Rudders are almost a necessity in modern SOT and sit-in fishing kayaks, simply because most of these kayaks have become so wide that they lost the ability to track, which is essential for any water craft.
The increase in width is the kayak manufacturers’ response the the demand for more stability, and it comes at a price of lesser speed and poor control, I.E. lack of tracking capability that’s often coupled with lackluster performance when it comes to maneuverability.
Interestingly, no W-kayak paddler or fisherman has ever felt the need for a rudder. This fact is amazing, considering the W-kayak is shorter than most kayaks out there, and considering the fact that people are using it for multitude of applications in a wide range of aquatic environments, including long trips in the ocean, big lakes and wide rivers, where good tracking capabilities are an absolute necessity.
So what’s the problem with rudders?
First of all, they cost extra money, and good rudders cost a lot.
Second, and more importantly, they slow down your kayak, and are often cumbersome and difficult to handle. After all, there are other things you’d like to do when you’re in your kayak, such as paddling or fishing, rather than steering with a rudder.
Third, and that’s really too bad for paddlers and fishermen who go in shallow water – Rudders have a nasty tendency to get stuck in the bottom, or bump into rocks or branches down there, or get entangled in sea weed, so they limit your range of paddling and fishing.
And fourth, like any mechanical device, rudder systems can break, and their cables can get torn. This problem can turn out to be anywhere between unpleasant and dangerous, especially if you’re far from shore and the weather is getting nasty, the wind is picking up, it’s getting dark, the tide is getting strong etc.
In sum, rudders seem to be yet another necessary evil that’s imposed on the sit-in and SOT kayak fisherman, and W-kayakers and kayak fishermen should be thankful they don’t need to purchase and use such devices.