I’ve been in and out of a few kayaks of late and it’s something I thought would never happen.
But life throws these things at you and, surprising to me, I am finding time in kayaks to be good fun. I’ve actually found myself wondering if all the thousands of kayak owners know something I don’t, and that is that kayaks are a useful tool for getting on the water.
The latest yak I stepped into with the help of my work colleague Greg Livingstone was the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12. This craft is a smaller version of the incredibly popular Mirage Pro 14 and initial stocks in Australia are pretty much all pre-ordered. This rig has proven even more successful than the 14 because of its smaller size. But let’s first look at what this craft has to offer anglers before we step into it for a test run.
To simply list all the features of the Mirage Pro Angler 12 would be a great injustice. There are simple and ingenious ideas on this craft that set it right at the top of the pecking order.
By now most anglers keen on a kayak would be familiar with the Mirage Drive. The Pro Angler 12 makes use of the Turbo fin version of this awesome system that allows this craft to be easier to pedal and in turn faster through the water. The Mirage Drive is an awesome piece of kit. With the fins in the vertical position, the fisherman can control his wind drift and pedal occasionally to hold position in current and wind and control the fight when a fish hooks up.
I’ve sat in some uncomfortable kayaks and some with great seats, but nothing quite prepares you for the Vantage seating used in the Mirage Pro Angler 12. This seat is a piece of work. Totally adjustable, extremely comfortable, made from UV durable material and lightweight aluminium and did I mention adjustable? Users can literally adjust the Vantage seat on the fly with simple twists of the forearm rests. These changes will alter the angle of the back rest on the left hand side and alter the angle of the seat on the right hand side. The seat also has the ability to have a degree of lumbar support adjusted for a perfect fit by a knob on the back of the seat. Further, the seat can be height adjusted by a simple leg strut or folded away to allow more room for an angler to stand and fish. I really liked the ability to adjust the seat so that you could virtually lie down in it with your feet resting on the Mirage Drive pedals. If you wanted to just drift around and have a break, this would be the way to do it. That’s a lot of words on a seat, but it is brilliant and offers unparalleled comfort for the user.
As this is a serious fishing rig, the Hobie team has linked up with Lowrance and made these craft Lowrance Ready. This simply means that space has been allocated for a wet transducer and a sounder head. This means there is no messing around in a new craft trying to work out where to mount the sounder and transducer. A great option.
Like most craft these days the rudder system is totally retractable. This is great for transportation and storage and a simple pull of a cord (within easy reach while seated) allows the skipper to pop the rudder in and get underway. And in a great innovation the rudder can be controlled with either left or right hand as circumstance demands. The left hand is the primary control, however a circular knob on the right hand side allows the user to operate the rudder with their right hand if needed. And the steering is really responsive too as the rudder can turn almost 180°, a great advantage when you’re faced with a tight situation.
Tackle boxes can be stored under the seat and have their own strap to keep them secure, you can store 4 rods horizontally inside the craft and two rods vertically in rod holders, the craft is ready to accept the Hobie trolley for transporting to and from the water and there are hatches aplenty that will dry store extras. In fact one of these cargo areas is large enough to perform as a livewell with the addition of the Hobie Livewell, making these craft virtually tournament ready.
Standard, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is ready to hit the water and get you into some fish. It’s as complete a set up as I have ever seen for the kayaker who only wants to fish.
This is the real test as far as a kayak goes and I have to say this craft felt more stable than some of the smaller boats I have been in. Not only could you sit without fear of being tipped out, it was easy to stand up and sit back down while on the water and I even managed to talk Greg into balancing one legged to really test the Pro Angler 12. Secretly I was hoping he’d fall in and with camera ready I was disappointed to see that he could do his worst impression of the Karate Kid without me having the joy of photographing him going over the side. Damn you Pro Angler 12 and your brilliant balance!
Pedalling was simple and even travelling against 5 knots of current in the local river was easy. Sure we didn’t make massive progress against the current, but we did travel upstream around 1.5km non-stop. Take into account neither of us are marathon runners, in fact most may say we’re unfit desk jockeys and they’d be mostly right too. We fished a few bridges and jetties and it took less than half an hour to get a handle on how to manoeuvre the craft around these structures to get you into the right casting position. Once there you could angle the rudder, stand up and cast just like you would from a standard tinnie. As I said earlier, maybe these kayak fishers know something I don’t – this was turning out to be a load of fun.
While pedalling around we could turn the craft quite sharply or stay easily on track. Having your hands free to steer the craft or rig a rod or even troll for a bit was brilliant. In fact, on water there was not much I could find to complain about with this little gem of a kayak.
If you are into fishing from a kayak and that is all you want a kayak for then you would be absolutely raving mad not to at least step into a Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12. It comes ready with everything you need to get you on the water and into fish, and the things that are not on the craft already can be fitted into areas already set aside for them. Need a livewell? No worries. Wants some electronics? Sorted. That is the thought that has gone into this craft and from what I am told, the world wide dealers had a lot of input into the final layout. And you can tell. Nothing was done to cut corners and everything has its purpose and place.
Would I own a Mirage Pro Angler 12? Yeah I think I would. I was pleasantly surprised and continue to be amazed at how much is packed into such a small watercraft.
You can log onto www.hobiecat.com.au to locate your nearest Hobie dealer by clicking on the dealer finder tab.
Without any extras, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 will set you back $3,350 and for that you get a lot of kayak. Most Hobie dealers offer on water testing and trials, so find your local dealer and ask them to show you the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12. And don’t say I didn’t warn you – I reckon you’ll walk away with one after a very short time on the water.
• The test craft was supplied by Sunstate Hobie in Rivergate, Brisbane. To contact Sunstate Hobie Rivergate, drop into Unit 15 Refit Complex 17 Rivergate Place Murrarie, phone them on 07 3890 8650 or visit www.sunstatehobie.com.au . If you’re on the Sunshine Coast, drop into Sunstate Hobie’s new outlet at 1/1 Capital Place Birtinya or phone them on 07 5493 7620.
|Fitted Hull Weight*:||44.45kg|
Capacity: 500 lbs / 227 kg
Hull Construction:Rotomolded Polyethylene
*Fitted Hull Weight includes all standard features that are permanently attached, e.g. hatches, handles, rudder, hardware.
** Rigged Weight includes all standard features that are permanently attached, plus all other standard features that are removable, e.g. MirageDrive, seat, paddles, gear bucket, water bottle, cassette plug, PA (removable liner), Islands (sail, amas, akas, daggerboard).
MirageDrive with Turbo Fins
Under Seat Tackle Storage
Large Rectangular Hatch with Pivoting Tackle Management System
Retractable Rudder System
Horizontal Storage for Four Rods
Replaceable Mounting Boards
Large Front Hatch with Removable Liner
Anchor Trolley System Ready
Front & Rear Carrying Handles
Livewell Ready Cargo Area
Aluminium Trailex trailer
eVolve Electric Motor