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Recently, I’ve been fishing out of the Jackson Cruise. There are a lot of things I enjoy about the Cruise, but two immediately come to mind. First, its simple open cockpit gives me room to maneuver while standing and place things wherever I want, which usually means everywhere. Second, being 12 feet also makes it easier and quicker to paddle upriver, which I do a lot. Although it’s 12 feet, its still easily maneuvers through technical sets of river shoals.

By design the Cruise is a bare bones kayak. It doesn’t come with all the superfluous features found on other kayaks that may never be used. It’s a blank slate, but that also makes it the perfect platform to build upon.

One feature I love about my JK Coosa is the drag chain feature. When used carefully and properly, a drag chain can make fishing rivers seem like a breeze. Used like an anchor, a drag chain slows your pace going down river, allowing you time to fish all the holes. Almost like you are going down river set on “Cruise” control. The Cruise doesn’t come drag chain ready, but it’s not hard to install a simple drag chain system.

How to install a drag chain on the Jackson Kayak Cruise?

Here are the tools needed to install a paddle keeper on a Jackson Cruise:

  • Drill with a 7/32 bit
  • Rivet gun
  • Pliers
  • Rivets
  • Retractable dog leash
  • Carabiner
  • 18″ of chain – wrapped in duct tape or bicycle innertube

JK Cruise Drag Chain Install

The first step before drilling any holes was to take a look at the Coosa to see how the pad eyes were installed to make the Coosa drag-chain ready. I basically copied the locations of the pad eyes found on the Coosa and transferred them to the Cruise. Or at least eye balled it enough to get a general idea of how I should set up the drag chain on the Cruise.

Here is how the drag chain is set up on a Coosa:

JK Cruise Drag Chain Install

After eye balling the Coosa, I went ahead and attached the dog leash to the side handle of my Cruise and ran the line out to the back of my kayak. I wanted to double check how the line would lay against the kayak and how to best navigate it towards the rear of the Cruise.

JK Cruise Drag Chain Install

I decided to keep things simple with the retractable dog leash and just attach it to the side handle on the Cruise with a large carabiner. I could have taken it one step further and installed some nylon spacers with longer screws on the side handle. That would allow the dog leash to be held in place by the side handle only.

After I was satisfied enough with my mock-up and locations of the padeyes I went ahead and drilled holes for the padeyes and riveted them to the kayak.

JK Cruise Drag Chain Install

I ended up installing 3 padeyes to the Cruise to run the drag-chain line through. I wanted to limit the number of padeyes as much as possible. No one wants to drill endlessly into their boats….I mean we still want it to be floating at the end of the day!

Once I installed the padeyes and ran the line through I attached the drag chain to the rear of the Cruise. That’s it! A quick and simple install. Now the Cruise is drag chain ready, river ready and gives you the option of “Cruise” control.

When used carefully and properly, drag chains are very useful when fishing rivers. But, be careful when deploying a drag chain. Drag chains are meant for slow to moderate current. Drag chains aren’t meant to be used in swift water. If you are unsure then it probably means the water is too swift.

JK Cruise Drag Chain Install

JK Cruise Drag Chain Install


Sean “Bruiser” Brodie