Best Pedal Kayak – 2022 Reviews & Guide For Fishing & Recreation
Are you a kayak angler who's fed up with paddling?
Want a hands-free fishing kayak experience?
Then it's time to throw away the paddle and embrace the pedal powered kayak...
We have put together what we consider to be the ULTIMATE guide to pedal kayaks.
We're going to show you what we think is the best pedal drive fishing kayak on the market today, and a few alternatives from top brands.
And of course, we have a buyer's guide which we hope will help you:
a) Decide whether or not pedal power is right for you. And if it is...
b) Help you choose the right kayak
Ok....3, 2, 1...Go!
Quick Pedal Kayak Picks:
Some Of The Best Pedal Kayaks Reviewed
1: Perception Pescador 12.0 Pilot Kayak
This Pescador Pilot Drive is the best pedal drive fishing kayak in terms of value, features and ease of use. While it's a little narrower than some other fishing kayaks, it's capable of hauling 475 pounds.
It features a Pilot Drive rotational pedal system with glide technology that powers the propeller underneath the hull, so you will be able to move through the water at speed, with minimal effort or disturbance.
The yak benefits from a low-profile hand-operated rudder handle so it’s easier to steer and doesn’t take up too much valuable space on the deck.
Weighing 85 pounds and featuring comfort grip carrying handles, it is designed to be efficient to transport. Although you may find it necessary to use a trolley as it weighs a considerable amount. This may put some of you off.
The Captain’s Chair style seat is made for a comfortable kayaking experience and it has ‘on-the-fly’ adjustable gear tracks and tension knobs.
There's enough storage for all your extra gear, including 4 molded-in rod holders to suit even the most organized kayak angler. There are also bungees, tackle storage pods and a mesh bow cover, as well as two areas designed for mounting electronic items, such as a fish finder, a transducer mount or GPS.
2: BKC PK13 Pedal Kayak
This Brooklyn Kayak Company PK13 is a durable rotomolded high density polyethylene fishing kayak with a rotational pedal drive and elevated seating to suit your fishing style and improve sight casting.
This could be an affordable option for anglers looking for a stable fishing kayak for calm lakes or ocean fishing. It can also be great if you're a new kayak angler looking for your first pedal kayak, as it comes with a paddle included.
This capable fishing kayak has a stable hull, with a low profile rudder mounted under the hull. It has a narrower width than some shorter angler kayaks, which could help improve tracking and speed over the water. However, at 13 feet long, it may not be the best choice for smaller rivers or ponds.
It has good storage capacity, with room for a full day’s equipment or even camping gear for multi-day trips. The large stern cargo deck has space for a fishing crate, with bungees to secure it. The large front hatch can be ideal for keeping additional gear dry. There are also three flush mount rod holders and space to install your aftermarket accessories.
3: Reel Yaks Pedal Pro 110
This pedal fishing kayak from Reel Yaks features a flap drive pedal system that’s designed to be a little lighter than a propeller drive (the pedal drive weighs just 11 pounds). The flexible fins are also designed to move through weeds and grass without getting stuck.
This is a stable, lightweight kayak with an anti-slip standing platform for easier casting and a comfortable stadium-style seat with added cushioning for long fishing trips. Its 11 foot length also makes it more maneuverable than longer boats.
It’s also accessory-ready, with gear tracks and mounting points for all your gadgets. You’ll find a dedicated transducer scupper in the hull too. Another feature is the built-in rudder system for improved boat control.
This pedal kayak also has lots of space for fishing equipment, with six rod holders, a bow hatch, center hatch and a rear cargo deck with bungees. There’s also storage options for a trolling motor battery. And the kayak can hold up to 500 pounds, so it’s great if you’re a larger kayak angler or want to carry a lot of equipment.
4: Perception Crank 100
The Perception Crank can be a good option if you’re looking for a compact, easy to use pedal kayak. At just 10 feet long, it’s easy to maneuver both on and off the water. It’s also pretty lightweight compared to other models, for easy transportation.
