For Review: Old Town Predator PDL

Since its release, the Predator line of kayaks from Old Town Canoes & Kayaks has acquired one award after another. The follow up to the original Predator MX was the Predator 13. Then, in 2014 Old Town won Best Boat and Best of Show at ICAST with the release of the Predator XL Minn Kota. You can read my review of that boat here. This year Old Town outdid themselves once again with the release of the latest in the Predator lineup, the Predator PDL. This kayak went on to win best new boat out of about 15 pedal driven boats released this year at ICAST.

The Predator PDL is a pedal driven kayak on the same great Predator platform, with a few minor improvements that I'll discuss later. The drive on the PDL is a circular bicycle-style pedal drive to a two-blade prop that allows you to go in reverse without the use of a switch or pull chain, you simply pedal backwards. The 10:1 gear ratio spins the propeller so fast that you cant see it move at high speed and pushes the kayak at speeds up to almost 6 MPH.

The PDL pedal drive is sealed and ready for saltwater use.

The PDL drive has a spring assisted stow and deploy feature that is a slam dunk. It makes stowing and deploying the drive easier than it needs to be, which is great when landing after a long day of fishing or when you unexpectedly encounter shallow water and rocks. The drive is by no means heavy, but having the spring assist makes the process of stowing or deploying the drive much smoother. The drive lowers into an enlarged scupper hole (like the Minn Kota console on the XL) and stows on a small shelf to keep it securely out of the way. There is also sealed storage in the drive and I'm told when sealed, the air trapped inside the drive storage will float the entire drive, but I haven't tried it...yet. The drive is held in place with to clips, the same clips used to hold the Minn Kota drive in the XL, and can be removed in seconds.

The XL and PDL could not be made compatible due to the need to adjust the seat forward and backwards on the PDL, the additional build-up to accept the PDL drive, and the fact that you steer the XL with your feet, which isn't possible if you are pedaling. I'm sure Old Town could have made it work, but it was a choice between an okay addition to the XL, or an amazing stand-alone addition to the line of Predators. To me it was a no-brainer.

PDL rudder steering control knob

The PDL is steered with a rudder, but a much upgraded rudder system than before. The rudder is stowed and deployed using a lever that can literally be used with one finger. Steering is by way of a knob on the left side of the kayak that you turn left to go left and right to go right. It too can be operated with one finger.

New storage pocket location. Easier to get to.

Some improvements to the entire Predator line include additional padding sewn into the now removable seat, making it even more comfortable and allowing you to take it out during transporting and storage. Two flush-mount rod holders behind the seat mean you need to mount fewer rod holderes on the kayak, which leaves room for other accessories such as flags, lights, or camera mounts. There is also a change to the mounting plates. The four forward mounting plates now consist of two plates, one on each side. The  forward mounting plates are longer and the rubber storage pockets that used to be along side the seat now sit beneath the forward mounting plates. I love this feature, because now I can see what is in the pockets and get to those items easier. The storage pockets are also large enough to hold small Plano-style boxes.

Predator PDL rudder deploy lever with one-finger operation.

I attended On the Water Magazine's Striperfest this summer and two gentlemen were inspecting the PDL with the hairiest of eyes. One had the other turn the pedals by hand and when he looked beneath the kayak (which was on a stand) to watch the prop spin and said, "it's not moving at all." Once his friend stopped turning the pedals I said, "look again" and to his surprise, he realized that the prop had been spinning too fast for him to see it. It isn't just fast though, the drive is surprisingly smooth. Everyone that I know who has tried the PDL has commented on the smoothness of the pedal drive. I can leisurely pedal while chatting or tying new fishing gear at around 3 MPH.

The PDL was a hit at On the Water's Striperfest

One of my first days on the water with the PDL was spent with a friend who has a Hobie Pro Angler 14. As I made my way across the tidal estuary where we were striper fishing, I noticed he wasn't with me. I turned only to see his jaw dropped. He was amazed at the smoothness, acceleration, speed, and my ability to stop on a dime by simply pedaling backwards. He wasn't the only one, every time I get in it all I can do is smile. I can get the PDL up to speed in seconds and when I wish to stop, a couple of reverse rotations of the pedals is all it takes to bring the PDL to a screeching halt. All of my Predator kayaks have their place and time, but the PDL seems to be getting more use than the rest. The PDL is fast, hands free, comfortable, and stable. There are still places I can only fish with my Predator XL, but the more I use the PDL the more I prefer it over the others. I can get it on the water faster and get fishing sooner.

By: Tim Moore

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Kayaks Used

Predator Series

Prepare yourself for a totally new fishing experience. The Predator will bring you closer to the water and the action with highly customized features that are engineered to meet the needs of avid anglers and weekend warriors, alike. Read More