What is a Skeg on a kayak – Important Facts You Need to Know About

Quite a few people often wonder what is a skeg is on a kayak. Adding a skeg to a kayak could make paddling easier if you are in difficult conditions. But what exactly is a skeg, and is it truly essential?

Having a skeg on your yak can help you paddle in open water or windy conditions. This is because it can help you anchor your boat’s stern, enabling you to control your ship’s direction and allows you to steer straight online. Skegs tend to be found more in the touring kayak since they can be beneficial for long-distance paddling.

This is because, in windy conditions or open waters, yaks tend to look towards the wind, known as weather cocking. A skeg can contribute to this by keeping its bow facing in the direction it is going.

Therefore, if you are planning to use your yak for recreational paddling, it is feasible that not in all cases you will require it. And if you have a skeg deployed in shallow or rocky water, it could be damaged, which may make it unsuitable for paddling in streams or rough waters.

How it is Different from a Rudder

A skeg is not similar to a rudder, but both can be used for rowing in open water. The main distinction is that a rudder system is usually mounted at the stern and can be operated from the cabin, either with course controls or stopped.

It has a more extensive wind vane style and can move from side to side, and, commonly, it can also be moved up or down, giving you the ability to deploy it when required. A skeg, moreover, cannot move all over the place. It can only be pulled in part or its entirety when not in use, provided it is adjustable.

If it is a fixed skeg, it will not be able to move at all.

What about Canoes or Small Boats?

Although it is not common to see canoes with skegs, it is feasible to adjust a canoe by adding one to the keel. However, due to the design of a canoe, a skeg may or may not be serviceable.

It may be a personal preference for other small boats and may depend on the hull’s shape on the keel.

As with canoes and small boats, it can increase the resistance ratio, making rowing more difficult.

What is a Skeg on a kayak

How to add a skeg kayak?

This procedure should work with most kayaks, canoes, and small boats. It would help if you kept in mind that the retrofit kayak skeg must be done.

What you will need

  • Sandpaper
  • Cloth or rag
  • Marine glue
  • Hairdryer or head torch
  • Paddle Strap
  • Drill

Step 1: Choose the assembly location.

Before you start building your skeg for kayak skegs, turn your yak around and place the most prominent spot on the keel for it to go.

This may differ according to your hull’s shape or the type of boat you have, but it should be in the center of your keel at the stern.

Step 2: Sand area

You can use the sandpaper where your skeg requires it. Sanding will allow the adhesive to adhere better.

Step 3: Dusting

Now, you must use your cloth to remove any dust left over from sanding.

Step 4: Heat shield

It is feasible that you may or may not want to heat the area you plan to mount the skeg. In some occasions or polyethylene containers, it can contribute to the adhesion of the glue.

Step 5: Apply marine adhesive.

  • When the keel section is ready, apply the marine glue to attach the hull’s mounting base.
  • Push the base down or use a heavy element to help use pressure.
  • This should provide a secure bond between the hull and the base of your skeg.

Step 6: put the flipper.

After waiting for the glue to dry, you can move or attach the flap to the base.

Step 7: put the strap.

You probably want some added security for your skeg. This may allow you to locate a paddle strap so that if you hit a rock or river bed, the fin will not be lost if it falls off the base.

Skegs are used only to assist in tracking a kayak. With crosswinds and following waves, you can deploy a skeg to assist your kayak track straight.

When the skeg is not required, it can be reattached inside the boat and does not affect the kayak’s performance. A single cable length usually administers skegs on a sliding system or a reduced diameter section of rope and a bungee on a spring locking system.

Both systems are easily maintained in the field.

What is Rudder

The rudders are much more popular than the skegs because they can also help steer a kayak. Rudders are lowered from their stored position at the top of the deck through-hull lines located during the cabin. Afterward, they are controlled by the pedals.

If a kayak and rudder are correctly paired, you will see an increase in agility and efficiency of the hull due in part to the fact that fewer corrective strokes are required. However, there are two rudder drops.

A rudder is a narrow, extended blade that looks like a fin and extends into the water from a kayak stern. It is designed to be fully deployed and moved from side to side by operating the cockpit’s foot pedals.

What is Skeg

The skegs are stored in a skeg box that is embedded in the stern of the kayak. They are deployed by using a slider that is with the cabin.

Since the skegs do not turn from side to side, their control comes from the depth to which they are placed.

The more you want a vane on your kayak, the deeper you will place the skeg. Since skegs are only suitable for long-distance tracking, you will not usually find them on recreational kayaks, only on some touring or sea kayaks.

