Pedal Fishing Kayaks

Broader range of pedal fishing kayaks offers anglers enhanced freedom, options, maneuverability and fishability.

Wilderness Systems Radar 135
No Paddle? No problem: The future of kayak-fishing is hands-free movement, with help from unique pedal systems developed by different kayak manufacturers.Courtesy Wilderness Systems

More than two decades ago Hobie’s MirageDrive delivered a new way to kayak-fish by incorporating pedaling with the feet as a source of movement. The pedal-driven propulsion system was innovative, allowing anglers to put down the paddle in the kayak. Fishermen could now maneuver in the current, troll one or two rods, and move from spot to spot with both hands free.

The popularity of pedal fishing kayaks among anglers soared over the years. Today, most major kayak manufacturers — including Blue Sky Boatworks, Brooklyn Kayak, FeelFree, Hobie, Jackson Kayak, Old Town, Native Watercraft, NuCanoe, Old Town, Pelican, Perception, Riot and Wilderness Systems — offer pedal drive kayaks for fishing.

“Having two hands free to fish is the reason why kayak anglers have sought additional methods to paddling,” says David Hadden, brand director for Old Town kayaks. “When fishing in windy conditions, current, structure or around tightly grouped fish, the ability to stay in the same spot without using a paddle guarantees greater success.”

Using your legs to travel in your kayak, instead of your arms, is also less tiring.

“I have no doubt that pedaling is more comfortable than paddling,” says Morgan Promnitz, Hobie’s fishing product manager. “It’s easier on the back, a drier ride, quieter, plus your leg muscles are stronger than your arms, so you can fish for longer and cover more water. I can’t go back to fishing from a paddle kayak, unless I’m in a super-shallow river or flats waters that span for miles — but then I’m moving and hopping out of the kayak to cast.”

Kayak sheephead catch
Hobie’s MirageDrive 180 fins allow anglers to head forward and reverse. Above, a feisty sheephead catch for the masked kayaker.Courtesy Hobie

Today’s pedal drive kayaks also come with forward and reverse capabilities, something that was not always available with earlier drive models. Consider the Propel Drive System from Native Watercraft.

“It’s a lot like pedaling a bike but much easier to ride in reverse,” says Tyler Brown, director of marketing for Native Watercraft. “Since you can go from forward to reverse just by pedaling backward, and not have to use your hands, it is a significant benefit when fighting a fish.”

Hobie’s drive is based off the way a penguin’s wing flexes under the water. “The penguin wing has a bone running through the front of it, and we have a metal shaft running through our fin,” says Promnitz. “The back of the wing is flexible, just like our pedal blades.”

Add a side-to-side sweeping motion, and the wing or blade begins to flex and create pitch to push water. Weighing in at under 8 pounds, the MirageDrive 180 produces full power in both directions.

With the incorporation of a pedal drive into a kayak, expect to pay about $1,000 more at purchase time when compared with traditional sit-on-top fishing kayaks. Every kayak fisherman I've spoken to — and this isn't hyperbole — says the extra expense is worth the cost.

“Adding features in the hull to accommodate a pedal drive does add more cost, plus the pedal drive itself,” says Christina Erb LoVullo, who handles marketing for Confluence Watersports. Other costs include the hardware for mounting the pedal drive and rudder controls, the advanced seating system, as well as additional structure molded into the hull to handle the pedal drive.

Below are some of the newest and best pedal fishing kayaks, although this list is not completely exhaustive. New models with pedal propulsion are not introduced every year. Watch out — once anglers switch to pedal fishing kayaks, they often don’t go back to a paddle craft. In fact, I’m guessing many readers have already made the jump and are looking for their next pedal drive kayak.

Blue Sky Boatworks 360 Angler

Blue Sky Boatworks 360º Angler
Blue Sky’s catamaran-style kayak features a layout similar to a bass boat, with raised seat for extra comfort and room to stand.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Specifications
Length: 13 feet, 4 inches
Hull Weight: 140 pounds
Propulsion: Paddle (flex drive) or outboard engine
Capacity: 500 pounds
Colors: Three
Width: 48 inches

Brooklyn Kayak UH-PK13

Brooklyn Kayak UH-PK13
The PK13, from Brooklyn Kayak Company, was meant to cover water with its pedal-driven propeller system optimized for cruising.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Specifications
Length: 13 feet
Hull Weight: 80 pounds
Propulsion: Pedal driven propeller
Capacity: 550 pounds
Colors: Six
Dimensions: 160 X 35 X 17

FeelFree Dorado 11

FeelFree Dorado 11
The FeelFree Dorado 11 kayak is ready to be rigged, with plenty of room for full-size fishfinder screen and running lights.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Specifications
Length: 12 feet, 5 inches
Hull Weight: 100 pounds
Propulsion: Pedal or motor (A unique Overdrive system offers pedals and motor in one unit.)

Hobie Mirage Passport 10.5

Hobie Mirage Passport 10.5
Hobie's Mirage Passport features an easy-to-use steering system and a simplified twist-and-stow rudder system.Hobie

Specifications
Colors: Two
Length: 10 feet, 6 inches
Width: 34 inches
Capacity: 325 pounds
Hull Weight: 65 pounds
Fully Rigged Weight: 75 pounds

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 with 360 Drive

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 with 360 Drive
Hobie's Mirage Pro Angler 12 comes with 360 Drive. The proprietary drive allows anglers to effortlessly spin and move in every direction when pedaling. Hobie also makes a 14-foot version of the Mirage Pro Angler with 360 Drive.Hobie

Specifications
Colors: 2 options
Length: 12 feet
Width: 36 inches
Height: 20 inches
Capacity: 500 pounds
Vantage Seat Capacity: 350 pounds
Fitted Hull Weight: 109.5 pounds
Fully Rigged Weight: 132.5 pounds

NuCanoe Flint

NuCanoe Flint kayak
The NuCanoe Flint kayak can utilize paddle, pedal, trolling motor or outboard propulsion systems.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Specifications
Length: 11 feet, 3 inches
Width: 33 inches
Height: 12 inches
Draft: 3 to 6 inches
Hull Weight: 63 pounds
Max Weight: 375 pounds
Max Power: 2.5 horsepower

Old Town Topwater 106 PDL

Old Town Topwater 106 PDL
Weighing just 100 pounds fully rigged, the Topwater 106 PDL utilizes a stable hull to create a hands-free standup fishing platform.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Specifications
Colors: Four
Propulsion: Pedal
Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
Length: 10 feet, 6 inches
Width: 36 inches

Pelican Catch 130

Pelican Catch 130
Pelican’s newest model of fishing kayak utilizes a HyDrive pedal system for propulsion.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Specifications
Length: 12 feet, 6 inches
Hull Weight: 85 pounds
Propulsion: Paddle or pedal
Capacity: 425 pounds

Riot Mako 12

Riot Mako 12
The Riot Mako 12 hull weighs just 56 pounds, a great option for lone fisherman who have to carry their kayak to the launch.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Specifications
Length: 12 feet, 4 inches
Hull Weight: 56 pounds (hull only)
Width: 34 inches
Propulsion: Paddle or pedal
Capacity: 470 pounds
Colors: 11