Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD Review


Fishing, Paddling / Saturday, August 14th, 2021

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The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD with its Flex Drive 3D Pedal Drive is one of Jackson’s most popular boats. Power, propulsion, steering, maneuverability, tracking, stability, comfort, storage, rod holders, and gear management are all thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of many fishing styles.

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD and the Big Rig HD configuration are also Jackson’s largest boats. Though the FD configuration is a beast at 13′ 3″ in length, 40″ in width, and 145 lbs, its performance on the water is impeccable… Excellent tracking, maneuverability, stability, and speed with the ability to turn on a dime.

For me, the most impressive feature of this kayak is its rod management system.

Rod protector tubes in the bow work in concert with the Two-Tier Rod Staging System and Fly Rod Management System located along the oversized rod troughs on both sides of the kayak.

On top of that, there is a YakAttack Omega Rod Holder, two Flush Mount Rod Holders, and a Molded-In Rod Staging Area on each side of the deck at the bow for lining up your rod with different bait or for quickly resting your rod to make adjustments.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the features of this impressive, pedal-driven, fishing kayak.

About Jackson Kayak

Jackson Adventures originated in 2004 with the introduction of Jackson Kayak, a made-in-America brand founded by world champion and Olympic kayaker, Eric Jackson, design partner David Knight, and friend, Tony Lunt.

I have a special affinity for Jackson Kayak. They are headquartered near Rock Island, Tennessee, my home state. I’ve had the joy of experiencing a number of their kayaks over the years and I’ve had the privilege of seeing this company quickly evolve into an industry leader with its innovative and thoughtful designs.

Top and Side Views of the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD comes in three color combinations the red Rockfish, the brightly colors Earth, and the camouflaged Forest.

Top view of the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD fishing kayak.
Rockfish Top View
Side view of the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD fishing kayak.
Rockfish Side View
Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD fishing kayak in the Earth color.
Earth
Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD fishing kayak in the Forest color.
Forest

Specifications of the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD

Structure TypeHardshell
Best UseFishing, Flatwater Paddling, River Paddling
Skill LevelBeginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Person Capacity1
Seating ConfigurationSolo
Paddler SizeUp to 1 Large Adult
Cockpit TypeSit-On-Top (w/ pedal)
Hull MaterialPolyethylene
PropulsionPaddle, Pedal, or Optional Motor
Length13′ 3″
Width40″
Deck Height15.5″
Interior25″ x 64″
Weight145 lbs
Maximum Load550 lbs
Seat TypeAdjustable Hi-Lo Ergo Seat with MOLLE System
HatchesBow, Stern, & Optional HD Pod
StorageBow Hatch, Bow Hatch Bin, Stern Hatch, Stern Tankwell, Optional HD Pod
Deck RiggingStern
Rod Holders9 Rod Holders: (2) Two-Tier Rod Staging System, (2) Fly Rod Management System, YakAttack Omega Rod Holder, (2) Flush Mount Rod Holders
Accessory Rails9 YakAttack GearTracs: 5 for Accessories, 2 for Rod Stagers, 2 for Fore & Aft Seat Adjustment
Carry Handles1 Molded Handle (Stern), 3 Strap Handles (Bow, Port & Starboard)
Paddle Holders1 Hypalon Paddle Keeper, Paddle Clips (Bow & Stern Gunnel)
Fish Finder ReadyYes
Scupper Holes5
Drain PlugBow
RudderHandle-Controlled
SkegNone
Self-BailingYes
Warranty5-Year Limited
PriceCheck Price

Features of the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD

Flex Drive 3D Pedal Drive Pod

The Flex Drive 3D Pedal Drive Pod and YakAttack Omega Rod on the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD fishing kayak.

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD comes with the Flex Drive 3D Pedal Drive Pod for hands-free propulsion. This unique kayak drive system evolved out of two years of constant work to master three key components: power, propulsion, and steering.

Pedaling with the Flex Drive system smoothly propels the Big Rig over the water with minimal effort, even at its top speed. Want to go in reverse? No problem. Just pedal backward.

Shallow water, grassy areas, and submerged obstacles aren’t a problem with the Flex Drive. The driveshaft automatically flexes and flips up to be protected by the hull. This is a feature unique to Jackson Kayak that lets you get into areas that are unreachable in other pedal kayaks.

Hinged Prop Cover

When the Flex Drive unit is raised, the hinged prop cover raises automatically so you can have access to the propeller for cleaning and maintenance. Much easier than trying to get to the underside for maintenance.

When the Flex Drive is deployed, the cover closes to seal the propeller access.

Two-Bladed Propeller

The propeller on the Flex Drive 3D is now a two-bladed, 10” x 10 pitch propeller that’s optimized for pedaling or with the use of the Flex Drive 3D and Flex Drive E motor drive.

