Is A Fishing Kayak With Pedals Worth The Price? (5 Reasons Explained)

Do you have a limited budget and are considering a pedal kayak? While there are various reasons a pedal kayak is more beneficial over a paddle kayak, you are concerned about the higher price. But you are considering buying a pedal kayak and hanging up the paddle.

There are several reasons your standard kayak is not working for you:

  • you have physical limitations with paddling a kayak
  • fishing with a paddle across you lap interferes with your fishing
  • you are returning from your fishing trip with back and shoulder fatigue or pain
  • moving between fishing spots tend to be shorter distances and take too long to get there
  • problems with sitting with your knees straight is limiting your time on the water 

Pedal drive kayaks usually work better for people with these issues. And there are other benefits too.

Pedal kayaks provide higher speed with hands-free kayak fishing and a sit-on-top fishing platform which is perfect for sight casting. Most come with a rudder system or skeg for better tracking. 

Anglers also love features such as horizontal rod storage, built-in rod holders, captain-style seats, and plenty of room for storage hatches for gear.

But, is a fishing kayak with pedals worth the price? Pedal drive kayaks promote casting and reeling on the move and sight fishing while being easier on the back and cover more water faster. Standard fishing kayaks can range from $800 to $1400, while pedal kayaks can be $1650 to $3449, which gives a price vs. feature advantage to pedal drive fishing kayaks and definitely worth the price.

Let's find out how these features and benefits will solve your navigation problems while providing great value while fishing.

In this article, you will:

  • learn what a pedal drive system is 
  • look over a feature and capability comparison between pedal and paddle kayaks
  • learn about the different pedal drive systems
  • understand the advantages of each drive type
  • check out pedal drive kayak manufacturer resource links to get more information
  • consider the cost comparisons between a pedal system versus a standard kayak
  • go over the value comparison to decide if a pedal kayak is right for you and your budget

Ok, let's get started!

What Is A Pedal Drive System For A Kayak?

First, let’s look into what these pedal propulsion drives are and how they work.

A pedal drive system on a kayak usually comes with two rotational pedals and a shaft that submerges into the water below with a prop that spins as you pedal.

Other times they come with a pair of elliptical style pedals you push with your feet with fins underneath the water that stroke back and forth like the Hobie kayak pedal drive (the Miragedrive 180 or the new MirageDrive 360) and the Pelican Catch 130 Hydryve fishing kayak.

But, now that we know what they are, how can they make kayak fishing better? We find that out next.

pedal drive system

What Is The Difference Between Pedal Kayaks Vs Paddle?

Everyone has preferences and priorities. Some people like to kayak for the enjoyment of slipping across the water as quietly and gently as possible. Some like recreation, exercise, and sport.

Modern kayaking offers all these options with tried-and-true innovations and durability that serve these purposes and more. The basics of a cruiser bike.

Paddling your kayak is a great exercise and provides close interaction with the feel of the water, the currents, and the direction. Learn about paddling strokes here.

Pluses include a kayak at a cheaper cost, good upper body aerobic exercise, and better maneuverability in low water areas and heavy weeds. The cons are overtaxing of your neck, shoulders and back, and awkwardness during fishing and casting.

On the other hand, pedaling your kayak with fully rotational pedals provides smoother, faster movement through the water. Moving forward or backward with just the power of your legs appeals to others who plan on hands-free fishing. With leg action, most people don’t tire as quickly and can travel longer. This is perfect for the kayak angler.

For recreation, it’s a toss-up on which option is best. Both provide good cardiovascular exercise and have navigational advantages.

Want to know more about fishing kayaks?  Read this post on What is a fishing kayak and its best features?

Related Articles

What Are The Advantages Of Pedal Drive Systems While Fishing?

But for fishing, pedal kayaks have tremendous advantages.  They allow for fishing on the move, and casting and reeling without the awkwardness of having a paddle across your lap. The downside for peddlers is dealing with a pedal drive at your feet and having to disengage the drive when entering shallow water.

Many anglers have mastered managing their paddles while performing the usual fishing activities, but it’s not for everyone.

Dealing with a pedal drive taking foot space on the deck is also a challenge while standing and fishing.

The only way your will be sure which you like better is to test it out. Rent a few kayaks or borrow one from your buddy.

Fishing from a kayak keeps you busy. Most have designed workspace in the cockpit deck designed for: changing tackle, unhooking and measuring fish, and bagging your catch. The platform is great for standing while casting or fighting that Bull Red.

We’ll discuss more about fishing from a kayak next.

Casting While Sitting

Experienced kayakers have little problems casting from the seated position while pedaling. This is the best feature of pedal kayaks.