It has a folding adjustable seat, which can also be removed, with breathable mesh fabric for comfort. The rudder features a one-handed control for easy operation from the cockpit area.
The pedal drive can let you paddle both forwards and in reverse for full control. There are bow and stern storage areas with bungee cords to secure your gear.
The kayak also features two Solo Mount recesses for mounting electronics and a transducer mount for fish finders. Notably, there are no fishing rod holders on this kayak.
- Easy to store and transport
- Easy to maneuver and use
5: Pelican Getaway 110 HDII
- Weight: 59 pounds (65 pounds rigged)
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
The Pelican Getaway is a lightweight pedal kayak that can be an excellent budget-friendly boat at an affordable price. It features a Hydrive II pedal system with dual fins that can be useful in weeds and shallow water. There’s also a rudder system for increased boat control on moving water and to aid turning.
It has a lower weight capacity than some other fishing kayaks, so it’s not the best for hauling heavy gear. There’s space to store a crate or a cooler in the rear cargo deck with bungees to keep it tied down.
The Ergocast XP seating system lets you sit elevated off the deck for better sight casting and more comfortable pedaling. The side handles feature accessory tracks so you can install additional tools to make the most of your fishing adventure. There are also flush mount rod holders and cup holders.
Without perfect balance, you may not be able to stand up in this one.
6: Old Town Topwater PDL Angler
The Old Town Topwater PDL is a compact fishing kayak that can be an ideal boat for kayak fishing in small lakes and rivers. It has rock solid stability and packs plenty of fishing features into its portable size, making it great for both beginners and experienced kayak anglers.
This is not a big boat so it can be great for loading into the back of a pickup truck.
It has a very stable DoubleU hull with foam deck padding for increased traction when standing and improved noise reduction. The award winning pedal drive features a five year warranty and has forward and reverse pedaling.
The deck is incredibly spacious, with lots of storage, including the large rear tankwell and bow hatch. It also features accessory tracks for adding your gadgets, and there’s a transducer mount for your fish finder. You’ll also find flush mount rod holders and a rudder system.
The ElementAir seating system features a breathable mesh seat, is adjustable and designed to provide lumbar support and comfort for long fishing trips.
- Easy to maneuver and transport
- Great for ponds, rivers and small lakes
- Stable hull
- Forward/reverse pedal drive
7: Old Town Sportsman 120
- Width: 33.5 inches
- Weight: 116 pounds fully rigged (82 pounds hull only)
- Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
The Old Town Sportsman combines stability with fishing comfort. It has a high performance engineered DoubleU hull for enhanced stability on different water conditions.
A great feature of this polyethylene fishing kayak is the premium seating, which is built for UV-resistance and durability, with 3D mesh and breathable Textilene fabric for all day comfort. The seat is height-adjustable too so you can find your sweet spot.
The durable PDL drive comes with a five year warranty and features a propeller under the hull.
There’s ample storage space on deck with a sealed bow hatch, a rod and tackle management system with horizontal rod storage, and an oversized stern tank well for a cooler or crate.
It also features non-slip EVA deck padding for safer standing.
8: Wilderness Systems Recon 120
This Wilderness Systems pedal kayak can be a great choice for expert anglers as it's entire design is made for fishing. It’s feature-packed and ready for you to add your own accessories for customization. It’s extremely stable, with silent traction pads on the deck so you don’t disturb the fish.
The HD Helix PD Pedal Drive System benefits from forward and reverse pedaling and a lab-tested gear ratio for maximum efficiency and minimal fatigue. The AirPro ACE seating system features one of the most comfortable seats and is built to offer all-day comfort. It can be adjusted with one hand.
This is a spacious kayak that has sufficient room for you and all your fishing gear, including rod storage, crate storage, tackle tray storage and even cup holders for your favorite beverage. However, this is a large kayak that could be awkward to carry without a cart if you’re on your own.
The StowPro bow hatch lets you organize your gear and keep it dry and out of the way. You can even add an aftermarket motor with the motor-compatible stern, giving you tri-powered kayak capabilities.
