The Tackle Village team all own Hobie kayaks for fishing and have spent a lot of time on the water in various Hobie models.
We are often asked by friends looking at buying a Hobie kayak for fishing – which one should I buy when it comes to the Hobie Outback vs Pro Angler.
So we put Hobie’s two top fishing kayaks to the test to help you choose which one is best for you.
Outback vs Pro Angler – the specifications
|Pro Angler (14’ model)||Hobie Outback|
|Length||13’8” (4.2m)||12’ 9” (3.89m)|
|Width||38” (0.97m)||34” (0.86m)|
|Capacity||600lb (272kg)||425lb (193kg)|
|Fitted hull weight||125lb (56.5kg)||85lb (38.6kg)|
|Seat capacity||350lb (159kg)||275lb (125kg)|
Hobie Outback vs Pro Angler – our view
For those buying a Hobie kayak, this is often a really difficult choice. We sat down with our most experienced kayak fishing colleague, Hamish Cross, (who owns both of these kayaks and has been kayak fishing extensively over the past seven years) to work through the strong points of each to help you work out which is the best – the Hobie Outback vs Pro Angler.
The world’s most popular fishing kayak – perfect for a wide range of inshore, coastal and freshwater fishing situations.
- Good stability
- Hobie Mirage Drive 180 propulsion – allows you to easily reverse in the kayak
- Light enough to car top and for solo launches, beach launches
- Comfortable and supportive Vantage CTW seat
- H-Rail accessory mounting system for your fish finder and other items
- Good storage capacity
- World’s most popular fishing kayak
- Expensive (although cheaper than the Pro Angler)
- Not as many rod holders, storage options as the Pro Angler
- Doesn’t come with 360 Drive as standard
- Not suitable for surf, large swells
I wasn’t aware at the time that the Outback with an upgrade rudder is more maneuverable than a Pro Angler. It wasn’t until I later purchased a Pro Angler 14 that I found just how slow the big beast is to turn. You need forward momentum for the rudder to work, and getting the Pro Angler 14 to move often takes a few seconds.
This isn’t just useful for fishing around structure, it’s very important when fishing in rough conditions. In these situations you need to be able to turn quickly into any waves that are moving in your direction. I find that beach landings with the smaller Outback are easier than the Pro Angler 14 due to the size and weight difference.
The serious angler’s kayak of choice used by tournament fishermen and women the world over.
- Unrivalled stability
- Ability to handle variety of wave conditions
- Hobie Mirage 360 Drive propulsion – fins can pivot in any direction allow sideways and reverse movement
- Kick-up fins prevent damage to propulsion system in shallow water
- Ability to stand and fish
- Comfort and space
- Lots of storage capacity
- Horizontal and vertical rod storage
- H-Rail accessory mounting system for fish finder and other accessories
- Luxury Vantage XT or ST seating system
- Lowrance-ready transducer mount for your fish finder
- Rod holders
- Less maneuverability
“After dreaming of a Pro Angler 14 for many years, it wasn’t until I got on the water that I realised just how big the kayak was. I had to reach for things that would normally be at my side, and moving from trailer to water (and back) was far more arduous.
“The biggest benefit of course is the stability and extra space. You can doctor up a second seat behind the main seat, and in this you can add your little fisherperson to join you on calm days. You can also stand more easily in the PA 14 whereas the Outback requires a bit more finesse.
“The Pro Angler 14 has already served me well, mostly allowing my friends to join me doing something that I love.”
Check out our detail Hobie Pro Angler 14 review here.
Sizes – Hobie Outback vs Pro Angler
The Pro Angler comes in three sizes. The Hobie website gives a good run down of which size would suit for any given angler.
“Bigger people need bigger kayaks. Whether you’re tall or a bit husky, make sure to sit in the cockpit of any Hobie you’re considering. Try out the different Vantage seats. All are comfortable, with industry-leading adjustability. The ST and XT seats that outfit the Pro Angler series are larger and taller.
“Don’t forget to check the kayak’s capacity. Take your weight, estimate your gear load, and add in a few pounds for the fish you’ll catch. It’ll help you decide whether a Mirage Outback (400-pound capacity) or a larger Mirage Pro Angler 14 (600-pound capacity) is a better choice.
“A smaller person will fit in just about any kayak. A big boat can still be a mismatch. In this case it can be too much of a good thing.”
The Outback comes in one standard size, with a convenient middle-of-the road length of 12’ 9”. With capacity of more than 400lbs and a seat capacity of 250lbs, the Outback is going to suit the majority of people of close to average size.
Outback vs Pro Angler: real world tests
A final word from Hamish on some key criteria to help you choose
The Outback is considerably lighter than the Pro Angler (PA14). If you plan on fishing beaches, with beach launches across soft sand, dragging the PA14 will quickly become arduous and taxing. At the end of a day’s fishing, shifting 70-80kgs (fully loaded) across soft sand really grows tiring quickly.
The weight also comes into play when moving the kayak onto/off your transport vehicle. Lifting 55+kgs onto the top of a vehicle will require some sort of lifting aid or superhuman strength, or you will quickly find yourself at the physio.
The manoeuvrability of the Outback when fitted with the sailing rudder, is far superior to the PA14. From stationary, the Outback will quickly start to turn when the pedals are operated, the PA14 will turn much slower.
The PA14 has rod storage in the hull, that allows for flat rod storage. This means if you are fishing areas with low bridges, low tree growth etc, this can be very useful. It’s not recommended to transport delicate rods when transporting the kayak, as it can result in rods being broken when you hit large potholes/bumps on the road.
The PA14 also has enough space that you could in theory fish with a second smaller person (child) behind the primary fishing seat. This should be done with caution and only after you are experienced on the water and understand the limitations of kayak fishing with regards to weather/conditions/ etc
If you need to do beach launches and drag the kayak across sand or any soft surfaces, the PA14 is not for you. If you want to be able to stand in your kayak and sight cast, or if you want to have large amounts of storage, the PA14 should definitely be considered
If you want to launch from beaches, rooftop a kayak, or have tight turning circles the Outback should be in your shortlist.
Still undecided on the Outback vs Pro Angler?
Check out these profiles to help you decide: Hobie Outback vs Pro Angler.
Buy the Hobie Pro Angler if you:
- Fish more than 50 days per year
- Often fish with friends or are prepared to invest in a trailer or roof rack system to aid unloading
- Are tall and or/heavy
- Tend to take a lot of gear on the water
- Fish in water bodies where waves can be an issue
- Have considerable storage space in your home
- Want the sideways movement capability of the 360 degree Mirage drive
Buy the Hobie Outback if you:
- If you fish frequently but less than 50 times a year
- Want a serious kayak that you can load and unload yourself
- Regular fish in tight structure that requires maneuverability
- Fish in water where large waves are less frequent
- Don’t have the money to get the Pro Angler
The reality is these kayaks represent the best fishing kayaks on the market, so whichever one you get you will not be disappointed.
The quality of Hobie kayaks is excellent and you hear few if any complaints on this front from anglers.
“Hobie has been making pedal kayaks since 1997. Their hulls are manufactured in the USA and many of the early models, some over 10 years old and are still floating around today,” Hamish says.
“The Mirage drive, the propulsion system and the signature of many Hobies, has had many enhancements applied to it since it’s inception 1997.
“The stability of today’s Hobie kayaks is a byproduct of having over 20 years of hull design. The primary and secondary stability means you can trust the kayak will not roll over easily.”
The reality is, whatever choice you make with regards to the Hobie Outback vs Pro Angler, you are going to be happy – but hopefully this article gives you the info to make a choice that gives you a kayak that fits your needs perfectly.