Kayaking can be the best sport on the planet if you know all the kayak gears required to get the maximum thrill out of it. One important kayaking component is the Kayak Rudder. It is a control device in the form of a blade at the stern or back of the kayak that helps you turn your kayak away from the wind or lock the stern in one place. Your foot pedals control the Kayak Rudder.

In the older versions of kayaks, you may not find the rudder. The paddler had to use his/ her expertise in pedaling strokes to keep the kayak well-balanced and moving in the right direction. Therefore, many paddlers still do not use the rudders. But those who do, know how important a Kayak Rudder can be especially in windy and wavy situations.

You can buy a kayak with a Kayak Rudder already fixed or install a rudder later on. Most of the Kayak Rudder Kits that are available in the market come with a very helpful user manual (often with clear steps and diagrams). This makes the installation a breeze. If you are still unsure on how to install your Kayak Rudder (or are a bit apprehensive that you will damage your precious kayak in the process), you can ask your kayak dealer/ seller if they provide with this facility. However, the Kayak Rudders we have recommended below are very easy to install, and the kit comes with its hardware accessories so you do not have to worry about going to your hardware store and looking for the right wires and cables.

It is important to know that not all Kayak Rudders fit all kinds of kayaks. Make sure you check your kayak first and purchase a rudder that is compatible with your kayak. If you plan to gift your kayak (and yourself) with a Kayak Rudder, below are our top 5 recommendations.

Recommended Rudder Kits for Kayaking

Crack of Dawn Kayak Rudder with Mounting Kit

Bonafide Kayaks SS Rudder Kit 2019

Wilderness Systems Kayak Rudder Kit

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The 5 Best Kayak Rudder

Buying a Kayak Rudder for your kayak is a great decision as it will help you get the maximum control (and joy) from your kayak adventures. Make sure you know what series of kayak you have and buy a Kayak Rudder Kit that works well with your kayak. Here are our five best Kayak Rudders for you:

Crack of Dawn Kayak Rudder with Mounting Kit

The Crack of Dawn Kayak Rudder is designed to fit most of the major brands of kayaks, making it quite universal to use (there may still be some exceptions though). The kit is easy to install and comes with all the assembly parts, tracking system as well as foot pedals. It helps you steer your kayak in an almost hands-free manner, making you enjoy the world around you more than fussing about the Kayak Rudder. All you have to do is to fit it in your kayak and enjoy the sport!

Pros:

  • It is compatible with most of the kayak brands.
  • The kayak rudder is very easy to install.
  • It lets you steer in an almost hands-free manner.

Cons:

  • It may work with a large number of kayak brands, still, it is not universal, and you may have a kayak that this rudder may not be suitable for.
  • It comes with a limited warranty period.

Feel Free Beaver Tail Kayak Rudder Kit for Lure v2 and Moken v2 Series of Kayaks

Who does not want handsfree drifting when it comes to handling the kayak? If you plan to kayak in windy conditions and open waters, the Feel Free Beaver Tail Kayak Rudder is great for your Moken 12.5, Moken 14, Lure 11.5, Lure 13.5, Lure II or Dorado kayak.

The Feel Free Beaver Tail Rudder Kit is intelligently designed by combining the fixed footpegs with movable rudder pedals. This gives you better control of your kayak and increased performance while you pedal your way through large bodies of water. The large rudder blade is great for sit-on-top kayaks as well as tandem kayaks. There is a rudder pin than you need to install through a (vertical) cavity on the stern of your kayak and secure with a split ring. This amazing kit has new toe control rails and all the necessary components you need to install them in your Lure/ Moken v2 kayak.

Pros:

  • It has a toe control mechanism that lets you steer while keeping your feet braced.
  • Great quality kayak rudder kit.
  • Works for Moken 12.5, Moken 14, Lure 11.5, Lure 13.5, Lure II and Dorado kayaks.

Cons:

  • It is designed for kayaks with a molded rudder hole in the rear. For instance, if you have a Moken 10 kayak, this rudder kit will not be for you.
  • It is expensive as compared to some other kayak rudder kits.

Bonafide Kayaks SS Rudder Kit 2019

If you feel that your SS series of Kayak needs an upgrade, there is nothing better than the Bonafide Kayak’s SS Rudder Kit. You will get a complete rudder system with all the important components required to mount up and enjoy your kayak experience to the fullest. In the Bonafide Kayak SS Rudder Kit 2019 edition, you will also get the YakAttack and SwingBlade components, making this kit ideal for your kayak.

