One of your first duties as a newly employed ACK member is to work a day in the warehouse. This is because a new employee needs to know ACK’s products and also because it is important to understand the overall process and how it works. I soon came to find out just how important our warehouse is to the business!
After a full week of being at ACK my time had come. I was excited because this would be a totally new experience for me. I decided to come in at 6:30am with the early crew and start fresh. The day started the second I walked through the door and didn’t stop until my shift was over.
To kick things off I received a quick walk through of how products are processed throughout the day. It was simple but overwhelming at the same time. Everything is meticulously organized and runs like a well oiled machine. It was like going through an outdoor version of IKEA in that everything is streamlined, has a place, and there is A LOT to take in.
Shortly after this walk through I received my first big task, move a Hobie Pro Angler 14 across the warehouse by myself. Now I don’t know if you know this but a Hobie Pro Angler 14 weighs about 140lbs and the warehouse happens to be huge. First, they let me know there is a science to this process and showed me how to best move this beast across the room. After several attempts I had it down and made my way to the other side of the warehouse.
After getting through most of the the morning duties I decided to spend some time in the packaging and shipping area. Initially, I shadowed the guys packaging and shipping kayaks. These guys were fast and took meticulous care to ensure that the product was secure and protected. I watched a few get packaged and shipped and then was able to get my hands dirty. In the time it took me to complete one they easily could have completed three. Because of this I decided to move on to packaging and shipping smaller items. The process they have in place for smaller items is just as efficient and meticulous as the one for larger items. One of the coolest things in my opinion is the fact that every box, piece of plastic, bubble wrap, and other shipping material is always repurposed. Everything is reused and nothing is wasted. We even have an ‘Ugly Box” sticker that goes out with the packages to let our customers know that the box has been repurposed.
After packaging and shipping smaller items I decided to bounce around for the rest of the day helping out wherever I was able to. The warehouse seemed to be in good spirits all day even though the work can be tedious and difficult.
My day in the warehouse gave me a whole new respect for our warehouse employees and the work they do for ACK. They run a tight ship and in my opinion, are the heart of the ACK operations.
Ryan Herzog is a competitive kayak angler and recently shared his Hobie Pro Angler Fish Finder installation on the Austin Kayak Fishing forum. This content has been re-posted with his permission.
I recently picked up a Humminbird 998 with side imaging. The first issue that came to mind was where/how to mount the transducer. I knew because of the side imaging, that the transducer would not work up in the transducer covey that already existed on the Pro Angler. After some thought and seeing how the Mariner guys mounted their transducers off of the back, I figured that would be the best option.
First thing I had to do to install my new Hobie Pro Angler fish finder was to make a small modification on the H-bird metal mounting bracket. I drilled out the middle slot to 1/4 inch so that I could mount a RAM 1″ screwball.
I then mounted one of these to the back hand rail of the PA:
From there, I stole the 3.5″ RAM arm from my existing FF mount and put it all together:
After much deliberation, I decided to have the exit point of the cable on the high point of the back of the boat using the Hobie Thru Hull Wiring Kit to ensure a good seal on the hole. Left a little slack in the cord for adjustments. Once I have it fine tuned out on the water, I’ll seal everything up.
Just an FYI for PA owners. Here is an inside shot (Video) of the boat from the back hatch looking towards the drain plug. You can see the rudder lines and the pully on one side. The back is clear for the most part:
Meet Big Names of Kayak Fishing at ACK Austin this Weekend
I was scrolling through the list of representatives that we have coming to our ACK Austin store this weekend for Demo Days when I realized how many awesome people we have coming together for this event. If you’re a local Austin paddlers who is looking to further your kayak fishing knowledge and skills, you won’t want to miss this event. Here are some of the people you can expect to see:
Captain Fil Spencer will be here representing Ocean Kayak, Necky and Old Town Canoes and Kayaks to discuss how he utilizes their line-up of different models on the coast. Fil has been a big presence in the IFA Kayak Fishing Tours over the past couple years, placing 3rd in the recent Aransas Pass event and grabbing up the biggest redfish. He’ll be showing off his personal rig, talking about the new Predator kayak and answering any questions you might have about kayak fishing.
