After-market rudders

I’ve been looking into different rudders to install on stitch and glue boats. Sea Line has a great reputation. I’ve seen other sets from Kajak Sports, Pygmy offers Sea Line and Seaward, One Ocean Kayak has a kit to make your own. Who makes the best?

Another question: Is there a common “quality improvement need” in all rudder systems? Is there something most are lacking?

I’m considering fabricating my own just for the experience. But I think I may be re-inventing the wheel in this venture.




If I were doing this
I think it would be cool to make an under-hull racing-type rudder. Might not be too practical, depending on where you are paddling, but cool nonetheless. Seems like it would be relatively easy to fabricate from scratch since you don’t have the retractability issue to worry about.


Based on what I’ve seen of your
designs, I would encourage you to try and fabricate your own with the goal not only to make a functional retractable rudder, but also to make the rudder less obtrusive. That is, design the rudder so it fits in with the overall look and style of the boat and avoid the commercial “hang the hardware off the stern” look!

I have no idea if this can be done cost effectively, but If you can’t you can always revert to buying and hanging somebody else’s rudder!

Not aftermarket, but this design looks interesting:

Another choice
Besides SealLine and the other you mentioned … Wildwasser has a unique wing design. Bob

Boy do those Mirages look nice!!!

Made my under boat rudder.
It was slick, worked well, and had me thinking of lighter and less drag. Went to 1/4" stainless steel tubing, fixed a faired rudder to it. Even had some aluminum high strength tent pole tubing ready to use as a super light rudder. But, ran over a chunk of 2x4 and bent my rudder, fixed it, whacked it on something else, made new rod. Raced it and bumped it against a rock jumping in after portaging. Raced it, dragged a bundle of weeds with me, jumped out 4 times to clear the rudder, and continued thinking maybe the rudder is fouled again…

Went to an over stern rudder, still working out a few bugs, but getting close to near perfection. I looked at the sites referenced, and the long thin high aspect kick-up sealline rudder is the way to go. Sailplanes use long slender narrow wings for low drag, good lift. I believe anything fully underwater needs an air foil shape, somewhat fish shaped. At the transition between above and below water, a long thin leading edge works well, as in the racing canoes and kayaks. The long slender rudder does a good compromise in this. It does not just add drag on one side to force the boat over, it “flies” the boat over- produces lift on one side of rudder, pulling the stern over.

Hmmm, while daydreaming about that T-bolt in my future I figured I’d be able to deal with the rocks and the logs, but, weeds? Hadn’t thought of that, thanks for the sanity check.


foil advantage?

The air-foiled shaped rudder intuitively makes sence. But compared to the surface area the entire boat, that small surface area of the rudder seems insignificant.

Does that small shaped foil create enough lift/drag effect to make it worth it?

Is it something done with the mindset of “every little bit of advantage counts”? Or perhaps is it more marketing than performance?

Thoughts? Counterpoints? Great discussion so far.

in Boulder, CO.

Landis imports Prijon and has designed a foil rudder that is cool.


Advantages of a foil type rudder…
My experiences are totally subjective from paddling two different kayaks, one with a stamped piece of metal for a rudder(Perception, pull on cord rotates rudder through a 270 degree arc to deploy or retract) and a Sealine foil type that sticks straight into the air until released.

When comparing the two types, the foil wins hands down with only 10 to 15 percent (guesstimate!) as much drag as a standard metal rudder.

This has been noted not only by me but others who have done the same comparison.

One interesting side note is that as a rudder, the Sealine foil when deployed seems to have very little drag, but when used as a skeg, drag is much more noticable. I figure the empty skeg box has something to do with that, but wonder if anyone else out there has made a comparison. My experience with this was in a ruddered Q500XL and a skegged Q700XL, both made by QCC.

If I were building a kayak and installing a rudder, I would use the Sealine foil type and try to design it so that it would fit completely into a slot in the rear deck and rotate 270 degrees around a pin (that you could steer side to side) set into the aft end of the kayak. It would be deployed and retracted by pulling on a cord (like my Perception) but couldn’t be seen when not in use except when looking into the slot on the top of the back deck. Kind of like an upside down skeg but would have a larger angle of motion. The pin assembly would rotate as you steered, but the rudder would have to be centered to retract the rudder out of the water and into the slot. You would have to sacrifice some storage in the rear compartment, but not enough to matter. Small price to pay for having a rudder stored unseen and out of the way.

Kind of hard to visualize I know…


Another foil vote
I replaced my Feathercraft rudder on my QCC500 this year with a Sealine (on sale at Rutabaga!). I have to agree that the sensation of drag is much less with the foil, and the deflection needed for control in wind appears to be only about 50% of that needed for the old Feathercraft. Less “gurgling” as well.

Keep those 'gators healthy, Tripp! One of these days I will make it down to SC.


See for fitting of Feathercrafts during our recent build.

Only thing “wrong” with them is excessive slop of the blade between the cheeks which will cause premature failure of the mount point because of shock loading. This can be “tuned” out by tightening the blade pivot bolt or by shimming the cheeks.

The Roy Folland Pivit Pad footpads for steering are a dream - they can be retro fitted to most foot pads…

Weed guard.
real easy to make and install. Take a piece of acryclic, plexglass. wood cut match shape of rudder. make about 2’ long and width of rudder.put on with shoe goo. let dry and build up around edges. a couple of hours It works like a charm. Went paddling on really weed infested rivers no weeds were on try and post a picture some time Dan

Attached where?
Was this something you attached to the rudder? Or is it like a giant skeg glued to the hull in front of the rudder?


I can see it
looks good to me, and yes i do notice more drag on my 700 skeg Vs 700 rudder, even with my mount problems…

Small skeg
Just a small piece infront of the rudder shaped at an angle and tapered

I will try and take photo and put tit on next week


Weed Deflector
in a Mako Mill…




Do your own scientific experiment
and you’ll see…



Ok, I guess the
theory there is that weeds only get hung up around the rudder shaft and not the leading edge of the rudder itself. Requires the leading edge to angle back a bit, which is somewhat counter to the idea that a narrow vertical blade is optimal.

Compromises, compromises…


I think I got it now, thanks,
you might have thrown me off with your 2’ dimension, perhaps you really meant 2" (inches).