Using thigh straps in lieu of rudder

Hi, I’m wondering if thigh straps would work in place of a rudder in windy conditions, I know they are not the same. I have a Necky Vector 14 which I recently reviewed and noticed a good deal of weathercocking in windy conditions - I am almost sure that any long sit on top might react the same way, a rudder would surely solve most of the problem but I’m wondering if thigh straps and a little leaning and edging would compensate some before I would invest in a rudder. I hear this boat does those things well. I am converting this boat into a fishing kayak with rodholders, GoPro camera etc. Quite a nice looking boat and performance wise pretty good, but don’t like paddling on one side most of the time when it’s windy. Your thoughts appreciated if you have any experience with thigh straps. The wet seat on this boat is another matter that I’ll be tackling soon.


I am speaking for myself here.
As a long time sea kayaker, I would not have a boat with out a rudder.

I can and do paddle all day long with out using mine, but when there is a strong quartering wind I deploy it and don’t have to worry about working hard all day long doing leans and correction strokes.

jack L

Makes sense
especially because I may get down to the Chesapeake for some fishing, and constantly correcting and leaning won’t be fun. Thanks for the reply.

perhaps a skeg?
My first kayak, not a sit on top, but a somewhat wide folding model, was prone to weathercocking. After a frustrating first year with it, I added a small hard rubber skeg to it and that made a significant difference. There are aftermarket skegs you can screw and glue onto boats, though some folks just rig their own. The nice thing about the rubber one is that it isn’t harmed by rocks or ramps, just flexes out of the way. Mine is a removable one by Feathercraft, which attaches via 4 narrow adjustable straps to the perimeter deck rigging. I kept it when I sold that first kayak and have since swapped it to other boats.

In general you should be able to edge a kayak to handle directional control, at least some. It is not an optional skill for open water.

But - how much you want to rely on that or a rudder for primary directional purposes really comes down to your individual paddling needs and preferences. And if you are talking fishing, where you want to forget about the boat for times to focus on the fishing part, there is a pretty strong argument for a rudder.

Personally I don’t like dealing with a rudder. I had one on my first sea kayak and it was more bother than it was worth plus I hardly ever used it. But that is me. I don’t race, I mostly do day trips and even the overnights on an island are not back to back multiple days of long paddles. I don’t do kayak fishing. So the lesser fussiness of a skeg works far better for me than a rudder.

But from your described usage, the rudder may be an excellent choice.

That said, you should also get the fundamentals down of controlling a boat via edging. Rudders, and skegs, involved attached parts that can break. The last thing you want is to get caught with a busted rudder, or skeg, someplace offshore that that you cannot get back from without additional directional control. As long as you are working and the boat is in one piece, you can get something out of edging. It might take longer than with a rudder, but it will still be doable.

Return it if you can
Your review indicates you’ve had this boat only for about two weeks. It doesn’t sound like an optimal design for fishing.

When I realized the Necky Vector was a SOT, I was skeptical that it could be edged much at all, much less edged sufficiently to counteract the windcocking that affects almost all sea kayaks. However, Necky seems to have designed the Vector with an eye to touring SINK performance. They say:

“While the secondary stability is high the initial stability allows paddlers to lean turn or sit it up on edge with ease. In fact, the design premise of the Vector 14 was to make sure the hull performs very similar to our high end sea kayaks. This unique kayak will take sit-on-top kayaking to a whole new level.”

If I were interested in true touring performance and speed, I wouldn’t get a SOT at all. If I were interested in a fishing platform, I wouldn’t get a SOT designed with low initial stability. Again, you may have bought the wrong design for your needs.

Yes, a rudder will solve the windcocking problem, when you are MOVING, at the retail cost of $300 for the accessory. If I were just touring with it (not fishing), I would try the much less expensive thigh pads for a season to see whether I could learn to adequately control the boat that way. Thigh braces will allow you to edge with more confidence.

SOT Paddler Opinion

– Last Updated: May-03-15 1:56 PM EST –

I have not seen the Vector 14 up close but the hull design looks decent and it has a small built in skeg. IF you are using it for fishing I would first invest in thigh straps and learn how to edge the boat and use the thigh straps to keep it upright in surf and huge chop. They increase your boat control and confidence enormously. You can probably roll the boat with thigh straps. You can look on for instructions on how to install the pad eyes for the thigh straps with blind rivets. AFter you get a couple of months of practice I don't think you will want a rudder.

For more relevant advice I would try a fishing forum or the forum at; one tends to get a lot of opinions here from people who have never even sat in in an SOT, let alone fished offshore or paddled one in the ocean. If you need more stability while fishing hang your feet over the sides ( hope there are no sharks around if you have blood/fish all over the place.)

advanced technique !

supply a photo or video ?