Husband and wife team, Thomas and Megan Flemons, run the show at local Austin kayak manufacturer, Diablo Paddlesports, and kayak fly fish in their free time. They will both be out showing off their lineup of ultra stable kayaks, including their new roto-molded Amigo kayak which has been generating some buzz since it was announced a few months back. Thomas will even be holding a “Fly Fishing from a Kayak” clinic Saturday at 10:45 and Sunday at 1:30 PM.
Native Watercraft’sTom Jester along with angler prostaff Ryan McDermid and Jose Jimenez will be on site and talking about how models like the Manta Ray, Ultimate, Versa Board Angler, Mariner and Slayer serve the different needs of kayak anglers. Don’t expect to see their new Slayer propel or Ultimate FX yet since those aren’t released until later in the year, but they’ll be able to answer any questions you might have about the new models.
Wilderness Systems angler prostaff Joe Poole will once again be on the scene. Joe has been a favorite resource for Demo Day event goers regarding kayak fishing for many years now and operates his GoinCoastal kayak fishing charter service in Corpus Christi. He’ll have his personal rig to show off and will hold Kayak Fishing clinics both Saturday at 1:00 PM and Sunday at 12:45 PM. His clinics have been known to draw a crowd and are not to be missed for those getting started!
Cully & Ester from Hobie Kayaks will be on hand to discuss the Pro Angler, changes coming to Hobie models for 2014 and how the Hobie Mirage Drive makes kayak fishing easy. Cully and Ester are long time Hobie veterans and have participated in a wide range of trade shows and events, including the Hobie Fishing World Championships (as staff). See the video below from the beginning of this year where Cully discusses the Pro Angler:
You can also expect to see representatives from companies like Feel Free, Scotty and Optic Nerve who will be sure to have some products on hand that will interest anglers. Hope to see you there!
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.
The Pro Angler has a large hatch with the pivoting tackle management system. This is absolutely great. The hatch is built to last and provides a space big enough to actually put a bunch of stuff in.
When you open the hatch, the tackle trays pivot up and are right there for you to access.
For me, the absolute best use of this space is to put items in the boat that I do not plan on taking out. For me, it’s terminal tackle. Things like, worm hooks, weights, swimbait hooks, carolina rigging items, shakey heads, scrounger heads, Paydirt Ball ‘n chains…etc etc.
The front hatch is secured by two bungees and is pretty spacious. It is easily accessible while out on the water while sitting or standing. The white hatch liner insert is removable to allow for even more storage.
The PA comes equipped with 4 horizontal rod tubes near the front hatch. I have stored rods up to 7’6″ with very little to no overhang. My 8ft crankbait rods will fit but they stick out past the gear pockets.
The back hatch is located between the seat and rudder and provides additional storage options including an oval hatch with a gear organizer. I will probably end up using this for first aid related items. Things that are always good to have but you won’t need them every time out.
Flush Mounted Rod Holders
Additionally, the PA 12 has two pre-molded flush mount rod holders near the rear hatch, one on either side. Each rod holder has it’s own rubberized cover that keeps water out (or in my case, those dang bees that think they own my garage).
Even though the PA 12 has ample rod and tackle storage, I still wanted to be able to affix my crate to the boat. Before I had gotten the boat, I had already planned out how I was going to attach the crate. I had plans to install an extra set of pad eyes to accommodate it. When it came time, I quickly realized that there was nothing to do except to clip the bungees to the perfectly placed tie downs that already existed. Man these guys thought of everything!
The rudder is spring loaded and is released by pulling the rudder cord out of the cam.
Once the rudder is deployed, you have one main steering handle (pictured below on the left) and one trim control (pictured below on the right). There are interchangeable so you can put them on whichever side you prefer. Steering with either one works for me. They are very simple to use and extremely responsive.
The mirage drive is a piece of cake to install each time out. It slides into this large scupper and is secured by these locking mechanisms.
The PA 12 has a little bit of weight to it, but it comes equipped with two great handles. They really make it a breeze to move around. Front handle is pictured on the left and the rear handle is pictured on the right.
