I purchased the SmartTrack rudder system for my 2001 Necky Looksha 3. The
Necky already has a rudder system, but the original nylon adjustments on the
footpegs have a lot of give and does not allow for optimal paddling. With exception
of the footpegs, installation was pretty simple, hardest part was adjusting the
tension just right and patching holes from the prior rudder rest and rudder clam
cleat. The SmartTrack rudder line clam cleat is much smaller than most other clam
cleats out there, and the thinner line would not work in the original.
Footpegs on the older Necky's do not use the standard 13.5" hole spacing.
Correspondence with SmartTrack suggested purchasing their vertical adjustment
kit and drilling new holes in the plate. However, their response was a form
response and I could not find actual dimensions of the vertical adjustment kit to
indicate that it would accommodate the close to 18" spacing of the Necky holes,
and drilling new holes in my hull was not an option. I ended up purchasing a 1/4"
high density plastic sheet from Amazon and with a drill, tap and die set, router,
sandpaper, and table saw was able to fabricate my own mounting bracket. Not an
easy task and required a high level of precision, an entire evening, and long arms,
but has worked very well.
First time in the water I liked this rudder better for straight travel, but was not
impressed with turning or the smoothness of the mechanism. It took much more
force than necessary to turn, and the Looksha lost its ability to turn on a dime.
However, the solid bracing was a drastic improvement. Before my second paddle I
lubricated the pivots and lines and found it worked significantly better - able to
more easily get the full turning angle with reasonable force. Still not as sharp of
turning as the original Necky rudder, but pretty close, and feels like less overall
drag due to the reduced rudder slop on the straights. I do notice slightly
decreased stability from the reduced surface area of the rudder, hard to know if
it's from me working on my paddle rotation or the smaller rudder.
One note: I bought the tubing kit and did not use it. The cables fit the existing
cable routing through the kayak seam and appeared to be the same diameter
cabling as standard rudder kits (I think it's a 0.125 diameter stainless line).
Is it an improvement? Yes. ACK was great - always are. Took off a product star as
SmartTrack's customer service was not very helpful, and I can't understand why
they didn't answer my questions about the improved and specialized SmartTrack
rudder housings only available on Stellar's website. Think they should also have a
Necky retrofit kit (or at least a template for download), and be better prepared to
answer installation questions. How hard would it really be to make an installation
YouTube video for a company that specializes in retrofits? Great product, just
needs better support.
Product is awesome. Did not
realize how much of a difference
it would make. Awesome. Get it.
You will be happy that you did.
This rudder kit was the worst money I
have ever spent Very bad install
instructions and absolutely no
customer support. would not recomend
this to my worst enemy
Awesome, installed on my
Dagger Cayman, with some
minor fabrication, and it works
flawlessly. This is potentially a
difficult install for some people,
especially on certain
makes/models of boats like
mine, but well worth the effort.
My Hurricane Expedition was
made the installation pretty
seamless, however the
attachment bracket included
with the rudder kit
had holes that were spaced way
too far apart for
my rig. I had to drill a hole
in the hard
stainless to make it fit.
Ive had the rudder on for
about a dozen trips on
rivers now and am amazed by
how well it has held
up to sever conditions for a
brambles, logs etc. I am also
very pleased with
the design and function. It
enables me to keep on
track in a strong river
current while snacking,
drinking or viewing through
binocs. It also
allows me to concentrate on
stroking when going
upstream as I can course
correct with the rudder
rather than having to
compensate with the paddle.
The kit is excellent, although
the rear mount
plate holes did not match up
on my Hurricane
Expedition; no problem drilled
a new one in
between the plates existing
I was not sure if a rudder
would improve the
issues I was having or not. I
was hoping it
A Help control direction when
in a river.
directional drift when taking
a break from paddling
C Allow me to train the
vidcam on a subject
without the need for constant
The rudder has been fantastic
for A & B so far. I
have not had a chance to vid
yet, but I think it
will help with that also.
