A 21st-century revolution in pedal-powered drive technology has transformed familiar fishing craft into the ultimate low-impact mobile fishing platforms. Paired with proprietary accessory mounting systems, anglers can range farther, move faster, and take all their fishing technology with them wherever they go.
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A pedal kayak is just that, a traditional sit-on-top kayak hull powered by a pedal-powered drive.
For fishing, pedaling kayak makes sense for a one obvious reason: it frees an angler's hands from the hard work of paddlng the boat. While the angler still has to steer the boat even with their legs providing the motive , the effort required is nothing compared to paddling long distances to get to a fishing spot, fishing while paddling, and then paddling home.
Pedaling extends the range significantly over paddling, as even novices can maintain 4-5 miles per hour for long periods of time. To paddle efficiently at a similar speed for a similar time requires mastery of technique and some measure of stamina. But even the most practiced and fit paddler can't match the top-end power output of pedal drives.
So, put simply, there are two disadvantages of a traditional hand-paddled fishing kayak vs a modern pedal kayak:
- No angler can paddle and fish at the same time.
- Rested hands and arms catch more fish.
Pedal Kayak Drive Types
Manual propulsion of a watercraft is as old as boats themselves, but historically this meant hand rowing in some form. Ever since the advent of the bicycle in the late 19th century, countless engineers have toyed with the idea of pedaling various small craft, but these attempts were whimsical at best.
It wasn't until Hobie, the storied maker of small sailing craft and kayaks, introduced its patented Mirage Drive in 1997 that pedal kayaks gained some traction. The Mirage Drive relied on an unmistakeable push-pull pedal action to power bio-mimetic fins, instead of the familiar bicycle-like rotational drive. This set the Mirage Drive apart from prior pedal power attempts.
Matched with high-end proprietary gear rail system, and the Mirage Drive kayaks are premiere in the space and had a matching price tag. Seizing on that opportunity, other manufacturers have since entered the newly defined category with their own pedal kayaks. These are powered by more familiar drive systems relying on standard propellors driven by bicycle-style rotating pedals.
No matter the manufacturer, pedal kayak drive systems are now several generations deep, and a maturing pedal kayak market is bringing in more fishing enthusiasts every year.
The Best Pedal Kayak 
See our picks of the top five pedal kayaks for 2018, including the top pick for the overall category winner and the accessible tech winner. These are the best of the best. Read now >