October 25, 2023 12 min read

Take control of your kayak paddling session

Yellow kayak with a rudder

Ever felt like you haven’t got complete control of your kayak? Perhaps you’ve noticed the wind is catching your tail or an undercurrent puts you in a spin. Whatever your kayak steering conundrum, a kayak rudder kit may just be the piece of kit you are missing.

A kayak rudder can be a useful accessory to have in your watersports toolkit. Some kayaks, especially fishing kayaks, may have pre-installed rudders. Don’t worry if you haven’t got one on your recreational kayak, it is fairly easy to install one yourself!

We have pulled together some key information to help you choose the best kayak rudder kit. This guide goes into detail about when you should use one, how to use one, and key factors to consider when buying one. Keep reading to learn more!

GILI Top Picks for Kayak Rudder Kits

What Is A Kayak Rudder?

A kayak rudder is an accessory used to help you steer your boat. It is typically a blade-like fin or plate, usually made of plastic or metal, which is attached to the stern (rear) of the kayak, below the waterline. 

The rudder is used to direct the boat by adding drag to the stern, kind of like a drag kayak paddle stroke. You have control of the rudder from inside the kayak either by pedals or hand controls, depending on your setup. 

When Should You Use A Kayak Rudder? 

Kayak rudders are used to improve tracking and maneuverability, especially in challenging conditions such as strong currents, crosswinds, or rough waters. 

Pre-fitted rudders are more commonly found on longer touring or ocean kayaks, where precise control and tracking over long distances are essential. In recreational kayaks or whitewater kayaks, rudders are less common, as these kayaks are typically designed for maneuverability and quick turns rather than straight-line tracking.

You should use a kayak rudder if you are kayaking in the following conditions:

How Do You Use A Kayak Rudder?

Man with his dog on a red kayak with a rudder kit

Kayak rudders are connected to either foot pedals or a hand control mechanism inside the boat. By moving the foot pedals or using the control mechanism, you can angle the rudder from side to side, giving you control of direction. 

When the rudder is turned, it creates drag on one side of the kayak, causing it to turn in that direction. With time and practice, you will get to grips with how to handle the rudder and help steer the kayak.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the rudder controls and make any adjustments needed. Depending on your kayak, the rudder controls may be foot pedals or a hand control mechanism. Take a moment to understand how the controls work and how they are positioned in your kayak. Ensure that the foot pedals or hand control mechanism are properly adjusted and within comfortable reach. You should be able to operate them easily without straining.
  2. Engage the rudder. Make sure the rudder is in the "down" or "engaged" position. This allows the rudder to be fully submerged in the water and ready for use.
  3. Paddle forward. Begin paddling and build up some momentum. The rudder is most effective when the kayak is moving forward.
  4. Assess the need for steering. Evaluate the conditions and determine if you need to make adjustments using the rudder. Factors such as wind, currents, or the desired direction of travel may influence your decision.
  5. Control the rudder with foot pedals or hand control. If your kayak has foot pedals, use your feet to push or pull the pedals. Pushing one foot forward and the other foot back will angle the rudder to the corresponding side, causing the kayak to turn in that direction. If your kayak has a hand control mechanism, use it to control the rudder.
  6. Practice gentle and gradual adjustments. Make small and smooth adjustments to the rudder rather than sudden movements. This will help you maintain stability and control over the kayak.
  7. Experiment with rudder angles. Depending on the conditions, you can adjust the angle of the rudder to different positions. Angling the rudder further to one side will result in a sharper turn, while slight adjustments can help you maintain a straighter course.
  8. Release the rudder when not needed. Once you have completed a turn or no longer require the assistance of the rudder, return it to a neutral position. This will reduce drag and allow for more efficient paddling.

6 Best Kayak Rudder Kits

Sea-Lect Designs Trucourse™ Rudder & Footbrace Kit

The Sea-Lect Designs Trucourse Rudder is a radical kayak steering system with unique high-performance features. Featuring a foil-shaped blade that slices through the water with minimum drag. When not in use, the blade pulls up and quietly slips forward, meaning no loud clunk to chase away the fish and wildlife when coming into shallow water. 

