Jackson Kayaks new Coosa FD Pedal Drive First Impressions

Jackson Kayak
Insider info on Jackson’s new Coosa FD pedal drive boat.

Jackson Kayak’s hotly anticipated splash into the pedal power fast lane hit the social media water this week with great fanfare. While Kayak Angler editors wait for a chance to turn the pedals, we hit up Bridgett Howard, a marketing manager at Jackson, and one of the first anglers to test and fish the new Coosa FD.

I first caught sight of a prototype at last summer’s Outdoor Retailer show. I was excited by the low-profile design but disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to take it for a spin.

This week, Jackson released full details on the Jackson Coosa FD. Starting with their versatile Coosa kayak they added a unique Flex Drive pedal unit. The pedal system fits through a large opening in the deck but the housing is low-profile to keep the driver’s legs low. Below deck, the lower unit is shaped like an extended sailboat daggerboard with a three-blade propeller at the end. Pull a lever, and the daggerboard deploys from a recess in the hull. Bridgett Howard explains, “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 pedaling.

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.”

We couldn’t wait to find out how the boat pedals. Howard points out that 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. Jackson promises a motor drive that will also work with the FD system.

It’s obvious that Jackson built this boat to pedal the rocky, snarled rivers and creeks that eat up other pedal systems. If everything goes as planned, the Coosa FD should perform as promised. I can’t wait to crawl into one and find out.

Coosa FD 2

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Ric Burnley
“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.


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