That’s it for the basic features. See some of the first installations I’ve made on it, including a fish finder mount and anchor trolley, here. Be sure to keep an eye out for my fish-ability review that I will be adding after a couple more outings with it! Thanks for reading.
The seat in the PA 12 is extremely comfortable and has several adjustment points. The front legs sit inside of a couple of cleats that keep it in place.
The back of the seat has two sitting heights. The low position, where the back of the chair sits back in the groove of the boat, pictured left, and the elevated position, pictured right.
The seat position can be easily be adjusted by simply leaning forward and pulling the tether marked “seat”. This will adjust the high position seat holder out of the way so that the seat can be lowered with ease.
The other main adjustable features of this seat include the lower back support which can be increased or decreased by a twist of this knob.
The thigh height adjustment which is accessed by a simple twist of the right seat handle.
The seat also lifts up to provide more standing space. As you can see the cord for the thigh adjustment is still in place. This can be removed by simply unhooking the cord from the left side of the seat. Just don’t forget to put it back when you’re done!
With the seat lifted up and the thigh adjustment cord moved there is plenty of space for storage and standing. You can also see the strap that holds the under the seat tackle storage. There is enough room for a couple of nice sized plano boxes.
As you can see, Hobie put a lot of work into making their Pro Angler seat. I look forward to putting it to the test and you should keep an eye out for a fish-ability review that I will be adding after a couple more outings with the kayak! Thanks for reading.
When I first got the boat home, my first objective was to install my Humminbird FF. The PA has a recessed area with a “Lowrance ready” transducer install bracket/plate. The plate is removed by unscrewing 3 brass screws. Here is a shot of the exposed area.
The Humminbird transduer does not fit into the bracket “as is”, so at the time I made do with some zip ties and components that came with the Humminbird transducer. After a little research, I found that Hobie makes an adapter that allows for a clean install of the H-bird transducer. I had to swing by ACK San Marcos to pick up a stake out pole and the guys over there were more than happy to order a couple of them for me (one for a friend). A week later, they were in.
Installing the transducer to the plate with the adapter was PIECE OF CAKE and took all of about 3 mins.
Run the transducer cable up through the scupper and into the pre drilled pass through. The PA comes with a tree of rubber inserts so it’s just a matter of selecting the correct insert for the cable you are running.
It takes a little bit of effort to get in and reach the back side of the insert to screw and unscrew it but it’s not anything that cannot be done in a matter of a few minutes. The cable(s) are then run to the front of the boat (either left or right side) and run through the fitting. Same as the one in the back, you must select the correct insert to compliment the cable configuration you have. The accessory mounting boards on either side give you endless options on where and how to mount your fish finder. I choose to use a RAM mount and it works great.
One thing I noticed after my last trip out, was that the space between the transducer and the flat area of the transducer bracket plate had filled with mud. I don’t think it’s really an issue at all but you find yourself going through the muck and mud on a regular basis, it might do you some good to take the 30 seconds when you get home to run a hose in the scupper under the seat (where your transducer cable comes out). It should flush out pretty good just by doing that.
Anchor Trolley Installation
After a trip out in the PA 12, I decided to install a anchor trolley. There is a specific trolley kit for the Hobie 12/14 so keep that in mind when you purchase one. It was a breeze to install as all you have to do is remove the plastic caps from the brass inserts on the boat and screw everything in. It’s really that simple.
Since my last post, it became validated, birding from a kayak is pretty darn cool! I continue to work on improving my fishing skills and while I don’t get much better, I can think of a lot worse things to do with my day than spending it in a kayak casting and watching nature work it’s magic. This time, my plan was to fish but I also made it a point that when I came across any bird, I would take notes to later identify it.
The weather was perfect for what turned out to be a great day spent at Lake Bastrop here in central Texas. I took a Hobie Pro Angler 12 out on the water a little after 8am. The pedal drive function was great for quick turns and positioning. I was alternating between a weed less worm and a lipless crank bait trying to drum up some action when I spotted a large bird in the weeds! I moved myself into position and stayed real quite taking notes.
Brown and white Egret looking bird
Long pointy beak, yellow tipped
Yellow bent legs and orange eyes
So exciting! The bird stayed so still completely unaware of what I was doing. I kept my distance and tried to get a picture. Without a lens it just looks like an out of focus picture of a tree. When I finally got to do my research on what it was, I discovered that I had witnessed an American Bittern.