At only 1.4 lbs, it is extremely lightweight and is engineered using an injection-molded polymer with stainless-steel components to ensure top performance and reliability. This kit includes a rudder, footraces, and a hardware rigging kit (mounting gudgeon required, and sold separately).

Sea-Lect Designs Trucourse Rudder and Footbrace Kit

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Rudder Measurements: A: 17" / B: 3" / C: 3/8" / D: 6-1/4" / E: 4-1/4"
  • Footbrace Measurements: A: 20-1/4" / B: 4-1/4" / C: 14-1/2"
  • Control Mechanism: Foot pedals

What we like:

  • Good retracting design
  • Adjustable foot brace

What we don't like:

  • The instruction manual is hard to follow, but there is a video to help you out

Perception Rudder Kit

Increase the maneuverability and tracking ability of your perception solo kayak. The sliding foot brace system allows you to steer with your feet. Mounted on the stern rear of your kayak, this rudder is designed to work with Perception Kayak models featuring a molded rudder post hole on the stern. 

Includes detailed instructions and all parts needed for installation. Not compatible with Perception models featuring threaded stern inserts for attaching a rudder mounting block these models will require the Perception short-pin kit.

Perception Rudder Kit

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Compatible with Perception solo kayaks featuring a molded rudder post hole on stern
  • Utilizes spectra cord rudder control cables
  • All necessary parts, hardware, and instructions included

What we like:

  • Reliable and durable materials used
  • Comes with all the required hardware to fit
  • Made for rudder-ready Perception kayaks

What we don't like:

  • Instructions are not super clear and there are a lot of parts to fit!

TECHVALET Pedal Boat Rudder Kit

TECHVALET’s rudder kit for kayaks is simple yet highly effective. It is no wonder why this product is in our top picks with its 4.8/5 star customer satisfaction on Amazon!

This kayak rudder is easy to install and works like a dream when in the water. The no-frills design certainly pays off here, not to mention the incredibly affordable price to go with it.

Techvalet pedal boat rudder kit

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Rudder kit.
  • Fits Sundolphin 3, 4, 5, and 5 Slider Pedalboats, KL Industries, Sea Hawk.
  • HDPE plastic for Excellent Marine wear.
  • Stainless hardware included

What we like:

  • Easy to install
  • Low budget
  • Uncomplicated design

What we don't like:

  • Nothing! This is a great product

Borogo Kayak Rudder

The Borogo Kayak Rudder mounts on the stern of your kayak vertically, giving you control of your kayak in windy or turbulent conditions. You can secure the rudder in the raised position to prevent the rudder from self-deploying.

Wires run from the blade to your foot brace which are used to control the rudder during paddling, freeing up your hands for paddling. Work with foot control (Not Included) to achieve the effect of direction change.

Borogo kayak rudder kit

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Size: Approx. 47 * 15.5 * 14.2 cm / 18.5 * 6.1 * 5.6 in (L * W * H) Rudder blade length: Approx. 45cm / 17.7in
  • Material: Nylon & 304 stainless steel;Pin measures approximately 1.8" in length and 0.4" in diameter.
  • Able to be secured when in the raised position to prevent the rudder from self-deploying.

What we like:

  • Affordable, great for kayakers on a budget
  • Great control in windy conditions
  • Works with pedal controls

What we don't like:

  • Does not come with instructions, so you need to have good knowledge of how to install a kayak rudder

NyVoozy Rudder Clamp on Boat Rudder

The NyVoozy Rudder Clamp on Boat Rudder makes the trolling motor more stable as trolling motors are known for lack of steering especially when the big wind picks up. With the trolling motor stabilizer, even in the big wind, the direction is in your own hand, don't worry rudder is out of control any more.

Both easy to use and easy to install, this is a great option within a low budget range without compromising on quality and materials.

