Why Hobie Kayaks Are the Best Choice for Fishing in 2024

Hobie Pro Angler 14 Papaya 2018

We invited our kayak fishing expert, Hamish Cross, to explain why Hobie kayaks are the best choice for serious fishermen and women.

As you’ll read, he’s a passionate fisherman and the proud owner of TWO Hobie kayaks – the Hobie Outback and the Hobie Pro Angler 14.

In This Article, Hamish Explains:

  • How he likes to fish in his Hobie kayak
  • How he proved to himself Hobie was the best choice
  • How pedal kayaks have revolutionised kayak fishing
  • How he approached choosing his first Hobie kayak
  • What you need to consider in choosing the Hobie Outback vs Pro Angler

Over to you, Hamish …

How I Like To Fish

I have been fishing since I was four and after a prolonged hiatus due to relocating to London for 10 years, I rediscovered my obsession on my return to Melbourne, Australia. 

If you have fished around any major city or tourist destination you will know that many fishing places are overcrowded and overfished. Meaning that you can spend an entire day fishing to catch a single fish. If you catch a couple of fish, this is considered a really good day.

Kayak fishing allows you to get away from the crowded shores and move out into open water, chasing a wider variety of fish. You can also do things in a kayak that you can’t do in a boat or from land. A bust-up of fish, when approached by a kayak, will rarely spook, whereas a boat coming near a bust-up will often halt the action. 

The Hobie Outback rigged and ready for some fishing action.

Fishing soft plastics from a kayak, you can cruise around casting and retrieving, looking for where a school of fish is located either looking at feeding birds, bust-ups or using your fish finder (check out our tips on reading a fish finder) and when you find them, you can keep yourself stationary by pedaling at the right pace.

I am most comfortable fishing when the wind is forecast below 10kts. However, in some special circumstances, I will go out when the winds are up to 20 knots. This is only if the weather is consistently steady and blowing offshore, and my target species are within a few hundred meters of shore. 

RELATED POSTS: Pro Angler 14 Review Outback vs Pro Angler How To Read a Fish Finder

My Kayak Selection Story

I bought my first kayak in 2014, and I can well remember from that time that looking at which kayak to buy was a very daunting task. When I purchased my kayak, there were a number of different lengths, widths, construction materials, propulsion methods, and manufacturers.

When I was looking for my first kayak, I did quite a bit of investigating around which model suited my requirements. My extensive searching and trawling of posts eventually led me to a forum post, where members voted on their reason for their choice of kayak.

In this poll, 65% of members owned or wanted to own pedal kayaks, 25% had paddles, and 10% didn’t own a kayak. Almost a third of respondents either had moved or were in the process of moving from paddle to pedal. With this information it helped me eliminate paddle kayaks, and narrow the selection down to pedal.

Today, there are a number of pedal drive fishing kayak manufacturers, including Perception, Native, Hobie, Old Town, and Wilderness, to name a few. When I bought my first kayak in 2014, Hobie was the dominant force in the kayak fishing market. They had a number of models: Revolution 13, Revolution 16, Outback, Pro Angler 12, Pro Angler 14, Adventure Island, and a couple of paddle models.

Each model has their own pros and cons, with many sharing common features like pedal drive, roto moulded polyethylene and steering with a rudder positioned by a hand lever.

hobie outback kayak
Hamish on the water in his Hobie Mirage Outback.

Why Pick Pedal Over Paddle?

Pedal drives, for the most part, don’t require training to operate. Paddle is the inverse of this, and when operated incorrectly, it can put undue strain on the body and can be inefficient based on technique. Pedal utilizes the biggest muscle group in the body (glutes), which means a person with average fitness should be able to operate the vessel for a reasonable period of time.

In addition, when actively fishing (trolling, casting lures, etc.), pedaling allows you to maneuver around while fishing, which can be very useful when actively fishing, or when you’ve hooked into a big fish and you need to move around to get the fish out of snags.

One of my favorite things that I like to do in my Hobie is trawl for squid. This action, which would not be possible in a paddle kayak, sees me moving at approximately 1kmph across the water with two spinning rods cast behind. A double action brings the rods forward quickly, followed by a slow drop back as I move forward, keeping the tension on the line.

As the rod tip reaches a 45-degree angle to the kayak, the rods are quickly moved forward again with the double action. The number of times that I have used this technique to catch a bag of squid while those with paddle kayaks are struggling to catch a single squid is too many to count. For this reason alone, if I could only have one class of kayak, it would be pedal over paddle.

