Select Page

You have purchased the awesome Jackson Kayak Kraken and experiencing some of the best paddling in a Sit-on-Top fishing kayak and you are looking for a little more. Maybe out on your body of water you have a wind that tends to pick or a strong current that can have its’ way with the Kraken. I deal with these situations in my home waters in San Diego, California almost every trip out. I decided that the best way to get that edge back in the Kraken was to install a rudder. Installing a rudder on your kayak can have many benefits beyond just helping you to steer. I have found that the rudder when set at the right angle will help the Kraken drift in a better fishing position even without a drift chute. It can also provide for exceptional tracking when paddling in very windy conditions coming out of any direction. The rudder has become a tool for me to increase my productive fishing time on the water and help me to catch more fish.

You may be saying this all sounds great but I don’t know if I can install the rudder myself. I hear you, this project can be a challenging one for some and you should have an authorized Jackson Kayak dealer install the rudder for you. Like many out there, you may either live to far from a dealer or maybe you are handy and have the few basic tools needed to complete the installation. I will say that having installed many rudders, the Jackson Kayak Kraken Rudder is one of the more straight forward installs and can be completed in about an hour.

We will look at the rudder install on my Kraken 13.5 and I will share a couple simple tips to help take any frustration out of the process.

First thing to do after purchasing the Kraken Rudder is to open the box and make sure that all of the components have been included and gather the needed tools before you begin. At this time I would recommend that you go over the instructions completely at least one time prior to starting install and contact your local dealer if you should have any questions. This will give you an idea as to the order in which the steps need to be done to complete the installation. 

NOTE: While installing the Kraken Rudder, always have and refer to the printed Jackson Kayak instructions and use the following information and photos to help make the job a little easier. 

Here we go! The installation will begin at the stern with the Rudder Bracket. To install the Rudder Bracket, remove the two Nylon Bolts on the stern of the kayak. Make sure to position the bracket with the bolt holes at the top of the bracket. This will ensure that the spacing will be correct for a later step. Bolt on the Rudder Bracket with (2) 1⁄4”-20 Pan Head Bolts into the inserts, using a #3 Phillips Bit. I like to use hand tools doing these installs as I have a better feel for how tight things are. Using power tools be sure to not over tighten any of the bolts throughout the process.

The factory installed Foot Rails must now be removed so we can install the provided  Sliding Tracks. There are (2) bolts holding on the Foot Rails. I have seen them installed in two different ways depending on the year of you Kraken. For the front bolt, some will have a well nut to secure them which will not have an actual nut on the back side and others will have a regular Nylock nut. Either way, you can access the backside through the front or center hatch. The nut will require a 3/8” wrench or socket along with a #2 Phillips screwdriver to remove. I have also seen two different ways of installation on the rear bolt again, depending on the year of you Kraken. For the rear bolt, some will have a threaded insert molded into the hull to secure them which will not have an actual nut on the back side and others will have a regular lock nut. You will have access to the rear bolt through the center hatch. The nut will require a 3/8” wrench or socket along with a #2 Phillips screwdriver to remove. If you do not feel a nut on the backside of the rear bolt, simply unscrew the rear bolt with a #2 Phillips screwdriver. Set aside the Foot Rails.

Installing the Sliding Tracks onto the kayak is where we will run into one of my PRO TIPS. First look at the provided Sliding Tracks and see if they have been predrilled. If so look at both tracks and see which one lines up with the bolts holes in the kayak on each side the best. I have seen these holes not drilled identical on both sides and can fit better on one side or the other. If the Sliding Tracks are not predrilled, you will need to measure and mark holes to be drilled to line up with the ones in the KAYAK, not the factory Foot Rails. Because Jackson Kayaks are assembled by hand, there can be slight variances in the front and rear bolt hole locations on both sides of the kayak. This is not a big deal, just make sure that you measure the KAYAK front bolt hole location from a fixed point on both sides and compensate your measurements on the Sliding Tracks to ensure that they line up evenly once drilled on both side of the kayak. I know this may sound difficult, but once you have the parts in had it will be a lot clearer picture. After you have drilled the front hole, snugly mount the Sliding Track with enough play to work on measuring the rear bolt hole location. You can look straight down from the top of the Sliding Track and see the drilled hole in the kayak, take a scratch awl, pick or pen and mark the hole location to be drilled into the Sliding Track. After you have done this, securely mount the Sliding Track to the kayak using a new 10-24 x 3⁄4” Truss Head Bolt through the slider and into the hull for both the front and rear locations and reuse a #10 x 3⁄4” Washer and a new 3/8” Lock Nut. 

For the rear bolt, if you have a threaded insert molded into the hull to secure the Sliding Track, you will need to follow the same procedure above for the rear bolt except for securing the Track. For this you will use the 10-24 x 3/8” Truss Head Bolt that is supplied with the Rudder hardware and screw it into the insert. 

Once you have sorted this out, both Sliding Tracks will be securely installed on the Kraken. 

This is where my next PRO TIP comes in.

  • Measure the distance between the (2) bolts securing the Sliding Tracks and split it in half. At this point, drill a hole through the Sliding Track and the Kayak and install a 10-24 x 3⁄4”  or 1” Truss Head Bolt through the slider and the hull where you will install a washer and lock nut. You can use one of the bolts that was removed with the factory Foot Rails, washer and the lock nut. Depending on if your Foot Rails were installed from the factory with the threaded insert or not will determine what hardware you will be able to reuse in this third hole. You may have to wait until the end of the install to see what hardware is left to complete this. There is usually hardware leftover as these kits are for both the Kraken 13.5 and 15.5 and cover all years. Doing this will make for a firmer mounting of the Sliding Track and the Foot Tracks will slide more freely through them to control the rudder.

