Paddling VS Pedaling: Which Should I Use? Or Both?

The popularity of kayak fishing has been retained since ancient times thanks to its affordability and ease of use. However, owing to technological innovations in recent years, one comes across various options to choose from when it comes to foot propulsion in kayaks. Even though traditional paddling is common, beginners choose to conform to pedaling as an easier alternative.

First Things First: Can I Paddle My Pedal Kayak?

Paddling options come with various design features and mechanisms, and most of them retain the paddle feature. With the recent technology, users can utilize and reap benefits of both types in the same kayak. Therefore yes, it is completely possible to paddle your pedal kayak.

Paddle VS Pedal Kayaks for Fishing

Comparing paddling versus pedaling in kayaks can kick-start a progressive conversation amongst enthusiasts like nothing else! To set some facts straight, we have invested our time into researching and emphasizing some of the advantages and drawbacks that each method has to offer further below.

Paddle vs. pedal is something that any person who is curious to try pedaling but cannot let go of the old-fashioned paddled-kayaks would ask oneself. In fact, even those who are reluctant to completely switch from the traditional paddling to a contemporary peddling kayaking might wonder about this as it may be a big transition for them.

It is important to keep in mind, though, that whichever one you go for, you first need to know the purpose that you will require the kayak for, followed by any budget constraints you might have. Combined with your shortlisted features, such as foot-space or adjustable height, these factors can land you the kayak that would be the best suited according to your individual preferences.



Pedal kayaks come with various steering and rudder systems that call for hands-on control for the functioning of tasks like retracting, turning, or reversing the craft. This means that paddling is still incorporated in your pedal kayak to a certain extent. Considering paddling in a pedal kayak also lands the angler a lot of benefits.

For example, if you wish to enjoy activities like fishing or photography, paddles would give you the liberty to do so since it is a hands-free activity. In these kayaks, a lot of attention is also paid to the craft’s ergonomics to allow for a more comfortable seating experience such as that with a good back support and flexible seat location and height.


Being under the umbrella of technological advancements, pedaling does overall have a top hand when it comes to functionality and popularity along with some other benefits such as;

Reduced Over-splashing

Due to the pedals’ mechanism being located on the underside of the kayak, users run a lesser risk of getting splashes all over them throughout the ride, as compared to traditional paddling. This also makes the ride quieter. They are also better able to survive areas of water that traditional boats cannot access, which results in a more up-close and personal experience for the user with nature.

Faster Arrivals to Chosen Destinations

Speed may not be so much of a concern to users interested in fishing as their main purpose, but anglers looking for recreation may find pedaling more worthwhile. It can get you across larger bodies a lot faster than the conventional paddling.

Regardless of the type of pedal (rotational or push/pull), users find it more effective in terms of speed. This feature proves beneficial, especially in tournaments where the one single purpose of anglers is to get to the destination first.

Hands-free Alternative

Since paddling calls for both hands on board, it gives the user very little freedom to carry out other activities. Whether an angler is in freshwater or saltwater, they would feel the urge to fish while on the move using baits. However, this is only possible if you have pedaling as an alternative, so your hands can remain free to make little adjustments.

Manages a Constant Position

This is one of the most difficult tasks to achieve in kayak fishing. However, with a pedal system, anglers can find increased balance, and therefore maintaining a position is not that difficult.

Offers Better Endurance

Perhaps, the biggest success of pedaling comes from the fact that it utilizes energy from leg muscles, which are naturally superior to arm muscles, and, not to mention, people have an improved endurance for prolonged leg activities.

Moreover, paddling requires practice, but any beginner can handle pedaling as the cues for movement come from cycling. This means that users get to explore long distances or stay for extended periods on the water.


As with any craft, a pedal kayak comes with its own few drawbacks, in comparison to a conventional paddle kayak, as emphasized upon below;

Less Storage

Even though this might not matter so much to people who just go out in kayaks for recreational purposes, for professional anglers or fishers, less storage space in comparison to a traditional paddle kayak can make all the difference.

