After a much anticipated wait I’ve finally received my Jackson Kayak Coosa FD. For me this was the kayak that would put me in the running with my fellow pedal kayakers and afford me the ability to reach much farther destinations on my favorite water ways. Be it that I was new to the pedal kayak hysteria I had some unforeseen expenditures of energy that I would have to learn to manage and minimize in some instances.
The kayak itself was incredibly stable. With a 35″ width it was very noticeable how stable this platform was. My initial acknowledgement of this was when I had to board my kayak from a dock. Now being a bigger guy around 245 lbs I have a bit of girth that can cause any kayak to wobble quite a bit depending on your location of entry. I would normally have to aim for the middle of the kayak closest to the seat and then crouch a little so the frame of the seat was in hands reach should I need the added stability or to just stay in the yak rather than fall in the drink. Then I entered the Coosa FD and I was just blown away. When I put my foot down I noticed there was very little movement or lean. The secondary stability on this kayak is incredible as well. I couldn’t believe my feet. I was already sold on the Coosa FD with just this enhancement alone. Paddling the kayak was pretty much like paddling the Coosa HD for the most part. It was easy to steer and I noticed that you’d want to keep the rudder as straight as possible for best tracking (for best tracking results remove rudder if only planning to paddle). This can easily be done by rotating the control grips of the rudder lines into the slots on top of the kayak. This would lock the rudder in place. The Coosa FD handled quite well in all around from flat water to 20+ mph winds. It’s a little bit to coordinate having the pedals aboard and now having a paddle to manage but thankfully there are some companies solving that issue for me. I have chosen to utilize the tracks with the TKFS Lunchbox Paddle Park that I will be adding the YakAttack RotoGrip paddle holder to help manage stowing the paddle when not in use. My issue was with my BooneDox Landing Gear legs causing a clearance issues when retracted out of the water. You can use the bungee cables on the sides of the kayak which worked great until I attached my Landing Gear to the back track along side the seat where normally your paddle / fishing rod would rest. This was the best option for me moving forward.
The Flex Drive is a great design and very low profile on the top drive which provides an out of the way feature whether it’s fully deployed or retracted into the hull. The pedals are at a comfortable angle and offer a nice pedaling position for long days on the water. The drive easily attaches and disconnects just by 2 T-Bolts in gear tracks that are located in the front of the drive. The drive also has 3 different pitches that you can easily change out to from the prop end with one allen screw. I would strongly suggest changing pitch plates over dry land and not over the water as these pieces are small and metal so they will sink before you can retrieve from the water. You can literally switch out a prop blade or change the pitch of the prop in about 5 minutes or less. The Flex Drive is very unique and offers some speed at a normal pedaling pace. I however over compensated early on during my first days of pedaling. I was often pedaling much harder than I needed to. I found myself huffing like I had just ran a mile. I would quickly learn that you need not over pedal the drive because the whole idea behind the prop blade plates was to be able to adjust the prop for your desired kind of bite or speed if you will. The easy or low setting is a dream and you can achieve 2.2-2.5 mph without breaking a sweat on calm water. The medium setting is a bit more challenging and will have more resistance depending on the water. On a calm day you can reach 2.5-3.2 in most cases and sometimes even reaching 3.5 if you’ve got the legs for it. The hardest setting is the aggressive or high setting which can be challenging but can yield 3.5+ mph. You will build up endurance overtime so what may seem hard today will not seem all that hard in the future.
Turning in the Coosa FD is very easy. You will need some thrust from the drive provided by your legs and all you need to do is push up for left or pull down for right. This will take some getting used to since most of our brains are hardwired for paddling. You’ll probably end up reading the stickers by the rudder cable handle to ensure you make the correct turn. I can tell you even though this is an easy practice you’ll still find yourself going in the wrong direction from time to time. The turning radius is pretty tight from what I’ve seen. I usually fish strip mines and quarries that offer little turning area but the Coosa FD maneuvers through them without issue.
Flex Drive capabilities are second to none when it comes to pedal vs paddle. Trolling is now an option and you can keep a solid speed while coordinating with your fish finder and fishing rods. Another great thing is that when the wind is at your back and you’re facing the shore trying to cast to the shallows for that evasive monster, you’ll be able to control your position by pedaling backwards so too keep from running ashore over your spot. This is a huge benefit that I love and utilize all the time. With a paddle you’d have to stop casting and put the rod down (or not), grab your paddle quietly and coordinate paddling backwards. Thankfully those days are behind me. I want to point out that your paddle will still come in handy on many occasions as you fish your local waters. By no means are the pedals a replacement for your trusty paddle. I still use mine all the time because the Jackson Coosa FD is a hybrid kayak and can be utilized in any fishing environment.
The dagger board is really an amazing attribute to the overall design of the bottom portion of the Flex Drive. First and foremost it protects the prop from anything that is lying beneath the surface and that includes fallen timber, raised flats, rocks and anything else waiting to cause an issue. You can even run aground with the dagger board fully deployed and it will retract flush with the hull as you come in contact with the shore. The dagger board even acts as a keel (like on sailboats) and can add more stability when you’re in deep enough water. This is a very nice feature but I will warn that while in rivers you’ll need to pay attention. If you don’t, you’ll end up in the water and probably some of your favorite gear as well so keep that in mind.
The seat is very comfortable and adjustable for the perfect positioning. Water evaporates quickly from the seat so those early spring mornings when the dew is at its peak, won’t be an issue. You’ll be able to spend hours in this seat so those of you that are tournament fisherman or outdoor enthusiasts will be thoroughly impressed.
Over all this kayak has many features that will raise your game as a fisherman as well as promote complete confidence on any waters in any condition. The Jackson team created a perfect kayak that can go many places and dominate the water.