Re-Review : Hobie Mirage Pro Angler

Posted by MNAngler On September - 4 - 2012

Three years ago, almost to the day, I did a review on the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler. At the time, it had just been announced at ICAST 2009 and won an award for best new product.

Last year, I was contacted by the marketing manager, Ron, at HiTempo, the local Hobie dealer to try out the newest version of the fishing kayak. He said several of my complaints had been addressed. We went out one evening last June. Unfortunately, due to a job change, I didn’t get to posting the re-review and a year had passed before I knew it. Ron offered to take me out again this year and we were able to get out last week.

On my original demo outing, I was only able to take the Pro Angler out for a few minutes. It gave me a taste of the kayak and left me wanting more. Having fished out of it a couple of times now, I can really see the draw of kayak fishing. A kayak doesn’t have as much space and wiggle room, but it’s more portable and less maintenance. It can get you around a lake very well and allows you to sneak into shallows that a normal fishing boat can’t get to.

As a float tube angler, I can appreciate the range of a kayak. I have a lot more maneuverability with my tube, but some days I would gladly sacrifice that for being able to explore more areas.

The boat is solidly made and has a nice wide base that allows you to stand while fishing. That is probably one of its best features because it’s nice to get above the water once in a while which I can’t do in my float tube. It also gives me some respite from casting and reeling from the side, which I’m not used to. From my tube or a boat, I can cast straight in front of me.

The Pro Angler has a large storage covered storage area in front and open one in back with bungee cord tie downs. One of the things I love about fishing in a boat is being able to use a livewell. Hobie has one you can attach to the back storage area.

  

During my demo three years ago, I really loved the idea of the horizontal rod holders. I thought it would be nice to be ale to store rod and reels horizontally so that you don’t have to remove them from storage. However, in practice, the space is a bit tight and reels can get in the way of each other. I would recommend one rod and reel on each side and the built-in vertical rod holders (behind the seat) for any extras. I currently only have one spinning reel and one baitcasting reel, so it’s not an issue for me. I did bring along an extra spinning reel and that’s how I discovered the reels get in the way of each other.

The distance from the seat to the MirageDrive pedals has 7 settings so it can adjust to a wide variety of leg lengths. I’m only 5’6″ and the pedals were set at setting 2 for me. Much shorter, and I might not have been able to use it. However, most people are between my height and a foot more so the setting adjustments should be able to accommodate most everyone.

If you don’t know about the Hobie MirageDrive, it is a pedal system that operates two fins on the bottom of the boat. They can fold up flat against the kayak and are easily removable. I love that I am able to propel myself around the lake without having to put down my rod and reel to use a paddle.

One change I really appreciated was the move of the rudder control from below the left corner of the seat to the left side of the kayak between the seat and the left wall. I like that it’s a big handle and not a small knob like before. It was easy to control and stayed in place pretty well so you didn’t have to make little micro adjustments to fix your direction. The coolest thing about the rudder is that it is retractable so you don’t have to worry about damaging it when you get into shore.

The mesh pockets in the side and the ruler on the mid-boat handles are two small details but nice touches and very useful.

I will say, though, that it’s a bit heavy. You either need a friend to help you carry it or you’ll want to buy the wheels that plug into the bottom of the boat so you can pull it from you car to the launch site.

I also got to try out the Mirage Pro Angler 12. It is a 12′ version of its larger cousin and as such is a little lighter, a bit narrower, and easier to propel through the water. I was amazed at how much faster it could get moving through the water with the same effort on the Pro Angler 14 (the original). The rudder needed to be watched a bit more closely, though. I wasn’t able to keep it on the straight and narrow as easily as the 14.

Because it is not as wide as the 14, it can only hold 4 rods horizontally instead of 6 and the rudder control is on top of the left edge instead of between the left edge and the seat. The stability is not as good as the 14 when standing, but still sufficient.

The big improvement on the 12, though, is the seat. The new seat is a lot more comfortable and adjustable in height as well as in the angle of the backrest. Both are controlled by twistable knobs on the handles. It’s also removable so you can use it as a camp chair. I was told this new seat will be on the 14s shortly. It’s a vast improvement because I switched about half way into our evening and my back was already sore after an hour and a half on the 14. The new seat is much more comfortable.

  

The 12 also comes with a spot on the bottom for a fish finder transducer. You have to drill a hole in the 14.

Three years ago, I had no watercraft to fish on so the Mirage Pro Angler was what I really wanted to fish on. Now that I use a float tube regularly, I’m satisfied without it. With that said, I wouldn’t complain about having one due to its additional storage and range.

The Pro Angler 14 retails for $2,949 and the 12 for $2,549. Certainly not cheap, but much less expensive than a fishing boat that you have to buy gas for and do maintenance on. Still, a bit too pricey for me to justify with the amount of fishing I do.

If I ever got one, I would need to get my legs in shape. My legs started getting fatigued only a few minutes into my 3 1/2 hour fishing outing. By the time I was done, my legs were burning and ready to fall off. It’s definitely a good aerobic exercise. Surprisingly, my legs weren’t sore the next morning, but I felt it after walking about a half mile to and from lunch.

If you live in the Twin Cities and want to try one out, HiTempo does free demos at White Bear Lake from 4pm to 7pm on Thursday evenings between May and early September. Feel free to give them a call and tell them you read my review.


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