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April 02, 2012

Kayak Power

A guide to the ever-expanding power options available to kayak anglers

More Leg Power
There’s no doubt that hands-free kayaking makes fishing much easier, freeing up both hands to concentrate on the rod and reel — and the fish. But Hobie isn’t the only manufacturer in the game anymore. Native Watercraft (, the North Carolina-based kayak manufacturer, offers its own version of a leg-powered propulsion system.

The Propel Pedal Drive system features a pair of bicycle-like pedals that power a prop in the water. The system is fashioned from marine-grade aluminum and stainless steel, and it is sealed against sand and grit.

Offered on 7 Native Watercraft models, the unique system makes counteracting current and wind easy — and perhaps the coolest function of the Propel system is that you can go in reverse. It’s easy — simply reverse-pedal just like you would on a bike, and the prop spins in the opposite direction, pulling the kayak backward. It is a unique function among leg-powered kayak systems that distinguishes Native Watercraft.

Electric Power
One of the great benefits of kayak fishing is that you simultaneously get a great workout — in the upper body when using paddling kayaks and in the lower body with leg-propelled kayaks. But for those who may not be as interested in fitness as convenience, electric motors have been incorporated into these boats to zip around the water.

Freedom Hawk’s ( new Pathfinder, for instance, provides inserts for an optional motor mount, while Ocean Kayak’s ( Torque comes with a 36-pound-thrust Minn Kota trolling motor built into its hull.

There’s no shaft or powerhead on the Torque’s trolling motor unit — just the lower unit attached to a motor module weighing approximately 20 pounds.

This module fits into the hull through a large scupper toward the back. The battery is kept in a box in the front of the boat to optimize weight distribution. Control panels offering speed control and forward and reverse functions are conveniently positioned in front of the seat.

But Sara Knies, marketing director at Ocean Kayak, says “it's not about replacing traditional kayaks. Rather, it’s about giving anglers another option.” Knies says it’s important to note that the Torque can also be paddled when the motor is swapped out with a skeg. “This comes in especially handy in shallows going after redfish and other species,” she says.