Over the years the American Hobie brand has refined the sit-on-top kayak concept and the company’s flagship fishing kayak, the Pro Angler, really exemplifies this approach.
Aimed at competition anglers, the Pro Angler resembles a boat more than a kayak with nearly a metre of beam and a deep hull with lots of storage. Its clever design is powered by Hobie’s patented MirageDrive pedal system; a unique foot pedal system that really powers the plastic hull through the water.
Unlike traditional sit-on-tops (SOT) the Pro Angler gives its occupant an elevated fold-down seat, so no more wet bottoms, and the non-slip footplates allow comfortable stand-up casting.
Storage is a big feature with a large bow hatch, under leg storage and at the stern cargo area an 8” twist hatch that can house a gear bucket and dry bag. For rod storage, the cockpit has six deep holders and for trawling, two on the stern within easy reach.
In addition, around the cockpit area are two black mounting boards designed to house electronics. Other nice touches include plenty of elastic clip straps for securing fishing pliers, paddle and other essentials. Controls comprise of a small lever on the gunwale for steering, a toggle to pull down the rudder and a hull slot for dropping the MirageDrive into. It is robust and easy to use.
The rotomoulded polythene self-draining hull feels tough and rigid, which takes the worry out of landing on rocky shores. The underwater profile boasts a deep V indent in the stern section that aids stability and protects the rudder. Inexperienced kayakers can feel secure and stable with the deep bow flaring out to a wide beam that is carried right back to the square stern. The stern also has a useful carry handle, as does the bow, and two drain holes.
Stern storage can house a livewell or fairly large esky with elastic straps in place to secure it. Conveniently, the bow handle allows for easy deployment of a small anchor or a sea parachute for slow drifting. The sturdy side handles include ruler marks for quick fish sizing.
Propulsion options are plentiful; paddle power, MirageDrive pedals and/or a quality Torqeedo electric motor that can either fit on the rudder housing or in the pedal well.
I’m a big fan of the MirageDrive and happily vouch for its effectiveness and power. The adjustable alloy pedal shafts power a pair of flippers, modelled on the underwater wing actions of a penguin; swing in a 90º arc. At each rotation they are flat on the hull that allows beach landings without any protuberances.
Hobie supply a small kayak trailer for the Pro Angler as it is much bulkier than the average kayak; price you have to pay for rock steady stability. At 45kg unloaded, it is probably a two-man job to lift and unmount.
For the test ride, we used the kayak trailer and launching at the beach was effortless; after slipping the Pro Angler off its two wheel trolley, once afloat the rudder is pulled down via a cockpit toggle and the MirageDrive clicked into position.
With rods stowed in their holders, I set off in the early morning twilight with trolling lure in tow and another spinning rod at the ready. A relaxed pedal motion was more than enough energy for a 2-3 knot pace and, even in the small chop of the headland, the Pro Angler’s decks remained dry.
Pushing in low towards the breaking swells the Pro Angler took the 1m swell with aplomb and despite my relatively high centre of gravity on the comfy seat, the boat didn’t feel tippy. Pedalling the big Hobie even further in, with occasional tweaks on the steering stick, I threw a few casts over the kelp beds while pedalling along – try doing that with a traditional paddle kayak!
The only major limitation of the MirageDrive is a lack of reverse, so ensure a paddle is handy. Handling in general is predictable and the Pro Angler could turn in nearly its own length (by short stabbing pedal motions).
As the sun slowly climbed above the eastern horizon, my trolling rod suddenly bucked. Grabbing the rod from its holder just behind my seat I felt the fish surge down and then run towards me. I kept pedalling and wound in fast, as the bonito broke the surface and was slipped over the side into the protected deck of the Pro Angler.
With the evening’s dinner stored safely in the fore hatch I pedalled home. Taking advantage of the Hobie’s large non-slip footplates and high topsides, I stopped to do a few standing casts in the shelter of a nearby beach.
The Pro Angler undoubtedly does its job as a dedicated inshore angling platform. For the competition angler, there are oodles of space and plenty of storage equipment available. Its big carrying capacity of 272kg makes it ideal for the bigger man or woman. It’s only real limitations would be going offshore – its high topsides and high seat could be uncomfortable in a seaway.
|Weight (fully rigged):||62.6kg|
|Options:||Torqeedo electric drive, livewell, gear buckets, trailer, turbo pedals, electronic packages|
|Supplied by :||The Sailing Scene, 42 Darley St, Mona Vale NSW 2103|
|Tel:||(02) 9979 6546|
|Australian distributor:||Hobie Cat Australasia|