Providing you with the hands-free steering facility, the SS Rudder Kit uses the top of the line stock double-action foot brace feature. As a result, the rudder adjusts the foot brace tension and provides you with an increased paddling performance, and hence efficiency. The rudder lock with goalpost helps in transportation. Some of the key features include a bow storage area that has a hook resistant cover.

Pros:

  • It provides with the hands-free steering facility, along with increased performance in paddling and hence the efficiency.
  • The 2019 Rudder Kit has introduced the YakAttack and SwingBlade rudder features.
  • Compatible with SS series of Bonafide Kayaks, SS107, and SS127.

Cons:

  • Not a universal Kayak Rudder Kit so make sure it is compatible with your kayak before purchase.

JVSISM Nylon Canoe Kayak Rudder Kit

The JVSISM Nylon Canoe Kayak Rudder Ail Foot Control Direction Kit could be the one you were looking for. Made with nylon and with an approximate rudder length of 48 cm, this beautiful black rudder kit mounts vertically on the stern of your kayak. It has a hole diameter of 7mm and a pin diameter of 10mm. This rudder can be easily installed while providing the connection from the rudder to the foot brace by a rope. Although the foot control is not included, it works well with your kayak’s food control to take charge of the direction you want to sail in.

You can easily secure this Kayak Rudder in the raised position to avoid your rudder from self-deploying. The JVSISM Canoe Kayak Rudder Kit is ideal for sea kayaks, canoe, marine boats as well as angling boats.

Pros:

  • It can be easily installed.
  • Great for angling boats, marine boats, canoes, and kayaks.

Cons:

  • Foot control is not included.

Wilderness Systems Kayak Rudder Kit

Having a Rudder Kit is a choice that you need to make depending upon your preferences and paddling use. In case you want to help your kayak in standing tall against the nasty winds, waves, and currents that want to push the kayak in the directions you don’t want to go, a great solution is installing the Wilderness Systems Kayak Rudder Kit. This Kayak Rudder kit includes a large rudder, foot braces and the required hardware (such as the cables and tubes, etc.) that you need to assemble on your kayak. The large rudder helps in maneuvering the tarpon 135T tandem kayak.

Pros:

  • If you have a Wilderness Systems Kayak, this Kayak Rudder kit will fit perfectly well on your kayak.
  • It assists the Tarpon 135T kayak in maneuvering through large areas of water.
  • The Rudder Kit includes all the components you need to have a perfectly installed rudder (including the wires, cables, foot braces, and rudder).

Cons:

  • Not compatible with many kayaks.

Rudder Parts

There are two main parts of a Kayak Rudder: the rudder blade, and the foot control pedal. Most of the Kayaks have a lift line as well. Here are the details:

Rudder Blade:

The rudder blade is a blade at the back of your kayak (the stern) and can swivel from one side to the other. The rudder blade is extremely useful when you are faced with strong winds and waves while kayaking. It helps in maintaining equilibrium for your kayak by keeping it straight. The rudder blade is controlled by the foot pedals.

Foot Control Pedal:

The foot pedals are connected to your Kayak Rudder with some strong cables. These cables are normally made of stainless steel or any other thin but strong materialled wire. To turn your kayak in a certain direction, you need to push the foot pedal of that side while making sure the other side’s foot pedal does not have pressure on it. This will result in the rudder blade turning and you will get the required result.

Lift Line:

Many Kayak Rudder Kits will have a Lift Line that enables the paddler to use and store the rudder while sitting in the cockpit. Normally this line is a long looped cable and is knotted near your cockpit. This is extremely helpful when you want to raise your Kayak Rudder when you are launching, crossing shallow waters, or landing.

How does a Kayak Rudder Work?

A Kayak Rudder helps in two ways: keeping your kayak from fishtailing and steering the kayak in the direction you want. It works by creating drag, i.e. channeling the pressure you exert on one side of your foot pedal onto the rudder blade, resulting in the kayak turning into the direction where force was applied. In this process, the other side of the kayak does not have any change in speed. This lets you keep your kayak move straight when you are facing winds from a certain direction.

When you keep the Kayak Rudder straight, it makes sure that the stern moves slower than the bow, hence avoid fishtailing. You can have a rudder-free kayak (like old days) and by using proper paddling strokes, still, be able to keep your kayak in control.

Pros and Cons of a Rudder

Here are the main pros and cons of having a Kayak Rudder:

Pros:

  • A Rudder makes kayak a lot easier to control and turn.
  • Most of the rudders can be pulled up and made retractable.
  • In rough conditions of the water, a Kayak Rudder can be out of the water for as much as 50% of the time.
  • There is less drag in the water when it is stored.
  • Enables more space in your kayak’s stern compartment.

