Best Kayak For Fishing: Pedal or Paddle Kayaks?

Kayak fishing offers anglers of all activity levels and expertise a quick and convenient way to get off land, into the water and onto some fish. In general, there are two main types of kayaks for fishing: pedal kayaks and paddle kayaks. While some anglers swear by one type, other anglers swear by the other. To help you cut through the noise, and get clear about the best kayak for fishing, here’s a look at the advantages, disadvantages and common questions you need to consider before deciding on a kayak for fishing.

Why Choose a Pedal or Paddle Kayak

Location, Location, Location

When comparing kayaks for fishing, one of the first questions to consider is: where will you be fishing?

If you’re fishing in conditions that are sensitive to currents like tidal marshes, pedal kayaks provide the benefit of being able to maintain your position while fishing into the current without having to manage your rod, position and paddle at the same time.

On the other hand, if you’re fishing in shallow marshes prone to oyster beds, a paddle kayak will help you to safely and effectively navigate the sharp watery shallows, whereas using a pedal kayak in very shallow water often requires you to remove the pedal drive from the water.

One of the main benefits a pedal kayak offers anglers is the hands-free operation. This gives you the freedom to cast, re-rig tackle, and manage your catch all while covering distance or maintaining your position in the water. In windy areas where keeping your position is challenging even with an anchor, the hands-free operation of a pedal kayak can save you a lot of frustration.

On the other hand, paddle kayaks provide the unique advantage of stealth and quiet movement in the water. So if quiet lakes and marshes are your local fishing spots, a paddle kayak can help you slowly sneak up on fish without spooking them.

Distance and Speed

Another important aspect to consider is how far and fast do you want to travel. More often than not, a kayak’s ability to cover big distances or fast speeds largely depends on the kayaker. So, before diving into a decision about the best kayak for fishing, it’s important to consider your personal activity level and strengths.

A benefit of a pedal-driven kayak is that it uses your leg muscles which are larger and more powerful than the arm and torso muscles used in powering paddle kayaks. Because of the different muscles utilized, pedal kayaks are known to be more efficient in covering larger distances as they work with your body’s strengths helping you to move further, longer.

However, kayak speed and maneuverability are fundamentally determined by a kayak’s length and width. So, a long and thin kayak will slice through water more quickly than a shorter and wider kayak. Shorter kayaks tend to be more maneuverable than longer ones. And wider kayaks are more stable than thinner ones.

Mobility and Weight

The next thing to consider is the weight of the kayak. For example, the Old Town Predator 13, a paddle kayak, is 13 ft 2 inches in length and 34 inches wide, weighing in at 86 pounds without any added gear. This kayak is considered to be on the heavier side of paddle kayaks but is still much lighter than it’s pedal-driven cousins.

A popular pedal kayak, the Hobie Pro Angler 14 is 13 ft 8 inches long with a width of 38 inches and weighs an estimated 142 pounds before adding any accessories or gear. In terms of lifting, transporting and getting your kayak into the water, an extra 50+ pounds makes a big difference.

How you’ll store, tow and ultimately move your kayak to and from the water are important things to consider before determining which kayak is best for fishing.

Load Capacity and Storage Space

Now that you’ve considered location, distance, and mobility it’s time to turn your attention to load capacity and storage space. You’ve got gear, and probably lots of it. Do you want to be able to stow it all on your kayak? And more so, do you want to be able to stow it in an organized way that doesn’t make you feel constricted or limit movement on your kayak?

The good news is most fishing kayaks have large load capacities. For example, the Old Town Predator 13 paddle kayak has a load capacity of 425 pounds which means it’s capable of carrying you and all the gear you need. As far as storage goes, the Predator has a large bow hatch in the front of the boat offering ample storage space for your gear bags.

The Hobie Pro Angler 14 pedal kayak has a load capacity of 600 pounds, a rectangular hatch with pivoting tackle management system, large front hatch with bucket and tackle boxes, and under-seat tackle storage to help keep your boat and gear well organized.

When you’re out on the water, having what you need, when you need it, is crucial to your fishing success. Taking some time to consider your gear and how you’d like it to be organized will help you determine your specific kayak fishing needs.

Price Point

You may have decided on the best kayak for fishing, but the truth is... if it’s not in the budget, it’s not on the table. So, a final and essential question to consider is: what’s your budget?

As far as costs go, paddle kayaks are typically less expensive than pedal kayaks. The Old Town Predator 13 will run you about $1,400 while the popular pedal kayak, the Hobie Pro Angler 14 will run you about $3,300. A general price range for paddle kayaks is about $600 to $1,500 and for pedal kayaks is about $1,600 to $3,500.

Though these kayak costs can seem like a big investment, it’s important to remember in comparison to the costs of a motorized boat along with its maintenance and fuel, they’re a steal. There’s no easier way to get on the water and get fishing than with a kayak.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the best kayak for fishing, there’s isn’t a one-size-fits-all option for anglers. Your kayak needs depend on your physical condition, where you fish, what you fish for, how far you want to go and what you want to bring with you. And that changes from one angler to next. But, the important thing is that you get out there, and with the information above you’ll be sitting pretty when you do.

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