Old Town Predator PDL Review: Best Pedal Kayak for Fishing
If you are looking for the best pedal fishing kayak for open water and long distances, check out the Old Town Predator PDL
Ten years ago, when one of the oldest canoe companies in the world entered the fishing kayak game, they didn’t mess around. Using all of their resources to design their first fishing kayak, Old Town Canoe released the Predator fishing kayak. A few years later, they added their first pedal system, perfectly matched to the Old Town Predator PDL frame.
Today, the Predator 13 PDL is one of the most iconic kayaks on the water. From first-time anglers to tournament pros, everyone uses the do-it-all kayak to fish everywhere from open water to small creeks. The Predator fishing kayak is one of the best fishing kayaks designed for stand-up fishing and open water pedaling. After almost a decade on the water, the Predator fishing kayak design has been tested and approved by tournament anglers and professional guides. And the PDL pedal system is reliable and efficient. With a smart layout and unique details, the Predator is ready to rig as a backwater bass boat or offshore fishing machine.
Of course, a full feature kayak also means a full-size one. The Old Town Predator PDL is a big boy kayak with a 500-pound capacity and 124-pound total weight. This boat is best transported with a kayak trailer and a heavy-duty cart when ready to launch.
But anglers looking for the best serious fishing kayak require a big platform to carry their gear through rough water. The boat has become a top choice for professional guides and tournament anglers who value the reliable pedal fishing kayak and user-friendly handling. The Old Town Predator 13 PDL’s all-water design and sturdy construction make it ready for almost any type of fishing.
- 124 pounds
- 13 feet
- 36 inches
- Hull: Rotomolded plastic
- Drive: Old Town PDL
- Price: $2599.99
What Kind of Fishing Kayak is the Old Town Predator PDL?
The Old Town Predator 13 PDL fits in the do-it-all, full-feature, full-size, pedal fishing kayak category along with boats like the Hobie ProAngler and Native Watercraft Slayer Propel Max. These boats are designed to cover miles of open water and work their way into the tightest structure. Kayaks in the do-it-all category are built to take anglers anywhere they need to go to find fish.
In addition to gear tracks, rod holders, and bungees—the Old Town fishing kayak includes unique features like replaceable accessory plates and a waterproof console hatch. The reliable PDL drive is perfectly matched to the frame seat for comfort and performance. With a total capacity of 500-pounds, anglers can load the Predator 13 PDL with a full arsenal of fishing gear and electronics. Rock-solid stability and an open deck offer confident stand-up fishing while the flared bow and streamlined hull roll through rough water. Whether rigged to the gunwales for tournament fishing or loaded with a couple of rods and a tackle box for quick trips and weekend fishing, the Predator 13 PDL is ready for almost any type of angler.
Key Features of the Old Town PDL
The Old Town Predator PDL 13 is a full-feature pedal fishing kayak with common accessories and some unique touches. Like all full-feature kayaks, the Old Town Predator PDL includes gear tracks and bungees to conveniently like electronics, rod holders, and a storage crate.
But, to truly fit in the top-of-the-line category, the Old Town Predator 13 PDL also holds some cool features not seen on other kayaks. My favorite is the replaceable accessory mounting plates placed at critical locations on the cockpit. These hard-plastic plates allow me to attach a rod holder or fish finder display without drilling into the kayak hull. When it’s time to replace or move the accessory, I just install a new plate without repairing drill holes in the plastic. Two plates in front of the kayak are perfectly located to add a fish finder display. The plates on the gunwales and along the crate well are routed to accept gear-track mounting bases. This allows me to permanently attach a base to the plate or use a gear track base.
Another cool feature not found on other kayaks is the small, water-resistant gear box in the PDL pedal system console. While it’s a little addition, it makes a big difference for holding my smartphone and action camera where I can easily reach them. The hatch has a bungee on the lid to secure my fishing gloves, scissors, or pliers. Somehow, Old Town fit a full-size hatch in the bow of the Predator 13 PDL. The hatch is big enough to hold camping gear or a dry bag full of clothes.