9: Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD
- Length: 13 foot 3 inches
The Jackson Big Rig FD is a large pedal drive fishing kayak that can be great for multiple water environments, including open water. It features Flex Drive 3D pedal drive systems that power a propeller under the hull. This is designed to flip up when you hit the shallows or underwater objects.
The pedal drive is also interchangeable with the Flex Drive E motor system (sold separately), which can give you the opportunity to switch to motorized operation if necessary, being a tri-powered kayak. The pedal drive can be powered forwards and backwards, and you can also turn using the built-in rudder.
This is a large, spacious kayak, with plenty of gear tracks for mounting additional accessories, as well as bow and stern storage hatches, rear tank well and built-in rod holders. It also has a huge 550 pound capacity, which can be ideal for loading up for a long fishing trip or equally great if you’re a larger kayak angler.
This is one of the best fishing kayaks for serious anglers. It's wide and stable, with an adjustable Hi-Lo ergonomic seat for added comfort for both fishing and pedaling. If you have perfect balance, you may also be able to stand up in it for easier casting.
The Jackson Big Rig FD is a big boat and not a lightweight kayak, so you may need some help to get it from A to B. However, it does have front and side carry handles, as well as a replaceable skid plate if you need to drag it along the beach.
10: Wilderness Systems Radar Pedal Kayak
- Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
The Radar features a Helix PD pedal drive system that can be easily installed and removed, giving you the option of using pedal or paddle power whenever you choose. It also has two storage consoles for added convenience.
This craft is designed for a range of water conditions and features S.M.A.R.T hull technology, which boasts stand up stability, maneuverability, acceleration, responsiveness and tracking. So it should be able to handle a variety of waters and be easy to use. It also features a standing platform for easier stand up fishing.
This versatile kayak has high quality features and can also be used with the Helix MD motor drive, with an additional purchase. The pedal drive can be easily stowed if you’re in very shallow water or entering the surf.
With a high weight capacity, you should be able to take everything you need with you for a full day on the water. There is a spacious rear tank well with bungees, plus a bow hatch and a watertight center hatch for smaller items that’s also flush with the deck to give you more space to move around or stand.
It also features an ergonomically optimized AirPro Max seat that can be adjusted. It can be exceptionally comfortable for all day fishing. There are also built-in gear tracks that can let you mount additional fishing accessories.
11: Bonafide SS127 Ultimate Fishing Kayak (pedal drive ready)
- Weight: 85 pounds without seat (94 pounds with seat)
- Weight Capacity: 475 pounds
The Bonafide SS127 is a sit-on-top kayak that is built for stability so that you can sit or stand comfortably for catching fish. It is not a pedal kayak but it may be possible to add your own pedal drive propulsion system to it using the center console on the boat.
This is a spacious kayak, with plenty of room for you and your gear. It also has a generous capacity, so you can load it up with all the fishing equipment you might need for a day on the water.
The HiRise seating system can give you a better vantage point for sight fishing and can be comfortable for sitting on. There are also deck pads for traction when you’re standing up, including on the top of the gunwales.
The Bonafide SS127 benefits from a hybrid cat hull design, giving it the stability of a pontoon style boat. This can make it ideal for a range of waters and can also help with tracking and make it easier to maneuver.
Being crafted for fishing, this boat has a lot of extras that can make your trip easier. There are YakAttack GearTracs so that you can customize your vessel by mounting additional accessories easily.
The yak has plenty of storage, including a hinged bow hatch, a large rear tank well with bungees, underseat storage for easy access and paddle holders.
12: Hobie Mirage Compass
The Mirage Compass is a spacious craft with effective pedal drive technology from the Hobie Mirage Drive. It offers two rod holders and a large rear cargo deck, as well as a mesh covered bow storage area. The Kick Up fins are ideal for shallow water and the flat deck lets you stand to sight cast.
Designed by Hobie engineers, the Kick Up fins literally kick up when they hit an underwater object.
This also comes with an elevated seat, two-piece paddle and H-Track accessory mounts.