Sometimes called fishing on the move, pedaling with your line in the water lets you troll and cast as you travel along. Additionally, you can stop and reel or reverse your course to keep the line taunt. Or, you can maneuver quickly with the turn of your rudder.  

A paddle kayak tends to be more station-to-station fishing. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. Also, most inexperienced kayakers tend to be “paddle-tied” trying to paddle with their line in the water. I’m sure there some very experienced yakers who have this technique down, but it may not be for the newbies.

fishing in shallow water

Casting While Standing

Some anglers prefer to stand while they are casting or reeling in a fish. This gives you more leverage when fighting the bigger fish.

Additionally, while standing, you can still navigate using a paddle in any kayak. This is similar to the way you would propel on a paddle board.

Standard, sit on top kayaks, have an open platform that anglers will enjoy as they cast and reel. The space allows some stepping around that is great when you need to stretch too.

A pedal kayak will have the drive system at your feet that will crowd the cockpit some and cramp the space a bit. Get to know the standing platform and evaluate if it allows enough room for you. This will vary quite a bit by make and model.

Fishing Shallow Waters

Here is where you will notice some real differences in the convenience of the standard kayak.

Prop-based pedal drives must be disengaged and in the up position when launching, beaching and navigating in shallow water. Some of these drives disengage and pop up when they meet underwater obstacles but may still cause some damage to the drive.

Kayakers using Mirage style drives have the advantage of drawing in their fins when entering these conditions. Simply pushing one pedal forward and the other back will keep the fins flat along the bottom of the kayak where you can use your paddle to traverse. But, you will still need to use your paddle to go forward or backward.

Standard kayaks navigate effortlessly and are a natural in these conditions.

Fishing In Rough Waters

Eventually, you will have to deal with big waves coming from ship wakes and beach waves. There are effective techniques for handling wakes and swells regardless of the propulsion of the kayak and avoiding tipping over.

But, which of these propulsion methods make managing these situations easier?

Paddling through the surf to head to deeper, open water, will be harder to deal with unless you are very experienced. Your momentum will tend to stop when paddling as you hit large waves. Most standard kayak don’t have a rudder unless you install one yourself.  This may cause you to drift in the stern. At times, it is hard to make any head way without the best techniques. You will still have difficulty generating enough power to get through the heaviest of waves.

Riding up and down large swells and choppy waves is made easier using pedaling. This is because of the hands-free capability and using the power of your legs. With your hands being free, you can brace yourself and keep gear steady without stopping your movement at all. You can have a steady hand on your rudder as you fight the currents below. And, as you pedal through the breaking waves, you are better able to using the power of your legs and keep your momentum going forward.

Pedal kayaks won’t prevent you from tipping or save you from bad technique, but it will provide more power to get past the breakers and into open water.

Why You Should Have A Paddle With A Pedal Kayak?

You will want to carry your paddle onboard your pedal kayak. There are many situations where you will need to paddle.

We have discussed navigating through shallow water and weeds, launching and beaching your yak, and paddling while standing. But, there are other times you will need your paddle.

Consider that you out and your drive system fails or becomes inoperable. You may need to push your kayak through skinny water. Maybe be you get stuck in some debris and need to leverage away. Or, you come across a alligator or shark. You will be glad you did not solely depend on your pedals to get you back safely.

Prop Drive vs Mirage Drive

Ever had to choose between two things that do the same thing but are still slightly different? Kind of like MS Windows vs Apple IOS. Like Ford vs Chevy.

The same goes for the pedal drive systems of the kayaking world. There are prop drives and the mirage style drive systems.

perception pilot fishing kayak

What Are Prop Drive Systems?

Prop drives are more prevalent with the majority of manufacturers and a lower price in general. The drive shaft is usually proportional to the overall length of the kayak. And the props vary in size as well.

The advantages of a prop drive is that it easily moves from forward to reverse just by pedaling that way. They are very reliable and can be more comfortable to those with a cycling background.

The prop drives have their shortcomings as well. These drives are most affected by shallow water while launching, beaching, and pedaling through low water areas. When navigating through weeds, the drive will need to be disengaged and pulled out of the water or this can be done when clearing the weeds from the prop and housing.

prop drive vs mirage drive
Pelican 130 HD.C

What Is A Mirage Style Drive System?

Mirage drives were first developed by Hobie for their extensive line of kayaks. These drives are powered by pushing forward a set of pedals resembling an elliptical bike at your favorite gym.

Hobie design engineers anticipated the issue of moving through low waters and weed infested areas. They are equipped with a set of fins that move water from side-to-side. So, they raise flush with the hull of the yak when either pedal is pushed all the way forward. This eliminates the need to clean the weeds as often and avoid colliding with sandbars and debris.

