Opinions on Skeg vs Rudder

I will be purchasing a new/used kayak within the next few months. Thought I knew what I wanted…but with all the different options and combos that are out there now I am not as sure. Skeg or Rudder? Any opinions to help me decide would be greatly appreciated.

I can paddle all day long without mine, but when I get into a “washing machine” or 20 MPH quartering winds I sure do like it.

Also if you are going to race, it is a absolute must.

(no wasted correction strokes)

Others will differ, but that is my view and suggestion.



My suggestion
Search the archives. There is more stuff there than on probably any other issue.

personal preference and style
Then only times I have used a skeg or a rudder is when I am paddling a kayak that is a pain in the butt to use without one (or the other).

In my opinion, using a skeg or a rudder makes a kayak handle in a way that I do not prefer. I am sure if I used either one a lot then going without one would make the kayak handle in an non-preferred way.

I would think about where, how, and in what conditions you will use your kayak the majority of time. Then select a kayak that will handle your requirements very well without a rudder or skeg. If you select a kayak that you like without either and it has the option of having either then we haven’t made much progress. Usually though kayaks will have either rudder/no-rudder option, or a skeg/no skeg option, but not both.

My personal opinion
is that this thread will reach 75 responses.


you can find this topic
thoroughly discussed in at least 15 different archived threads and since I really hate chewing my tobacco twice, I’m not responding here

Only 75?
HAH! :smiley:


What he said…


i agree with jack 100% as long as the rudder is NOT the cheap sliding foot brace kind. If it’s the gas peddle type or Sealline toe kind those are good. The problem with skegs is they can jam frequently in the undeployed location., you have to take your hands OFF the paddle to adjust them, fine in calm water but when the crap hits the fan or you are in variable chop and constantly need to adjust then a Skeg is a pita. They are also more likely to leak. Just scan the archives on p-net about skeg problems… I have Two of the same boats one with a skeg one with a rudder, I like the rudder boat better. Also the skeg box takes up some under deck storage space. Personally i have never had a rudder problem,(Except for when the UPS truck hit my boat) however i have experienced Skeg leaks and jams first hand. Of course somebody will surly pipe up about a friend of a friend who had a rudder get jammed in the off center position so all the boat could do is paddle in circles… However if that happens at least you can turn around and give it a few whacks with your paddle, if your skeg gets jammed up, you are out of luck unless the water is warm. meaning you will have to go swimming to fix it.

Oh boy
Paddle both, get the one you like paddling.

Everyone has their opinion on this one (myself included) but you need to get the one you like. :slight_smile:

True paddlers…

– Last Updated: Sep-17-08 11:24 AM EST –

only use skegs. Everybody knows that! At least that is what I'm told by the skeg boys I paddle with? My skeg buddies, in the club I belong, say that because of the following: I am slow witted, lack in any real kayak skills, am fat and lazy and an embarrassment to kayaking in general, I am qualified to use a rudder boat. Sounds good to me!
On the other hand, when we have a Northeaster blowing, we do long downwind paddles (great fun). Though clearly, slow witted, after I get out of the water, after I wax my boat, after I eat lunch, after I smoke a cigar (takes an hour) and after I take a short nap, the skeg boys start showing up. Big Ben Lawry says that a good skeg boy...or girl for that matter can link rides with a skeg boat as good as any rudder boy could ever do. I guess I just don't know a good skeg boy...or girl.
Here's a thought! A rudder is a skeg that turns! I think they call that evolution. Kind of like the monkey and the man? Come to think of it, I also haven't turned off my power steering in my truck or quite using my a/c in the house in lieu of attic fans...BUT I'm sure that skegs are better than rudders and after I wait an hour or so for my skeg buddies to show up, we usually discuss the pros and cons of both.
Food for thought! Go figure?

My opinion…
I have a skeg and like it…

I have never used a rudder, nor do I particularly want to… Who knows, maybe I would like it if I tried it (That’s what Mom told me about Brussel Sprouts, anyway)…

You would have to demo each on the same boat to appreciate the difference…

Whatever is on the boat you like
I see female and lakes/calm rivers in your profile, no racing. The first means that you may have to work a little harder than an average sized guy to find a boat that isn’t a barge on you, the second means that you aren’t likely talking long crossings where to rudder or not is not likely to be a critical part of your safety margin. Frankly, if you are a smaller sized woman sticking to a rudder may severely limit your choice of boats that are well sized for you.

How big are you, and have you spent time test paddling a variety of boats?

Should consider other factors
I’ve owned both and greatly prefer the skeg. So much that I doubt I will ever buy another ruddered kayak.

That said, you should demo both and see what YOU like. Skeg or rudder is only one of many variables that make a kayak suit you, and it probably won’t be the one that’s a dealbreaker.

or you use the all-in-one skeg/rudder;


PS I vote for a skeg

those were the days

Hull first, cockpit second, etc…
Starting by thinking skeg or rudder is missing the priority of how the hull performs and the cockpit feels.

you may not need either. It’s a little like asking whether you should get Michelins or Goodyear tires.

As long as you don’t get Firestones…