What, exactly, is a kayak? With the growing popularity of pedal drives, motors and more, few questions are more contentious. Some anglers can’t wait to stow the paddle and kit their kayak out with the latest motor. As Aliex Folgueira argues, kayak motors may even make pedal drives obsolete. On the flipside, Joseph Harrick from 5050 Fishing claims “kayak fishing no longer exists now because of motors.” Will these two sides ever see eye-to-eye?
Did Motors Kill Pedal Kayaks?
Folgueira is a fan of kayak motors. He explains his position as follows:
“In this channel we cover all kinds of kayaks. We do crazy videos, we take them on the water, we flip them, we test motors, we test drive, we do everything here. And really I’ve been finding myself just wanting to go fishing with a motorized kayak. Not just a motorized kayak, but something with an iPilot unit on it. It just makes fishing…way better for me.”
Overall, Folgueira finds motorized kayaks more convenient than pedal drives. If it’s good enough for tournament anglers, he argues, why not the average fisherman? Pedal drives can be bulky and add cost to a boat, especially when you want to install a motor as well. Folgueira insists that he enjoys pedal boats like the Old Town Topwater 120 PDL and Bonafide P127, but he still equips them with a motor.
Folgueira admits that kayak motors do come with some downsides: You have to register a motorized boat, and you can’t use a motor in some protected waterways. Also, some tournaments don’t allow motors.
Do the masses agree? Folgueira posted an online poll with the question, “Are pedal kayaks done for?” and 74% of respondents said, “Are you crazy?” But that’s not the last word on the subject.
Did Motors Ruin Kayak Fishing?
Harrick’s definition of a kayak is a bit more narrow. Here is his main argument against motors:
“When you’re kayak fishing there’s something that is almost primal. You have a connection with nature, you’re at water level and you’re moving your kayak physically. It’s man-powered and it’s just a more primal connection with nature. When you put a motor on it, it creates a little disconnect and it’s not quite the same thing.”
This is the classic argument of a paddling purist, and it raises some good questions. “Is there going to be an 18-foot kayak that’s got a motor on it that’s running 50 mile per hour?” Harrick asks. “Where are you gonna draw the line?”
The Jury is Deadlocked on Kayak Motors
So, did motors kill pedal kayaks? Or did they ruin kayak fishing? Is a motorized kayak even a kayak at all? While some members of the community remain divided, you should choose whatever floats your boat.