I recently broke a side rail on my Smart Trac, and found that the new replacement ones are aluminum instead of plastic. So obviously somebody has addressed the "design flaw" mentioned in other reviews.
This is a great rudder for racing, allowing tight buoy turns and cutting inside other boats, and it appears to be much lower drag (and quieter) than the flat plate rudders on my team-mate's EFT. It hasn't been great for me on a trailing surf once the waves get faster than I can paddle, but I suspect that's more a boat issue than a rudder issue.I just purchased a rudder after 2 years of not having one because on windy days, the waves would guide the boat and I would be wasting all my time sweeping instead of forward stroking. The installation wasn't too bad except that the old foot brace holes didn't align with the pre-drilled holes on the ST braces. A couple of holes and a thread cutter later, the braces mounted firmly in. The length of cable was easily adjusted using the little jammers attached to the tiller. You just push the cable back and pull it through a bit more or back to adjust the position of the pedals.
After taking it out on the first trial run, I discovered the right pedal was a bit too far forward. A stop and shortening it a little more and the pedals were even.
I went through weeds and at the tension I had the pedal set, I just got startled by the pop when it snapped back into place.
The pedals were much more comfortable than the old flat ones. The rounded peg is much more comfortable and would be worth having without the rudder. The rudder controls over the top just needed to be located somewhere between the ball of your foot and your big toe. Smart-Tracker supplies a vertical adjustment device where you can shift the foot braces up or down to adjust this. You then just need to push with your toes to turn the rudder. For correction, this is all you need, and that is what I bought this for. If you want fast turns because you can't handle your boat, you'll have to lift your foot and push a bit farther. It wasn't that bad to do either.
It was really nice to paddle with the foot braces not moving, only touching the controls when needed.
The single string rudder lift was simple to use and an easy pull. I found that if you pull it up half-way, enough of the rudder is still in the water to add steerage but is shallow enough not to plow through sand.
The Smart-Track rudder is now it's own company, Smart-Tracker LLC, and it distributes the rudders out of the Wenonah Co. of Minnesota. It was hard to find during this transfer from Seal-Line period, but compared to the other rudders out there, this one is great. If you want a huge rudder to turn fast, get a sailboat.The WORST rudder setup I've ever used - by far, including conventional pedals as in most US kayaks, tiller rudder in ICF boats, and pedals on surfskis - any other (just about) rudder I've used on any kayak is better than this. My rudder (plastic) came with an Epic Endurance (18 ft). Using Simon River's tiller kit seems to be the best change to improve the otherwise really great boat.
Due to the footpeg being so close to the pedal, one cannot get the rudder cranked over without often pushing on the footpeg. This results in dragging the rudder to turn one way, and pushing the boat the other way - counterproductive, to say the least.
The rudder itself is cheesy and flimsy. It also has mold markings and blemishes. It should not have left the factory. If you loosen up the spring tension to help clear weeds while going forward, it won't stay down in the water to steer the boat, where it should be.