We have had a brief look at kayaks and associated clothing. Now for propulsion. What powers a fishing kayak? There are three main options available; paddles, pedals and motors. Paddles are by far the most popular option for moving your kayak from one mark to another. Like angling kayaks, there are a multitude of options available when it comes to choosing a paddle and what works for one angler may be totally unsuitable for another. Paddle choice will depend on, among other things, the height of the angler, the width of the boat and budget. Many anglers start kayak fishing and give the paddle little thought. They usually get the cheapest paddle in the shop as an afterthought.
Giving a lot of consideration to the paddle you should get is highly recommended. An average fishing trip could see thousands of paddle strokes completed and using a paddle that is the wrong size will see you end up doing far more work and becoming far more uncomfortable than if you had given this fundamental piece of kit a bit of thought before buying. There are far too many variables to discuss here when it comes to choosing an individual paddle but a good dealer should be able to walk you through the finer points and allow you to make a decision based on your needs and size. I will mention that I use a carbon paddle and although it was not cheap it really does enhance a day on the water by being very light and very strong. This allows for greater distances to be covered before muscle fatigue creeps in, allowing you to explore more water and hopefully cover more fish.
Some angling kayaks are now being produced with incorporated pedal drives. Rather than moving yourself with your arms, the pedal driven kayaks allow you to do all the work with your feet. The immediate advantage with this approach is allowing the angler to move whilst keeping their hands free. You can cast and fish lures while using your legs to keep yourself within a productive fishing zone. Using a paddle can also be troublesome for those with niggling back injuries and the pedal driven kayaks can help to ease these pains. As with all moving and working parts that come into contact with saltwater, flushing the pedal drive systems down with freshwater will increase the longevity of the equipment.
Electric motors are also used on some kayaks and the benefits are many. Starting out, most were modified engines for pushing lake boats and their downfall was their weight when coupled with heavy lead acid batteries. There are now ‘ultralight’ designs breaking the market and the miles to weight ratios that some can boast are staggering. Very useful for covering a lot of water quickly, these motors can be used to travel to far off marks with ease. They also can be very handy when encountering very strong tides and, if you have the money, are well worth having a look at.
It is worth mentioning that if you do decide to go down the route of pedal driven kayaks or electric motors then it makes sense to carry a backup paddle. Batteries fade and pedals can break. Even for the paddling kayak angler, a cheap spare is an invaluable safety item to carry. You don’t want to find yourself down the tide without a paddle if something goes wrong!