Testing Previous City’s Newest Pedal-Powered Kayak for Coastal Anglers

What It Is:

The Salty PDL 120 is a pedal-powered fishing kayak launched by Previous City within the spring 2020 as a part of its Sportsman line of fishing kayaks. The Sportsman sequence consists of 11 boats, every constructed to be powered both by electrical motor, pedal drive, or conventional paddling. The Salty PDL is one in every of 4 fashions within the sequence rigged as a pedal-powered kayak, and geared towards the thought of the coastal angler. In case your autumn hinges round chasing striped bass migrating from New England to the Mid-Atlantic, or spending the winter stalking redfish throughout shallow mudflats within the southern U.S., the Salty PDL 120 is what Previous City has in thoughts.

For the Salty, Previous City didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It took the confirmed and widespread design template of a sister model, the Malibu PDL from Ocean Kayak, and made some tweaks to set the boat up as a maritime do-it-all fishing rig.

“The Salty turned a part of the road as a result of we needed a craft that may be speedy, comparatively compact, and will deal with some waves,” says Sharon Scott, the senior director of brand name administration and product improvement at Johnson Outdoor’ watercraft division. “The Malibu Pedal’s immediate hands-free ahead and reverse makes it an excellent platform at a really engaging worth level, so we re-imagined it for the angler.”

Salty PDL 120

As Scott notes, the Salty has been outfitted with nearly any function you’ll anticipate finding on a contemporary fishing kayak. It’s a sit-on-top model, open-deck kayak, with an elevated seat to help in casting, imaginative and prescient, and holding you high-and-dry. Storage wells open within the bow and stern for stowing gear and deal with. A common transducer mount is able to set up a fishfinder. From there: built-in rod holders, plus a number of accent tracks to your GoPro and GPS, or fish-finder display.

At 12 ft lengthy, over 34 inches large, and weighing 105 kilos assembled (a wieldable 85 kilos with out the pedal system put in), the Salty PDL retails at $1,900.

Why We Like It:

As a paddler, my first impression wanting on the profile of the Salty was, “that is going to be enjoyable.”

The boat has rocker, particularly because it curves up via the substantial, wedged bow. The highest of the nostril sits almost 18 inches from the bottom. What does this imply on the water? The Salty can trip out some swell, and maintain water out of the cockpit. The rocker within the bow not solely means you may bust via some waves, but in addition flip downhill and catch a number of rides.

Salty PDL 120
Johnson Outdoor

Whereas narrower than the opposite pedal boats within the Sportsman line, the slender width gives somewhat additional pace, with out sacrificing a lot stability. Additionally because of the pontoon-style tri-hull, standing casts felt secure, the place waves rolled proper below the boat whereas adrift. I’ve examined the Salty in busy inlets with erratic boat wake, in addition to letting it sit broadside to short-period wind-swell, and by no means felt the necessity to make a reactionary seize at my paddle for bracing strokes.

The open deck of the Salty is specified by a easy and usable vogue. The bucketed storage properly within the stern is roomy, with a 27-inch by 22.5-inch footprint formed to simply seat a cooler the scale of a Yeti Tundra 35. The bow storage properly is smaller however nonetheless has a capability for a good-size drybag. There’s additionally a small dry-storage compartment constructed within the high of the pedal drive that lies between your ft throughout the cockpit space—nice for holding objects dry and simple to entry like a mobile phone, snacks, first support package, or spare batteries. Should you max that out, there’s additionally a dry hatch positioned below the seat, which additionally gives entry to mechanical elements contained in the hull.

TopWater PDL Old Town Fishing Kayak console
Useful dry storage within the pedal console. Joe Potoczak

There are three built-in rod holders (one forward-facing and two rear-facing), making area for a number of fishing rigs able to fly. The 2 pre-installed accent mounts and paddle lock are good out-of-the-box elements that imply you don’t should go drilling holes in your new boat to finish your setup. The mesh seat gives an elevated casting place, higher visibility, retains you excessive and dry, and most significantly, is snug. Easy buckles regulate the pitch of the backrest. The seat slides ahead and again with a peg system inside simple attain to maneuver your self to the suitable distance from the pedals.

Salty PDL 120 pdeal Old Town Fishing Kayak motor
Joe Potoczak

The 12-inch span of the rotating propeller on Previous City’s trademark PDL Drive supplied loads of fuel. In a robust headwind, the Salty simply trolled alongside at round 1.5 to 2 mph, and was in a position to speed up right into a dash of round 5 mph when wanted. I discovered the facility of the PDL Drive to offer a assured quantity of horsepower to deal with any wind and tidal currents I confronted. The bicycle-style pedaling system is intuitive. With the flexibility to additionally kick the PDL Drive in reverse, it makes me surprise how I ever fished with a paddle in hand. When coming into a shallow stretch or making a touchdown, the drive can rapidly be rotated up from below the hull, and locked in a disengaged place, pictured above. The rudder on the Salty makes for spectacular steering. At round 16 inches in size and bellying out simply over four inches, the usable floor space gives a decent turning radius, and may maintain a line in robust situations. The hand-controlled steering for the rudder system is low key, responsive, and conveniently positioned on the left facet of the boat the place your hand needs to relaxation. A hand knob on the steering dial tightens all the way down to lock the rudder angle, making for an easy and useful autopilot-like operate.


If there’s a place for enchancment on the Salty, it’s in its mechanical elements. The hand management for instance. Contemplating how closely the steering dial talked about is used, the supplies and design appear gentle obligation. My impression primarily based on the texture of the present supplies and construct, is that if one thing shall be first to fail on this boat, it will likely be this hand management.

Salty PDL 120 steering handle on the TopWater PDL Old Town Fishing Kayak
Joe Potoczak

Equally, the pre-installed paddle lock is at the moment in an odd place. If a paddle is latched, it gives some interference with the reels of a rod in each the forward- and rear-facing rod holders on the left facet of the boat. If I had been to make a fast seize for my paddle, I may see by accident sending a rod within the drink. Barely transferring the place of the paddle latch appears it may simply alleviate this.

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