If you expect to paddle in windy conditions, you will want to consider the opportunity to find a rudder. Several kayaks have a rudder mount at the stern, although it is feasible that there is no rudder. If there is a rudder mount, you can arrange for a rudder whenever you decide you need one.

When should you use your skeg?

As you progress in your rowing skill, you will find that although you can correct your course with a few sweeping strokes and a recurring virtue, it is not always satisfactory in a ten-mile paddle with a strong crosswind.

The moment you can monitor your kayak accurately and safely in both calm and adverse conditions, you will be ready to start witnessing with your skeg.

A skeg can be deployed in numerous increments, and the amount used establishes the responsiveness of your boat to the individual characteristics you are paddling.

Every boat responds differently, so it is substantial to witness numerous skeg positions in all kinds of conditions.

Not only will you save energy and effort, but you will also enjoy the thrill of the roughest water more thoroughly.

You must remember always to be safe when you put yourself in this type of condition by paddling with a group of kayakers whose skills and judgment you trust.

What are the pros and cons of Skegs?


  • The skegs are not impervious to mechanical hazards.
  • The most common affliction is that small stones get stuck in the well and get stuck. If you are not careful and try to unjam it with the slider, you can bend the cable, creating more severe inconveniences.
  • The other disadvantage of skegs is that the skeg box takes up valuable space in the rear hatch.


  • Skegs are an incredible way to handle the boat better in windy conditions, but they will not give you the control that the rudders give you.
  • Skegs have less danger of collision damage because they are under the kayak, but you still have to be careful and remember to lift them when you land or back up in shallow water.
  • If aesthetics is substantial to you because they are under the boat and not visible, do not detract from the kayak’s clean lines.

Pros and cons of Rudders


If a rudder cable breaks while blowing in the wind in rough seas, this can be serious, especially on older boats with sliding footrests connected to the rudder.

Newer designs with fixed footrests and the rudder controlled by a separate hinged stop plate make this considerably less alarming.

Also, rudders placed on the kayak’s stem have a greater danger of collision damage, and a standard way to wear them is to leave them down while you back up, so always lift the rudder before doing so.

Over time, it has become less effective in the waves (the rudder is mounted on the kayak’s very edge. (A 75% effective rudder, however, will leave you more confident in your abilities)


The greatest virtue of a rudder is to continue seas where the ability to steer the kayak with your feet and avoid being pinched provides important integrity over boats with skegs or boats with nothing at all. 

You may notice that racing kayaks, both flat water and surfboarding kayaks, have rudders, and they have them for this precise reason, all your paddling energy is spent later and not wasted on corrective strokes.

Whether or not you are the purest and only use your rudder when conditions want it. Many recreational paddlers who do not engage in nimble or rough water paddling will enjoy the simplicity that the rudders provide for steering the boat, whether you are trying to navigate slowly around obstacles or to help correct the breeze and currents.

The rudder may be out of the water up to 50% relying on the time in more challenging conditions, but it can still provide zero control when it is out of the water.

Skeg for an inflatable kayak is also a great alternative if you’re looking for peace of mind.

What is a Skeg on a kayak? FAQ

Do you need a Skeg on a Kayak?

Skegs are used only to assist in tracking a kayak.

With crosswinds and following waves, you can deploy a skeg to help your kayak continue straight.

When the skeg is not required, it can be put back on the boat and does not affect the kayak’s performance.

However, even with a moderate breeze (above approximately 5 meters per second), you are very likely paddling in conditions that, without the skeg being counterbalanced yet, may cost you a little more effort to counteract than if you use the skeg.

What is the difference between a skeg and a rudder in a kayak?

A rudder is a paddle attached to the kayak’s stern that can pivot from side to side. They are controlled by pedals in the cabin connected to the rudder with stainless steel cables or a dependable cord.

The rudders were created to rise from the water through a ropes system and are usually folded on the rear deck. A retractable skeg kayak is a blade that falls from a slot in the kayak’s hull near the stern. It does not turn. It is dropped and retracted through a slider, usually on one side of the cabin.

Can you add a skeg to a kayak?

Yes, a skeg is a utility that can assist with tracking. Some kayaks may already have a skeg installed.

But with vessels that do not, it is feasible that you may or may not want to add one separately. A skeg is usually located under the hull towards your boat’s stern in the center of the keel.


A kayak will naturally want to turn in the wind, and something called a vane. A rudder or wheel is used to battle your kayak’s desire to turn.

Without them, when you are paddling in the wind, you may find yourself hitting much harder. On one side to hold your kayak straight online. You can use a DIY kayak skeg. This can give you greater control.

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