bass fishing in a kayak

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New for 2019, the Topwater PDL takes all the good stuff from Old Town’s much-loved Predator fishing kayak and puts it in a handier, car-topping package. At 10-1/2 feet long and 36 inches wide, it’s the same width as the Predator but almost 3 feet shorter.

You’d think these dimensions would make the vessel slow in the water, but the prop-based PDL pedal-drive system is faster than flipper-based kayaks I’ve used, and it has enough torque to comfortably, and quickly, cover a lot of water. To go in reverse, you simply pedal backwards, and few rotations in that direction are also usually enough to clear weeds if you get tangled.

The boat’s short dimensions, combined with the catamaran-like double-hull design, make it rock-solid stable on the water. Last week in a light chop, I stood to cast to bass along the shoreline of New York’s Cayuga Lake, without any fear of swimming. The adjustable seat snaps in place quickly and is very comfortable. The two, rear, flush-mounted rod holders are easy to reach. While I haven’t set up a fishfinder yet, the recessed universal transducer mount is widely touted as the best out there. Fully rigged out, my test model weighs about 100 pounds. I can put it atop my wife’s SUV solo, but most of the time I just slide it into the 6-foot bed of my Tacoma, tailgate down.

An overhead view of the Old Town Topwater PDL. Old Town

In choppy water, the double hull doesn’t cut quite as well as a v-hull boat. I found this out while chasing lake trout in late summer when the weather turned on Cayuga lake. There’s a nut to lock the rudder down and hold course, but it’s not quite up to real waves and I had to keep a hand on the tiller in those rough conditions. That said, for such a compact little boat, the fishability is off the charts. It also comes with a with a no-questions-asked 5-year warranty, plus a lifelong warranty on the hull, which is the best protection in the business by far.

The Topwater PDL is selling faster than Old Town can make them, but there are currently some available on Amazon. If you want to make some fisherman’s year and wedge this boat under the Christmas tree, you better get on it fast.