Cons:

  • A Kayak Rudder has more of the moving parts which means that if you lose a part (nut or screw), the rudder will be of no use. This is specially not good if you are in the middle of your kayaking adventure, and you will either have to rely on your skills or try to work around a Kayak Rudder that you have no control over.
  • It is more expensive than other options available in the market, such as a skeg or a clean hull.The rudders can be easily damaged especially if they get stuck moving backward. There is a higher chance of water transfer in Kayak Rudders as they require twice the holes through the partitions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to Install a Kayak Rudder Kit?

Installing a Kayak Rudder kit is almost the same in most of the kayaks. The best way to go about it is to check the instruction manual that came with your Kayak Rudder Kit. It will have the step-by-step procedures and diagrams to help you successfully install a rudder.

If you want more help, check out the following steps to guide you to a perfectly installed Kayak Rudder.

  1. Put your kayak on top of support (such as a bench, table or some sturdy stools) so it is at a proper height for you, and it does not move when you are fixing parts in it.
  2. Open the Kayak Rudder Kit and go through the parts. Ideally, organize them so that you can see all the components. Take out your toolbox so you have access to the tools required for installation.
  3. Follow the steps in your rudder’s instruction manual. Start by tightening the long bolt but make sure it is not too tight as your Kayak Rudder will need some freedom to swivel. Mount the rudder blade, foot control pedals, and lift line.
  4. Once all the components are installed, it is very important to test it collectively before going in the water. Check every component of the kit and notice if it is functioning like planned. Once everything is ready to go, the sky (or the water!) is the limit.

Make sure you keep the instruction manual safely with you so that if there are any repair issues required in the future, you know what to do.

How to Kayak with Rudder?

To know how to kayak with a rudder, it is crucial to know what benefit it adds to your kayak, and when to use it. If your kayak didn’t originally come with a rudder, do not worry about it. You can always add a Kayak Rudder later, whenever you feel the need for it. A common misconception is that the real purpose of having a rudder is to turn your kayak in a certain direction. The actual reason you would want to use a rudder is that if you plan to kayak in a windy and open area, you need a rudder to keep the kayak moving straight (otherwise the kayak would naturally turn into the wind’s direction).

When you have a rudder in your kayak, you are no more at the mercy of winds and waves to change the direction of your kayak. The rudder holds the stern in place. You can control the rudder with the help of your foot pedals. Push one of the foot pedals (the side you want to move to turn towards) while not exerting much pressure on the other food. This will turn the rudder blade in the direction you pushed. This way, you can adjust to different directions and strengths of wind making sure your kayak weathercocks to the required angles and degrees. It has an additional benefit of helping you to turn your kayak.

How to Replace the Kayak Rudder Cable?

To replace your Kayak Rudder cable, check out the following steps:

  1. Get a nylon coated steel wire, wire connector sleeves, electrical tape, wire cutter (or something to cut the wire with) and pliers.
  2. From the backside of the Kayak, cut the existing (old and damaged) wire from your kayak using a wire cutter.
  3. Using the connector sleeve, crimp the nylon coated wire and make sure it is tightly hooked up.
  4. Take out enough length of wire from the new pack of wire and throw it behind. On the inner side, pull the wire and make sure it passes through the hole nicely.
  5. Using the electrical tape, join the top part of the foot pedal to make it parallel with the bottom of the pedal. Wrap the tape around it.
  6. Bring the wireline through the foot pedal exactly how the previous line was in the groove. Once you start to pass the wire, you will know how to zig-zag it across the pedal.
  7. Once you are done, pass a wire connector sleeve through the tip of the wire, put the wire through the loop on the kayak and put it through the connector once and then bend and pass it through the connector again to make sure it is tightly snug. Tighten it using the pliers.
  8. Now turn to the backside of the kayak. Put the connector through the wire, and pass the wire through the hole of the rudder, and bring it back again. Take your pliers and pull as tight as you can without pulling that pedal back at you. The cable is now properly replaced and is nice and sturdy.

A Kayak Rudder is a great addition to your kayak especially when you need to enjoy paddling without the waves, wind, and weather affecting your joyous adventure. Whether you need a Kayak Rudder depends upon many factors including the kind of kayak you use, how you use it, and the weather and water conditions in which you use it. In addition to this, your personal preference, as well as your paddling skills, are also something you need to consider before getting yourself a Kayak Rudder Kit. Now that you know all about Kayak Rudders and the best Kayak Rudder Kits in the market, which one are you going to get?