13: Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125
This Vibe Shearwater can be an affordable pedal drive fishing kayak and ideal for oceans and big lakes. It can also be ideal for fly fishing.
At 12 foot 6 inches, it’s a pretty long kayak, which may mean it’s less easy to maneuver but a little quicker. It’s stable and packed with fishing features, including a standing deck, four rod holders, accessory tracks, tackle storage, and comfortable seating.
At 116.5 pounds with the X-Drive pedal system, however, it’s not the lightest.
14: Pelican Kayaks The Catch 130 HDII
The Pelican Catch is designed for exceptional stability on a range of waters. With its tunnel hull and spacious deck, standing to fish can be much easier. It features an Ergocast G2 seat with padding and lumbar support, making it great for all-day fishing comfort.
There’s no dry storage but there are two cargo decks with bungee cords to keep your gear strapped to your boat.
15: Old Town Predator PDL
The Predator is a solid pedal kayak that can offer high performance for open water kayak fishing and long days. At over 13 feet long, it might not be the easiest to transport or maneuver but it’s loaded with fishing features and built to get you to your honey hole fast.
It has lots of storage capabilities, forward/reverse pedal drive, a comfortable seat, rudder system, and anti-slip deck pads.
16: Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal
The 12 foot Malibu pedal kayak can be a great boat for recreational use as well as kayak fishing. There are storage wells with bungees at both the bow and stern, and a hatch under the seat. The seat is elevated for improved visibility.
You’ll also find gear tracks to let you mount rod holders or other accessories to customize the deck for your trip.
What Is A Pedal Kayak, And Why Would I Buy One?
Pedal drive fishing kayaks are vessels that have been engineered to be used with pedals instead of a paddle. So, effectively you’re using your feet and legs instead of your hands and arms.
The way in which they work is that they have fins or a propeller underneath the hull and foot pedals on the deck, so you can pedal along using your feet to power your movement across the water.
Your hands remain free so you can do other activities, such as photography, bird watching, or most commonly fishing. Some of the best fishing kayaks have pedal capabilities, offering a new kayaking experience.
Pedaling a kayak is also popular with people who want to get a good lower body workout, as you can use pedal power instead.
Having pedals also means that even if you have problems or an injury on your upper body you will still be able to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors in a kayak without needing to use any upper body strength, as it’s your legs that will doing all the work.
Having a pedal drive fishing kayak can make your time out on the water a lot easier. You'll no longer have to worry about holding your paddle while you try to cast your line or, more importantly, reel in your catch.
A lot of the times you’ll find that pedal drive fishing kayaks have specific features for fishing, such as tackle storage and work areas, so you can assess your catch and prepare your bait more conveniently while you’re on the water.
Depending on the style of yak you choose, you may find that you have more space for your fishing gear on a craft with pedals, compared to paddle kayaks. However, with some having the extra space taken up with the pedals themselves, this can sometimes mean there is less storage space on deck for any gear.
Kayaks with pedals are mostly designed for fishing, so they have extra features that you might not find on a traditional yak. Some of the best fishing kayaks will have designated rod holders or rod tip protection and plenty of space for everything you’ll need for a day on the water. These are generally hands free fishing kayaks.
You may also find that the seat is positioned differently than on a traditional sit-on-top, meaning you are often sitting in a slightly more elevated position and usually with a more defined backrest.
There is also the possibility of being able to adjust the seat position and height to suit your pedaling style or activity, which will allow you to better reach the pedals and kayak more effectively.
Pedal powered kayaks tend to be wider to give them more stability in the water, as since you’re not using a paddle or your knees to stabilize yourself, this gives you the extra help to prevent the yak from capsizing.
With some of the pedal drive fishing kayaks, you'll find that you can actually stand up in them, with some having a larger deck space or seats that can be moved out of the way. Being able to stand up in your boat will give you more versatility for fishing, meaning you can cast your line more effectively and have better visibility.
One thing that may differ from traditional paddling vessels is that with a pedal craft you will find that you may need a rudder. Most models with pedals will come with a rudder already installed, as this will help you to move through the water in a straight line.
