Well, it’s official, I’ve been a kayak angler for three full months! As you can imagine I have some insights to share with all the aspiring kayak anglers out there.
First and foremost, I’m blown away by the amount of interest in kayaks and kayak fishing. It seems like every time I cross paths Fish Sniffer readers these days I get questions about kayak fishing in general and my Hobie Pro Angler specifically. I’m addicted to the simplicity and excitement of kayak fishing and if you give it a try, you’ll get the addiction too. Let’s dive in!
The Hobie Pro Angler 14
When I decided to get a Hobie Pro Angler, my first challenge was deciding on a 12 or 14 foot model. I went with the 14 because the large rear deck and 600 pound weight capacity provides ample space for my fishing partner, a 65 pound Labrador retriever named Lucy.
The Pro Angler 14 is the ultimate fishing machine with great stability, six horizontal rod locker tubes, a huge front storage compartment and a super comfortable seat.
The H-Rail that surrounds the kayak’s cockpit has proven to be a great platform for mounting rod holders, camera mounts, downriggers and my Lowrance sonar unit.
The HobieMirage Drive 180 is the propulsion system at the heart of the Pro Angler.
Weighing in at under eight pounds, the MirageDrive 180 peddle system produces full power in both directions and offers unprecedented maneuverability.
With this system, I can pull one of two shift cables to pivot the drive’s fins 180 degrees, switching instantly from forward to reverse and back again. The dual fins provide shallow water access and easy shore landings by simply pushing one pedal forward.
The drive is full adjustable with the push of a button. It doesn’t matter if your 6’3″ like me or 5′ tall like my wife, you can tailor the peddle stroke to your body size.
When I’m bass fishing I’ll inch up on the structure, make a cast with a Carolina rig or jig and then use my MirageDrive to slowly back away from the structure in reverse, dragging the rig through the strike zone. All the while, the action is out on front of me and my hands are free to work the rod.
Getting Down: A Man Doesn’t Live On Bass Alone!
Bass fishing is fun, but at the end of the day I’m a trout angler. Early this spring when the water was cold I nailed a lot of trout while toplining from my Pro Angler. When the trout dropped down, I used a high tech leadcore rig to target fish holding from 10 to 25 feet deep.
These days most of the trout and kokanee residing in the foothill reservoirs in my area have dropped down below the 30 foot mark. This is downrigger country and thanks to the folks at Scotty I’m able to work these deep holding fish with ease.
I’m running a simple yet highly efficient Scotty No. 1073 Laketroller crank downrigger. The unit mounts right on the Hobie’s H-Rail. The rigger features 100 feet or 150 pound cable. Every revolution of the downrigger’s “spool” released 1 foot of cable for precise controlled depth trolling.
The unit is rated for weights up to 4 pounds. I’ve been running with a 3 pound salmon fishing weight and it works perfectly.
Tools, Tools & More Tools!
Fishermen make use of a lot of gadgets and gizmos and this is doubly true when it comes to kayak fishing. A lot of companies turn out tools that will work for kayakers.
When it came time for me to outfit my Hobie with tools I reached out to the folks at EGO Products. I ultimately picked up an EGO S2 Compact Slider net.
The handle on the net rockets from 18 to 36 inches with the press of a button. The model I chose has a 17 by 19 inch hoop and boasts rubber netting to minimize hook tangles. The net is also available with nylon netting and PVC netting.
Despite having had the net for only a short time, I’ve used it to bring several fish aboard my kayak. The net has performed as expected and it has been very tangle resistant even when dealing with trout hooked on Rapalas bristling with tiny hooks.
In addition to the net I also got an EGO Kryptek Ultra Grip fish gripper with a 40 pound integrated scale.
The gripper allows me to quickly and easily reach out and lip a fish, lift it into the kayak and get an accurate weight on the fish before releasing it. The Ultra Grip tool features the high-tech and super cool Kryptek camo.
In addition to the grippers and net, I also tossed in an EGO Kryptek 24 inch measuring board to quickly and efficiently determine the length of anything I might land. With lots of stripers and halibut in my future, my EGO measuring board will be a key piece of gear for determining which fish go back into the water and which ones come home for dinner!