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Do I get more fish in a motorized or pedal-drive fishing kayak? Is there really even a difference? There’s still a constant debate about which one is better, and as an experienced kayaker, I always get grilled with questions and more.
Let’s settle this debate once and for all, and I’m here to help. Below, I have provided a guideline on the key features and differences between motorized and pedal-drive fishing kayaks. I have also prepared a list of the best motorized and pedal-drive fishing kayaks in my opinion.
Top 10 Motor & Pedal Drive Kayaks
Difference Between Motorized vs. Pedal Drive Kayaks
Motorized and pedal drive fishing kayaks are modern designs of a kayak that vary considerably from the traditional paddled kayak. These are innovative designs that have made fishing easier. Both motorized and pedal-drive fishing kayaks have similar advantages of speed, hands-free propulsion, and reduced rider fatigue. However, which kayak design is better in terms of these categories?
In terms of speed and rider exertion, the motorized kayak has a better advantage. It covers more distance at a faster clip and with no sweat. A kayak with trolling motors allows you to enjoy the view as you cruise, no matter the fishing environment. Although you could do this as well with pedal-drive kayaks, it would still require a lot of physical exertion to propel the waters, especially in your legs and back.
If you opt for a pedal-drive kayak, choose a brand that has a comfortable, adjustable seat. A padded seat that can be reclined will help ease the tension in your back as you pedal in the waters.
In terms of stealth, pedal-driven kayaks tend to be quieter than kayaks with trolling motors. The fish might feel or hear the buzz of the electric motors as it nears the fishing spot and scare them away.
Both motorized and pedal-drive fishing kayaks face a threat of getting tangled in shallow waters. Some brands include an emergency single-bladed or double-bladed paddle board in their package. However, if it’s not available, it is important to keep one when cruising. A paddle board will get you out of potential tough situations in the shallow waters.
My 10 Top Picks for Motor and Pedal-Drive Fishing Kayaks
This kayak from Fissot is suitable for one person only but has large carrying capacity of up to 552 pounds. You don’t have to worry about your balance while standing up since this model has a bar you can grab and lean on.
The retractable stabilizers on the sides of the kayak enhance the buoyancy and make the ride more stable even when standing up. There is a built-in stool in the kayak. Unfortunately, it is not adjustable, removable, and has no back and arm support.
Although there are no other consoles or storage pockets, there is a single rod holder attached in the side of the kayak. Your extra clothes, phone, and wallets can be stored and sealed in the hatch located at the front side. You can store your materials without worrying about them getting soaked and damaged.
The water’s view from above is crystal clear with the transparent polycarbonate hull of ClearYup’s see-through kayak. Kids will surely enjoy the view of a fish getting caught in the hooks. The glass is low-maintenance since the material already has double UV-protected layers and anti-yellowing to keep it transparent and protected from shattering due to extreme heat or cold weather.
You can cover more areas to explore with the electric motor that can last for around 2-4 hours. It is powered with a rechargeable battery with a remote control to help you track down the battery status. As such, there’s no need to worry about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. But in any case, the package comes with two double-bladed paddles to help you move with ease or paddle safely if the battery dies out on the middle of the lake or sea.
The Macraft jet kayak has enough space for one adventurer at a time. This four-stroke gasoline-powered jet kayak will get you to places swiftly. With a speed that can go up to 55 kilometers per hour, you can surely get to your destination fast.
However, I have to say that this is more ideal for exploration and looking for fishing spots than fishing. Although it would be a fun and speedy ride, there are no fishing accessories or rod holders included. Also, it only has a maximum capacity of 100 kg.
The hull and cockpit are made of fiberglass material so it is tough and impact-resistant.
The Waterblade has an integrated electric motor which allows you to briskly move around the water at approximately 5 miles per hour completely hands-free. It is powered by a lithium battery which is encased in a water resistant box. With its stability, two people could position themselves whether they are standing up or sitting down.
The hull is made of high quality drop-stitch material and covered with additional PVC layer to make it sturdy and durable. Plus, there’s an added feature of water-resistant Bluetooth speakers so that you can blast out some tunes while cruising.
It does not take up a large storage space in your garage because it is inflatable and foldable. You can easily assemble and disassemble within minutes. The air pump comes with the package.
Hobie has first introduced to the world the first design for pedal-driven kayaks since 1997. The other brands have followed suit, but this brand is known for their Mirage Drive kayaks that are perfect for recreational fishing.
The Mirage Pro Angler 14 is no exception. It comes with a lot of accessories and storage space that is perfect for any fishing environments. It has accessible tacklers, cutting board, horizontal storage for four fishing rods, and two vertical storage rooms for fishing rods.
You can comfortably pedal the waters with the built-in vantage seat that is padded and adjustable. You can even carry an ice box and you would not even worry have to worry about it being overloaded as it can carry up to 600 pounds of weight.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu is set in bright hues of blue and green. This kayak gives off a relaxing summer beach vibe. For beach enthusiasts out there, you can enjoy idly kayaking as you sit and pedal with their PDL pedal drive system. There is a comfortable built-in beach seat included. The seat may not offer enough backrest though, especially for older people or people with back problems.
