Back to Paddle. Why?

Native Watercraft Redfish 12. Jackson Coosa. Nucanoe Frontier 10. Jackson Kilroy. Hobie Outback. Hobie Pro Angler 12. Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 10. These are the 7 kayaks I’ve owned since 2012. SEVEN. Crazy.

Kayaks and I have a love hate relationship. I buy them, rig them, fish from them, then get bored and sell them. Only to buy another one shortly afterwards. Most companies launch new kayaks with new features and technology just about every year. From the traditional paddle, to pedal, to pedal with reverse and now to powered kayaks. Jumbled in between these new innovations are endless kayak fishing accessories that make this sport that much more enjoyable. For me, rigging and adding of accessories is more than half the fun.

It’s a natural progression to transition from a paddle kayak to pedal kayak in our sport. I did when I “upgraded” from my Kilroy to Outback a few years back. Oddly enough, I find myself doing the exact opposite this time around. Transitioning from a pedal kayak to paddle kayak. But why?

Personally, I like paddling a kayak. The invigorating sensation of gripping a good quality paddle with my hands.  There’s something about sticking to the roots of paddling. Simple. Minimal. Uncomplicated. Back to the roots. Back to the basics. It’s what drew me back to the paddle.

Make no mistake, I have utmost respect for those that pedal. There is no right or wrong way. It’s simply preference. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. I don’t take kayak fishing too seriously. It’s a hobby. So I don’t mind taking some time on the water just to paddle and explore, without fishing.

After a long year off the water, it was time to get my feet wet again. I set up a demo with Mariner Sails and test drove the Hobie Outback and Wilderness Systems Radar 135 PDL, both pedal kayaks. I broke the Mirage Drive (reverse cord) on the Outback and didn’t really care for the Helix PD Pedal Drive on the Radar. Something was off. Perhaps it was my gut telling me to get back to paddling. Turned out, my gut was right.

A few guys mentioned that the ATAK 120 was one of the best paddle kayaks on the market. I paddled one that same morning and was instantly hooked. It felt right. It felt normal. I was comfortable. Gripping a paddle with my bare hands felt amazing. Paddling was simple, minimal, uncomplicated. It felt great to back to the basics.

The single most important piece of advice I can give for those wanting to paddle is to spend the money on a good quality paddle. Don’t skimp and buy a cheap one. Your paddle is your engine. A poorly constructed paddle will only cause you headaches.

Werner Paddles has been around since 1945. Every single paddle is handcrafted to ensure the perfect fit, balance and comfort. Werner’s quality and reliability can be felt with every paddle stroke. I paired my new ATAK with Werner’s Camano [ kuh – may – no ] Hooked paddle. An extremely lightweight and durable paddle that provides the perfect combination of power and comfort to chase fish all day.

I do plan to purchase either the Torqeedo Ultralight 403 or Helix MD Motor Drive at some point, because you know…I’m 40 years old and stuff just doesn’t work the way they used to.

Happy paddling, pedaling or motoring!

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