Old Town Topwater PDL Angler Reviewed

Old Town’s newest pedal drive, the Topwater PDL comes in at $2K and is loaded with the essentials

Over 120 years ago, the first Old Town Canoe was built, marking the beginning of one of the industry’s most well-known canoe crafters. The Maine manufacturer is staying as relevant as ever to this day, evolving its recreational craft designs for all users, in this case, answering the ever-increasing demands of kayak anglers looking for features and performance packed into nimble kayaking platforms.

Getting bent on the Old Town Topwater PDL

As Old Town’s newest pedal-drive angling offering, the Topwater PDL sacrifices little to nothing. Coming in at 10-foot-6 in length and 36 inches wide, it can be transported atop a roof rack, but also has the ability to be slid into the bed of a truck with little overhang. At nearly 3 feet shorter than Old Town’s signature Predator Series kayaks, this boat checks off a whole new category of vessel without losing many, if any, features.

One might suspect that with the shorter length and wide body, it would be slow and hard to maneuver. That’s not the case – the PDL drive has the get-up needed to move and the simplicity of forward and reverse with a change in rotation of your feet. Not to mention, the long rudder provides added maneuverability — with controls seat-side.

Forward and reverse made easy with the PDL Drive

The Topwater PDL’s fishing features make it comparable to similarly priced pedal drives in the market. There are four well-placed carry points: on the bow, stern, and in the center, making the 95-pound boat easier to move. Accessory rails on the left and right sides make mounting extras like your fish-finder painless (not to mention the recessed universal transducer mount that can connect directly to it). Tackle storage is ample with two flush-mount rodholders, large side pockets in the forward well, plus a massive stern well with enough room for a crate and small cooler.

A small boat with big features

Mentioned by Old Town in its product overview, the Topwater PDL was meant for any water conditions. In our extensive testing, this statement rang true throughout – lakes, bays, and the ocean – it handled every condition like a champ. Credit that all-water stability to the DoubleU Hull catamaran-like design, handling like a dream, and the ability to sneak up on the wariest of fish. That said, standing to fish feels like you’re in one of those fuel-burning bass boats even in a light chop. That ocean-chop stability and (small) surf-launching performance came as a surprise for a boat (without significant bow rocker) that wouldn’t otherwise be considered as an ocean cruiser-crawler first, as the boat packs its largest punch — compared to other 10-footers — in the more protected flats and backwaters.

The Topwater PDL takes a light chop with ease

In all, it’s evident that Old Town was looking to build a pedal-drive fishing kayak for every angler and succeeded. Wrapped in a small package, they utilized every inch of space and did it thoughtfully. And a little icing on the cake: The hull and deck is backed by a lifetime warranty and the drive, by a five-year limited warranty. A quick search for customer reviews will shed light on the satisfaction it’s provided; we’re on board with five out of five stars for this one!


The article was originally published on Kayak Fish

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