To pedal or not to pedal? You’d be surprised by the number of kayakers who wonder the same thing when it comes to kayak fishing.
Most people who are into kayak fishing were probably swayed by the ability to sneak up on fish without a motor and the speed of a kayak. Such fishing is quite easy to get the hang of, plus, it’s great exercise!
The traditional notion of a regular kayak or a canoe has always been paddling your way around the water, but have you ever thought what it’d be like to ditch those paddles and instead try pedal kayaks?
As pedal kayaks become more and more popular, many can argue that they’re the better choice to take on kayak fishing. Today, we’ll be breaking down this topic to help you make the decision of whether or not you should be joining the pedal kayak fishing club. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
What are Pedal Kayaks?
Pedal kayaks are a relatively recent adaptation of the classic kayak, where instead of using paddles to maneuver the boat, the kayak is powered through the movement of your legs and feet against built-in pedals. For example, we wrote a review of this Hobie Fishing Pedal Kayak and discussed why it’s great for fishing.
Think of it as a standard kayak, but with a few added benefits that make it an even better fit for fishing.
Well, besides the ‘cool’ factor, there are actually several advantages that accompany pedal kayaks and deem them superior to conventional kayaks or canoes, particularly if you use them for fishing.
What are these advantages? Well, let’s find out!
Why should you fish in a Pedal Kayak?
You may have already noticed the increasing numbers of anglers who switched to pedal kayaks and asked yourself why would they do that? The following benefits are the answer to your exact question:
You can enjoy a no-hands experience
Perhaps the first big difference you can think of when you compare pedal kayaks to regular ones is the absence of paddles. This is a huge advantage because it allows you to have your hands free most of the time so you can use them while on the move.
While pedaling your kayak from one location to the next, you can easily fish while in motion since your legs are doing all the work, leaving your hands free to grab your gear.
Pedaling also gives you the ability to make use of the traveling time to fine tweak your fishing equipment, tie on all sorts of lures, cast, or even troll.
Other than your legs, all you need to do to properly direct your pedal kayak is to make occasional adjustments to your keel or rudder, which should be enough to keep you on track of your target destination.
Now if you’re fishing in a paddle kayak, then you won’t be able to cast or troll while in motion. You’ll be needing both of your hands to do all the paddling, otherwise, you won’t be getting anywhere with your kayak. When you are done paddling, you also need to put your paddle somewhere while you pick up your rod and reel.
This can cause great inconvenience as you attempt to juggle your paddle and your fishing gear at the same time, which gets even worse if you’re facing a strong current or a windy day.
With a paddle, you’ll always have to choose between active fishing or fully controlling your kayak, there’s just no way around it.
You can Reach Places Faster
Pedal kayaks can provide you with a significant boost of speed compared to paddle kayaks or canoes. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a rotational or a push pedal (more on the advantages of each type later), such a kayak can help you cover a lot of distance in seriously less time.
This aspect is a great plus if you’re looking to reach your fishing spot without wasting much time. It’s also most beneficial to anglers who frequently participate in tournaments where getting to your spot faster than others can help you. A family member of ours still cites speed to their fishing spot as the key reason why they won a fishing tournament.
That being said, you should remember that the speed of your pedal kayak is affected by a few factors such as the shape of the hull, how much gear you got on board, as well as the materials used in the manufacturing process.
Additionally, the level of your pedaling skills has a major influence on the amount of speed you can achieve with your kayak. Obviously, the more experienced you are, the faster you can get.
As for traditional paddle kayaks, speed shouldn’t be one of your concerns since you won’t be getting anything special. Paddling takes up a lot more time out of your day to get you where you need, so if you’re an angler in a hurry, you won’t be very pleased.
Better Endurance and Performance
Up until this point, we’ve been talking about the convenience of having your hands free to cast and tune your fishing gear, as well as the time-saving aspect of pedal kayaks.
But now we got to stop and consider the good that comes out of using our legs to operate the drive instead of our arms.
We’ve found that using your legs can really add to the overall quality of your performance just by enhancing your endurance. How so? Well, let’s back up a bit.
The basic concept of pedal kayaks is to drive the boat using the power and movement of your legs, but did you know that your legs have some of the largest muscles in your entire body?
This means that most people are naturally stronger from the waist down, solely because the muscles there are bigger in size when compared to other parts, say, the arms. We also tend to use our legs far more intensely than our arms and general upper body area, also contributing to the better endurance idea.
Moreover, if you’re new to kayak fishing, it’s arguably easier for you to get into pedaling than paddling since you only really need to know how to pedal, as opposed to learning more complicated paddling techniques, taking the time to master them, and actually building up the required upper body shape for such effort.