One unforeseen benefit has
been that the rudder
increases my paddling
efficiency because I dont
have to dig like crazy to
Extremely fast shipping,
I bought this kit to install
on an Advanced Elements
Convertible kayak. The staff
at ACK was very helpful and
quickly ansered all of my
questions. Apparently no one
has or at least admitted they
have performed this
installation before on an AE
I was able to install the
rudder kit with minor
modifications to the kayak and
to the foot braces. I have
used it for hours of kayak
sailing, and it has performed
very well. My main concerns
were ease of installation,
ease of modification for an
inflatable folding kayak, ease
of breakdown for stowing of
the kayak and minimal drag.
Other than the fact that one
of the cables kinked
hopelessly while feeding it
into the cable tubing,
requiring replacement with
sailboat standing rigging
cable from West Marine which
works much, much better than
the original cable, I have no
The kit takes little time to
install with preplanning and
performs very well in the
Ordered the tubing with the rudder kit, so no
issues there. However, my rudder kit came with
the old wedgies, instead of the newer ones, so
the unsheathed wire cables did not lock in
place. If I had not researched the issue
online, I never would have known what the
problem was. Austin Kayak put me in touch with
the distributor, but it was actually their
fault for packaging the old components with the
new cables. Received the new wedgies direct
from the distributor, but lost a great weekend
for kayaking. Austin gave me a 20% discount
coupon for my troubles, but Im still
disappointed by the experience. Overall,
installation went smoothly. I did a rear mount
custom install on a Heritage Featherlite 12 and
used some YouTube videos for guidance on cable
placement and drilling. Unfortunately, I
havent had a chance to take her out since.
Living in Australia, I bought
the complete system and a few
extras to complete the
construction of the Steve
Killing designed Reliance
A big double kayak, my main
concern was the load placed on
the rudder and stern when
executing a turn. So my
research all lead to me
selecting the Smart track
system. The service from
Austin Canoe and Kayaks was
swift and all parts arrived
complete and well packed. I
will write another review once
I have finished the kayak and
tried the system on open
Cable kit is minus tubeing,which is required? Not
advised of this when purchasing! Had to obtain
later. This is sure a well built item. Minimal
instruction included, tho assy straightforward.
Rudder tracks should have method for securing
from outside,without need for vertical
adjustment, which secures from behind.
Rudder retract cord, should have a smoother route
thru top of rudder securing pin. Cord will wear
there. I will fit a fishing rod line guide there.
All in all, great build/value.
Stiil building so una to report on performance.
As my kayak's a double, expect good results.
Great system if only sent
instructions and parts that
differently than the stated
instructions; also, I
have a WS Tsunami and the
wrong metal bracket was
send; hence, causing the
system to get dislodged
off the kayak on the first
day, and requiring
creative remodifications to
fix. But when it is
working, it is awesome. Just
more attention to details of
instructions, and better
matching of parts to
individual brands/models of
The kit is great. Installation was not too difficult after studying the instructions prior to ordering. I have a Mad River Canoe Synergy 14 (Sit on top, hybrid). My kit was missing a couple of small components (cotter pin, cleat, and the little ball that does on the end of the rudder cord), but AK shipped them out quickly...along with a free t-shirt.
A couple things of note:
-For a sit on top kayak you will need the "Vertical Adjustment Kit". I didn't see this mentioned anywhere prior to purchase. I found this out after receiving my kit...staring at the pieces...staring at the kayak...drinking a beer...then staring some more. I called them up and they explained it to me.
-For a sit on top, you will need the rudder tubing kit. I found this out while doing preliminary research.
The kit is very good, but would be GREAT if they included the rudder tubing. Why not include it if its an essential part? Would you buy a car without wheels? Also, if the Vertical Adjustment Kit is needed for Sit on top kayaks, why not publish that information?
After installation, the kit works great. A simple flex of the toes operates the rudder in each direction. With the rudder being spring loaded, deployement is really effortless.