Lesser catch means lesser revenue from sales, which is not a happy picture to imagine. Putting all that aside, if losing that cargo space in the middle makes you sad, this is probably not the right choice for you.

Lesser Foot Space

Since the drive system eats up most of the space, users don’t get to enjoy the usually spacious footwell area that they get in a paddle kayak. Moreover, some brands call for removal or retraction of pedal drives in shallow waters; these manual interventions required by the user for pedaling may be a deal-breaker for some.

Higher Maintenance and Overall Cost

The installation of the pedaling mechanism underneath the kayak really adds to the cost, which makes it more costly than a traditional paddle kayak. So this is something to be wary of if you are tight on your budget. Moreover, it requires constant maintenance, which can add to the cost and can be difficult to keep up with, which is why pedaling often only attracts super enthusiastic pedalers.

Mechanism is not Noise-proof

Even though pedal kayaks are less noisy than motorized kayaks, they are not as noise-proof as conventional paddle kayaks. So if you like some peace and quiet when you are out in your kayak, this is something note-worthy.



While paddling seems to be a great choice, it doesn’t come without its fair share of drawbacks. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons:


Paddling has its own charm that no advancement can overtake or compensate for. It is a cultural reminder of not only simpler times but also of the days when paddling was one of the few activities around. Even though the market is full of upgraded options now, some people still choose to stick to paddling, perhaps for the reasons mentioned below;

Retains Stealth

Anglers who choose paddling state that they choose it because they get to leave the fish undisturbed, making it easier to catch. Paddling gives control to the user of how much pressure they wish to send underwater. It is also a lot less abrupt for the waters than pedaling. Fish are quick to catch any change in their surroundings and escape when they sense quick changes. Therefore, an angler can benefit from the quietness by catching unsuspecting fish.

Fish More Shallow Waters

In comparison to a pedal kayak, users get to benefit from the added clearance underneath in a paddle kayak. This added deck space serves not only as storage for fish but also as spacious foot space.

Make Adjustments While Standing

Although not a popular opinion, fishing is always better while standing. Users who have done so have reported it to be easy to reassert their control and have a better sight of their target. This way, users get not only more reliable casts, but also enjoy improved pitching and flipping bait.

Ease of Use

Paddle kayaks don’t require stepping in too much into the water like traditional pedaling kayaks. This means anglers get the comfort of not getting knee-deep into the water and staying uncomfortably wet throughout the span of their trip. They do not cost a lot to maintain either, so there will be nothing added to the overall cost.


As everyone is well aware, conventional kayaks are not as pricey as peddle kayaks, which can cost three times the amount of a conventional one. This is why paddle kayaks make for great options for beginners and for those who need to keep affordability as the main deciding factor behind their purchase.

Less Disruptive

Best paddles are known to work more discreetly and do not lead to disruptions underwater. This will also retain visibility and control throughout. This comes in handy when you need to ensure that you are not harming any plants or other living things underwater.


Paddled kayaks were upgraded and through-upon for improvements for the right reasons. No craft is perfect, and paddled kayaks, no matter how fun or functional, have their drawbacks too, which have been emphasized upon below.

Control Required in Windy Conditions

A paddle in place of a pedal can cause some problems if you have to deal with strong winds in your area. It would lead to some juggling with the paddle, and if you are an angler, you will already be dealing with balancing your arms between the fishing rod and the paddles. Situations like these may cause total loss of kayak control, which can be dangerous too.


To sum it up, paddling and pedaling are equally good options. To choose from amongst them, you will have to decide where your inclination lies, depending on very personal factors such as the need for foot space, aesthetics, and functionality. Either way, kayak fishing forms a healthier alternative in comparison to motorized boats. Perhaps both retain their value equally, owing to the need for balance in modern technologies and traditions in individuals.