Now to attach the 1/16” Rudder Cables to the Foot Rails. On one end of the Foot Rail you’ll notice a nub sticking up just behind the mounting hole. Insert the 10-24 x 1” Truss Head Bolt through the eyelet of the 1/16” Rudder Cable and through the backside of the mounting hole near the nub. This will put the threads towards the middle of the kayak allowing you to install the 10-24 Cap Nut. If you do this step backwards, the Cap Nut will hit the Sliding Track and the Bolt heads securing the Sliding Track to the kayak and not function properly. Use a #2 Phillips screwdriver and 3/8” Wrench to tighten the hardware. 

Slide the Foot Rails onto the Sliding Tracks with the Cable mounted end towards the front. Insert the 1/16” Cable into the 2MM Semi Clear/Black Tubing and push it until the Cable comes out of the rear of the kayak.

Insert the 1/8” Rope into the Black Tubing in the Rudder Deployment Area. Slide the Plastic Bead onto the 1/8” Rope. 

 Fold the end of the 1/8” Rope back onto itself creating a 5” overlap/loop.

With the overlap/loop in hand, tie an over-hand knot forming a loop about 1 1/2” long. This will be long enough the secure it to the J/Lashing Hook in the forward portion of the Rudder Deployment Area.

Slide the Plastic Bead against the knot of the 1 1/2” loop you just formed

and tie an over-hand knot behind the Plastic Bead.

Slide and tighten the knot tight against the bead.

Attach the loop to the J/Lashing Hook in the front of the Rudder Deployment area and thread the 1/8” Rope through the tube until it comes out the rear of the kayak.

With the loop still on the J/Lashing Hook, move to the stern of the kayak and pull the Rope taught and mark where the Rope comes out of the Black Tubing with a silver marker. 

  • We tried to use every color marker we had and the Silver marker is the only one that shows up. You can use a small piece of tape in a pinch. 

Remove the loop from the J/Lashing Hook and from the stern, pull the slack Rope toward you. Tie an over-hand knot with the Rope

and cinch it down on top of the silver mark. Remove the Split Ring from the Rudder Post and slide the Rudder post onto the Rudder Bracket and reattach the Split Ring.

Pull the Rudder Blade up and forward towards to Bow, close to the Rope. Tie a Loop Knot with the Rope, going through the first hole on the Rudder Blade.

From the Rudder Deployment area, try deploying and securing the Rudder several times. You may need to lengthen or shorten where the last two knots are on the rope to achieve the correct length. Once you are happy with how it works, I prefer to go on to the next step rather than cutting the excess Rope off at this point. I will come back to this later.

This step to me is the most important to ensure you have equal length Rudder cables allowing you to place equal pressure on the Foot Pegs when paddling in a straight line. Slide the Foot Rails so the front of the Foot Rail lines up with the front of the Sliding Track. 

  • I have noticed that by doing this and having your seat in the high position you may not be able to reach the Foot Pegs in the most rear position on the Foot Rail depending on how tall you are. I am 5’10” and can barely reach the Pegs in the rear most position on the Foot Rails to allow use of the rudder.


  • Because of this you may want to move the Sliding Foot Rail about 1” back from the front edge of the Sliding Track that is bolted to the kayak to give you a little more adjustability. 

Hold the Foot Rail in place with Tape. Make sure that the Foot Rails do not move through out this step to ensure uniformity.

Using a 9/64” Hex Key, remove the two Hex Bolts from each side of the Rudder Housing.

Take the Rudder Housing Covers off and set them aside. Take note of the placement of the Washer that covers the spring. Insert the 1/16” Cable through the outer most hole of the face of the Rudder Housing.

With a 3/32” Hex Key, loosen the Clamping Plate and run the 1/16” Cable behind the screw and up through the hole on top of the Clamping Plate.

Pull the cable taunt on each side making sure the rudder blade is centered and that your Foot Rails are still taped in the same spot. 

  • Occasionally while pulling the Rudder Cables taunt you can pull the Foot Rails loose. Check this before proceeding any further.

Retighten the Clamping Plates and test the rudder before continuing. Make sure that the Rudder Blade is centered and the Foot Rails are at equal distances on both sides to ensure equal movement by both legs in both directions. If you moved the Foot Rails back about 1” earlier in this step, make sure that you have enough travel as the Foot Rail slides toward the rear of the kayak. If you adjusted the Foot Rail to far back, it will hit the 2MM Semi Clear/Black Tubing and not allow full range of motion left and right. Readjust the Foot Rails and the Rudder cables on both sides. When you are satisfied with the function, leaving enough extra Rudder cable on both sides for possible adjustments after you have used the Rudder for a few trips, trim the excess. I like to leave myself just enough to clear the Rudder Housing cover, about 2 inches worth. The Cables may stretch slightly and/or the amount of pressure that you can apply with your feet while sitting in the kayak may throw off the uniformity between sides. 

Now that you have the Rudder Cables adjusted to the proper length for you and the Rudder is functioning properly for the steering, you can trim the excess 1/8” Rudder Deployment Rope off at this point leaving a short “tail” and singe the end of the Rope with a lighter and return the Rudder Housing Covers on both sides of the Rudder Housing (making sure the Washer that covers the outside of the spring is also in place).

You have completed the rudder install and now it is time to get out on the water and take advantage of all the benefits the Jackson Kayak Rudder will bring to your overall paddling and fishing experience on the Jackson Kayak Kraken!