Be on top of your game with the Old Town Topwater PDL. Take a closer look as we review this cool new fishing boat. It is definitely one to consider when selecting a new fishing kayak.
Last summer, I first laid eyes on Old Town’s newest offering when it debuted at ICAST in Orlando, FL. Initially, I was impressed with the Topwater PDL’s smaller streamlined design, its built-in features, and the modified pedal-drive design inherited from its big sibling, the Predator PDL. After targeting multiple species on various bodies of water aboard the Old Town Topwater PDL Kayak on over a dozen fishing trips this winter, I can honestly say that this little boat is an incredibly versatile fishing machine. While its overall length measures only 10.5 feet, the 36-inch beam makes this little boat feel huge. With a bit of knee grease, it can easily reach speeds of five-plus mph, even with a bigger guy like me in the cockpit. Let’s take a look at the features on this cool pedal-powered fishing kayak.
The PDL Drive, which can propel the kayak forward and reverse, operates with a circular pedal motion. What’s really cool about this drive is the built-in dry storage box and a spring-loaded assist that pops the unit up and out of your way. In the upright position, it does leave a large opening in the cockpit. Unfortunately, it does not come standard with a deck plate to plug the drive cavity, but there are some aftermarket options available.
As a precautionary measure, I took the advice from a dealer and coated the sheer pin with a waterproof anti-corrosive lubricant before use. After a dozen trips in fresh and saltwater I have seen no signs of corrosion. Old Town boasts that this drive requires zero maintenance and comes with a 5-year warranty.
The patented DoubleU hull is quick and acceleration is prompt. It is fitted with two sacrificial skid plates. The stern plate is on the center of the keel, a typical problem area for wear and tear. The other is just in front of the pedal drive and protects the hull transducer mount. This allows you to mount your transducer right in front of the drive in the underside hull cavity.
Rudder and Steering
The retractable blade-style rudder is mounted to the transom and is conveniently up and out of the way during transport. Once you hit the water, the rudder is deployed by a handle on the starboard side. It is controlled with a thru-hull cable system and control knob on the port side. The steering on this boat is incredibly responsive, and with its short LOA it turns on a dime. It has a tensioner knob that locks the rudder to assist with tracking while trolling, which this kayak really excels at.
Take a Seat
The seat is a lawn-chair style has an aluminum tube frame with a breathable mesh fabric. It adjusts by moving forward and back on a track and is secured at the base by nylon straps. The fabric can be tensioned slightly by stretching and securing with a velcro strip. The backrest reclines to your desired level of comfort for pedaling. There are some pressure points from the tubing on the back rest, but this was easily solved by adding a rack pad to the seat back.
The bow hatch is easily accessible and has a huge amount of storage space below. The cockpit has cubbies on each side for small tackle boxes or tools as well as the aforementioned storage box in the PDL Drive. There is ample room under the seat, and a notched-out section in the rotomold allows for horizontal rod stowage. A rectangular locking hatch is located right behind the seat, and the rear deck compartment is large enough to store a crate and other accessories.
The Topwater comes with two recessed rod holders accessible right behind the seat. Additional rod holders and mounts can be added to the gear tracks in the cockpit area. The tracks are made of strong plastic and seem to be durable. I had to modify the Railblaza and Yak-Gear mounting hardware I had to install my accessories, but other products may have a slightly better fit.
The kayak’s wide beam makes it incredibly stable for standing and casting. The handle built into the PDL Drive makes getting up a breeze.
For a quality fishing kayak that’s right at home on a flat freshwater pond or cutting through the chop on the Bay, you can’t go wrong with the Topwater PDL. Find a local dealer for an in-water demo at oldtowncanoe.com.
- Capacity: 450 lbs.
- Length: 10.5’
- Width: 36”
- Weight (rigged): 95 lbs.
- Weight (w/o drive): 74 lbs.
- MSRP: $1999
~ By Zach Ditmars