NyVoozy Rudder Clamp on Boat Rudder Kit

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10.5" high x 4.75" wide and suitable for a 23-32MM" shaft diameter
  • Durable and premium materials
  • Perfect addition to a trolling motor

What we like:

  • Super easy to install
  • Heavy duty plastic materials
  • Affordable option

What we don't like:

  • Electric operation only

WINUS 2Pcs Adjustable Kayak Foot Braces Pedals & Tail Rudder

The WINUS Adjustable Kayak Rudder is a great steering system. The carefully designed rudder blades are easy to operate. You can change direction using foot pedals.

The adjustable stand is firmly locked in the position you want. This is a perfect design for fishing kayaks when you have other equipment to control.

WINUS Adjustable kayak foot braces pedals and tail rudder kit

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Pedal size: about 51.5 x 6cm / 20.27 x 0.92 inch
  • Footboard width: 14.3cm / 5.62 inch
  • The foot control system is designed with a basic lever and a rotating pedal

What we like:

  • The foot control system is designed with a basic lever and a rotating pedal
  • Lightweight design
  • Solid materials used

What we don't like:

  • Does not come with the hardware needed to install

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Kayak Rudder Kit

Yellow kayak with a rudder

Choosing a kayak rudder kit does not need to be hard work. Make sure you do your research to help you find the best rudder for you and your kayak. Here are a few pointers to start you off on the right foot!

Durability and materials

Look for a rudder kit made from durable materials such as high-quality plastic or corrosion-resistant metals. The rudder blade and associated components should be able to withstand the rigors of paddling and exposure to water.

It is important to not get caught up on the price bracket. Sometimes it is best to pay that little bit extra for better quality materials.

Ease of installation

Consider the ease of installation of the rudder kit. Ideally, look for kits that come with clear instructions and all the necessary hardware. 

If you are not confident in your DIY skills, you may want to opt for a kit that is easier to install or consider seeking professional assistance. If you are handy in the DIY department, then you will have more options available.


Ensure that the rudder kit you choose is compatible with your specific kayak model. Different kayaks may have different mounting systems, so it is essential to select a rudder kit that is designed to fit your kayak's configuration.

It is always a good idea to check directly with your kayak manufacturer if they sell a suitable kayak rudder to match your ‘yak!

Rudder Design

There are different rudder designs available, including skeg-style rudders and flip-up/down rudders. Skeg-style rudders are often retractable and provide subtle tracking assistance, while flip-up/down rudders are fully adjustable and can be raised out of the water when not in use. 

Consider which design suits your needs and preferences to avoid disappointment.


Check if the rudder kit offers adjustability in terms of rudder angle and depth. This can allow you to fine-tune the rudder's performance based on different conditions and personal preferences.

Brand Reputation and Reviews

Research the brand and read reviews from other kayakers who have used the specific rudder kit you are considering. This can give you insights into the quality, performance, and durability of the product.


Consider your budget and compare prices among different rudder kits. While it's important to stay within your budget, also prioritize quality and functionality to ensure a worthwhile investment.

Kayak Rudders vs Skegs

White kayak with a skeg

It is important to not confuse kayak rudders with skegs. While both help with tracking, they are different accessories that offer unique features.

Kayak Rudders

We already know that kayak rudders are steering devices often found on sea kayaks and touring kayaks. They consist of a blade-like fin or plate attached to the stern. The rudder is controlled by foot pedals or a hand-control mechanism inside the kayak.

Rudders are especially useful in windy conditions or when dealing with strong currents, as they provide enhanced maneuverability and help maintain a straighter course. They are versatile and can be adjusted to various angles, allowing paddlers to make sharp turns or subtle adjustments as needed. 

However, kayak rudders can be more complex to install and maintain compared to skegs. They also add some additional drag when not in use, which can affect overall kayak speed.


Skegs are another type of tracking aid commonly used in sea kayaks. Unlike rudders, skegs are fixed blades that are built into the hull of the kayak, typically located near the stern. They are deployed by sliding a control mechanism, which allows the skeg to extend or retract partially into the water.

When deployed, the skeg provides resistance to lateral movement, improving the kayak's tracking ability. Skegs primarily assist with maintaining a straight course and reducing the effects of wind or currents.