Six hours into it, I’ve caught no fish, which is just mind boggling at Lake Bastrop. The fish practically caught themselves here when Jason Voorheis tormented everyone during the last Friday the 13th movie, which turns out to have been filmed right here on Lake Bastrop. So no fish, but I cataloged 5 new birds I had previously never seen or even noticed in my past pre-birding lifestyle. I also saw plenty of other wildlife including a snake. Instead of feeling like a failure I left feeling very successful and even more inspired than ever before! I can’t wait to hit the coast and look for birds there soon.
At ACK we often receive feedback from our customers but it is rare that a customer travels 600 miles just to visit! This customer shared his experience and also some transportation advice for Hobie Pro Angler 14. Here’s what Keith had to say:
I wanted to say thanks again for the courteous and helpful service that ACK provides. Every employee I have dealt has always been very helpful. I also wanted to share a couple of pictures that you may want to share with other prospective customers. Yesterday was my first visit to an ACK store, previously I ordered everything over the internet. But this time I was too anxious to wait for the shipping so I made the 600 mile round trip. Andy, thanks for prepping my order and Luke, thanks for all the assistance when I got to the store. I know it was a busy weekend for all of you with the demo-days.
I know from reading the forums that many people have questions about transporting and storage; pick-up truck extenders vs. roof racks vs. trailers. With the size and weight of the PA, this dilema is especially true. About a month ago I had purchased the Malone Micro-Sport XT Trailer through ACK. After first doing the roof rack experience, loading and unloading with the trailer was a dream. The other advantage was that with the lighter Yak (Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140), I could actually leave it on the trailer conveniently ready to go. This is possible mainly because of the retractable tongue feature on the trailer.
With the size and weight of the Pro Angler 14, everything I had read showed that you shouldn’t leave on a trailer unless using the Hobie craddles. Well the Hobie cradles must be spread 67″ and my cross bars are only 48″. So after reading and seeing that several others had used PVC pipe to support the PA, I spent $33 for some pipe, a 2×4 and hardware. In the attached pictures you can see how it looks. The boat sits “naturally” on the pvc not touching the cross bars. The Malone Saddle-Up Pro just embraces the sides of the boat fore and aft. I’ve put it on and taken it off the trailer twice today – it’s really easy.
So, here’s my review – when purchased from ACK, the Malone Micro-Sport trailer with minor modification is an ideal answer for both transporting and storing the Hobie Pro Angler 14. I will be posting this same message on the Hobie Forum.
p.s. I love the Pro Angler and if the weather cooperates, she’ll be spending sometime floating tomorrow!
Is it a kayak or is it a boat? Whatever it is, the Pro Angler means business.
I recently had an opportunity to test paddle a Hobie Pro Angler on a weekend fishing adventure and I have to say, I am impressed! My first reaction was, “man, this thing is huge!” but once I hit the water, it was smooth sailing or rather pedaling. It all started when a customer, turned friend of mine, invited me join him on his annual Choke Canyon Lake trip. No arm-twisting here — ready, set, let’s go! As an ACK employee, I must admit, its pretty nice having access to almost any kayak we sell so I decided to try one that I’ve never used for an extended period of time, the Hobie Pro Angler. There is another reason for it. I was told that this lake was home to alligators and I have to admit, I was a little concerned. I do understand that alligators can be pretty laid back but still held strong to using something BIG for peace of mind.
I have a small truck with a short bed so was a little worried that it may not fit but when paired with a Darby Extend-A-Truck Bed Extender, it fit like a glove. Three hours later, I drove up to our cabin and without hesitation pulled the boat off the bed of my truck and into the water. Admittedly, it was a bit of a haul having to drag the boat into the water, it would have been nice if I had remembered to load a Hobie Heavy Duty Plug-In Kayak Cart. Not a huge deal though since it was downhill and mostly sand and grass.
