Paddling might seem like a chore when you’re headed against the wind. But it’s actually a pretty efficient form of locomotion. When you’ve got the right type of boat, paddle, and stroke then you can propel yourself quickly and for a long time. However paddling can be a little problematic when you’re trying to fish. Positioning the boat and managing your rod and tackle simultaneously isn’t impossible, but it’s also not the easiest thing in the world. Pedal kayaks address the inherent difficulties of fishing from a paddle kayak elegantly. With a pedal kayak your legs take on the job of locomotion and leave your hands free for casting, reeling, and lipping in the big ones.
Ever since Hobie introduced the first pedal drive system in 1997 the pedal drive market has exploded. Today there are 15 different pedal drives readily available in the U.S. and several foreign made options. Competition has bred innovation and companies are constantly trying to introduce greater efficiencies and features in their drives. Better speed, durability, and steering are all hallmarks of newer high quality drive systems. More so than before pedal kayaks are increasingly designed around and for drive systems to offer a better experience for kayak fishermen.
There are currently 53 different pedal drive kayaks available. Every yak on this list comes with the drive system included in its price. This list does not include yaks that can be upgraded to use a pedal drive, but aren’t sold with one.
|Statistic||Length (ft)||Length (in)||Width (in)||Weight (lb)||Capacity (lb)||MSRP|
Pedal Drive Kayaks
Click on the kayak picture to learn more about a specific model.
Most Expensive Pedal Kayak
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 with 360 Drive
Hobie debuted the original Mirage drive in 1997. Since then they haven’t exactly been resting on their laurels. Aside from becoming the biggest kayaking company out there they’ve also put in tons of R&D hours to improve their tech. The result is the 360 drive. The Mirage 360 drive debuted at the iCast expo in 2019 and has had paddlers buzzing with excitement ever since.
The Mirage 360 drive is unique in that it can rotate 360 degrees with just a simple turn of your wrist. Combined with a hand controlled rudder the Hobie PA 14 360 offers unparalleled steering and control. This 13’8″ kayak, that weighs 139 lbs (not including you and all your gear), can turn on a dime. Extreme maneuverability and efficient propulsion aren’t the only great features about this yak.
The PA 14 is a heavy kayak, but that’s only because it’s absolutely loaded with conveniences and luxuries. Two extra long H-Rails line the gunwales for easy accessory deployment. The stern tankwell is enormous and sports an 8″ sealed hatch, while the bow hatch is big enough to hold a couple bonitos on ice. An incredibly comfortable seat, new horizontal rod storage, retractable skeg, and safeguarded transducer mount are just a few of the features that put the PA 14 into a league of its own.
We’ve long compared Hobie as the BMW of kayaks. They continually put quality at the top of their design priority and it shows in every little detail. Hobie owners tend to be fanatical about their boats and with good reason. If you’re thinking about joining the fan club you’ll need to be prepared to pay BMW like prices. The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 with 360 Drive has a retail price of $4,799. That might be a hard pill to swallow, but for that amount of money you’re getting one of the highest quality pedal kayaks available.
Most Affordable Pedal Kayak
Riot Mako 10
As with any product line there are always going to be companies servicing the high end and low end. Luckily, in the case of pedal kayaks, the low end is still pretty darn good. The Riot Mako 10 is a neat little pedal kayak. Weighing only 58 lbs (with drive) this yak is both light on your arms and wallet. The 2020 model has a price of only $1,200. We’ve seen older models of the Mako 10 retail for just under $1,000, so keep an eye out for sales.
The Mako 10 delivers in the areas that count. It features a sturdy aluminum lawnchair style seat that can trim front to back. A bow and stern hatch provide storage for your gear. Four flush mount rods (two aft and two stern) will keep your rods secure. Steering is handled by a top mount rudder controlled by a side mounted handle on the left. Geartracks on the side and bungee tie downs are great for adding accessories and storing your gear.
The Impulse drive is unique in that it does not require any sort of oil. Through a combination of plastic and other corrosion resistant materials Riot has produced a capable and lightweight propulsion system. We especially like the see-through splash guard for prop alignment. All in all the Riot Mako 10 is a great option for paddlers on a budget. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but it will get you where you need to go. Taller paddlers should beware though as this model is short. If you’re over 6′ tall you might want to consider checking out the Mako 12 instead.
Our Pick for the Best Value Pedal Kayak
Lightning Kayaks Strike HD
Lightning Kayaks is a young company in the kayak game; they only started in 2018. However their debut model, the Strike HD, has already made a splash. The all American-made Strike retails for just $1,799. It’s got many of the same features as boats that cost twice as much, but at a fraction of the price.
The Strike HD borrows the best elements from different boats and combines them to present a great fishing vessel. The hull features a tri-maran design with deep chines to provide excellent stability for standing. The integrated rudder retracts into the hull for easy storage and transportation. 6 different gear tracks provide plenty of real estate for accessories. A cavernous stern tank well and bow hatch provide plenty of room for tons of gear.
There are also lots of little touches on the Strike HD that make a ton of sense. An indent on each outer side wall keeps your paddle in place. Rotomolded foot rests give you somewhere to rest your feet when you’re not pedaling. Their pedal drive system, the “Freedom Drive”, is reminiscent of early model Hobie Mirage drives. It operates smoothly and efficiently. Unfortunately it doesn’t feature an easy reverse mode. If you want to go backwards you’re gonna need to work it, put your thang down flip it and reverse it.
The Lightning team comes from an experienced kayak heritage and it shows in their freshman effort. We’re confident you’ll be seeing more and more Strikes cruising around you on the water over the next few years. Keep your eyes on Lightning, as we’re sure they’ve got a few more tricks up their sleeves.
Interested in a pedal but not can’t afford it just yet? Check out upgradable kayaks – paddle now, pedal later.