These drives require engaging the drive in reverse to pedal backwards. And then reengaging to change direction to forward again.

Once the Hobie Mirage patent ran out, other manufacturers were free to develop their own versions. Pelican International developed the Hydryve to compete in this space. 

Check out "MUST WATCH Before Buying!! Mirage Drive Vs Pedal Drives" from Beyond The Bounds for more comparison details.

So, Hobie worked to stay one of the best pedal drives on the market. They soon added the mirage 180 with kick-up fins and the mirage drive 360. I go into great detail about the differences between the Hobie Mirage drive 180 and the Miragedrive 360 here.

Hobie does a great job explaining the Miragedrive 360 technology in this video below:

Why Have A Pedal Drive On Your Kayak?

We have covered the various advantages to having a standard and a pedal kayak for fishing. It comes down to what you are comfortable with and how much you are willing to pay. Value versus cost.

Consider these questions:

  • Are you physically healthy and have a strong back?
  • Do you get leg cramps often?
  • Do you see an advantage of trolling and fishing on the move?
  • Would you mind having to disengage and pickup the drive system when needed?
  • Would the smaller foot area bother you while standing?
  • Are you strong enough to paddle through heavy waters?
  • Are you on a tight budget and need a lower cost?

These are strong considerations that will help guide you to a decision when choosing which type of kayak is right for you.

Which Pedal Drive System Is Right For You?

Here is where the pedal meets the metal. Or pedal meets the kayak. Pedal drive systems sound intriguing, but which one would be for you if you were to choose one?

There are many criteria we could use to evaluate drive systems. You will need to prioritize your needs based on the advantages for pedal drives versus standard kayaks.

Mirage style drive advantages:

  • Noise. Pedal drives tend to be a little noisier. Some with a slight whine as you pedal. The Mirage drive is quieter by most accounts. But, this is not a loud noise, so it may not be a deciding factor.
  • Power. Some anglers who have driven both say the Mirage drive has more power. This may be important when riding choppy waves and heavy water. It can also be slightly faster.
  • Storability during transport. The Mirage drives lay flat when disengaged and removed. The pedal drives are like laying a small bicycle on its side in your back seat. So, it takes up more room.
  • Fins tuck in against the hull in shallow water and weeds.

Pedal drive advantages:

  • Ease while changing direction. Most pedal drives can change direction simply be pedaling forward or backwards. For Mirage drives, the user needs to pull one of two shift cables to pivot the fins 180 degrees, which is more effort to switch direction from forward to reverse and back again.
  • Cost. Hobie kayaks are considerably higher in most cases. The newer Mirage 360 drive, while easier to change direction by using a knob, raises the price even higher.

Major Pedal Drive Makes And Models

How Much Does A Fishing Kayak With Pedals Cost Vs A Standard (With 2022 Prices)?

Kayaks are priced based on length and whether it has a drive or not.

Here are some comparable pricing options for 2022:

  • The Hobie Mirage Outback (12’ 9”) currently costs $3449.
  • The Pelican “The Catch 130 Hydryve” (12’ 6”) currently costs $1740 which shows the wide price difference between these two Mirage style drives.

A comparable prop drive kayak would be:

  • The Ocean Kayak “Malibu Pedal” (12’ 0”) which currently costs $2300
  • The Old Town “Topwater 120 PDL” (12’ 0”) for $2450. This indicates a real savings over the Hobie but not the Pelican Hydryve.

Comparable standard kayaks without a drive would include:

  • The Pelican “The Catch 120" (11’ 8”) priced at $830. 
  • The Old Town “Topwater 120 Angler” (12’ 0”) at $1300. 
  • Hoodoo Stingray 130S Deluxe Fishing Kayak (13’ 0”) at $930.


In this article, you were able to see how pedal kayak provide you great value and are worth the price with features and new capabilities for fishing.

In this article, you were able to:

  • learn about the different pedal drive systems
  • understand the advantages of each drive type
  • review a feature and capability comparison between pedal and paddle kayaks
  • check out pedal drive kayak manufacturer resource links to get more information
  • consider the cost comparisons between a pedal system versus a standard kayak
  • decide if a pedal kayak is right for you and your budget based on this information

Now you have the information at hand to decide what is best for you!

Thank you for reading this article. Please help us to provide more valuable content to you by leaving a comment below with any questions or topic suggestions.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

About the author 

Tracy Villarreal

Tracy has been fishing Texas' beaches, piers, and inshore waters for over 30 years. A kayak fisherman for the last three years, Tracy is dedicated to helping others make the most of their trips by writing informative tips, guides, and onpoint articles based on his own experience since 2018.

Don’t miss out!

Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be the first to hear about new kayaks, gear and accessories, fishing tactics and strategies, checklists and recommendations.