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Kayak safety is of paramount importance when I’m out on the water. It’s why I recommend carrying a paddle in a pedal kayak as a backup. The benefits of carrying a paddle go way beyond the possible failure of a pedal drive.
Not only can you use a paddle with a pedal kayak you should always carry a paddle with you on your pedal kayak to use in certain situations: pedal drive malfunction, areas of heavy vegetation, maneuvering in shallow water, stealthily sneaking into your fishing spot, and stand-up paddling.
Reasons Why You Still Use a Paddle with a Pedal Kayak:
- Safety – Pedal drives aren’t without their problems, it’s not uncommon to get vegetation or a fishing line caught up in the pedal drive system. If your pedal drive gives you problems, you can always paddle to shore or back to the put-in where you can fix the problem or call it for the day.
- Vegetation – A paddle won’t get caught up in vegetation like a paddle drive. If you find yourself fishing in heavy vegetation, you can pull up the pedal drive and paddle.
- Shallow Water – A paddle can take a kayak into shallower water than a pedal drive system. To avoid damage to your kayak’s pedal drive system in shallow water or when launching or beaching, it is best to lift up or remove your pedal drive and paddle.
- Quiet Paddling – Paddles are quieter and great for easing into position without scaring the fish away.
- Stand Up Paddling – If you stand and fish, you can continue to stand and maneuver your kayak around with a paddle instead of sitting back down at the pedal drive to change positions.
- Steering – The most common way to steer a pedal kayak is by using a rudder. If you don’t have a rudder or if you are experiencing a malfunction, the kayak can be steered with the blade of a paddle.
- Reverse – If you don’t have a rotational pedal kayak or a push pedal kayak reverse feature, a paddle will provide you the advantage of going backward in your pedal kayak.
If you’d like to learn more about kayak safety please check out the Canoe & Kayak Safety Equipment Checklist and Safety Whistles For Outdoor Emergency Preparedness.
Can You Paddle and Pedal a Kayak at the Same Time?
You can paddle and pedal at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive, though pedaling and paddle strokes are different. It is a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head. There’s also a question of whether there is any reasonable speed gain when peddling and paddling simultaneously.
Disadvantages of Paddling and Pedaling a Kayak at the Same Time:
- Drag – The drag of the pedal system in the water can work against the power stroke of your paddle. This can eliminate any possible speed gain when simultaneously peddling and paddling.
- Poor Timing – You can hit your knees with the paddle if your timing is off. The key is coordinating the extension or power stroke of your leg with the power stroke of your paddle. The kayaker’s height, seat position, and the design of the kayak also have a bearing on whether you hit your knees while paddling.
- Extra Effort – Pedaling and paddling at the same time can quickly become a rigorous full-body workout that is made tougher when adverse wind and water conditions are introduced.
- Impaired Tracking – Paddle stroke movements can impair tracking on some pedal drive kayaks that are optimized around their pedal drive systems. To compensate, lock your rudder to go straight like a skeg while paddling. You’ll need a workaround if your kayak doesn’t have a steering lockdown feature.
Recommended Paddles for Pedal Kayaks and Kayak Paddle Accessories
Telescoping Kayak Paddle
If you have a pedal kayak with a seat that adjusts to different heights, plan to paddle while standing, or have more than one kayak, you’ll want a telescoping paddle. Having the ability to adjust the paddle’s length to accommodate your stroke is a great asset.
Bending Branches has some of my favorite kayak paddles. Here are three that I recommend for use with pedal kayaks. Each has a telescoping ferrule that allows infinite feathering angles and 15cm of adjustable paddle length. The one you choose will depend on your budget and whether you are kayak fishing.
- The Slice Glass Plus Telescoping Kayak Paddle is your best option if you aren’t planning on fishing in your pedal kayak. You can use it for fishing but it doesn’t have the built-in hook retrieval system that the other two have.
- The Angler Classic Fiberglass Plus Telescoping Kayak Paddle is a step up from entry-level paddles with its telescoping ferrule and built-in hook retrieval system.
- The Angler Pro Carbon Versa-Lok Telescoping Kayak Paddle is a super light yet durable kayak fishing paddle that helps to relieve strain on your shoulders, arms, and back on those long days out on the water. At only 27 oz. and 15cm of adjustable length, this is the gold standard of paddles for anglers.
I’m not affiliated with Bending Branches. I am an affiliate through the links to the paddles above and do receive a small affiliate commission if you buy through those links. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.
This being said, I’d like to point you to Bending Branches cosmetic seconds. If you are willing to accept a few flaws that do not affect the function of the paddle, you can save quite a bit. I know the costs of our recreational pursuits can add up. I hope this helps and that they have the paddle you’re looking for.
Kayak Paddle Holders
If your pedal kayak didn’t come with a way to secure your kayak paddle to the kayak, you’ll need a paddle clip. The YakAttack PadLoc Paddle Holder that screws to the side of your kayak or track mount YakAttack RotoGrip Paddle Holders are both great options.
If you choose the track mount option, I prefer using two grips. One grip will hold the paddle in place but there will be a little play that can allow the paddle to hit the side of the kayak. Something you don’t want if you are easing up to your fishing spot.
If you have questions about pedal kayaks, check out my post… Pedal Kayak Questions and Answers.