Hang feet over the sides?
Not advisable in many parts of the world.

But the OP’s Pennsylvania is probably safe.

I have a Vector 14. It is a quick boat a

– Last Updated: May-03-15 7:50 PM EST –

easily turned for a SOT. Stability is rock solid in both phases and it has little problem in the wind. My 14 yo grandson paddled it 8 miles on a lake yesterday with no issues.
Spend time in the boat and forget the rudder unless you are planning on paddling in serious currents.
The wet butt is a function of your weight. Scupper plugs help, but one little wave and you stay wet. That is why my 125 lb grandson paddles it and not my 230 lb self. Get a Tarpon and you will stay dry.

Get both
I would not have a boat with out thigh braces or a lap belt so get something to help you control the edging and it will help.

Also get a rudder. My Tarpon was designed to be used with a rudder and so is your boat. On certain windy days you will swear it is the best idea ever and the rest of the time you will not deploy it.

Greenland style boats and others like the Dagger Alchemy are designed to be used without a rudder and they do not need them, but many boats have rudders including all racing kayaks and rudders make it better for those boat that want to go far and go fast and easy.

For playing in really rough stuff and surf rudders are nothing but trouble.

Thanks for the replies
I used to be on this site years ago under my own name, but had to start over again recently to get back on, the old username and password didn’t work. I have quite a few reviews of my kayaks that have come and gone over the past 14 years since I started, and it’s good to see a lot of the same people here still. I think I will probably get a rudder and will be thankful when I need it. As for now I’ve already installed rodholders and camera mounts. I kayak to get to the fish but enjoy paddling as well.

Feathercraft Skeg
This one was mentioned by Willowleaf, wonder if it would do an adequate job, not as an aid to turning like a rudder can do, but limiting weathercocking into the wind. Would it secure properly around a SOT? There are stainless steel things like pad eyes but longer and well secured, maybe these would help as they run on both sides of the tank well. At about 1/7th the cost of a new rudder maybe an alternative. Looking into thigh straps as well, but wanted to float this out there. If a rudder is the ultimate solution then so be it, but if a skeg limits weathercocking and could work then I’d try it. Main concern if it’s a decent idea is whether it will fit with the strap system it comes with.


Pick a priority…
If limiting weather cocking is your biggest priority, depending on the fit of the skeg to the boat it could help a lot. Or maybe the skeg you are looking at would not help much with this boat - depends on what your research shows.

If turning without having to edge is the biggest priority, you want a rudder. A rudder will help with the weather cocking, but can help with turning as well.

In all case control is better with the ability to edge in addition to using the skeg or a rudder. Get the thigh straps regardless.

Balance and windage and handling.
The gear you carry will affect the balance. A cooler in the stern may induce weathercocking as will rods with the opposite if rods are on the bow. Nothing worse than a boat that will not turn into the wind when you want it to.

Make life easier and get a rudder if you are going to gear it up.

he’s paddling a SOT

– Last Updated: May-05-15 9:23 AM EST –

and since he brought up edging, there's no reason to assume he doesn't have an understanding of those skills or other fundamentals. You must know that edging in a SOT is different than edging in a sea kayak.

Thigh Straps Might Not Be Needed to Edge
Proper edging is done by weighting the hip.

L and we know that

– Last Updated: May-08-15 9:57 AM EST –

The oper has a sit on top that has some challenges in directional control unless adds devices. I have not personally had any folks who paddle sots tell me that the behavior of a sot hull to edging is any different than the same shape hull were it sit inside, just that thigh straps make a difference when thigh braces are not an option. You may have heard differently.

Took the Vector out for the second time today, there was still a decent amount of wind, but no problems. I think my first paddle day was a real gusty snotty day that almost any long SOT would have done some weathercocking. As far as the wet seat, I put a foam minicell pad on top of the factory seat, helped a little bit but what really helped was plugging the front scuppers in addition to the ones under the seat - without the front scuppers there is standing water that moves back and forth and under the seat. I’m 220 so the wet seat is expected. For now I will just get some thigh straps. I found today that leaning and edging a bit made paddling easier when the wind picked up. The boat is starting to grow on me a bit and will probably be my “lake” boat. I’m seeing the Tribe 11.5 as the kayak I’ll take down to the Chesapeake, actually a river that runs into the Bay.

Thigh Straps

– Last Updated: May-11-15 11:25 AM EST –

Try those thigh straps, made a huge difference for me for control. On flat water I can edge without them but bouncing down the river they provided that locked in stability/control I was looking for.

Edit: I also tried plugging the holes instead of scupper plugs and didn't like the water pooling mentioned above. I am going to try trimming a piece of 1/2 inch anti-fatigue mat to under my heels instead for a bit of lift.