What is a Kayak Skeg? Do you need one on your Kayak?

Canoes and Kayaks

Do you want to make your kayaking experience easier but have no idea how to do that? Has someone recommended a kayak skeg to you but only left you wondering, What is a kayak skeg?

Suppose you want to become better at kayaking, and have difficult keeping your kayak in a straight line. In that case, getting a kayak skeg will help provide stability and balance to your kayaking adventures

To help you decide if you need a skeg for kayaking or not, we’ve put together some information about them for you. Keep reading to learn more.

What is a Kayak Skeg?

A kayak skeg refers to a small blade attached to the bottom section of a kayak’s hull. A kayak hull is the bottom part of a kayak which plays an essential role in the stability and speed of your kayak.

The primary use of a skeg is to help with tracking when paddling. It also assists with tracking in a straight line in strong winds. Most recreational kayaks don’t usually have a skeg installed when you buy them, but you can always install one yourself.

Skegs are more commonly found on touring and sea kayaks and are great for long distance kayaking. When you do not require the use of a kayaking skeg, you can temporarily remove it from the bottom of your kayak.

How is a Kayak Skeg Different from a Rudder?

Now that you know the basics about skegs let’s look at kayak rudders and how they differ. A rudder is an underwater blade located on the rear of a boat or vessel. The rudders’ primary purpose is to ensure that the kayak or canoe is steered in the right direction. It can be controlled easily using foot pedals and raised from the water when not required.

In contrast, a skeg is located at the bottom of the kayak. A retractable skeg can be raised and lowered within the vessel in some hard shell kayaks. On inflatable kayaks, the skeg can simply be removed. Unlike a rudder, a skeg cannot be moved from left to right. Therefore it cannot be used for steering, only to assist in tracking.

What are the Benefits of a Kayak Skeg?

It is worth knowing that skegs and rudders are not overly crucial on kayaks under 14 feet in length. However, longer touring vessels get the most benefit from skegs and rudders. With that said, let’s look at the benefits and cons of each.

Skegs:

  • No moving parts, which means less going wrong and failing.
  • No steering is required using foot pedals.
  • Helps develop better paddling skills to paddle in a straight line.
  • Easier to install than a rudder.
  • No assistance in turning
  • Takes up storage space in the stern

Rudders:

  • Allows for hands-free turning.
  • Easier to navigate rougher water
  • Good for beginners
  • Difficult to install on your own
  • Allow paddlers to develop poor paddling techniques.

How to Attach a Skeg to the Bottom of the Kayak?

If you want to attach a skeg to the bottom of your kayak, there are a few options. You can add a retractable one to the rear of your kayak or add one to the bottom that is manually inserted before launching. 

It is possible to add a retractable skeg under your boat, but this will involve cutting a hole in your kayak. Not something we will recommend you try unless you have pretty good workmanship skills.
Instead, we will be looking at the easiest option of gluing a semi-permanent skeg to the bottom of your kayak.

To install the skeg, you will first need to get some supplies ready such as marine glue, a cloth, and some sandpaper. Once you have the supplies ready, decide on a mounting location for the skeg. When done this, draw a pencil outline around the skeg base onto your kayak. Next, use the sandpaper to sand within the pencil outline on your kayak and the bottom of the skeg base. This will help the glue stick better to each surface.

Wipe away all debris generated from sanding and apply generous amounts of glue to the base of the skeg and attach it to the bottom of the kayak. Make sure you glue it on straight! Allow the glue to dry for the recommended period for the glue.

We recommend drilling a small hole into the rear section of the skeg fin and attaching a leash between the fin and your kayak. This will prevent losing the skeg should you hit a submerged log or come into shore too quickly.

Suppose you’re still unsure about permanently changing your kayak. In that case, another option is to affix a heavy-duty velcro to your kayak and fin base instead.

Our Recommendations for the Best Kayak Skegs of 2022

This Borogo 8-inch fin skeg is suitable whether you own a paddleboard or a kayak. It provides excellent tracking and is popular among kayak and paddleboard owners and is therefore our choice for the best skeg.

The fin is well made from molded fiberglass-reinforced nylon composite materials. It is easy to attach in around 20 minutes, even for beginners. Moreover, this detachable skeg is suitable for most kayak models and SUPs, including inflatable kayaks. So, if you own multiple kayaks, this will work on all of them. This skeg can also be used on surfboards. 

You get a 100% money-back guarantee and 365-day warranty, so in case the fin doesn’t suit your kayak, you will not have to worry about it. At under $20, it won’t break the bank anyway.

This Tobwolf 3-piece surfing fin/skeg is designed for surfboards and stand-up paddleboards. Still, it can easily be added to your kayak using only the center fin. Adding this fin will allow you to paddle efficiently and maintain a good line in the water.

It is an incredibly versatile skeg and easy to install. However, be aware that the base is rigid and requires a flat surface. Therefore, it is not suitable for gluing to an apex on your kayak.
Furthermore, the fin is made from PVC material, making it wear-resistant and durable. When you do not require the skeg, you can detach it and store it away safely for use later on.

We recommend a good quality marine glue for sticking your fin to your kayak.  The AMAZING GOOP seems to be very popular on Amazon and should do the trick.

Wrapping It Up

Now that you have some idea about what a kayak skeg is, its use, and its benefits, we are sure that you will be able to decide whether you want one. If you live in an area with strong winds or have trouble keeping your kayak straight, a skeg could be just what the doctor ordered. Having a kayak skeg installed, will be helpful to keep you moving in a straight line.  

We hope that this article helped you increase your knowledge about kayak skegs and why they are essential these days.

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