Jackson Coosa FD Beta Run and Impressions


After literally years of rumors, hopes, and now anticipation I can finally say that I have experienced the Jackson Coosa FD! In a world of pedal drives my first thoughts were, what is going to set us apart. What features, what differences, what innovations will make us unique and keep to the Jackson model of pushing the envelope in the kayak fishing community.

 

I have to say that before we even made it to the water a few things became apparent…

 

First off the drive, peddles and all, were in the kayak and did not have to be removed to transport the it. This is huge in my opinion! Getting on the water in a timely fashion can be a challenge sometimes so the less steps you have to take the quicker you can be fishing! The top half can, however, be removed when needed by loosing 2-thumb screws in a matter of seconds.

 

I think this leads to the next impressive part about the design. The fluid simplicity of it makes it so quick and easy to launch. The movement and time it takes to deploy the prop is more intuitive than picking up a paddle. There is no need to line up the blades or lock anything into place. You simply move the lever with one finger and the prop is down and ready to go! Also, by doing this you notice there is a catch at about the half way point…could it be true? A shallow water setting cutting the draft down by close to half!! Awkward situations like juggling your paddle while trying to deploy the drive at the same time have virtually been eliminated.

 

Ok this is all great but how does it perform? Is it a struggle to pedal, loud, does it turn? It was time to put it through the passes. The first thing I noticed it how quick it got up to speed. A few quick rotations and off it went with no hesitation. Having peddled a lot of other brands, the speed seemed on par with what I hoped for. Into a head wind I was able to, at a relaxed comfortable pace, maintain 3mph and about 3.5 with the wind. I could easily move faster by stepping up my cadence a bit but my goal was to judge my average comfortable pace. The steering was also very responsive. With a slight movement of my left hand the kayak would react and the turning radius was quite small! The functionality of the rudder is quite different than the standard left to right lever that you will see on most pedal drive kayaks, however. Instead Jackson has opted for a forward and aft movement that controls a rod instead of cables. This took me a few minutes to get the hang of determining and remembering which way was right and left, but then I had it down and no longer had to think about it at all.

In making a “Flex” Drive one of the key things is it can flex, right? Meaning that if I am going along and hit something like a rock or log the drive can move and not get damaged. Here we go…I head straight for a blowdown and without even slowing down pedal right over it. I don’t know if I was expecting to be stopped, hear a snap, or simply be slowed down, but what I was not expecting was to keep moving at full speed without missing a stoke. The drive had retracted and fell back into the shallow setting without missing a beat. I thought to myself well that must have been a little deeper than I thought, so I lined up for another go where I knew the branch was a bit shallower. I had the same result. It just kept going…

 

I decided to take it to a shallow flat and see what it would do among exposed stumps and branches in about a foot of water. This time I moved it into the shallow setting and proceed pedaling at a slightly reduced speed, but with no issue navigated the entire flat. Occasionally the drive would bonce over something always finding itself back in the shallow setting! This is probably the coolest part about the whole thing. I was just not worried about it and when I needed to move it I could do so with one finger in a second.

 

I am impressed with the drive to say the least, but how does the boat fish. While the drive is what makes this stand out as being different from the other Jackson models the fishablity is probably one of, if not the most important aspect. Of course this is not something I was worried about considering that Jackson has always taken this into account when building a fishing kayak. One thing that most will notice when moving from a paddle to pedal is that the layout needs to be way different. You sit more laid back and you have no paddle stroke to deal with, so fishfinders, cup and rod holders, and accessories in general will find themselves right by your side. The FD has accounted for this extending gear track from the front of the cockpit to the stern of the boat. There is almost no gap all the way down the gunnels of this kayak. This makes it super easy to set up what you want where you want. The stability is there too! With no problem I was able to stand and make a cast in one fluid motion.

 

As the time came for me to head in I decided in one last-ditch effort to trick the drive into failing (don’t tell EJ) I peddled full speed into the shore. The drive simply moved into the stowed position as if I had reached down and moved it myself.

 

Ah FD, you win, I will wait passionately for your release with continued anticipation and excitement that we are on the home stretch!

 

 

 

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