BRAND NEW! Gear Review: 2016 Old Town Predator PDL Pedal Driven Kayak
Location of Test: Jenkinson Lake, CA
Duration: 2 days
Product Name: Predator PDL
Product Brand: Old Town
Best Use: Kayak Fishing, photography, leisurely pedaling
Sizes Available/ Specs:
117LB fully rigged with Drive and seat
The Full Review
"I had the opportunity to test drive the newest boat from Old Town this week, the latest update in the Predator line of fishing kayaks, and old towns first iteration of a pedal driven kayak: The Predator PDL.
The PDL at first glance follows the heritage of the former predator boats, with an open deck, adjustable lawn chair style seat, and a width that can only equal stability.
Getting into the boat you'll see a variety of improvements on previous predators, and a number of new innovations unique to the PDL.
First and foremost, this boat is defined by its pedal drive system. Utilizing a high ratio propeller drive developed with Minn Kota the PDL cruises at a comfortable clip, the ability to back up, change direction, and hold position over fish. Getting the boat up to a comfortable cruising speed took a few cycles of the cushioned, barefoot friendly pedals, but it maintained your desired speed with very little effort. I only had the chance to fish warm water species and trout with the PDL, but I can see this boat being at home on the Willamette and Columbia trolling for salmon. Once up to speed it's easy to take your feet off the pedals while the boat cruises. There's a small storage hatch in the drive for a small dry bag, tackle, or other gear. A large front hatch and rear tank well provide other storage options.
The drive itself locks in securely with a few twist lock knobs, and rotates itself up and out of the way in one simple motion of pushing it up and forward. The prop auto aligns to avoid banging the sides of the drive well or getting itself stuck in the boat. Once removed from the boat the drive feel sturdy, but not overly heavy, and it even floats in case of an accidental drop in the drink.
The rudder control is simple, it deploys by raising and lowering a lever on the gunnel of the boat, and is steered with a low profile knob almost flush with the deck.
-Stability: like the rest of the Predator family this boat is a tank. Standing and flycasting, adjusting the outfitting or just walking the deck, the PDL is stable.
-Pedal usability: the bicycle motion and overall use of the drive felt really intuitive. It's something that a wide range of paddlers can hop on and cruise efficiently.
The concept of a pedal drive is really well developed in this boat, it feels like they took the time to make it right. While designed with fishing in mind, the PDL will be a killer boat for waterfowl hunters photographers, family, or anyone looking a comfortable new way to explore the water.
-The seating system is comfortable and easily adjustable for a better fit on the pedal drive, or to adjust boat trim. I saw lots of different sized peddlers hop in and cruise in comfort.
-Design: the hull feels a lot like previous predators. While this boat falls squarely in the battleship class, it paddles better than other pedal drive boats with a similar profile. It's not a touring kayak, but I'd feel comfortable taking it out for a day sans drive.
-There was a lot of thought put into the layout of the deck, it feels simple but still has lots of features oriented toward anglers.
-It's a big boat. It's a pretty average weight for a fishing kayak in this class, but definitely something to consider. Not something that will be easy to throw around on land solo. Be sure to invest in a cart and solid roller system for solo launching.
-The traditional Predator carry handles that carried over to the PDL just flat out suck. An easy add on, a simple toggle handle would be a big improvement. The large, cut out bow is not a comfortable way to haul.
-a larger rudder option would be cool (an could already be in the works) the rudder that I demoed turned well but a tighter radius would be beneficial for bass and trout environments.
The Bottom Line:
A proven fishing machine, accompanied with a solid, well designed drive system, the PDL is an awesome boat, and a big entry in pedal power for old town. The combination of stability, efficiency and overall fishability, the PDL gives other pedal driven boats a run for their money.
If you're looking for a new rig, come check out the PDL at both Next Adventure Paddlesports locations this fall.