Skeg 101: What Is A Skeg On A Kayak? 

A skeg is a tool that can help with tracking. You may find that some kayaks come with a skeg already installed. But on ships that don’t, you may or may not add one separately.

A skeg is usually located under the hull toward the stern of your ship, in the middle of the keel. It is usually a fin-shaped tool that can either be fixed in place or lifted into the fuselage when not in use.

Adding a skeg to a kayak might make paddling easier when you find yourself in rough conditions. But what does a skeg do and is it really necessary?

We’ve put together some information to help you decide whether or not a skeg could be a good addition to your ship. Explain well what a skeg is, how it can help, and show you how to attach your own.

Why Would I Need One?

What Is A Skeg On A Kayak?

A skeg on your kayak can help you when paddling in open water or in windy conditions. This is because it can help anchor the stern of your ship, making it easier for you to control your boat’s direction and help you steer straight.

Paddling at a distance. This is because when there is wind or open water, yaks tend to face the wind, known as weather spreads. 

A skeg can help counteract this by pointing your bow in the direction you are going. So if you plan to only use your yak for recreational paddling, you may not always need one. And if you’ve used a skeg in shallow or rocky water, it could become damaged, making it unsuitable for stream or whitewater paddling.

A skeg on a kayak has less risk of collision because they are underneath the kayak, but you still need to be careful and remember to lift them when landing or reversing in shallow water.

If aesthetics are important to you, the skeg kayak doesn’t detract from the clean lines as they lie beneath the boat and are not visible.

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using Skeg On A Kayak

When kayaking through the water, the bow of the skeg kayak (front) cuts through the water. When the bow cuts through the water, it is prevented from moving by the force of the water alone.

We have had many customers tell us that without this they would not have been able to continue kayaking due to physical limitations caused by age or injury. Sure, it’s time-consuming but worth every penny. 


  • Why is this a good thing? Because when there is a side wind or side wind, the bow of the kayak is not moved by the line as it travels through the water.
    At the stern of the kayak (rear), the pinning action is not as strong. The stern of the kayak deals with much more turbulent water. This turbulence at the rear makes it more prone to movement in crosswinds.
  • When this crosswind hits the kayak, the stern tends to be pushed downwind. While pinning the bow of the kayak. This causes the kayak to turn into the wind and go off course. This phenomenon is known as weathercocking.
    When the weather changes, it can be difficult to keep the kayak on course. Just trying to stay on course with correcting paddle strokes can be difficult and exhausting at the same time.


  • A skeg does not allow steering the kayak in the wind. 
  • The skeg compartment (skeg box) can create drag across the hull. 
  • The skeg takes up space in the stern of the hull for storage.
  • Stones get stuck here often.

Rudder vs Skeg

Oars are designed to be lifted out of the water using a cord system and generally folded out of the way on the rear deck.It is usually dropped and retracted on one side of the cockpit with the help of a slider.
It is used to keep the kayak on a straight pathIt is used to balance the kayak during turbulent conditions
They are prone to breakThey are quite sturdy
Impervious to any damage due to stonesQuite prone to stone damage

Frequently Asked Question

Q1- Where do you put a skeg on a kayak?

You can put the skeg on the bottom section of the kayak’s hull

Q2- Is the skeg or rudder better?

The biggest advantage of a rudder is when going to sea, where the ability to steer the kayak with your feet and avoid broaching is a significant advantage over boats with skegs or boats with nothing at all. So you can use all your energy for paddling forward

Q3- How Deep Should the Skeg Be?

Depending on the dimensions, it should be 1/4th, ½, and 3/4th way down.

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