Rudder pedals and foot pegs

Help me understand foot pegs and pedals as they pertain to rudder systems, please. I’m cognizant of what rudders and skegs are designed for. The only ruddered boats I’ve paddled have been rental tandems, where the foot pegs are also the rudder controls. When I apply force to a peg as part of my forward stroke, the foot pedal moves and so does the rudder.

I’m boat shopping and one of the potential candidates is a ruddered boat with Smart Track pedals. I’ve read some of the existing threads: seems people love ‘em or hate ‘em. Tell me more how they work in practice:

Can you get good foot purchase on the peg without moving the rudder? I have size 11 shoes.

Can you operate the rudder if you’re wearing paddling shoes? Looks like you need some foot/toe dexterity to reach the upper part that controls the rudder.

Tell me about the cabling system. Does it rub against your legs inside the boat?


I prefer skeg boats; nevertheless I have an (extra) Tahe Seaspirit kayak with an older Smarttrack rudder system. This gives good foot purchase without moving the rudder. Once adjusted to your leg length, the footpegs remain fixed. The top of the footpeg is hinged and works like an accelerator pedal to move the rudder. This works as desired with any of the usual footwear choices.

The rudder is spring loaded and stays fully down when deployed, not drifting upward like many sliding footpeg designs. But if the rudder hits an underwater obstacle it can ride up and then returns to fully down when the obstacle is gone.

When the rudder is not deployed, it stands vertically up. Some people don’t like this so it may have been modified in later Smarttrack systems?

Just like a gas pedal.

Works with paddling shoes or boots fine. Cables not on your legs.

Old style Yakima pedals were called sliders. They suck because they just seesaw. Obsolete pretty much now.

You can install Sea-lect pedals in most any kayak. I’ve swapped them in 8 hulls already.

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Smart track still sticks up.

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The most expensive boat I ever bought was $400.00. I used for two hours and never wanted to sit in that boat again. Cheaper boats have cost me $2,100. Take the price and divide by the number of hours they are used and you will find them to be a great value. SmartTrack rudders are not cheap and are a must have in any kayak I buy. You can brace with out impacting the course you are on. Even when the rudder is up you still get the benefit of the foot brace. Rudder vs keg… I choose rudder because it has less drag and does not take up as much hull space better used to hold gear.

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The SmartTrack and Sea-Lect rudder controls both work the same way. A fixed adjustable foot peg that acts like a gas pedal to control the rudder. The difference I have found between the two is the way the cable is routed at the pedal. The SmartTrack seems to stress the cable, causing it to fray and break much sooner than the Sea-Lect pedals.

The rudder in both is deployed by a line and cleat on the rear deck. The control cables are routed up high and right along the sides of the cockpit. You generally won’t even know they are there. On some boats they are partially sheathed in plastic tubing.

The sliding foot peg design is pretty much obsolete. It can be replaced fairly easily with the newer style foot pegs. The only time the sliding style foot pegs are fixed is when the rudder is not deployed and parked in a bracket on the rear deck.

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Excellent answers. Thank you.

I don’t have enough experience with boats (only had one and it had a skeg) to get into the Ford v Chevy, Skeg v Rudder debate. So I thought I should educate myself while in the process of hunting for a boat; want to know how the system works inside the cockpit.

Deployed the rudder up or down on Current Designs hulls.