By Dan Kidder
Agile in the water yet roomy enough for all of your gear, the Old Town Topwater Angler PDL sit-on-top pedal drive kayak, provides a ton of features and helps fisherman get away from the shore and out to where the fish are hiding.
Made of a single hull, rigid polyethylene material for superior strength without added weight, the Topwater Angler features a Double-U-shaped hull for the stability of an outrigger in a compact package. This unique hull shape helps the Angler to glide silently through the water and gives it great balance, even in choppy water, by simulating a pontoon design.
The PDL Drive from Old Town is one of the smoothest I have used. It sports a 10.3:1 gear ratio for fewer revolutions of the pedals without sacrificing speed. It operates silently and rapidly tips up out of the way for easy beaching of the kayak without struggling to pull up the drive.
The best thing about a pedal drive is that it frees your hands up for fishing, tying lures on your line, or hauling in a big catch. The maneuverability provided by the combination of the pedal drive and the easy-to-steer rudder control gives the Topwater Angler amazing agility for navigating into even narrow inlets. The ease of pulling the PDL drive up lets you coast into even the shallowest of water using the momentum of the drive. The PDL works just as well in reverse as it does in forward and docking is a breeze. The PDL will achieve a top speed of 5.5 MPH without fatiguing your legs and padded pedals provide excellent comfort for pedaling barefoot.
On top, the Topwater Angler sports plenty of storage and accessories. A roomy covered front storage compartment offers stowage of gear and an oversized deep rear well is perfect for even larger coolers or camping gear. Two internal side compartments allow easy access to beverages or smaller items and the console storage compartment on the PDL drive is a great place to keep your favorite tackle. There is even a locking compartment for valuables under the seat.
The seat itself is supremely comfortable and made of a breathable mesh. There is a wide amount of adjustment in the angle of the seat as well as ample adjustment tracks for changing distance from the pedals.
Steering on the Topwater is done by a conveniently placed steering controller under the driver’s left hand and on the right side is a lever to raise or lower the rudder quickly and efficiently.
Two flush-mount fishing rod holders are molded into the hull behind the seat. Two T-Tracks up front allow the easy installation of additional accessories like trolling rigs or additional rod holders. A universal transducer mount lets you quickly and easily connect your favorite fish finder. They even molded the all-important cup holder into the gunwale.
The one feature that is missing that I would have liked to see included is an anchor trolley. They can be added aftermarket, but I think it would have been a great addition.
Our model is the Topwater 106 PDL in Boreal color scheme. It is 10.5 feet long and weighs just 100 pounds. The four molded handles, one fore and aft and one on each side, make it easy for one person to move, load, unload, and launch this kayak.
The Topwater is designed for fishing and is stable enough to stand up in for casting or fly fishing. EVA foam on the deck provides a comfortable place to stand without risk of slipping.
The Topwater came with two scupper plugs and six scupper holes, so you will have to purchase four more if you like to keep the deck and anything you set on it, dry.
This kayak really moves through the water with minimal resistance and provides great stability. The ease of use of the PDL drive outclassed every other pedal drive I have ever tested. The fact that it is maintenance-free and covered by a 5-year warranty is a great plus. The hull of the kayak is protected by Old Town’s lifetime warranty. The Topwater steers beautifully, has easy to use, intuitive controls and makes beaching or moving through shallow water very easy. There is even a place to attach your paddle when you are using the pedals.
Old Town seems to have thought of almost everything and short of the lack of an anchor trolley and a few extra scupper plugs, there isn’t much that they missed the mark on. Even the Boreal color scheme, a swirling blend of black and turquoise, is an attractive choice. If you are looking for a sit-on-top fishing kayak that is easy enough for the kids to use for exploring the lake, the Old Town Topwater Angler PDL is a great choice.