Tuesday, 13 December 2016
The new Hobie Eclipse makes the rider look like they are walking on water so not surprisingly it is turning a lot of heads.
In a nut shell it’s a stand up paddle board, fitted with a Mirage Drive that is propelled with a stepping motion. It’s fast stable and heaps of fun with a list of places you can use it as long as our coastline. Extremely popular with the ladies because they get a leg workout while having fun on the water. My big question was can you fish from it? I had my doubts at first but I’m currently trying it out and I’m more surprised each and every outing...this thing will have its place amongst anglers and smart anglers will quickly realize where it shines brightest of all human powered craft so far.
For a start it offers some advantages over a kayak such as being able to stand up and have propulsion / steering at the same time. This has really opened up the ability to do one of my favourite forms of fishing-sight fishing! I’m loving sneaking up on fish I can see with polarized glasses for example trout and flattys in the weed beds or bream around structure (just to name a few).
The Eclipse is really lending itself to this visual fishing (or other times it’s good to be standing up.) What I’ve found is that you can lean against the handle bars on the Eclipse for surprising stability and comfort whilst sight casting. To hold or tweak position a few gentle pumps of the footsteps as needed plus a touch of either the left or right hand lever (rudder control) is all that’s requirted. It’s actually great fun manoeuvring these things while casting at fish-I urge you to try it without grinning.
For travelling fish like pelagics I give chase and cast on the go...this is GREAT fun.
Add on a rod holder to the handle bars and a H crate on front or back and you have loads of tackle at your finger tips. (For the uninitiated the Hobie H-Crate is a strap on tackle management system that holds 4 rods, tackle, camera mounts, drink holders and lots of other Hobie Accessories that clip on via the specialized H-Rail mounts.) Of note is the craft’s stealth. The quiet and smoothness of the craft has allowed me to sneak up wind (or up current) on quite a few species so far with a good view yet minimal spooking.
Trolling properly is now also possible because you can hold your rod rather than holding the SUP paddle. You have to swap hands a bit when turning but at least the rod is still in your hands – this allows you to feel bites, structure, fouled lures etc and is why in many situations one held rod is better than trolling multiple rods in holders.
The board is made out of an advanced composite epoxy that is light and rigid. The Aluminium Handle Bars are adjustable for height and all the attachments and steering components are first class marine grade material as expected from the Hobie pedigree.
SPECS: The Eclipse comes in 2 sizes.
The 10-5 model is 3.2m long and 0.85m wide. It weights 20 kilos unrigged and 25 kilos rigged. Its carrying capacity is 102kg.
The 12-0 model is 3.66m long and 0.89m wide. It weighs 22 kilos unrigged and 27 kilos rigged. . Its carrying capacity is 125kg.
WHO CAN USE IT?
My kids (aged 4 to 18), wife Marilyn and friends are using our Eclipse regularly and find them dead set straight-forward to use.
What keeps impressing me most is that people who were a little bit hesitant about their balance or worried about falling in (eg Marilyn) actually find the Eclipse a pleasant surprise to use. These are WAY easier to use than a SUP, in fact it really is just like taking a walk rather than being an acquired skill. Marilyn loves it so much I now have to ask ‘permission’ to use it for fishing!
Meanwhile the kids and more advanced water sports folks are doing all sorts of things on them. These things are quick even with my underpowered chicken legs so they are great at catching little bay and ocean swell plus cruising long distances and even tackling rougher conditions and faster currents when you want a work out.
My daughters have also been using them in calm water for SUP Yoga and other water play activities (eg the use the board as a mother ship for snorkelling adventures and cruising to nearby islands).
Steering is easy you can make gradual adjustments to your direction to get used to things, then rip into turns for a thrill.
If you wish to traverse shallow water keep your feet apart and use little pumps and the flippers stay up under the hull moving like little flaps of a birds wings (as opposed to long deep sweeps they flippers make when you do full range strokes)
Effectively these are as relaxed and easy to use as you like...or if you wish you can pump your legs hard and rip into some extra speed and aerobics. Either way you will draw lots of interest when you pull up on the beach after an outing...most people haven’t seen them in the flesh yet.
USED AS A SUP?
The board has extreme stability and the firm set of handle bars to hold onto along with the mirage drive works so well together but I must note that the board is also designed to be used as a standard SUP . Sometimes I leave the handle bars and mirage drive at home and use it as a SUP for an upper body workout. It’s a good SUP craft, surprisingly quick and very easy to use for a craft designed for stabilty...throw on a kid or your puppy too, it’s that sort of craft. But I just LOVE fishing from it and I’m finding the handle bars and mirage drive go back in every time I need to cast a line.
Conclusion. At a time when SUP Fishing is starting to take off (in some parts of Australia at least) there is now the ability to fish with your hands free and have ridiculous stability, range and speed at your disposal...it really is enlightening.
The game has changed and we now have another awesome human powered fishing craft to choose from. The big question may be do you get it for yourself or is it ‘Honey can I borrow your Eclipse...’
You can find more information here http://www.hobiecat.com.au/stand-ups/mirage-eclipse/