Old Town Topwater PDL: The Ultimate Fishing Kayak

Imagine yourself gliding through the water, effortlessly maneuvering your way to the best fishing spot. With the Old Town Topwater PDL kayak, that dream becomes a reality. In this review, we explore the features of this impressive fishing machine, from its innovative design to its exceptional performance. This kayak should definitely be at the top of your list when considering a new fishing kayak.

A Versatile Fishing Machine

The Old Town Topwater PDL kayak caught my attention last summer when it was introduced at the ICAST event in Orlando, FL. Its sleek and compact design, combined with its built-in features and pedal-drive system, immediately impressed me. After countless fishing trips on various bodies of water during the winter, I can confidently say that this little boat is a true game-changer.

Measuring just 10.5 feet in length, the Topwater PDL feels much larger thanks to its 36-inch beam. Despite its size, it can reach speeds of over five miles per hour with ease. Even with a larger individual in the cockpit, this kayak performs exceptionally well. Let’s dive deeper into the impressive features of this pedal-powered fishing kayak.

old town topwater pdl fishing kayak
The Old Town Topwater PDL kayak is a serious fishing machine.

Pedal Power at Its Best

One of the standout features of the Topwater PDL is its PDL Drive system. This pedal drive allows you to move the kayak both forward and reverse using a circular pedal motion. What sets this drive apart is the built-in dry storage box and the convenient spring-loaded assist that lifts the drive up and out of your way when needed. While in the upright position, the drive leaves a large opening in the cockpit, providing ample space for your fishing gear. Although it does not come with a standard deck plate for the drive cavity, aftermarket options are available.

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To ensure long-term durability, it’s recommended to coat the sheer pin with a waterproof, anti-corrosive lubricant before use. With zero maintenance required and a 5-year warranty, the PDL Drive is built to last, offering reliable performance on every fishing trip.

Designed for Performance

The Topwater PDL features a patented DoubleU hull that provides quick acceleration and remarkable stability. To protect the kayak from wear and tear, sacrificial skid plates are strategically placed on the keel and in front of the pedal drive. Additionally, the hull design allows for easy mounting of a transducer right in front of the drive, providing optimal placement and protection.

Smooth Maneuverability

Equipped with a retractable blade-style rudder, the Topwater PDL offers exceptional control and maneuverability. The rudder can be conveniently deployed using a handle on the starboard side once you hit the water. The thru-hull cable system and control knob on the port side ensure responsive steering, allowing you to make sharp turns even in tight spaces. The rudder can be locked in place to assist with tracking while trolling, a feature that sets this kayak apart from the rest.

Comfortable and Convenient

The Topwater PDL’s lawn-chair style seat is a true game-changer when it comes to comfort. With its aluminum tube frame and breathable mesh fabric, the seat offers both support and breathability. It can be easily adjusted by moving it forward and back on a track and secured using nylon straps. The backrest can be reclined to your desired level of comfort, ensuring an enjoyable fishing experience. To address any pressure points, consider adding a rack pad to the seat back for a personalized touch.

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Ample Storage Space

The Topwater PDL kayak offers plenty of storage options for all your fishing gear. The easily accessible bow hatch provides a spacious compartment for all your essentials. The cockpit features cubbies on each side for tackle boxes or tools, along with the built-in storage box in the PDL Drive. There is also generous room under the seat and a notched-out section for horizontal rod stowage. A rectangular locking hatch is located behind the seat, providing secure storage for additional accessories. The large rear deck compartment can accommodate a crate and other essentials, ensuring you have everything you need for a successful fishing trip.

old town topwater pdl with accessories
The gear tracks allow you to mount accessories such as rod holders and electronics.

Customization Options

The Topwater PDL comes with two recessed rod holders located conveniently behind the seat. However, if you require additional rod holders or mounts, the gear tracks in the cockpit area allow for easy customization. These tracks, made of durable plastic, offer endless possibilities for mounting various accessories. While some modifications may be necessary for certain mounting hardware, the overall versatility of the kayak makes it well worth the effort.

Unmatched Fishability

Thanks to its wide beam, the Topwater PDL offers incredible stability, allowing you to stand and cast with confidence. The built-in handle in the PDL Drive makes getting up a breeze, ensuring you never miss a chance to reel in the big one. Whether you’re on a tranquil freshwater pond or braving the waves on the Chesapeake Bay, this fishing kayak is designed to excel in any fishing scenario.

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If you’re in search of a high-quality fishing kayak that offers unparalleled performance, the Topwater PDL is the perfect choice. Visit UpStreamPaddle to find a local dealer and experience an in-water demo. With a capacity of 450 lbs, length of 10.5 feet, width of 36 inches, and a rigged weight of 95 lbs (74 lbs without the drive), this kayak is ready to take your fishing adventures to the next level.


  • Capacity: 450 lbs.
  • Length: 10.5′
  • Width: 36″
  • Weight (rigged): 95 lbs.
  • Weight (w/o drive): 74 lbs.
  • MSRP: $1999


  • Annapolis Canoe & Kayak – Annapolis, MD
  • Delmarva Paddlesports – Lewes, DE
  • Easton Cycle & Sport – Easton, MD

~ By Zach Ditmars