Does a Big Tuna kayak need a rudder???

Hi everyone,

I’ve decided to purchase Jackson Big Tuna for me and my son to spend some time fishing in. I will likely also use it for some general solo paddling as well. Most of it will be on some lakes and rivers. Rivers will likely be class 1-2 at worst. I’m trying to decide whether I really need a rudder or not on the boat? A local dealer has one with out a rudder and if I chose to order through them it will be probably a few months until they place another Jackson order. I can order a yak attack version(which is what I would prefer with the added track system) but then I have to deal with the hassle of shipping and it costing a few hundred $$ more. If I don’t need a rudder I’m tempted just to buy the local one. I know it can be added later but it looks like it’s not too easy of a job. Any info would be appreciated.

I recommend having a rudder. It will allow you to steer the kayak without picking up a paddle when drifting. I would never consider a kayak for your expressed use without one.

I Have No Personal Experience
with this kayak but there is a person on the Florida Sportsman forum who owns one. Not that he is complaining directly, he does mention that it is a beast to paddle and even mentioned cutting some trips short due the the effort required.

Just FYI for whatever this info might be worth.

If the boat is just drifting, how does
the rudder steer it? It must have some speed relative to the water under it for the rudder to work.

Maybe I’m missing something.

102 lbs!!! I think my Tarpon is a beast

– Last Updated: Feb-08-14 11:27 PM EST –

at 80+. You need to try to paddle that thing.Maybe look at one of these.

I know it’s heavy but…
yeah I know it’s heavy but it has the features I’m looking for. Particularly that it can be set up to use solo and also that the seats can be easily removed to use as camp chairs. I think I’m just going to go ahead and order it tomorrow and have it shipped in. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Two possible meanings: 1 right, 1 wrong

– Last Updated: Feb-09-14 12:09 PM EST –

First possibility:
It could be that he was referring to controlling the boat during periods of drifting "through the water", as happens if you stop paddling for a little while but the boat keeps moving (this could be in still or moving water). In that case, the rudder would function because water is still streaming past the hull for a while, and for someone interested in fishing, that would be useful (it's good to keep the boat aimed in a direction that is compatible with the cast you just made until the lure is retrieved, for example). I find that when drifting slowly in THIS situation, I can lean the boat to initiate some steering, but once the boat has deviated a few degrees from its original course, no amount of lean will make it turn back toward the desired heading (thus, any turning action initiated by a lean when drifting slowly ends up being wasted effort). A rudder would do the trick though.

Second possibility:
The other possibility is the one you were addressing, and of course your assessment is correct. When drifting with the current, neither a rudder nor static paddle dragging has any effect at all (except that it controls the boat's interaction between wind and water, since the wind is an external, independent force). It's very common for people to not understand this though, and that includes some good paddlers here (I can name a few off the top of my head who think that the boat "feels" the affect of current when it is stationary in the water that supports it, and that it will always turn to a particular orientation while idly drifting, and this leads to a lot of misunderstanding of ferries too). I think part of the misconception comes from the idea in the previous paragraph, because yes, you can impart a ruddering action for a fairly extended time after you quit paddling, and when going downstream, some people lose sight of the fact that they are actually moving faster than the current for a while due to their residual momentum. And when it comes to beginning canoers, it's for this same reason that most of them believe ruddering action with the paddle is all you need maintain control down the river, and that it will work indefinitely (in my college days, almost everyone I paddled with believed this, but I never convinced anyone to actually cease all forward paddling to demonstrate whether or not ruddering would continue to work for an extended time).

As to those who don't understand this at all, it's even true of a successful civil engineer I know. He and I once discussed this on the river and he was adamant that the skeg on his kayak would keep him aimed directly downstream even if he never used his paddle at all. His reasoning would only be correct if some unseen force were moving him downriver but there were actually no current. While drifting under the control of the skeg, he "proved" that he was going the same speed as the current by saying that his GPS indicated a particular speed, and that earlier he had determined that the speed of the current was the same (as if current never varies by a tenth of an MPH or so), but I was looking at how his boat moved forward relative to floating bits of debris on the surface and clearly his boat was going between 1/2 and 1 mph forward, relative to the water that supported it. Many people find the concept of relative motion to be incomprehensible (they can still be good paddlers, but their perceived reasons for some of the things their boat does are wrong, which of course doesn't matter in the long run). I wouldn't have expected this from someone who supposedly understood what he learned in physics, but it's a good illustration of how some very smart people can misinterpret what they see if they don't care to think in detail about it.

Articles Section
On this site Jerry White mentions the usefulness of a rudder when drift fishing.

Unless you are anchored your kayak is always subject to movement by wind wave and current. With a rudder you can set yourself up to drift to and over your target area. Using a rudder rather than a paddle is much quieter and less disturbing to fish and wildlife.

In addition to doing a lot of fishing I bird watch and photograph wildlife

. You can get much closer to wildlife by observing something a distance away and then setting yourself up to drift to a close distance.

A great example I had this past summer was a mink working a shoreline .I set up so I was able to quietly drift past. Once a safe distance by I could paddle back above and go by time and again.Not picking up the paddle definitely made a difference.

The same goes for fishing.With a rudder you can drift quietly to or over target areas. Much less paddle work will be required.It works whether fishing small bodies of freshwater or strippers and blues in salt. I’ve snuck up on lots of fish.