Additionally, let’s not forget the positive impact of pedaling on people who suffer from injuries in the upper body. As pedal kayaks mainly require your lower body to drive, you won’t have to worry about putting any extra or unnecessarily strain on your neck, shoulders, or arms.
So even if you live with such an injury, pedal kayaks can still allow you to go fishing and enjoy the outdoors.
Due to their pedal-driven mechanisms, pedal kayaks tend to have a somewhat bulkier construction with more width compared to traditional kayaks or canoes.
While this can be a bit of a setback if you fail to purchase a model that provides adequate space to hold your fishing gear and equipment, it’s actually good in itself because you’ll get more stability during your rides. Check out our pedal kayak reviews to figure out which fishing kayak might be best for you
If you often find yourself in situations where you need to stand up while casting or reeling in a fish to benefit from the higher leverage, then you should definitely consider kayaks that don’t require much stabilization work.
In fact, a family member of ours was once pulled out of a regular paddle kayak by a 40 inch Northern Pike! This wouldn’t happen in a pedal kayak as they are much more stable.
Pedal kayaks can allow you to stand up from your seat and move around, especially if your model carries a cockpit that’s not too cramped, without worrying about stability as they’re better “grounded” than regular kayaks.
Also, don’t forget to check for pedal kayaks with removable seats to give you even more space for movement.
Handle Rough Waters
While fishing, sometimes you can’t help but come face to face with big waves and harsh currents, either by accident or as you’re exploring more serious aspects of the sport.
In other words, you’ll need to be able to effectively deal with rough waters to ensure that you can get through heavy waves as safely as possible.
Granted, there are special techniques to help you handle the heat regardless of the kayak drive system, but it’s always better to choose a propulsion method that’s better suited for managing tough situations right from the start.
So, pedaling or padding?
Unless you’re extremely experienced in the padding world, you won’t come very far if you try to take on deeper water, simply because when you try to get farther away from shallow water and into open water, bigger waves will get in your way.
This means your momentum will most likely stop, so you won’t be able to muster enough speed to power through those heavy waves. You may end up fighting the current and just not being able to make any headway.
However, if you’re riding a pedal kayak, you’ll find yourself in a much better position. The added speed will allow you to slice through the waves.
Since your hands are free, you can hold onto the kayak and brace yourself, all the while maintaining your speed and gear steady as your legs keep moving. Also, you can keep a tight grip on the rudder control as you pedal your way forward through the harsh currents, granting you better ability to fight through waves.
A pedal kayak is superior to a paddle kayak in the aspect of getting you through heavy waves as it delivers more power and unwavering momentum.
Some may argue that traditional kayaks or canoes are the most efficient option when it comes to achieving stealth during fishing.
But we can make a better argument for pedal kayaks being an overall quieter and stealthier option, based on the absence of pedals.
Since you won’t be repeatedly hitting the water with a paddle, minimal disruption will take place and almost no sudden movements will cause the fish to scatter.
Types of Fishing Pedal Kayaks
Now that we’ve covered many of the reasons why you should try fishing in a pedal kayak, it’s also important that you know the different types of pedal kayaks and how they work, so you can make a well-informed decision.
Generally, there are 2 major types of pedal kayaks: ones with a rotational pedal and ones with push/pull pedals.
The reason why we’re starting with rotational pedal propulsion systems is that they’re what most people tend to think of when picturing a pedal kayak.
Here, you drive the kayak the same way you’d ride a bicycle; by rotating the pedals in alternation where one goes up and the other is down, and so on.
This type of pedals doesn’t demand much effort to move forward, it’s a pretty simple process that’s typically ideal for novice anglers. What makes it even better is that once you stop pedaling, the propeller keeps moving, and so, your kayak will keep its momentum for a while after.
With rotational pedals, you’ll need the strength of your whole lower body to push through, which will put more strain on your legs but will also give you more speed in return.
Unlike rotational pedals, push/pull pedals don’t work similarly to riding a bike. Instead, you repeatedly push both pedals simultaneously in the same direction to move forward.
Also, this system doesn’t involve your entire lower body exerting effort, but it focuses more on the lower legs and feet, giving you a pretty good exercise while you’re at it.
Perhaps the only bone to pick with this type of pedals is that once you stop pedaling, the kayak’s momentum falls drastically almost to a full halt way faster than with a rotational pedal.
We hope that this guide to pedal kayak fishing was helpful for you as you decide to go out hunting for some trophies! Some of the biggest fish we’ve ever caught weren’t from a Lund or Alumacraft or Boston Whaler, but in fact from the Hobie Fishing Kayak!
See you on the water!