down at my local paddlesports shop, and it ticks all the boxes for me. It’s every bit as comfortable as the camping chairs I have at home, and I’d think nothing of spending the full day out on the water in any kayak if the seating was anything like this.
The cockpit area is spacious, with plenty of room to stretch out and organize all your tackle and gear, while the non-slip EVA deck pads provide additional comfort and peace-of-mind when you want to stand up.
If you’re anything like me, you could just spend hours sitting on the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak watching the world go by.
Old Town is one of the few kayak companies that understands just how important on-board storage really is – particularly for fishing and camping purposes, and longer excursions exploring our waterways.
That’s why, on just about every boat they make, you’ll find a great selection of storage options – that are genuinely practical, as well as being well-made and robust.
The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak is no different, with a generous tank well to the stern with bungee shock-cord that can easily accommodate one of these awesome kayak fishing coolers.
At the bow, you’ll find a dry storage hatch for valuables, that’s fully watertight to prevent its contents from getting wet.
Side pockets for extra gear and knick-knacks are located just under the accessory tracks on each gunwale, and there’s an additional dry hatch located in the back of the pedal drive system you can access when it’s deployed.
Just behind the seating area, there is another storage hatch into the hull, this time with a latch lid that can lock into place.
And it comes with a tackle box included, which has a specially-designed home under the seat, so you can keep your most important baits, lures, and other tools close to hand.
Finally, to the stern of the craft, you’ll find a huge tank well which has bungee webbing and Vibe Versa clips to help quickly and securely stash your gear.
The Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak has an excellent maximum weight capacity of 450 lbs – which means you can easily carry up to 356 lbs of gear, including yourself.
In fact, for a hardshell, it has one of the highest weight capacity limits on the market. But if you’re still looking for more, you should try one of these tandem fishing kayaks – or choose an inflatable, instead.
With an assembled hull weight of 77 lbs, the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak isn’t the lightest and most portable vessel out there.
But as both the seat and the pedal drive are removable (the pedal drive itself weighs 18 lbs), it’s still pretty straightforward to get to and from the water.
Old Town has designed this kayak to be light enough for vehicle roof transportation, but you will probably need some assistance getting it up there.
A molded carry handle is located at the bow of the boat, and two slightly offset molded handles at the stern – to make room for the rudder system.
And you can always use one of these useful kayak carts if you want some additional help, and/or you like keeping your kayak fully rigged and ready to go.
Still, it’s not going to be nearly as portable as one of these incredible inflatable fishing kayaks, or as easy to store. If that’s something you’re concerned with, check out the latest inflatables at that link.
Ease of Use
Compared to cheaper fishing kayaks like the Lifetime Tamarack or Intex Excursion Pro, the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak has a much steeper learning curve.
Right out of the box, you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all the parts and packages that come with the product, and it will take some time to sit down and figure everything out.
The pedal drive itself can be a bit daunting at first, but once you have it set up it’s straightforward to use and has been designed to be low-maintenance.
It also features an easy-docking-system which ensures launching and landing is as easy as possible, it can be retracted if you encounter weeds or grass, or you stray into very shallow water.
Old Town is known for making aesthetically pleasing watercraft, and as robust and tank-like as the Big Water is, it still manages to be a very good-looking fishing kayak.
It has an attractive, curved shape that tapers into the bow, and looks not too dissimilar to a bullet when viewed from a bird’s eye.
Available in two color schemes, you have the choice of photo camo (which is a sort of brushed, blue-green combo), and the ember camo, which is similar but using orange tones.
Both options are smart looking kayaks that compliment the environment they’re used in – without being too loud.
I believe the logos are embossed, and feature the company’s distinctive lettering script. Either way, the overall effect is a classy vessel that smacks of quality.
But I’d expect nothing less from Old Town.
Rock-solid and highly durable, you will never feel out of your comfort zone when piloting the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 kayak.
It’s going to take a lot to tip this fishing machine, but you should still be wearing a certified fishing PFD regardless.
The kayak is available in two color schemes that are bright and punchy, without being too neon or gaudy. For visibility, you should still be pretty easy to spot.
I would maybe have liked to see grab rope or rails, but I think there’s still enough here to hold onto if you do happen to end up in the drink.
And for more on kayak safety, read our full guide on kayak safety tips, which offers some invaluable advice for you and others around you while on the water.
As you might expect, the major downside with this kind of kayak quality is going to be when it comes to the price.
Without the pedal drive, the Old Town Sportsman 106 is hands down one of the finest fishing kayaks under $1000, although we included the Topwater 106 in that particular review – which is an older model.
Pedal drive technology and all the trimmings has a tendency to make prices skyrocket, and so this craft should only be considered by people who are genuinely serious about the sport.
If you’re more of a rookie, and/or you don’t want to spend this kind of cash if you’re thinking of trying kayak fishing for the first time, then check out this review of the best fishing kayaks for beginners.
I don’t have enough time or space here to tell you how much I love this fishing kayak.
From bow to stern, every inch of the Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 has been designed with fishing, comfort, and performance in mind.
And the hardware and features are all designed and built with Old Town’s trademark quality.
It’s easily one of the best fishing kayaks ever made, and a clear labor of love for Old Town. It tops fishing kayak reviews in just about every department, and garners high praise for the folks who are actually using it out on the water.
If, however, you’re looking for something on the larger side, you might want to try the Sportsman 120, or even the Big Water.
But one thing’s for sure, give this range a try for yourself, and I doubt you’ll ever purchase another fishing kayak again.
Unless, of course, you’re like me, and you have an addiction…
There are pedal drive kayaks, and then there are Old Town pedal drive kayaks. I hope our Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 review has shown you just how good these things are.
Let us know in the comments if this is the fishing kayak for you, or if your head has been turned by another model.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayaking!