One boat that created a lot of buzz when it was first revealed at ICAST 2017 is Jackson Kayak’s Coosa FD. Starting with their versatile Coosa kayak, Jackson added a unique Flex Drive pedal unit. Jackson fans were excited to get their favorite Coosa boat with pedal power, but I was stoked to check out the new lower unit that pops up when it hits an underwater obstruction.

Jackson Coosa FD Specs
Length: 12’7”
Width: 35”
Capacity: 450 lbs
MSRP: $2,999

Jackson’s Coosa FD Makes a Splash

The Coosa platform hasn’t changed much to accommodate the pedal system. Jackson added a cool rudder control that works by pushing forward to move right and pulling back to go left. It took a minute to get used to, but the advantage of a low-profile rudder control is that it doesn’t snag on lines or take abuse.

The pedals are also low to the deck for a comfortable pedalling position that doesn’t take up much space in the kayak. A lever on the upper unit controls the depth of the prop.

man stands with a paddle on the Jackson Coosa FD pedal kayak
Give those legs a rest and try paddling. | Photo: Ric Burnley

Sailboat-Inspired Daggerboard

The real genius of the Jackson Coosa FD is below the water. The daggerboard-inspired lower unit hangs farther down in order to put the propeller deeper into the water and reduce turbulence. As explained by Bridgett Howard, a marketing manager at Jackson, “This sailing institution absorbs impacts and retracts with the prop into the hull on striking an obstacle.” If you hit a rock or log, the whole daggerboard and prop pop up so you can keep pedalling without breaking or bending the unit.

There is a small hatch in the deck that accommodates the propeller blades when the lower unit is in the up position. It also gives access to clear the blades of grass or other debris that could clog the system.

side view of the Jackson Coosa FD pedal kayak with daggerboard

According to Howard, the daggerboard also improves fishing performance. “On windy days, the daggerboard slows my drift and increases stability,” she says. Jackson also designed a unique rudder that fits under the stern. This keeps it in line with the keel to protect the rudder from collisions. Howard calls the rudder system “supremely sensitive with a tight turning radius.”

The prop can be set to three different pitches that will affect how fast the boat goes and how hard the angler works. Three blades on the propeller are better than two, according to Howard, increasing speed and torque. “All gearing is above the water line,” she adds. With the works out of the water, the pedal system should avoid corrosion. This also makes it possible to remove the pedal part of the system and leave the lower unit.

Hit the Creek With the Jackson Coosa FD

It’s obvious that Jackson built this boat to pedal the rocky, snarled rivers and creeks that eat up other pedal systems. True to Jackson’s roots, the unique pop-up lower unit makes the Coosa FD river-fishing approved. We hope to see the pedal system on other Jackson models.

Video Review of the Jackson Coosa FD:



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