About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to pick up a brand new Hobie Pro Angler 12 from Austin Canoe and Kayak (Burnet Rd. store). I decided to give it a very in depth review and in this section focus on how it fished. You can find what I had to say about the features of the kayak, some basic first installations and the seating system. After several trips out in the Hobie Pro Angler 12 (or PA12), I can honestly say that it is one mean fishing machine!
The Mirage Drive is an amazing piece of engineering. Being that it is completely removable and adjustable makes it unbelievably easy to adjust to fit your needs and to just use in general. Once installed, the initial adjustments only take a second. Once to your liking, you simply place your feet in the peddles and go. There really is not much of a learning curve at all.
Speed of the boat is pretty good for a kayak this wide. It is not uncommon to get up to 5mph+ though sustaining that speed over a long distance could be challenging. 3 to 4 mph seems to be a more comfortable cruising speed over a longer distance. Steering is a bit hair pin which does take a little bit of getting used to. Over compensating on the rudder control can put you sideways pretty quickly. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really a non issue though. Since the kayak is so responsive, the turning radius is very small and allows you to make adjustments very quick. It does come with a paddle that can be used to minor adjustments. I take it with me every time out but have rarely used it yet.
Standing in the PA is a breeze. The various seat positions allow for a pretty seamless transition from sitting to standing and vice versa. Not only does being able to stand in the kayak allow you to stretch your legs, but also give you a higher vantage point for sight fishing and flipping structure. Setting the hook on a fish is also not an issue. As long as your feet are far enough apart to provide you with with the proper base, you’re good to go. Not once have I felt uneasy to off balance while standing.
I would consider the Hobie PA 12 one of (if not) the top boat for kayak tournament bass fishing. Being able to hold a position on an offshore target in deep water and have your hands free to fish can be a real difference maker. Conversely, the PA’s ability to have the fins folded up under the kayak and venture into thick reeds make it a great shallow water boat as well. This versatility allows for the PA to fit pretty much all fishing styles. If you take the amount of features that are packed into this kayak and combine them with the speed, maneuverability and stability that it has, you get one complete package that is pretty much unmatched.
While I love my paddle kayaks and will never give them up, the Hobie Pro Angler 12 and the mirage drive has opened my eyes to a new way this tournament season. I am really looking forward to many years of tournaments and just fishing in general out of my PA12. On a side note, I did find a fishing related use for the sail/accessory mount. It is the perfect size to hold a pair of pliers. Since I throw crankbaits so much, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fumbled around looking for my pliers. This certainly puts them right in front of my face.
While the PA has some weight to it, it’s really not difficult at all to move around. The rigid handles make things extremely easy. I already had a cart and so far it has been working great. When I’m ready to transport the kayak from the launch to the truck, I simply lift the bow of the boat and place it on to the cart. From there, I simply grab the handle on the back of the boat and wheel it over to the truck.
Once wheeled over, I simply re-position the PA on the cart so that the bow is down and then load the kayak into the bed of the truck stern first. I use ratchet straps to secure it to the tie downs in my truck bed. I add a red flag to the bow handle for transport and that’s it. If I ever find that my current cart no longer meets my needs, I would more than likely go with the “plug in” heavy duty cart that Hobie makes. It seems like it does a great job of getting the balance of the kayak in a somewhat neutral position for easy transport.
All in all I could not be happier with my decision to get into a Pro Angler 12. If you are looking for an all around great fishing platform, I would certainly take a look at the Pro Angler 12. Read more about the features of the kayak, the seat and the installations I made.