Thursday, 26 February 2015
I recently had the chance to have a proper test run in Hobie’s latest Fishing Kayak, the Pro Angler 17 Tandem, and it’s now obvious there are some new fishing scenarios that this craft has catered for.
For a start, there is the ‘Tandem’ Factor. You see, whilst the single seated Hobie Pro Anglers have taken kayak fishing to a whole new level, they are still single-seaters. To get around this in the single PA’s, I happily carted around a small kid or two, and even dinked my smallest camera men on the bow (in the days before Go Pros...), but with growing kids, I now need more room when I want to bring them along.
I’m thinking that there are lot of other keen anglers out there who might also like a full on tandem fishing kayak, so they can fish properly with a mate, take their better-half fishing in comfort...(or take the kids kayaking so that the better half can have a kid free break!). A standard tandem Kayak ticks these lists, as do a number of single kayaks, but the Tandem Pro Angler makes it a whole new kayak fishing experience beyond compare…and gives you the tools to catch many more fish.
You see I own a tandem Oasis (by Hobie), and use it lots; it’s a great craft, but sometimes I miss the extra features of my single seated Pro Angler such as storage, the horizontal rod holders, lots more room, and the ability to stand up easily to stretch the legs and/or sight fish. Fact is the Pro Angler Single Seat kayaks have spoilt me on these fronts, so the minute I saw the new Pro Angler Tandem, my eye brows pricked up.
During testing I was very pleased to find the PA 17T has more room than I could’ve imagined….. enough for two mates and couple of swags for example, a kid or three, 10 rods (yes 10 rods) and all the supplies you’ll ever need. Furthermore stability is simply AWESOME when you want to stand up, even for people who have never stood up in a yak before!
Most surprisingly, it is extremely maneuverable; it goes where you want it to thanks to a brilliant rudder and keel system. Furthermore with two Mirage drives, one can be installed in reverse, meaning that with just a little practice, you can turn in the area the size of a back yard pool. Not a lot of XL kayaks that can do that!
SPECS: The PA 17T is as the name suggests 17 feet long (5.2m) and has a width of 1.1m. It weights around 105 kg when rigged up and can take a massive load of 408 kg!
FEATURES: Too long to list here, but includes the new Vantage XT Seats which amongst other things are fully adjustable (even the lumbar support) and are up off the floor to keep your bum comfy and dry. The H Rail system is also worth a mention; this allows easy fitting of any gadget you like (sounders brackets, cup holders, angled trolling rod holders, cameras holders, phones holders etc WITHOUT THE NEED TO DRILL HOLES!).
Importantly, like many current model Hobies they come Lowrance Sounder/GPS ready, so you can easily fit these, or have the dealer fit them for you. Again the level of thought and tweaking is incredible, right down to the recessed area that protects your precious transducer.
Note that while you can get away with a basic sounder may I suggest a Lowrance structure scan. I say this because while the PA 17T is a big kayak, it is still much more maneuverable and faster than a petrol powered bass boat running on the electric fishing motor. Utilising the structure scan on this Hobie means you can really sneak and scan multiple spots at unbeatable speed and kayak signal clarity until you know just which spot has good fish on it. Brilliant stuff!! It is also worth noting that the hull and all the features/accessories simply wouldn’t work as well without the remarkable Mirage Drive system. The speed, power/economy and shallow water access that this foot pedal system offers, is still unmatched, and the new ‘Mirage Drive Glide’ technology has further increased Hobies lead on this front.
Having two of the new Mirage drives in the PA 17T expands the possibilities further: both anglers can fish even when there is racing current or strong wind without stopping to pick up a paddle. To give you an example cruising at 6 knots is about as strenuous as a stroll in the park. This beauty almost planes if you both pedal hard!
This PA 17T also offers a multitude of seating configurations but my fav so far is both seats facing each other; known as social seating. This is a very personable way to fish...I kid you not, I am tickled pink just thinking about how much fun this is compared with having to yell at your mate in the front, or turn back all the time to see what your mate in the stern is doing.
Facing each other means you can spoil each other with lure changes, unhooking fish, food, drinks, etc. But it’s not just the romance with your lady or bromance with your mates the face to face seating enhances; if the two dads are taking the kids fishing to get them out of mums hair, things have become very easy: you can watch the kids safely in the middle of the yak where they are entertained yet not able to get out of reach and into trouble! I can’t tell you how much more fun this makes family kayaking.
But get this; should you wish to ditch everyone and get a little ‘Me’ time, there is a single/middle seat option! That gives you the biggest, baddest single person yak in town by a country mile.
Transport? The PA 17T is in most instances transported on a trailer. This is proving quiet handy: leave the yak on the trailer in the back yard, and when you need it simply hitch it on and off you go. No more loading on and off the roof each time you need it, or need to store it.
It soon dawned on me that the real revolution here is that you can easily share a first class fishing boat with others, all while getting the kayak experience. Nothing is lost, like plying through the water with just the magic sound of the bow slicing the waves and the water lapping the hull. Then along the way you see you see cool stuff up close like fish, birds, lizards, turtles and dolphins.
The Beach Cart (Accessory) means you can still launch the craft on your own where there are no ramps and hence get to magic spots where there is little fishing pressure and hence great fishing!
I like a little light exercise while fishing, I like to come back smiling not guilty that I didn’t move much and haven’t earned a nice meal (read couple of beers), so that box is ticked too.
There are other factors I like about kayaks in general, such as the lack of fuel and registration costs, and I love the fact that maintenance time is practically non-existent. But most of all, as regular readers will know, it’s the close-quarter stealth of the Hobie Mirage Drive that has led to some of my biggest and most exciting catches yet.
All this being said; while I think the PA 17T is clearly the number one choice for a tandem kayak for my needs, you’ll find that Hobie also make a Tandem Island designed for sailing/ fishing, and the Tandem Oasis mentioned above. Any of these or a number of single mirage drive
Hobies may fit your needs better, but this can only be assessed by dropping into a Hobie dealer to have a look (Dealers can be found at hobiecat.com.au or Freecall 1800 4HOBIE)
In summary the PA 17T was specifically designed and tweaked extensively for anglers and will definitely expand the kayak Fishing Horizons for Aussies. On the speed, comfort and fishabilty front, there’s no Tandem Kayak like it anywhere on the planet.