Combined with a smart layout and ergonomic design, these features make the Predator 13 PDL ready to fish straight out of the factory and give anglers the ability to customize the boat to their specific needs.
A Note on the PDL Pedal Drive
After five years on the water, Old Town’s PDL drive has been time-tested in the toughest conditions. The drive premiered in the Predator fishing kayak and carried over to a half-dozen Old Town fishing kayaks.
The source of the PDL’s popularity is the drive’s reliability. Completely sealed and rock-solid, the PDL is built to survive. Simple maintenance and easy fixes keep the drive running when you are ready to go fishing.
But a good drive is more than just the pedals and propeller. The whole system should work seamlessly. Installing the PDL is quick and easy, with three thumb knobs holding the drive into the boat. The seat slides forward and back to dial-in. Old Town engineers worked for a year to develop the seat angle and height for the most comfortable ride.
In my book, the most important quality of a pedal unit is switching into shallow water mode. To cross shallow water or beach the kayak, I need to lift the lower unit. By turning one thumb knob, the PDL pops up through the deck without wrestling the pedals to line up the propeller blades.
When the drive is down, the lower unit fits flat to the deck reducing clutter and giving me more room to stand and fish.
The only downside of the Old Town Predator PDL is size. Larger and heavier than other drives, the PDL isn’t as convenient to store and transport. But the tradeoff is a tough drive that performs well in all conditions.
How We Tested the Predator 13 PDL
When the wind is blowing, the current swirling, and I have a long way to the fishing spot, I grab the Old Town Predator PDL. As a full-size, full-feature pedal fishing kayak, the Predator 13 PDL is made to go anywhere.
Whether I’m heading out onto the Chesapeake Bay to fish for cobia and big red drum or exploring tidal rivers for speckled trout, redfish, and striped bass—the Predator 13 PDL is ready for action. The pedal system and big boat breaks through waves and crushes miles of water.
Of course, full-size pedal boats aren’t best in grass-choked, skinny backwaters and rivers. Although the Predator 13 PDL is a great boat on the open ocean, I’m not a fan of pedals in the surf zone, either. In my opinion, rocky rivers and big surf call for a paddle kayak. But the Predator 13 PDL will take me to 99 percent of the fishing I do with comfort and ease.
One of the best testimonials comes from pro guide Tim Moore. Since the boat’s release, Moore has been using the Old Town Predator PDL to host anglers of all experience levels. He takes them from lakes and ponds to the open ocean. Moore credits the Predator and PDL for years of service and happy customers.
Predator 13 PDL Performance: Speed, Tracking, Maneuverability
A full-size fishing kayak is a lot of boat to handle. Wind, current, and waves will all affect performance—making it difficult to control a big, heavy kayak.
Old Town’s engineers are well versed in maximizing performance, and they didn’t cut corners with the Predator. The Double U hull provides a deep keel for tracking and a wide beam for improved stability. The design allows the boat to roll with the seas and cut through current. This makes it possible to comfortably cover miles of water and confidently make it back to the launch when the weather turns bad.
The Achilles heel in any pedal kayak is the rudder. A small or poorly placed rudder will not turn the boat effectively. Then, the rudder’s rigging allows multiple points for failure. Old Town’s engineers know this fact, too. The Predator’s oversized rudder turns the boat on a dime and helps keep it going straight through wind and current. The rigging is solid, too, with a large handle controlling the direction and a long lever to lift and lower the rudder.
Along with the rudder, the kayak seat is an important part of any pedal system. The Predator 13 PDL frame seat is covered in quick-drying, comfortable mesh, padding, and positioned perfectly for all-day pedaling. The seat moves forward and back and locks in place without standing up for easy adjustment.
The best quality of the Predator 13 PDL is durability. Old Town is a premium kayak company using the best technology and materials to create a tough kayak ready for years of service. The Predator 13 PDL is a lifetime kayak, capable of lasting years of heavy use in any condition. I’ve had a Predator in my lineup for years, and it’s still going strong.
