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It’s no surprise to anyone that the largest debate for anyone trying to get into Kayak Fishing with the decision of “Paddle or Pedal”. With all the new boats coming out lately, the most popular have all included new pedal drive systems in order to attract more people to their line. This is not surprising with the way the market has been trending. It is because of this that I bought my first pedal drive kayak in the winter of 2018 and spent the whole year pedaling it and learning the “ins and outs” of a pedal kayak. After the season ended (yes, I’m a northern) I made the choice to put my new kayak on the market and go back to the more traditional “paddle” style. This choice of mine, as you can imagine, caused a lot of people to ask me, WHY? I thought I would put down in words my reasoning.
To be clear, this is not a “take down piece” on pedal kayaks, far from it! There are a lot of fishing and kayaking styles that would be a perfect fit to a pedal drive system. I myself had some amazing times on mine. However, for the bodies of water that I like to be on, and the type of fishing I primarily like to do, it makes more sense for me to return to my roots, with a paddle style.

My main issue with the pedal drive systems was generally just my region! (Let me explain). Where I do a lot of my fishing, the North East Region of North America, our fishing season, also brings grasses and other water weeds. Many of my favorite lakes get FULL of these types of vegetation, making my time on the water more about cleaning out the drive than actually fishing. These lakes are shallow and warm in the summer. So the bass that I am targeting are always in the thick of it all. Because of this I find myself not using the drive for most of the day and paddling around a TON of extra weight though out the day. While my previous kayak allowed me to skim right over these areas quietly and effortlessly.

The second main reason for this decision was that I enjoy a lot of river fishing, and in rivers you find a lot of obstacles which make having a drive system less than ideal. Changes in depth, and not to mention underwater structure can be a huge issue in a planned float. It is and will always be very important for me to work with the correct equipment, but more importantly, making sure that equipment is safe and will not be damaged while out on the water. While some models (the one I was in) have safeguards in place to protect the drive unit from underwater obstructions, not all do, making it very easy to be damaged, even forgetting to put up the drive while beaching the kayak can cause server issues to come brands.

For these simple reasons I am excited to say that I will be returning to a Jackson Kayak Liska this spring, along with my trustworthy Angler Ace from Bending Branches, my favorite partnership in the whole kayak fishing world. Again, this article was not intended to push anyone in either direction, just to explain what I went through this past summer, and my findings. Hopefully someone will read this and understand that they bodies of water are a lot like mine, and this will help them make the best decision possible moving into a kayak purchase. Happy Paddling (or pedaling) everyone!