Delta 15.5 Kayak Skeg or Rudder?

I am looking to purchase a new Delta 15.5 GT kayak and they are available with a skeg or rudder. The majority of my kayaking is on medium to small rivers, Class 1-2, and small lakes. I would like to paddle the boundary waters and maybe tour the apostle islands.
Any advice would be very helpful in my decision.
Thank you,

A skeg takes up space in the rear hatch area. So a rudder will leave you more room to pack stuff, if that’s one of your goals.

In the BWCA, canoes are (supposedly) much more convenient than kayaks because of the frequent portages.

The skeg vs rudder question is always a trade off.

Rudder increases the stern sail area when not deployed or slows me about 1/4 mph when deployed. I opt for a skeg except on fishing kayaks. Plan your packing ahead and the skeg box in the rear compartment should not be an issue.

Why a skeg only on a fishing kayak? When drift fishing the rudder gives drifting steerage control without using a paddle - otherwise it is raised except in some following sea transits.

Can you try each version before purchase under the same water and wind conditions? Then you will have better idea which works best for YOU.

Some rudders require sliding foot braces to shift rudder. Skegs have slider control and solid foot braces. Rudders have to be fully deployed to work and add max drag. Skegs can be extended/retracted partially to suit the conditions. Each introduce moving parts to an otherwise simple and dependable construction.

Sea-lect pedals and a rudder have stationary foot pedals. Control steering with your toes.


Unfortunately it wouldn’t be real convenient as the nearest locations that has the model I would like is a 16 hour round trip.

Get both

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Self rescue…a Cowboy re-entry can be complicated by a rudder in the up position. :worried: :grinning:


George Gronseth of Kayak Academy in Issaquah has strong opinions about rudders and skegs. See his “Intermediate’s Guide to Buying a Kayak.” He’s too polite to say so directly, but his clear answer is: skegs are better.

Also, the most important factor to consider is that rudders look dorky.



I’ve had a skeg on every kayak owned (except one) because the kayak looks so much better, not the best reason. The one without a skeg didn’t have a rudder either, a Mariner Express from the Broze Brothers.

Just try saying it out loud: Rudder. Rudder. Rudder.

See? You sound like an idiot!


Thank you all for the feedback. It has been helpful. Still not sure but a lot of great advice to study on. Thank you

That’s actually one of the things I really like about the rudder setup on my Epic 18x. They changed it to an over stern last year, but I found a new 2019 model last fall with the drop down rudder.

I have a Delta 17 with a rudder for sale almost brand new if you’re interested