This means that while effectively hands-free fishing, you will need to occasionally control the direction of your craft using your rudder, which is commonly controlled by a handle close to the seat.
Kayak Fisherman Skills - Courtesy: americancanoe.org
Types Of Pedal Kayaks: Push vs Rotational
While they are all designed with the same basic principle, pedal driven kayaks are not all the same in practice. There are two main types of pedal kayak; one being the push pedal yak and the other being the rotational pedal yak.
These work with your feet pushing down on each pedal in order to move you forward through the water. The power comes from your feet and ankles as opposed to your whole legs.
As you push down with each foot you’re powering the yak through the water but because each push of the foot makes you move, as soon as you stop pushing the pedals the yak will slow down very quickly.
Video: How Push Pedals Work
With a rotational pedal system you are using your whole legs to push them in a way similar to how you would normally pedal a bicycle. With these types of pedals you will often require more room in your cockpit, as you need to allow for the extra space needed for your legs to be able to move.
These pedal drives are often easier to move, as it is ALL of your leg muscles that are doing most of the hard work. You should be able to move across the water faster than with a push pedal craft.
Because of the design, you'll also find that you're able to pedal for longer. This type of drive will also allow for some momentum to be maintained, even when you’ve stopped pedaling; just like when you’re riding a bike.
Video: How Rotational Pedals Work
What Are The Pros and Cons Of Using Pedals?
Because as humans we’ve evolved to walk on our legs and not on our arms, we typically have a lot more strength in our legs. This means that getting across the water using your legs to propel you will be a lot faster than if you were using your arms.
Pedal driven kayaks may be quieter when you’re moving through the water, as the fins or propellers are already below the water surface and won’t be splashing like a paddle. This may make it easier for creeping up on fish, as you won’t be disturbing the surface of the water as much as if you were using a fishing kayak paddle.
Hands-Free Fishing Kayak
By using foot pedals you won’t need to worry about trying to paddle while you’re trying to catch fish. The foot pedals will allow you to stabilize your yak while you’re fishing, so you can use both hands to cast your line or unhook your fish.
While you will probably still need to use a hand to operate your rudder for the most part you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing experience out on the water, with your hands-free to fish, take a photo or eat a snack.
Using your feet and legs to power your kayak will be a lot less strenuous than paddling using your arms. This means you may be able to travel over longer distances and for a greater length of time than if you were just using a paddle.
Essentially, you will be using a lot less energy to power your yak compared to traditional paddling at the same speed or over the same distance. Especially with the bicycle-like pedals, you will be able to keep moving even once you’ve stopped pedaling, giving you the opportunity to give your legs and feet a rest for a minute.
This means that when you start off pedaling again you won’t have to start from a stopped position, allowing you to use minimal energy to get back up to the same speed.
Because the device you’re using to power you through the water are located under the water, you may find you stay drier than you would with a traditional sit-on-top angler's kayak.
Sit-on-tops will usually mean you will get wet from paddling, as the motion of your paddle entering and exiting the water with each stroke will cause splashes to come aboard your yak. When you eliminate the paddle, the risk of getting wet also lessens, so you could potentially stay dry.
Less Skills Needed
Pedaling a yak requires less skill than paddling. While kayaking is a sport that is available to all abilities, it takes time to build up the skills required to get to the more advanced levels. With paddling you would need to learn simple techniques in order to get started.
With pedaling, on the other hand, you can take to the water almost without any technique. You simply employ your feet and legs in a motion like walking or riding a bike and you’re on your way swiftly across the water - ideal for any new kayak angler.
And because they are more stable vessels there is less chance of you flipping over.
Having a propeller or fins underneath your kayak can make it more difficult to maneuver. For one, you won’t be able to paddle in quite as shallow an area compared to if you were using a paddle, as you will need to consider the extra equipment under your hull.
This could mean you are more likely to get caught in underwater grasses or seaweed. Another thing is that you may find you can’t turn or stop quite as quickly with pedals, with can mean less precise boat control.
