There are only so many ways you can re-invent the dedicated fishing kayak. Or so I thought. That was until Old Town Kayak and Canoe showed me their brand new BigWater ePDL+ 132 electric pedal assist fishing kayak during a top secret showing at a small fishing resort outside of Tampa, Florida this past January. The next day I had the opportunity to spend a day on the water fishing with this craft. This was over six months before it was finally unveiled to the public at ICAST 2023. It was not an easy secret to keep.
Considering the insane popularity of e-bikes these days, this kayak became one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas the instant I saw it. I was already familiar with Old Town’s extensive and popular fishing kayak line. Thus, I was intrigued to see how the electric kayak stacked up against other popular craft like the PDL series. Especially the Sportsman PDL 120 that I already own.
Here’s my review of the new Old Town BigWater ePDL+ 132 after a day on the water in it chasing snook and redfish.
Old Town BigWater ePDL+ 132 Overview
- Length: 13 ft, 2 in
- Width: 36 in
- Assembled Weight: 143 lbs
- Hull Weight: 95 lbs
- Drive Weight: 32.5 lbs
- Battery Weight: 8.5 lbs
- Weight Capacity: 500 lbs total, 357 usable
- Extremely fun to pedal
- Battery lasts surprisingly long
- Controls are easy to use
- Super bright display screen
- Tracks well and cuts through current effortlessly
- $6,000 price tag
- No drop-in standalone drive
- Over 20 pounds heavier than a standard PDL
The hull design of the Old Town ePDL+ should look familiar to anyone who’s used an Old Town kayak because it uses the same hull as others in the BigWater line, like the original BigWater PDL 132, which we’ve previously tested. While there are a few small tweaks to the cup holder and back tank well, the big difference is the PDL drive. This pedal drive features a five-level electric assist mode. If you get tired of pedaling, there’s a cruise control mode that locks in your current speed and lets the motor do all the work.
The whole drive is powered through a single 36-volt 20-amp hour lithium battery, which nests comfortably in a compartment beneath the seat. Old Town is offering this kayak in three colors: their classic ember and marsh, along with a new steel color.
What I Like About the Old Town ePDL+ Electric Kayak
When you first start pedaling, the Old Town ePDL+ feels like a standard pedal drive—until the assist suddenly kicks in with a noticeable take-up after a few rotations. Immediately, the kayak starts gliding effortlessly across the water, and it’s nearly impossible to not have a smile on your face. The ePDL+ drive has a good deal of pep to it, even on the lower levels. It tops out at around five miles per hour, which doesn’t sound like much, but it allows anglers to cover a lot of ground quickly without tiring as fast.
I got to test this kayak over the course of a full day in the mangroves outside of Tampa, during which we got into some decent currents from the tide going out and coming in. The kayak’s drive helps cut against the current like butter and I wasn’t surprised to find out it tracks like a dream, too. That’s to be expected with a stable hull like the BigWater as the base. It makes fishing from this kayak a joy. I like how easy it is to slow and stop even when cruising at level five. Just pedal backwards and the kayak slows down quickly.
Old Town kept the controls nice and simple on the front of the drive. The buttons are large, and the screen showing the drive’s status is backlit. It was easy to read all day long, even in direct sunlight.
My favorite thing about this kayak is how you can set the cruise and enjoy the ride when you get tired of pedaling. We wandered at least two to three miles from the resort during our test. The drive makes that long journey back to the dock a lot more enjoyable than a standard drive.
What I Don’t Like About the Old Town ePDL+
The Old Town ePDL+ is insanely fun, but it is a completely new and dedicated platform. One of the first questions at that initial showing in January was if the ePDL+ drive would be available as a drop-in model. Which is a valid question for owners of Old Town’s other PDL kayaks. Unfortunately, due to the interior writing, it remains a stand-alone model—at least for now. Knowing Old Town, it wouldn’t surprise me if they develop a drop-in model at some point. But for now the only way to get this drive is to buy an entirely new kayak.
This kayak is also notably heavier than Old Town’s other PDL models. The extra electrical components amount for an extra 11 pounds in the drive alone. At 32 pounds, the drive isn’t unwieldy, but it brings the total assembled boat weight to 143 pounds. And that’s without adding other electronics or accessories. It’s going to be hard to move for a solo fisherman. Although this kayak does weigh less than the Sportsman AutoPilot 120 and 136, which are outfitted with Minn Kota trolling motors.
The ePDL+ also has a suggested retail price of approximately $5,999.99, which is a bit staggering the first time you hear it. I can’t say I’m too surprised given the fact these boats are made here in the USA. I believe the complexity of this new design factors in too. It might take a while for some anglers to warm up to it given that price point.
Old Town BigWater ePDL+ Kayak: Final Thoughts
The Old Town ePDL+ is easily the coolest kayaks I’ve ever fished from. It’s hard to put into words just how fun it is to pedal this thing, especially against a swift current. The drive just makes it feel like you can go anywhere and do anything. The battery life seems to be very good, too. I was still near a full charge after nearly eight hours on the water. And I was almost constantly working the drive the whole time.
The cool thing about this kayak is that the PDL drive functions and feels just like my Sportsman 120 PDL even if the drive isn’t on. Even if you run out of power, you’re not going to be stranded because of it. It gives a lot of versatility and functionality to anglers. I should note the fishing wasn’t particularly great the day I tested this kayak—I only caught a single red fish. But it was just so enjoyable cruising through the mangroves that it was easy to forget the fishing was lousy. That’s saying a lot.
You can currently pre-order the Old Town BigWater ePDL+ 132 Kayak from an Old Town dealer. It will be available to ship in January 2024.
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