Before I launched, I did spend sometime thinking about how I was going to outfit the Pro Angler. Since this boat already has multiple areas to secure my rods, there was no need for me to purchase any rod holders. I especially liked carrying my backup and night fishing rods in a horizontal position and out of the way on both sides of the cockpit. I did bring a crate to load a few items that I usually carry such as my anchor kit and other fishing gear. As you can see in the picture at the top of this article, there was plenty of room for more. I used the front hatch for my camera equipment but if I had done any fishing for keepers it would have been a perfect place to store my catch on ice.
It’s not the first time I’ve used this boat but I was again impressed with the speed and control I had. There was a stand of sunken trees that I wanted to fish about 300 yards from the shoreline and it only took a few minutes to get across using the Mirage Drive with Turbo Fins attached. I was a bit nervous at first with all the crisscrossing powerboat traffic but was able to get through quickly without hitch. Speaking of powerboats, I never had any problems dealing with heavy chop even while standing. This boat was bone dry all the way through — talk about stable.
Once on water and in place, it was a bit windy so I was prepared to release my anchor but with within a few minutes I realized that by simply adjusting the position of my retractable rudder combined with the fact that this boats weighs just under 138 lbs. I wasn’t being pushed all over the place. Instead, I had a controlled and steady drift.
The cockpit area is probably my favorite feature of this boat. I can’t sit still for more than 15 minutes so plenty of wiggle room and being able to stand up makes this a winner for me. The Pro Angler’s extraordinary stability had me standing more than sitting even while drifting and experiencing powerboat chop. I can’t say enough good things about the seat — comfortable, wide, rigid and dry. I also like the utility trays reserving one for used worms, another for trash and another for my water bottle. I have to be honest, I didn’t know what the flat area just between my legs was for and come to find out, it’s a center hatch cover with a cutting board — nifty.
Choke Canyon Lake is southeast of San Antonio, Texas. For years I have seen a sign off the highway identifying it’s location but never thought much of it. We stayed in a couple of cabins that are part of the state park system. I didn’t have time to explore the entire 26,000 acre lake but enjoyed a sense of isolation from any urban environments. The lake is mostly tree lined with oaks and mesquite amongst open areas of brush land. I didn’t see any alligators but did encounter a variety of birds I had never seen before, turkeys, deer, raccoons and wild hogs. One bird in particular that kept catching my eye was the Crested Caracara (AKA Mexican Eagle). A large beautiful bird that seemed to own the lake.
I also learned something this weekend. Choke Canyon Lake is FULL of fish or at least it seemed so. Over the course of the weekend, our group must have caught at least 40 fish, more specifically large mouth bass. The fishing was on! Okay, maybe not the first day but day 2 rendered a day full of “fish on” moments. With so much space in the cockpit landing and releasing fish safely was a breeze. I used a combination of Texas rigged worms by Get Five Lures, Rattlesnake and Senko. Darker shades of green, black and black with red sparkles were the ticket. Some of the guys were also doing well fishing top water with soft plastic frogs. Most of the fish I caught were just at the edge of grass and hydrilla beds. The fish seemed to be hanging out at the edge ready to strike at anything that came their way. Areas with sunken trees were also hot spots and the nice thing about using a kayak or small boat for fishing is that I was able to get right on top and into those trees. Overall, it was a successful weekend of fishing.
I did run into one situation where I dropped my Shimano Calcutta Rod and Reel Combo into the water. I’ve owned this setup for years and wasn’t about to let it go, so with nightfall fast approaching, I quickly began to try and recover it by dragging my anchor across the bottom of the lake. After 30 minutes of failed attempts, it was pitch black and realized I hadn’t loaded my Scotty Sea Light when I left home. My persistence led me to using my Kelty LumaCamp LED Lantern, which emitted more light than I could ask for. I quickly got back to work rigging up a treble hook with heavy weights and within a few minutes I caught the best thing ever, my rod and reel combo. I’ve always been a big believer in rod leashes and I wonder why a boat that is so feature rich does not come with them. On a different note, I wasn’t too crazy about the placement of the paddle holder although I couldn’t think of a better place to put it.
Back at camp, we enjoyed a festive night of grilled fajitas, sautéed veggies, cold drinks and fish tales celebrating an eventful day of fishing. The Hobie Pro Angler met my expectations and I was thankful for the opportunity to go on this fishing trip and look forward to the next one.