Why Pick Hobie?

Hobie has been making fishing kayaks since 1996, and their pedal system, the Mirage drive, since 1997. Their hulls are manufactured in the USA, and many of the early models, some over 10 years old, are still floating around today.

The Mirage drive, the propulsion system and the signature of many Hobies, has had many enhancements applied to it since its inception in 1997. The drive allows for kayakers to move through shallow waters and to pass over submerged objects, only drawing a couple of inches when idle or a few more inches when feathering.

The latest Pro Angler models allow for reverse and sideways movement. They have also introduced a model that “kicks up” if you strike an object, protecting the drive. 

The stability of today’s Hobies 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, and in some cases, you will be able to use the kayak as a fishing platform (standing). 

The Hobie Kayak That I Chose

For my first kayak, I ultimately landed on the Hobie Outback. The biggest factors in my choice were size, weight, and cost. The Outback weighs and costs considerably less than the Pro Angler models and is still an amazing fishing platform.

Hobie 2019 Mirage Outback
Hobie 2019 Mirage Outback
Hobie 2019 Mirage Outback
Our Score

This fully-loaded fishing machine is built for every conceivable fishing expedition, whether you’re prowling the ocean for monster gamefish or stalking bass in your favorite freshwater fishing hole. Hobie has advanced the sport of kayak fishing with Kick-Up Fins that automatically retract upon impact. 

  • Features the multi-adjustable Vantage CTW chair
  • Features H-Track storage pockets, Guardian Transducer shiel
  • Includes a kickup rudder system for easier navigation in shallow water

I wasn’t aware at the time that the Hobie Outback with an upgraded rudder is more maneuverable than a Pro Angler. It wasn’t until I later purchased a PA 14 (check out our Pro Angler 14 review here) that I found just how slow the big beast is to turn.

You need forward momentum for the rudder to work, and getting the PA 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 landing with the smaller Outback are easier than the PA14 due to the size and weight difference.

My Second Kayak – The Pro Angler 14

After owning the Outback for about 5 years, I was keeping an eye out for PA 14 with the intention of being able to take my kids out or to loan to friends. One day, I got an alert of a listing well below the usual price listing, and I immediately called the owner.

After a brief discussion and talk about how the owner was a pro tournament fisherman, I was in the car armed with cash. I picked it up and had it at my friend’s place the next day, looking over the hull and on the water a few days after that.

After dreaming of a Pro Angler for many years, it wasn’t until I got on the water that I realized 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 Pro Angler 14, whereas the Outback requires a bit more finesse. 

The Hobie PA 14 has already served me well, mostly allowing my friends to join me in doing something that I love. Catching fish is exciting, but it pales in significance compared to seeing a friend catch their first big fish from a kayak. It’s also amazing to see friends who have previously owned eBay versions of fishing kayaks comment on how stable the Pro Angler is compared to their long departed $300 kayaks.

Hobie 2020 Mirage Pro Angler 14
Hobie 2020 Mirage Pro Angler 14
Hobie 2020 Mirage Pro Angler 14
Our Score

The original Pro Angler fishing kayak packs extreme fishing utility, with six horizontal rod lockers, enough tackle compartments to empty a store, the Guardian Transducer shield for optimal fishfinder performance and the revolutionary, forward and reversing MirageDrive 180 with Kick-Up Turbo Fins.

  • Features the multi-adjustable Vantage CTW chair
  • Features H-Track storage pockets, Guardian Transducer shiel
  • Includes a kickup rudder system for easier navigation


Hobie is world-renowned and has over 20 years of experience manufacturing both kayaks and propulsion systems.

If you want rod holders, your fish finder, and everything else to be at arm’s length, with limited ability to stand and no desire to take kids with you on the kayak, and money is of no object, choose an Outback. If money is a little tighter, then look at the Hobie Compass or Passport.

If you have storage for a boat trailer, a large budget, or waistline and want to be able to stand easily, then look at the Pro Angler 14. 

The Pro Angler 14 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 regard 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 with the aid of polarized sunglasses, or if you want to have large amounts of storage, the PA 14 should definitely be considered.

If you want to launch from beaches, rooftop a kayak, or have tight turning circles, the Outback should be on your shortlist.

Or you could bite the bullet – funds permitting – and own both!

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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