Pedal vs Paddle Kayak: Pros and Cons

Pros and cons of pedal vs paddle kayaks

Kayaking has been a favorite pastime for many years. In fact, 18.12 million people went kayaking in 2020.

When it comes to fishing kayaks, there are two main propulsion systems: pedal and paddle. Both have their own set of pros and cons, making it difficult to decide which one is right for you.

We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of pedal vs paddle kayaks so that you can make an informed decision about which type of kayak is best for your needs.

Let’s dive in!

Paddle Kayaks

These are the traditional type of kayaks that most people are familiar with. They are propelled with a double-bladed paddle and provide a great workout while you’re out on the water.

Many kayak fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts prefer this style of kayak strictly because of the nostalgia back when they were kids on the lake, and it’s something they’re accustomed to.

They are very versatile and can be used for a variety of activities such as fishing, touring, or whitewater paddling.


  • They are very maneuverable and easy to control, so if you’re kayak fishing, it’s easier to get in tight spaces and turn in any direction without needing the kayak to move.
  • You don’t have to worry about pedal systems breaking down or getting caught on something underwater.
  • They are often less expensive than pedal kayaks.
  • They are usually lighter than pedal kayaks, making them easier to transport on top of your car.


  • It can be tiring to use for long periods of time since you’re using your arms and shoulders to paddle.
  • You may not be able to cover as much ground with a paddle kayak since your arm strength limits you.
  • Paddle kayaks can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces or when there’s a lot of wind.
  • If you’re a kayak angler and hook a large fish, it’s difficult to maneuver your kayak when your hands are tied.

Pedal Kayaks

First and foremost, pedal kayaks are much faster than paddle kayaks. This is because you’re using your legs to pedal instead of your arms, which gives you more power to move through the water. This is a big advantage if you want to quickly cover a lot of ground or fish in different areas away from the shore. However, depending on your upper and lower body strength, some kayak anglers will have more endurance using a paddle kayak, so it’s good to test both types out first.

Finally, pedal kayaks have more storage capacity than paddle kayaks because there is no cockpit area that needs to be kept free from obstructions. This is great for storing extra gear or tackle boxes.


  • They are much faster than paddle kayaks.
  • They are easier to maneuver in windy conditions or tight spaces.
  • You can use them for fishing for longer periods without getting tired.
  • They have more storage space than paddle kayaks.


  • They are more expensive than paddle kayaks.
  • The pedal system can break down and be difficult to fix if you’re out on the water.
  • They are usually heavier than paddle kayaks, making them difficult to transport on top of your car.

The “Hybrid” Approach

If you’re leaning towards a pedal kayak but want the maneuverability of a paddle kayak, you can purchase a small paddle and take it with you. This will give you the best of both worlds and allow you to paddle when needed or pedal when desired, a great option if money and having a heavier kayak isn’t an issue.

Final Thoughts

Paddle kayaks are the traditional choice, and many people prefer them because they are nostalgic or provide a great workout. They are also less expensive and usually lighter, making them easier to transport. Anyone new to kayaking can find a great kayak for under $1,000 or less to get themselves started.

Pedal kayaks are a newer option, but they offer many advantages for fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts who want to cover more ground quickly or fish in areas further away from the shore. The pedal system also allows you to use your hands freely while fishing, a big advantage if you get hooked on a large fish.

As with anything, it’s important to test out both types of kayaks before making your final decision. Regardless, don’t forget to put on a good pair of fishing shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and brush up on your kayaking safety tips before heading out on the water.

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