Rudder Installation

I’m pretty close to buying my first kayak (have been paddling for 3 years with a local club) and am leaning towards a WS Tsunami 135 / 140. My question is about rudders.

Are they easy (or even possible) to install at a later date? The prices with a rudder are putting the boats just out of my range. I’ve paddled without a rudder mostly, so it’s not a huge deal, but will it be possible down the road to install a rudder?


Rudder Installation
Yes, you can retro-fit rudders on kayaks, especially those that have an option for a “factory” instalation. Anybody who can read, follow directions and use a few simple tools can do it.

However, if you think you want a rudder it’d probably be cheaper if you purchased your 'yak with one installed. The cost of all the necessary hardware and parts for purchasing a rudder kit later will generally be more than the additional cost of getting a rudder on a new 'yak.

…and IMO if you learn to paddle most kayaks without a rudder, and control it by other means, you may find you don’t even want a rudder!

Not clear that you will ever want a
rudder on a relatively short boat. I agree with seakak, it’s likely you will want to do without a rudder once you get used to controlling the boat with the paddle and body leans. I took the rudder and all associated stuff off my 14.5 foot Necky touring kayak.

the Tsunami rudder kit
is about $200-225, so if the price difference is less than that and you really want a rudder, just buy one with it.

mine has a rudder but, I would agree that you don’t really need it.

A different thought
All the advice here is really good advice. But. I have a rudder on my Dagger Specter 15.5. I never use it unless I get into a situation where will help me in big water. My point is this, I look at it as a piece of safety gear. If I need it I have it. As a result I believe that you should have the rudder but resist the temptation to use it unless you REALLY need it.

Rudder in Tsunami
The factory rudder in a Tsunami uses sliding pedals on rails. IMO this is not a good setup as you do not have a stable platform for your feet if you are using the rudder. If you only go out on easy paddles, then that may not be much of an issue, but then you do not need a rudder there eiter… I would consider an aftermarket upgrade such as SmartTrack rudder system that costs about as much - just over $200 from CLC for the complete kit - it is much nicer than the factory one on several levels: sturdier foot rails (metal), solid pedals with toe controls, foil-shaped blade on the rudder to name a few.

I paddled a 145 Tsunami for a few months as my first “real” kayak and I only missed having a rudder in rear quartering winds and waves - the thing would weather cock and needed corrective strokes and leaning to keep straight.

“Purists” will tell you you do not need a rudder, but it is sure nice and sometimes essential to have on long multi-hour paddle days. For short sessions it is not really needed in pretty much any condition but you will use more energy without it. Having a rudder does not preclude you from learning without it but you can still use it when needed or convenient!