They are simpler in design compared to rudders, as they do not involve moving parts or foot controls. This simplicity means that skegs are generally more straightforward to install, require less maintenance, and have a lower risk of damage. However, skegs provide less maneuverability compared to rudders and are less effective in making sharp turns.

Step-by-Step Guide on How To Fit A Rudder To A Kayak

Man checking kayaks

  1. Gather the necessary tools and materials. Before you begin, make sure you have all the required tools and materials for the installation process. This typically includes the rudder kit, mounting brackets, screws, drill or screwdriver, measuring tape, pencil or marker, and any additional hardware specified by the manufacturer.
  2. Read the instructions. Carefully read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the rudder kit. Familiarize yourself with the specific installation steps and any unique considerations for your kayak model.
  3. Choose the rudder location. Determine the ideal location for mounting the rudder on your kayak's stern. This is typically a flat area below the waterline, centered and clear of other obstructions. Check if your kayak has pre-existing holes or markings for the rudder installation. If not, you will need to mark the appropriate mounting points using a pencil or marker.
  4. Position the mounting brackets. Place the mounting brackets onto the marked locations. Ensure they are level and aligned correctly. Use a measuring tape to ensure equal distance from the kayak's centerline on both sides.
  5. Drill or screw in the mounting brackets. If your kayak has pre-drilled holes, align the brackets with the holes and secure them using the provided screws. If there are no pre-drilled holes, use a drill with an appropriate bit size to create pilot holes before attaching the brackets with screws. Ensure the brackets are securely fastened to the kayak.
  6. Attach the rudder to the brackets. Depending on the specific rudder design, attach the rudder blade or assembly to the mounting brackets as instructed by the manufacturer. This may involve sliding the rudder onto the brackets or using screws or pins to secure it in place. Make sure the rudder is properly aligned and securely attached.
  7. Test the rudder movement. Before completing the installation, test the rudder's movement by manually adjusting it using the control mechanism (foot pedals or hand control). Ensure that the rudder moves freely and smoothly from side to side without any binding or restrictions. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure proper alignment and functionality.
  8. Fine-tune adjustments. If your rudder kit allows for adjustments, such as rudder angle or tension, follow the manufacturer's instructions to fine-tune these settings according to your preferences or the specific conditions you'll be paddling in.
  9. Secure loose cables. If your kayak has rudder control cables, secure them properly along the kayak's deck or inside any cable guides or clips provided. Ensure that the cables are not twisted or tangled and that they have sufficient tension to operate the rudder effectively.
  10. Conduct a final check. Once the rudder is installed, double-check all connections, screws, and fittings to ensure everything is secure. Wiggle the rudder and check for any play or instability. If any issues are identified, make the necessary adjustments or tighten the fittings.

Note: the installation process may vary slightly depending on the specific rudder kit and kayak model. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the most accurate and detailed guidance during the installation process. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with the installation, we advise seeking assistance from a professional or an experienced kayaker.


🏆 When should I use a kayak rudder kit?

Kayak rudder kits should be used when you encounter challenging conditions that require enhanced tracking and maneuverability. This could include situations with strong crosswinds, currents, or when paddling in open waters where maintaining a straight course becomes more difficult. The rudder can assist in keeping your kayak on track and reduce the need for constant corrective strokes, allowing you to focus more on your paddling technique and enjoy the experience.

👍 Can beginners use kayak rudders?

Yes, beginners can definitely use kayak rudders! While they may initially require some practice to become accustomed to using the rudder controls, beginners can benefit from the added stability and control that a rudder provides, particularly in challenging conditions. Using a rudder can help beginners maintain a straighter course and navigate more efficiently, allowing them to focus on building their paddling skills and confidence.

🏝️ Can I use a skeg instead of a kayak rudder kit?

A skeg can be used as an alternative to a kayak rudder kit. A skeg is a fixed blade that helps with tracking by reducing the kayak's tendency to be affected by wind or currents. While skegs offer less maneuverability compared to rudders, they are simpler in design, easier to install, and require less maintenance. Ultimately, the choice between a skeg and a rudder depends on your specific paddling needs and preferences.

Jay Regan
Jay Regan

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