Monday, November 7, 2016

The new Old Town Predator PDL

This year Old Town has offered up a new twist to their award winning line up of Predator fishing kayaks, the peddle driven PDL.   After taking the 'Best of Show - Boat' award at ICAST this year (making it the 3rd time in 4 years an Old Town Predator model has won this prestigious award), I knew I had to get my hands on one.   The updates to the chair, layout, and of course the option to peddle rather than paddle were all tremendously appealing for me.

I brought the PDL home from the factory in Maine this past Monday and had to make some decisions on rigging it up before hitting the water.   Like with other Predator Models, there are mounting plates placed strategically around the edges, as well as two new ones up front (ideally for a fish finder and/or camera).    To keep things fully customizable, I opted to install a 12 inch YakAttack Top Loading Gear Trac on both of the front mounting plates; 12 inches fit perfectly.    These tracks are long enough to support multiple accessories from any of the major brands.     Together with the built in flush mount rods holders, and the YakAttack Black Pac I had a place to put anything I could need for things like rod or camera holders.  

Setting up the peddle drive in the PDL is very easy.   Just slide the metal cross bar through the obvious holder, and then either position the unit in the top resting position, or lay it down in the lower driving position.   With the built in handles, moving the PDL unit from the drive position back to the top is very easy.

After spending 2 days on the water in the PDL I came to discover a few things about it.    First, the seat is tremendously comfortable, and is raised even higher than in any of the other Predator models.   Being a big guy, I am typically concerned about having a high center of gravity, but that really didn't come into play at all over the weekend.    I'll get it out in some rougher waters in the Spring and see how she holds up there, but I don't think there will be any concerns.  

The season also offers a fantastic new slot for storage right in the front just under where you sit.  Here I stored gloves, a hat and other such clothing that I wanted to keep close, but I didn't want to get wet.  A wide plano box with gear could also fit in here easily.  Under the seat I was able to store more gear, not to mention the side pockets where it perfectly holds a few tubs of bait on one side, pliers, lip grip and flashlight on the other.  Even more dry storage which I didn't use was available in the center console floor!

So, at this point I am on the water, very comfortable with all my gear stored and organized in an extremely convenient way, with storage space to spare.  Time to get moving.   Taking the paddle of the newly designed and highly improved paddle holder I pushed myself off from shore and out into open water.   Once clear of the weeds, I put the peddle drive down into the operating position, locked it into place and started peddling

This is where I need to stop and figure things out.    First thing to note, is that it is November here in Eastern Canada.   The temperature was around 5 degrees (about 40 F), and I was wrapped up to stay warm.   With insulated compression underwear, plus 2 other layers down below, just walking up stairs was a challenge, so peddling this new kayak for the first time was bound to be a little difficult, especially as I am not exactly in great shape!  

At first I tried peddling it as if I were riding a bike and going for speed, but couldn't maintain that speed for long.   After a few adjustments I found that I needed to angle my seatback to be leaning back a little and to move my chair back enough so that my legs were very nearly fully extended at the end of the stride.   Having done that, I was able to ride at a relaxed pace of roughly one revolution per 1 1/4 seconds and maintain it for as long as I wanted.

On Saturday my friend Matt came out in his Predator XL Minn Kota.   We decided to move up river, against the current a ways to try a different spot.     We both pulled up anchor and set off at the same time to our destination about 500 meters away.   I got there first, and by a wide stretch, which surprised me as I wasn't racing, but peddling at a reasonable pace which I could maintain in the many layers of pants I had on.   Matt had said upon arriving that he was going full speed and couldn't keep up!   Wow... that I had not expected!    

Over the course of the weekend pretty much everyone who was on the river commented about how fast the PDL was.   This boat is going to open so many doors for me for trolling or covering a lot of ground in a day!   When the summer comes again, and I can get out in just a pair of relaxed pants or shorts, it will really be a breeze to move around in this boat!

Aside from peddling, I cannot wait to take this boat out in the weeds to fish pickerel.   I got the flat floor console that comes optionally with the PDL just for places like Kingston Creek or the Nerepis where it is very weedy; having a propeller in those areas just wouldn't work.   When paddling, I plan to move the seat forward to use the front of the cockpit as foot rests, and then when ready to fish, I'll move the seat back and give myself a massive amount of space to stand and fish.    Pickerel fishing may never be the same!

If you are in the Greater Saint John area and may be interested in getting one of these kayaks, let me know and I'll be able to show you mine, and perhaps even take you out for a demo.   To purchase one, see the guys at Outdoors NB or Eco-Logical Adventures and tell them I sent you!  


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