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A few months ago, a few Jackson Kayak Fishing Team members got to take test drives of pre-production models of the Coosa Flex Drive (FD) pedal kayak. During that outing I realized that the wait has been well worth it! Features like instant reverse, instant retraction of props when running over rocks and logs, low maintenance and mega trimmable configurations are game changing features not just in the Jackson Kayak lineup, but in all of kayak fishing.

It was no secret that Jackson Kayak was missing a pedal drive system in their lineup. However, it was always known that Jackson Kayak was not going to just quickly design a pedal drive system and throw it out to the market. Jackson Kayak was going to take their time to engineer a pedal system that is easy to use and maintain while offering outstanding performance. In short, the engineering, research, and development investments by Jackson Kayak are going to result in more fun, more fishing, and more speed on the water.

We picked up our boats from the Jackson Kayak factory and made our way to Center Hill Lake in middle Tennessee where we met up with the JK Media House crew. Once I got my Coosa Flex Drive in the water and heard there was a shallow feeder creek over two miles away, I knew where I was going to be spending most of my day fishing. Two miles to get to a fishing destination would ordinarily be tough and require a lot of energy with just a paddle. But with the Flex Drive, it was light work for my legs and we seemed to get there quickly (more later). This boat is going to make more water accessible on large bodies of water.

Before we headed to the creek, I first took the Coosa FD out for a spin. I tested out the turning radius, reverse, and top speed. On the default prop pitch setting I got the boat up to a swift 4.5 knots. It was significantly faster and more efficient than using my paddle to attempt to get up to that speed. I left wondering how much faster I could have gone had I adjusted the pitch of the props on the ramp before launching.

I also appreciated how easy it was to turn the boat with the steering lever beside the seat. With light pressure from my fingertips, the lever was able to turn the rudder and then turn the whole boat. This makes turning the boat easy.

And during that initial test drive, I stood up in the boat to test its stability. I am not going to compare the boat to a flat bottom fishing boat, but I immediately noticed the boat was extremely stable. I felt I had as much confidence in stability in this boat as I do standing on a Mayfly or Big Rig.

The second thing I did before heading to fish the shallow creek, was fish a deep rocky point shooting off a steep cliff. There were two currents flowing on both sides of the point; enough current to push a boat out of position. I positioned my boat about 50-feet from the point and began making casts. After a few casts I would either pedal forward or reverse to keep my boat locked in my desired position. Then I realized some of the time savings the Flex Drive was going to offer me; I was able to hold my boat in position with my feet while my hands were making more casts (instead of making more paddle strokes). Going into reverse without having to use your hands to push a button or flip a switch is going to be going of the key features of the Flex Drive systems.

After taking our Coosa FDs out for a trial run in the marina checking out the tight turning radius and reverse capabilities of the boat, teammates Jim Ware, Bridgett Howard, and I comfortably pedaled at about 3.5 knots toward the creek. It actually ended up being 2.5 miles away.

Once we arrived I noticed that the creek was extremely shallow. Although I had a propeller underneath my Coosa FD, I was not concerned. I knew that Jackson designed the prop to retract when it bumps into something underneath the boat. As I pedaled on up into the creek, I noticed it became shallower and shallower to the point it was only a few inches deep. As I pedaled onward, my props hit the rocky bottom and like clockwork, the propeller system retracted inside the kayak and I was able to continue navigating the creek.

This meant than a fast flat water boat is able to access extremely shallow areas. Can you imagine the waters that become opened up to tournament anglers? They will be able to haul their boat over natural barriers, dams, logs, and sandbars without having to uninstall equipment and without worrying about damaging their pedal system.

We took the Coosa Flex Drives into small creeks to search for bass. And we found a few small ones. We didn’t catch the big ones we were hoping for that day, but you can imagine that during certain times of year kayakers will be able to take Flex Drives two miles away from their launch into muddy, rocky creeks to catch fishing seeking current. This was an area of the lake that would have been impractical to access with just a paddle. We covered over 6 miles of water that day, most of which would have been impractical to cover with only paddle propulsion. The Flex Drive not only covers more water, it covers more types of water which is why I am looking forward to picking one up from the production line soon!