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 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, a 20cm twist-lid hatch that can house a gear bucket and a dry bag. For rod storage, the cockpit has six deep holders and for trolling, two on the stern within easy reach.
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 a small lever on the gunwale for steering, a toggle to pull down the rudder and a hull slot in which to drop the MirageDrive. 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 features a deep vee indent in the stern that aids stability and protects the rudder. Inexperienced kayakers can feel secure and stable, thanks to the deep bow flaring out to a wide beam that is carried right back to the square stern. The stern has drain holes and there are sturdy carry handles at both ends.
Stern storage can accommodate a livewell or a fairly large esky, secured with elastic straps. 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 fit on the rudder housing or in the pedal well.
I’m a big fan of the MirageDrive and can 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. They swing in a 90º arc and at each rotation are flat on the hull to allows beach landings without any protuberances.
Hobie supplies a small trailer for the Pro Angler because it is much bulkier than the average kayak; a price you have to pay for rock-steady stability. At 45kg unladen, it is probably a two-person job to lift.
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, the rudder is pulled down via a cockpit toggle once afloat and the MirageDrive is clicked into position.
With rods stowed in their holders, I set off in the early morning light trolling a lure with another spinning rod at the ready. A relaxed pedal motion was more than enough to produce 2 to 3 knots and even in the small chop of the headland, the Pro Angler’s decks remained dry.
Pushing in towards the breakers, 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 with short, stabbing pedal motions, the Pro Angler could turn in nearly its own length.
As the sun slowly climbed above the horizon, my trolling rod suddenly bucked. I grabbed it from the holder just behind my seat and felt the fish surge down and then run towards me. I kept pedalling and wound in fast as the bonito broke the surface and I slipped it over the side into the protected deck.
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 is space galore and plenty of storage. Its big carrying capacity of 272kg makes it ideal for the larger man or woman.
Its only real limitations would be going offshore – the 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, phone (02) 9979 6546, emailwww.sailingscene.com.au. Australian distributor:||Hobie Cat Australasia|