This propeller maximizes your efforts by smoothly cutting through the water. When using the Flex Drive E, this propeller helps minimize battery consumption while providing faster motor speed for longer periods of time on the water.

Flex Drive E Motor

If you aren’t feeling like pedaling or paddling for the day, you can pop off the upper pedal unit off and pop on the separately sold Flex Drive E kayak motor kit.

Integrated Rudder Control System

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD has an integrated rudder control system. Use one or both of the hand-operated rudder controls located on the left and right sides of the seat for precise steering while pedaling.

Gear Storage

Bow Hatch

The front hinging hatch is a multifunctional hatch with heavy-duty, snag-free toggles and a robust gasket to prevent leaking. This hatch gives you access to the in-hull storage that runs the length of the kayak. This is where you can store your rods, camping gear, and other essentials.

On the top of the hatch is a Hypalon paddle keeper that allows you to quickly secure your paddle. Just slip your paddle blade under the UV-resistant, temperature-resistant, and snag-free keeper to keep your paddle secure, safe, and within reach.

Just under the hatch is the removable bow hatch bin for keeping smaller items more accessible.

There’s also an electronic cable passthrough from the front storage hatch to the deck of the kayak. This makes it easy to run wires for dedicated fishfinders and other electronics.

Stern Hatch

The rear hinging hatch has heavy-duty, snag-free toggles and a robust gasket to prevent leaking. This hatch gives you access to the inside of the boat for more storage and access to your rudder controls if you need to make and adjustments.

Stern Tankwell

There is a large (19″ x 18.5″) rear tankwell framed on three sides by gear track and on the side gear tracks, there is an adjustable bungee system that will secure all kinds of gear like a cooler or fishing crate.

Kayak Seat Storage

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD has an adjustable Hi-Lo Ergo Seat with MOLLE System. There is MOLLE webbing on the back and underside of the seat. This will allow you to add any MOLLE-type accessories for storage on the back and underside of the seat and the boat does come with a Jackson Kayak branded MOLLE pouch.

There is additional storage space for tackle boxes or a dry bag under the kayak seat when the Adjustable Hi-Lo Ergo Seat Frame is in the high position.

More Storage

If you trade the Flex Drive System for the optional HD Pod Storage pod, you’ll have a semi-dry storage compartment conveniently located in the cockpit of the kayak in front of your seat for gear, tools, lures, or you can put ice, fish, or whatever.

Fishing Rod Holders

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD has an abundance of fishing rod holders for a variety of fishing styles with two well-thought-out Rod Staging Systems, extra-wide rod trough storage, rod tip protector tubes, two Fly Rod Management Systems, flush mount rod holders, a YakAttack Omega Rod Holder, and a molded rod staging area on the bow of the deck.

Rod Tip Protector Tubes

The rod management system on each side of the cockpit has extra-wide rod trough storage with four, rod tip protector tubes toward the bow of the kayak.

Two-Tier Rod Staging Systems

There is a Two-Tier Rod Staging System located on gear track to either side of the seat along the gunnel. They adjust forward and back along gear track to accommodate rods up to 8ft in length. Two rods securely fit into the clips on each side while the tips fit into the rod tip protector tubes at the bow.

Fly Rod Management Systems

The tankwell, bungee system, and Fly Rod Management System at the stern of the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD fishing kayak.

With the Big Rig, Jackson Kayak has paid special attention to the needs of fly fishermen.

There are two fly reel cutouts built into the deck of the kayak to either side of the rear tankwell. Just to the front of the cutout is a landing perch with a bungee strap down to secure your fly rod to the kayak.

Just tuck your fly reel into the pocket created by the cutout and run up to a 9ft fly rod down the gunnel and into the rod tip protector tube at the bow of the kayak, then secure the rod to the landing perch with the strap down.

Flush Mounted Rod Holders

There are two flush-mounted rod holders on both sides behind the seat.

Molded-In Rod Staging Area

On each side of the bow of the deck are molded rod stagers. This feature is uniquely contoured so you can line out your rods with different baits. It’s also a handy place for your rod when making quick adjustments.

YakAttack Omega Rod Holder

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD comes with one YakAttack Omega Rod Holder with Track Mounted LockNLoad Mounting System. This universal system from YakAttack works with rods and reels of all sizes even fly rods.

Integrated Paddle Clips

Integrated Paddle Clips on each side of the cockpit to the outside of the rod trough keep your paddles close-at-hand, yet out of the way.

Accessory Rails

There are 9 YakAttack GearTracs throughout the length of the kayak for adding accessories: 5 gear tracks for added accessories, 2 gear tracks for the Two-Tier Rod Stagers, and 2 gear tracks for the seat to mount on for fore and aft seat adjustment so you can best reach the pedals on the Flex Drive 3D System.