Old Town Predator PDL: A Full-size, Full-feature Kayak That Doesn’t Disappoint
As well as the Old Town Predator PDL performs below the water, its topside is just as impressive. Ready for action straight off the shelf, this full-feature boat can also be rigged to the gills with accessories and electronics.
The boat comes standard with gear tracks, bungees, and rod holders for grab-and-go fishing. Two flush mount rod holders behind the seat are angled for trolling. My favorite feature is the forward-facing, flush mount rod holder next to the seat. It’s a perfect place to stick my rod when I’m rigging up or unhooking a fish.
To set up my Predator 13 PDL, I added a YakAttack Blackpak crate in the tankwell. I used bungees to secure the box and added YakAttack Vertical Tie-Down and a one-inch web strap to the gear tracks to hold the crate in the kayak.
I also installed a YakAttack Omega rod holder on a LockNLoad base to the gear track behind the seat. I can adjust the rod holder to hold my rod within reach and out of the way of saltwater. When I’m fishing under trees or below a bridge, I angle the rod holder down to keep my rod tip out of the way.
A full feature boat should make installing electronics easy. The Predator 13 PDL is designed with mounting plates, gear tracks, a battery compartment, and a transducer pocket for multiple mounting options. I attached a RAM Mounts Ball Mount round fish finder base to the replaceable plate just ahead of the cockpit. The transducer cable passes through a hole next to the fish finder mount, and the transducer puck tucks into a pocket under the boat. The battery is situated just inside the bow hatch, so I run the cable out of the hatch to my fish finder display.
Since I use the Predator 13 PDL for open bays and tidal rivers, I keep the rigging simple. But anglers who target largemouth bass can add electronics, lights, rod holders, and other accessories for a full-on tournament assault. The Predator 13 PDL has a pre-drilled mounting plate for a Power-Pole Micro anchoring system. The boat can also carry a battery and electric motor. Old Town designed the Predator 13 PDL to satisfy almost any angler fishing in nearly any condition. From starter boat to tournament machine, the Predator is one boat that can do it all.
What the Predator 13 PDL Does Best: Long Days, Long Distance, Big Water
The Old Town Predator PDL is designed to be a do-it-all kayak for almost any angler. The size and hull design make it sea-worthy for miles of pedaling. A hybrid hull provides stability with good rough-water performance. This pedal kayak is capable of going anywhere a full-size kayak can go without limitations. For new anglers, the Predator PDL is the last boat they will ever need. Experienced anglers looking to step up to a full-feature boat will find the Old Town Predator PDL one of the few premium choices.
What the Old Town Predator PDL Does Worst: Rivers, Surf Launches and Weed-choked Farm Ponds
An all-around kayak still can’t do it all. The Predator PDL’s most significant limitations are its size and weight. Even the best pedal kayaks, in general, are not best for river fishing or surf launches where the pedal drive and frame seat can be damaged or cause damage. The boat’s size also limits transportation and storage. The big boat requires a kayak trailer or pick-up truck to haul it to the water. And, the Predator PDL needs a heavy-duty cart to move the boat to the launch and around the yard.
Does the Old Town Predator 13 PDL Deliver on Its Mission?
Nine years ago, Old Town Canoe entered the kayak fishing game with the Predator 13. A few years later, they added the Predator 13 PDL to compete with the best pedal kayaks on the water. As time passed, pedal boats have come and gone, and pedal systems have changed and advanced, but the Old Town Predator PDL remains one of the most reliable and efficient systems.
Today, the Predator 13 PDL is still relevant on the tournament trail and at the weekend club meetup. The design is so strong, Old Town revamped it and released the boat as the Sportsman Big Water PDL. If you’re looking for a solid boat with unmatched performance and reliability, then the Predator 13 PDL is all you need. Or, if you are looking to take kayak fishing to the next level—this boat will help you get there.