This kayak is perfect for calm recreational rides and fishing in calm waters. And when you have decided to go back to the shore, there is an efficient and easy tilling system. With a movement of the dial, the attached rudder will be moved from left to right and eventually steer you back to shore.
This kayak from Old Town is well-equipped for fishing and has a large storage capacity of up to 500 pounds. It has an exo-ridge tank well to store your cooler or gearbox. There are also accessory mounts ready in the hull for additional accessories. If you would like to secure your materials from getting soaked, there are two hatches with click seal covers, one in the front and one under the seat.
The seating system allows you to adjust the seat. Pedal-drive kayaks in shallow waters can sometimes be a problem, but this model has a removable pedal drive to navigate or dock with minimal problem.
Moreover, it has scupper holes to remove any water that has got inside. The integrated transducer scupper feature makes water draining fast to avoid slipping or sinking. This brand offers a variety of attractive designs – the brown camo option is my personal favorite.
The Mirage Pro Angler 12 is for perfect for the individual who prefers to fish solo. It is made of tough polyethylene material and has ample storage for fishing rods, mesh storage pockets, cargo area, and utility trays.
You can sit like a king while waiting for your line to get caught. It is adjustable, so whether you decide to recline or move the seat forward, you can stretch your legs with the wide space available.
Just like the Mirage Pro Angler 14, this kayak has a MirageDrive 180 for that trusted pedal-drive system. The ST Turbo Fins this model has makes it easy to maneuver. And when you’re ready to go back to the shore, the rudder control will help you swiftly steer.
Perception Pescador is made for fishing in slow-moving rivers, calm coastal waters, flatwater lakes, and ponds. You can carry a cooler, a pint of beer, or even your dog and it still would not be overloaded. It can carry a maximum load of up to 475 pounds.
Your storage needs are taken into consideration with the front and rear open storage, consoles, and rod holders this kayak features.
Manufactured in the USA, this model has been approved by the US Coast Guard-compliant hull identification number. This means that it is a guaranteed safe and stable kayak. The hull is made of high-density polyethylene that makes it UV-protected, impact-resistant, and abrasion-resistant. A worthy investment with the durable material it’s made of.
Exploring in a new, unfamiliar place in the Hobie Oasis 14 makes looking for a fishing spot easy. The reversible MirageDrive 180 pedal-drive system allows you to forward or reverse the waters easily. Your fishing environment will not always be calm waters and zero winds, but the sail mount feature will assist in maneuvering the kayak even during the windiest situations.
Just like the other Hobie models, the durability and stability of the hull are ensured since it is constructed from a polyethylene material.
Features of a Motorized Kayak You Should Check Before Buying
Essentially, what makes motorized kayaks different from other designs are its two parts: the electric motor and the tiller system. The electric motor for kayaking is also known as trolling motor. It moves in slow motion as it imitates the average speed a paddler can go. Trolling motors will not scare off any fishes nor damage the body of water as there are no gas leaks, smoke emissions, and loud sound.
There are two types of electric motor: built-in motor and mounted motor. Some prefer the latter since an add-on mounted electric motor is less likely to be damaged by whatever’s at the bottom of the water.
Integrated motors are located at the bottom of the kayaks which makes them more prone to damage. If your fishing spot is at a distance from the shore, motorized kayaks provide greater area exploration with lesser energy exertion.
A tiller system is easily accessible to navigate the waters. Just as with the electric motors, a wood drift, seaweed, or plastic could potentially get tangled in the rudders. If this happens, you might have a hard time untangling the material without getting wet. Therefore, it’s important to be careful when you’re moving around in the shallow waters. It is recommended to keep a paddle handy to move with ease and to avoid the damage threat.
Features of a Pedal-Drive Kayak You Should Check Before Buying
As mentioned, pedal-drive kayaks were introduced by the brand Hobie in 1997. Their MirageDrive kayaks were an innovation that was welcomed by a lot of recreational fishers and anglers. In 2008, Native Watercraft soon followed suit and introduced the brand’s version of pedal-drive kayaks.
There are two main forms of pedal-drive kayaks: rotational pedals with propeller and pedals with fins. For the first form, a movement of the pedals will power a part called a driveshaft. As this part moves, the power will transfer to the propeller below the kayak, thereby causing it to spin. You can move your kayak forward by pushing your pedals forward; pushing it backward will move it to the reverse direction.
Pedal-drives have the advantage of a hands-free navigation. With your legs doing the work, your hands are free to set up your fishing gears and wait. With your leg muscles in constant movement, this can exert a pressure in your back. Thus a kayak with a good seat is an investment you should splurge on for full comfort.
A rotational pedal-drive model with a propeller will find a limited movement in shallow waters. Weeds and propeller is a bad combination that will lead to a tangling mess. However, there are brands available in the market that don’t use a propeller; they instead have “fins”. Another advantage is stealth. When you’re close to your fishing spot, you can swiftly and silently pedal without scaring the fish away.
It’s easy to get swamped with options you find in the market, but if you keep our top 10 best motorized & pedal-drive fishing kayaks in mind, you wouldn’t have to look further. I swear on those brands as they have been tried and tested.
At the end of the day, motorized and pedal drive fishing kayaks all have the same recreational purposes. Before you hop on your choice, don’t forget to grab your fishing gear and bait.
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask by leaving a comment below. Thanks!