Once adjustments are made to get the proper position for your seat and the rod stagers the extra track can be used for mounting additional gear as needed.

Scupper Holes

There are 5 supper holes in the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD.

  • Two scupper holes on either side of the pedal pod for the Flex Drive 3D System.
  • An oversized Transducer Scupper is located at the back of the pod just under the seat. This allows most modern transducers with down vision and side scan sonar for your fish finders to be easily installed and tuck in on the bottom of the kayak so it’s safe and out of the way.
  • Two more scupper holes in the cockpit behind the seat.

Related Content: The Ins And Outs Of Sit-On-Top Kayak Scupper Plugs

Adjustable Hi-Lo Ergo Seat with MOLLE System

Jackson Kayak Adjustable Hi-Lo Ergonomic Seat with MOLLE System on the Big Rig FD fishing kayak.

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD comes with the adjustable Hi-Lo Ergo Seat with MOLLE System.

This ergonomic seat has a curve to the back of the seat to keep you comfortable and supported while you’re out on the water fishing all day.

And to achieve proper positioning and comfort while pedaling, paddling, and fishing, the seat has high and low adjustments and is trimmable both fore and aft.

MOLLE System

The back and bottom of the seat come with the MOLLE attachment system that will fit a ton of accessories.

To get you started, Jackson Kayak includes a MOLLE seatback pouch that is a perfect fit for tools, two 3600 series Plano boxes, Pelican R40 Personal Utility Ruck Case, or other items you want easy access to.

Handles

The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD has four heavy-duty, ergonomic handles.

Strap Handles – At the bow and on either side of the cockpit are strap handles with silicone padding for a comfortable secure grip.

Molded Handle – At the stern is a molded handle for comfort and ease of transport. Since it’s molded into the hull, this handle is great for securing your kayak during transportation and for locking your kayak to your vehicle or trailer to prevent theft.

Drain Plug

There is a drain plug on the bow of the kayak to drain water that enters the body of the kayak through the bow and stern hatches.

1/4-20 Threaded Bolt Insert Holes

The four-hole, 1/4-20 threaded, bolt inserts on the stern of the kayak accept many 1/4-20 threaded accessories including Power-Pole Micro Anchors and Torqeedo trolling motors.

Extras

  • Long Load Flag
  • 5 in. JK sticker

Missing Features and Gear From the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD

The following items are not sold with the Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD. Some of these items were included in the past, some are highly desirable, and others are simply luxury options.

Paddles – A paddle is needed as a backup to the Flex Drive 3D. A telescoping angler kayak paddle can clip on one side and a SUP paddle on the other for paddling while standing up.

A telescoping angler kayak paddle can quickly allow you to change paddle length after adjusting the kayak seat from the high and low seating positions. Look for one with a hook retrieval system and fish measure on the shaft like the Bending Branches Angler Ace Plus Telescoping Kayak Paddle.

Stand-Up Assist Strap – A stand-up assist strap will make it easier to get from seated to standing position in your fishing kayak.

Cup Holder – Cup holders are no longer a part of the Big Rig FD package. I’m partial to a self-leveling RAM Level Cup holder. For more check out my article, “The Best Canoe & Kayak Cup Holder… It Self-Levels!

Footrests – The Big Rig HD has footrests that are tied to the rudder system but the pedals on the Flex Drive 3D pod would hit those footrests so they have been removed in the Big Rig FD where hand-operated rudder controls are used.

I have seen fishermen install and cut down the width of the footrest to accommodate the pedal drive.

Footrests in the FD would be nice. They would give more leverage for paddling.

Optional HD Storage Pod – On occasion it’s nice to exchange the Flex Drive 3D Pedal Drive Pod for more storage especially if the pedal drive isn’t desired that day because of shallow water conditions. The HD Pod is nice for gear, tools, ice, fish, or whatever.

Optional Flex Drive E – Want an electric motor instead of the pedals? Just pop off the pedal drive and pop on the electric drive.

Jackson Kayak Guarantee and Warranties

Jackson Kayaks have a 5-year limited warranty that covers substantial defects in materials and workmanship in the hull and outfitting components. For full warranty details, click here: https://www.jacksonadventures.com/warranty/

Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD Instructional Videos

Jackson Kayak Big Rig HD FD Complete Walk Through

Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD: Walkthrough

Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD Review. The Jackson Kayak Big Rig FD with its Flex Drive 3D Pedal Drive is one of Jackson's most popular boats. Power, propulsion, steering, maneuverability, tracking, stability, comfort, storage, rod holders, and gear management are all thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of many fishing styles.