Pedal drive for my fishing kayak?

Again?!..

Wavewalk hasn’t offered a pedal drive with its fishing kayaks because of two reasons, which are that we found neither demand for such accessory among our clients, nor any real advantage in offering such a device to them, regardless of the increased price we would have to charge for it.

Years ago, we published the results of our research on this subject in a 4,000 word Paddle vs Pedal Drive in Fishing Kayaks article, which hasn’t gotten much interest from our clients.

The reason we now publish this new, shorter article on this subject is to make sure that our clients are exposed to all ideas and possibilities, and have a chance to express their views on this subject, as well as their wishes, if any.

Recent developments

Our new 700 series offers to incorporate a pedal drive more easily than the 500 design did. On the other hand, two out of the three pedal driven fishing kayaks manufacturers mentioned in our first article have suffered serious setbacks in recent years, while some of the pro-staffers affiliated with the third manufacturer express themselves with so much zeal that it makes them look like members of a cult, and this is not a good sign, in our opinion. A fourth kayak company recently announced that it was planning to add a pedal drive to its line of SOT fishing kayaks, but a video they released revealed nothing more than a ‘me too’ version of the two existing rotational drives.

Summary of pros and cons

The following tables include some of the main points that we find relevant to this discussion:

1. Functionality

-What can I do?

  Push Pedals & Flaps Drive
Rotational Pedals & Propeller Drive
Paddle
1
Balancing
No No Yes
2
Tracking
No No Yes
3
Turning No No Yes
4
Poling No No Yes
5
Backward Thrust
No Yes Yes
6
Forward Thrust
Yes Yes Yes

Practically speaking, none of the kayak pedal drives on the market can be used without a rudder system, and no pedal kayak fisherman goes on a fishing trip without taking a paddle with them.

2. Mobility

-Where can I go without restrictions?

    Push-Pedals & Flaps Drive
Rotational Pedals & Propeller Drive
Paddle
1
Skinny Water
No No Yes
2
Weeds & Vegetation
No No Yes
3
Fast Streams
No No Yes
4
Deep Water
Yes Yes Yes

Again, using a kayak outfitted with a pedal drive automatically means that you need to use a rudder system, as well as take a paddle with you, just in case.

3. Ergonomics

-Who can use it?

    Push-Pedals & Flaps Drive
Rotational Pedals & Propeller Drive
Paddle & Ordinary Kayak
Paddle & Wavewalk® Kayak
1
Young & Physically Fit Yes Yes Yes Yes
2
Middle Aged
Limited Yes Yes Yes
3
Elderly
No No Limited Yes
4
Heavy
No No Limited Yes
5
Balance Disabilities
No No Limited Yes
6
Sensitive Back
No No No Yes

This table refers to typical, several hour long fishing trips, and it does not show the fact that the W700 offers full tandem capabilities standard, at any time.

End of story?

So far, the data presented in this article seems to lead to the conclusion that the reader should stop wasting their time reading it, especially in view of the fact that Wavewalk leads in motorized solutions, which are so practical, fast and ergonomic. But what if we could come up with a better pedal drive? –

 A better pedal drive?

Yes, we can design a pedal drive for the W700 that would be considerably more functional than the existing kayak pedal drives in terms of turning and tracking, and therefore it won’t require the use of a rudder. Such pedal drive would offer some advantages in terms of mobility, although it won’t match paddling, and it would be somehow easier and more comfortable to operate than ordinary pedal drives are, although not as easy as paddling. Such pedal drive would require installing a seat with a backrest, which many of our fans are unlikely to appreciate, and it would limit the usability of the boat for tandem crews. And last but not least, such pedal drive would add an estimated $1,500 to the W700 retail price, a point which cannot be ignored, especially since such sum is enough to equip a W700 with both a powerful gas outboard motor mounted at the stern, and a small, lightweight, front mounted electric trolling motor. Did we mention the fact that the 6 HP Tohatsu outboard can be outfitted with an alternator that would charge the battery of such a trolling motor?…

So, this time we managed to keep our article under 800 words, and we hope it would serve the visitors of our website as food for thought, or at least as entertainment…

6 Comments

  1. PackerYaker

    You forgot to note under Functionality that paddling offers the only alternative in which hooked fish can’t wrap the line around the underwater pedal / propeller mechanism, thereby facilitating their escape. So, in terms of fish escape-ability, pedals and propellers provide a clear advantage for the fish.

  2. fish (Post author)

    Thanks Gary,

    This article is a ‘lite’ version… I guess I wasn’t in a pedal-bashing mood when I wrote it 🙂
    You’re absolutely right, of course, and since we’re talking about work that has to be done in order to catch fish, and about catching them, having pedals sticking up in the restricted work space in front of you doesn’t help either.

    Yoav

  3. fish (Post author)

    In a recent email exchange I had with Steve Anderson, Steve mentioned the fact that some people are prevented from paddling due to problems in their arms, such as shoulder replacement surgery, arthritis, etc., and that some of them could benefit from using kayaks outfitted with pedal drives. I agree with Steve, and I personally know quite a few people who suffer from such problems, and needless to say that Wavewalk has always been attentive to disabilities and problems that prevent people from enjoying fishing and just going on water, and we’ve done more than others to solve such problems.
    This said, I don’t see many people who are limited by these problems using pedal driven kayaks, and the explanation for it may be that such problems generally coincide with old age, and being heavier and less ergonomic, pedal driven kayaks don’t have much appeal to elderly folks, whether they fish or not.

    As for means to address this inability to paddle, I think that light electric motors present a fairly good alternative for flat water and short distances, and the combination of outboard gas motors and joystick steering present a good (and most enjoyable) solution for traveling in moving water and over long distances, providing the user is capable of starting the motor manually, since alas, small portable outboards don’t come with an option for an electric starter.

  4. PackerYaker

    I lost track of the numerous times that hooked fish have swam under my W, and also the many times I drifted onto an oyster bar while focusing more on a tailing redfish (resulting in lots of scratches on the bottom of my hulls, but in no broken lower pedal mechanisms). As far as all those old folks with bum arms, why don’t they just buy a W700, and get their wives to paddle them out to a prime fishing area??

  5. fish (Post author)

    😀

    Owners of pedal kayaks sometimes complain in online forums about the replacement cost of broken lower units of the pedal driven mechanisms, and the frequency of such replacements.
    Unlike common outboard motors, pedal drives lack a mechanism that allows their lower unit to pop out of the water automatically when it hits a submerged obstacle. Such mechanism is incorporated in all outboard motors, including the smallest ones, and it minimizes damage to the propeller and shaft, and enables the driver to lower the unit back into the water and keep driving after they passed the obstacle.
    If Wavewalk ever came up with propulsion systems, we’d make sure that they feature common, off-the-shelf propellers that are inexpensive to buy, as well as safety mechanisms that offer them protection from inevitable underwater encounters.
    A basic plastic propeller for a small outboard motor costs $30, and I think that’s reasonable.

    Yoav

  6. fish (Post author)

    Funny, I thought this article would get more comments, if not from people who are interested in pedaling to their favorite fishing hole, at least from people who like to talk about technical stuff 🙂

    Interestingly, the article on this subject that we published five years ago got comments from some radical followers of the push-pedal drive cult (actually, those folks under-alias have a commercial affiliation with the product, namely they are “pro-staffers”..), and this time they’re nowhere to be seen. Maybe it’s because since then we’ve implemented a more strict policy on user registration to this blog. Anyways, it’s better this way, since some of these radical push-pedal pros are quite obnoxious, and they probably don’t belong among civilized people.

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