Rudder for 13' kayak?

How important is it to have a rudder on a 13’ kayak, such as the Necky Manitou 13, for paddling in choppy waters such as Lake Michigan? We had Necky Looksha IV’s for over ten years; these were 17’ and the rudders were absolutely necessary for us with these particular boats.

it depends on your skill and the kayak. I wish I could be more helpful than that…

Still useful but less so
I rarely use a rudder unless I am sailing or going in one direction for a long way. I normally turn with edging and paddle strokes so I rarely eed it but in some conditions it is really great to have.

Luckily you can always add one later.

Gotta ask
Are you moving from the Looksha 17’s to a shorter boat? Or are you adding something easier to haul around to the fleet?

The reason I am asking is that, if these are second boats, you may be able to use them in less challenging conditions and reserve the Looksha’s for the messier stuff.

That said, Looksha’s are particularly fond of weather cocking. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Manitou’s were less so.

Depends on the boat
If your Necky Manitou is anything like my 14.5’ Necky Looksha Sport, it will definitely benefit from a rudder.

Whether a boat ‘needs’ a rudder or skeg is determined less by its length than by its hull shape, and is usually considered by the designer.

In fact, many of the Necky boats handle best with a rudder or skeg, mostly due to their high rocker. Sure, you can buy them without these, if you’re trying to keep the cost down or for easy trips on Golden Pond. And, as others have said, you can certainly use corrective paddling techniques, but this can be exhausting and tiresome for longer distances on big water in heavy crosswinds.

Here’s more info on handling beam winds:

Good luck!


rudders on 13’ boats
Thanks for the responses. The article on weathercocking was quite good.

Coming from years of managing ww
kayaks, I don’t see or feel any need for a rudder on my Looksha Sport. I removed the entire rudder and control pedal assembly.

But then, I don’t regard the Looksha Sport as an open water cruiser. It’s for situations and environments where maneuvering is going on almost all the time. And I mean maneuvering, not ruddering.

hoff, thanks for your comment on my weathercocking article!

As gdg points out, the Looksha Sport is indeed best suited to environments that require maneuvering: poking up narrow creeks and wetlands, twisty river trips, etc…

But for several years, I used mine for weeklong camping trips on the Great Lakes, making 5-mile open-water crossings to islands, often in rough conditions, which is similar to what hoff asked about. Though a bit of a barge for long distances (the shorter, wider Manitou will be even worse), the Looksha handled all this with great form. But I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to do it without the rudder!

I’ve since moved on to a longer, narrower, faster boat intended for tripping, but I’ve kept the Necky for the stuff requiring more maneuvering, and she’s still my favorite playboat for the light-duty surfing we find here in the Upper Midwest

Good luck!