Earlier this spring I picked up the latest pedal driven kayak from Jackson Kayak, the BigRig HDFD. My first experience with a Jackson kayak was the Coosa FD which was Jackson’s first attempt at a pedal driven kayak. The Coosa FD served me well for a year, but I was ready to upgrade to the BigRig HDFD with all of its upgraded features and an improved Flex Drive.
My first impression of the BigRig HDFD was that it is indeed BIG. The kayak is 13’ 3” long, 40” wide, and weighs in at 145 pounds with the Flex Drive. The next thing I noticed was all of the little features that can go a long way in finding the right kayak for you. Four rod tubes, two flush mount rod holders, two fly reel pockets with fly rod holders, four rod clips, plenty of room for storage, front hatch bin, and a scupper hole designed for the larger totalscan transducers are just a few things that stood out to me on this kayak. Another thing I really liked was how customizable the kayak felt. As I began outfitting the kayak with my electronics, batteries, cameras, extra rod holders, landing gear, etc I found that there were many options available for modifications to help me get the kayak perfectly suited for my style of fishing. Going along with that, the kayak I got was in the FD configuration. You can purchase this same kayak in the HD configuration which removes the Flex Drive in case you are wanting to paddle the kayak. The HD and FD pods are interchangeable too if you should choose to start with one of the configurations and want to switch back and forth between paddling and pedaling. I find that this could be a really useful feature if I want to take the kayak out on smaller ponds where weed growth can get out of hand. In those situations, I would not need the speed the FD pod affords and be better off just using the HD pod to avoid getting the prop caught up in weeds.
My first trip out on the kayak also gave me further insight on what the BigRig HDFD is all about. The Flex Drive was an improvement over the drive in my Coosa FD and Jackson continues to improve the Flex Drive in terms of speed and ease of pedaling. The stability in the BigRig is also an improvement over the Coosa FD which is also a very stable kayak making standing up to fish a breeze. With the increased weight of the BigRig over the Coosa I expected the kayak to move slower than my Coosa. However, I received the new two bladed prop from Jackson and it actually moves faster than my Coosa did with the three bladed prop. Another thing worth mentioning is that Jackson is planning to release the E-Drive soon which can be used on the BigRig to easily replace the Flex Drive and motorize the kayak. You will have to register the kayak if you plan to use the E-drive but this can be an especially useful tool on larger bodies of water where you need to travel long distances.
After a few trips out on the BigRig FD there are some things that I think could be improved for future models. The transducer scupper is great for the larger totalscan transducers, but with the transducer tight up against the hull you are limited to about 50 feet of side imaging on your fish finder. Because of this issue many anglers are having to come up with their own solutions to allow the transducer to sit a little lower in the water without being tight against the hull. I believe the scupper could be widened to allow the sidescan beams to scan out further without being obstructed by the kayaks hull. Another improvement I’d like to see has to deal with the steering handles. There is no indicator on the kayak as to what position the handles should be in to have your rudder centered. This means that if you want to track straight ahead you go by feel and adjust your handles until you are going straight instead of simply bringing the handles to a marked position. A simple fix for this is to center the rudder in your garage and mark the location of the handles with a sharpie to get a visual of what positon the handles should be in to have your rudder pointed straight. One final improvement is an issue that I’ve been dealing with that many others may not experience. Because I mounted a Boonedox Landing Gear underneath the seat of the kayak, I had to move my rod clips into a position where they can only be positioned right beside my steering handles. This isn’t a huge deal but when I store rods in the clips, my reels are right next to the handles not leaving much space for me to grab the handles when I steer.
Overall the BigRig HDFD is a solid fishing kayak with great features that overcome the negatives I have mentioned. If you are interested in purchasing a BigRig HDFD I would recommend reaching out to a dealer to demo the kayak and try out kayaks from other brands to determine which kayak is the best for you. If you’d like to see all the modifications I’ve made to the kayak, here is a link to a video I made showing my current setup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUeWMdnIB9o&t=28s