Fishing Kayaks: Paddle Or Pedal Drive?

New, technical article that examines pedal drive propulsion for fishing kayaks from several angles: Ergonomics – How does it feel to operate a pedal driven kayak, and what are the potential physiological drawbacks in this type of propulsion. Mechanics -How efficient are pedal drives’ pedaling systems. Hydrodynamics -How efficient are pedal drives’ propellers, and how effective is pedaling kayaks compared to paddling them. Real World Performance – How effective are pedal driven kayaks in applications such as fishing trips, stand up fishing, fishing in moving water, fishing in shallow water, launching, beaching, etc.

This article does not compare the performance of sit-in and SOT kayaks, whether paddled or pedaled, with the performance of W kayaks.

Pedal Drives for Kayak Propulsion

Pedal propulsion for small watercraft has been in use since the 19th century, and it’s still commonly found in small recreational boats, often in a combination of rotating pedals with paddle wheel type propellers. Other types of pedal driven propulsion systems for small craft include rotating propellers,  hydraulic pumps, sideways moving flaps, add-on systems, and more.  Interestingly, the world speed record for a human powered watercraft is held by a catamaran equipped with a rotational air propeller.

Currently, there are three kayak manufacturers offering pedal driven kayaks. Two of them offer kayaks featuring a combination of rotational pedals with a rotational propeller, and one manufacturer offers a drive featuring push pedals combined with flaps moving from side to side, in a back and forth motion. The latter will be simply called ‘flaps’ in this article.

All three kayak pedal drives are fixed, which means they provide propulsion without steering, and therefore, the kayak operator is required to track and turn using a hand activated rudder.

All three pedal drive systems feature pedals located in proximity to each other, along the kayak’s center line, and at a higher point than the kayak seat. In order to activate the pedals in all three, kayakers have to relocate their feet away from the low footrests situated on both sides of the hull.


Whether kayak fishing these days is a sport that’s growing at the pace it used to, or at a slower pace is a question that remains to be answered. In any case, many people are still interested in fishing from kayaks, whether they already practice it or would like to.
Kayak fishing is a cool, tempting idea – in principle, but for most people who try it, reality is quite different:
The majority of fishing kayaks offered today are sit-in and sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks rigged with at least one rod holder.  Being traditional kayaks, they are basically unfit for long paddling and fishing trips, because of poor ergonomics, that is since the level of comfort they offer is too low to enable an average person to feel comfortable long enough to enjoy themselves.
This website offers a collection of articles, reviews, movies and links related to kayak fishing. This information should enable prospecting kayak anglers to make informed decisions when looking for a new fishing kayak, as well as when they plan to rig their new kayak for fishing.

Choosing A Fishing Kayak

How to Save Money When Buying a Fishing Kayak

Before you start thinking about what fishing kayak type and brand could fit your needs, you should be aware that the cost of a fishing kayak is usually not limited to the kayak itself: When you start adding the cost of all accessories you’ll find they can cost more than a kayak.
However, by buying a Wavewalk fishing kayak you can save a lot of money just on accessories:

  • Rudder: W kayaks track better than all other kayaks, and require no rudder. You save $220 – $300
  • Kayak Seat: W Kayaks are yak-back free, and require no special seat added. You save $80 – $200
  • Kayak Rack: W kayaks are easy to cartop and fit any car rack – No need for a special kayak rack. You save $50 – $500.
  • Outriggers: The W500 kayak model is safer and more stable than other kayaks that are equipped with outriggers. With the W500 you don’t need outriggers, even with an electric trolling motor. You save $100 – $350.

Rudders are a pain to operate, they slow you down, and get stuck in shallow water and weeds.

Kayak seats are bad for your back, and can turn your kayak fishing trip into an unpleasant experience. They are even likely to get you to quit kayak fishing in the long run, because of back pain and discomfort.

Kayak racks need to be installed on your car rack, and when they’re there you can’t use your car rack to carry other things.

Outriggers are a pain to install, they slow you down, and they limit your kayak’s mobility and maneuverability. Plus they’re one more bulky thing to carry.

BOTTOM LINE: Rudders, yak racks and outriggers are annoying, and kayak seats are bad for you.  The added cost of those accessories could top $1,000. Besides the money, aren’t your health and peace of mind priceless?

Go to Wavewalk’s website to find these fishing kayaks for sale >>