However, with many pedal drives you will find there is a mechanism which will allow you to lift up the fins or propeller, raising them closer to the hull, to let you access more shallow areas.
A yak with pedals is often a lot heavier than a comparatively sized traditional yak, as it will often have additional features to allow for the extra mechanisms required.
You may also find that they have extra storage capacity, which may be heavier, as they are most frequently designed for the kayak angler.
Because a pedal kayak has extra equipment, you will probably find that they can be a lot more expensive than a basic traditional sit-on-top yak.
In addition to the initial purchasing cost, you may also find that because of the mechanical features they will require more maintenance, such as lubrication to keep the rudder and propellers in good working order, which could be an extra cost to consider.
As well as lubrication to ensure the mechanics of the drive system is kept working, you will also need to consider where you’re planning on using the yak.
For example, your drive system will require extra maintenance if you’re kayaking in saltwater. You will need to ensure the mechanical parts are corrosion resistant or at least have a protective coating to prevent them from rusting.
Rinsing the drive system in clean water is a good idea after each use in order to extend the life of the mechanisms.
Video: Propel Pedal Drive Maintenance
How To Use A Kayak With Pedals
If you’ve only ever used a traditional paddling kayak then using one with pedals can take a bit of getting used to. For one thing, getting it from your car to the water might be a little trickier.
Kayaks with pedals tend to be heavier than ones without, but not only that, because there are extra mechanisms, you can’t just load it off your car and into the water. The drive system usually needs to be installed once you get to the water, so that it’s not damaged during transportation.
The seat will also usually need to be installed at the water. Additionally, the seat and the drive system will add to the weight, so you’ll probably find that it’s more convenient to install it all at the water anyway.
That way you’ll be able to make sure your seat is in the correct position for you to be able to comfortably reach the pedals and at an angle that is going to be comfortable enough if you’re pedaling over a long distance. A lot of the seats can be adjusted while you’re on the water, to make it easier for you to change positions.
Once you’re seated in your kayak and ready to set off, you will probably feel a little off balance to begin with. If you’re used to using a paddle, you might find you don’t know what to do with your hands as you start pedaling.
The way in which your feet are moving to power the fins or propeller can cause your body weight to shift from side to side but once you get used to pedaling you will usually find you’re fine once you get going.
Learning how to steer using the rudder can be another tricky skill to master and at first you may find yourself not traveling in quite as straight a manner as you might like. But with most pedal vessels the rudder is there to assist, since you don’t have the added help of your paddle to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Video: How To Use A Kayak Rudder
Unlike the attached rudders on traditional kayaks, the rudder on a pedal yak is usually operated by a handle close to where the seat is, so you can easily keep a straight path while you’re comfortably seated and pedaling.
This means that although you will be hands-free fishing for most of the time, you will require your hands to be able to steer the yak in the direction you want to travel.
How To Fish From A Pedal Kayak
Fishing from a pedal kayak can be a little easier than fishing from a traditional yak because you can keep moving using your feet while you have your rod in your hands.
Some pedal yaks will have a standing platform to make casting and retrieving easier. However, if you want to stand up you’ll probably need to make sure that you’re in a stable environment first, with minimal wind, current or wake that could knock you off balance.
If you don’t have good balance or are a new kayak angler, you might want to stay in your seat to fish.
Now that you know what a pedal kayak is and what they are most often used for you should also know whether or not you could benefit from pedaling instead of using a paddle kayak.
With the two pedal styles available, you could test drive both types before you decide on which type you prefer. It really comes down to personal preference when it comes to finding the perfect boat on the market today!
Remember to keep in mind the way in which you plan to transport the vessel to and from the water, making sure it’s not too large, as well as the additional maintenance that the mechanisms will require. These extra costs are something to consider when you make the initial purchase.
Another important thing to consider is the type of water you’re planning on pedaling in and how much gear you’re planning on carrying with you at one time. Be sure to check the weight capacity of the yak and the storage areas to make sure they meet your needs.
Do you own a pedal kayak? Enjoying it, or would you go back to paddles again? Let us know below...