Not all that long ago I wrote a well received piece on the 8 common myths about kayak fishing. That list of myths amounted to eight (I'm sure there are more) and had I included the common myths we often hear about Hobie kayaks, it would have been a fair bit longer. But after having just spent the weekend working at the Coffs Harbour 4WD and camping show and hearing all those myths pop up again, I feel it's time to set the record straight.
Busted: That would only really be true if you ignored all of the other real estate available on board. Truth of the matter is that the pedals hardly get in the way and if the tens of thousands of succesful kayak fishos using Hobies around the world is not enough to convince you, I'm not sure what else to say. After having fished from Hobie kayaks for a good while I cannot ever recall finding the pedals to be a hinderance. I have, however, found them to be helpful in ways one might not expect. Despite the location of the pedal arms, I am still able to land large fish on deck (around the pedal area) with ease. In the event that said fish is actually a shark (or some other toothy critter with a mouth to be avoided) the fish can usually be landed on the forward side of the pedals arms, which then act as a nice barrier between you (and your jewels) and the fish. I use the pedals in this way often, and is a part of my 'yak-jitsu' concept. You can see it clearly in play at the end of Yakass Coastal Kayak Fishing Show #8 at the end, where I land the shark on board. Quite deliberately I pull it on deck and slide it right in front of the pedals, to prevent it from struggling and potentially getting a chomp in on me.
Busted: I have to stop myself from laughing when I hear this one, because it's untrue on so many levels. This myth is peddled by kayak dealers (who do not sell hobie) that will say just about anything to stop you from going off and buying one. But the fact of the matter is that if a Hobie cannot go backwards, a) that must mean you can't paddle a kayak backwards and b) you cannot put the pedals in backwards for reverse drive propulsion. But wait... you totally can! Backwards paddaling has been in vogue for at least 4000 years, ever since the eskimos took to their icy waters to hunt seals. And yes, you can put a Hobie miragedrive in backwards and yes you can then use it to pedal backwards.
Busted: While I admit that this sounds highly plausable and won't be overly surprised if it does happen one day, so far I am unaware of that ever going down. One thing I am sure of is that pedalling in the vicinity of a large dangerous shark does not guarrantee a shark will attack them (I have tried, numerous times) and infact, based on my experiences, that outcome is highly unlikely. However, in the event of a close encounter with a big shark, all bets are off for the rudder... and I don't care what brand of kayak you are talking about.
Busted: Correction - Hobie have many fishing models - they're just not all in your face about it. There seems to be a lot of people out there that think that Hobie only have one kayak for fishing and they'll often approach a salesman and ask to be shown 'the fishing one'. Usually they mean the Pro Angler, and I believe they reach this assumption partly because of the marketing behind it, as well as it's name. Of course, the Pro Angler was made exclusively for fishing, so when asked about it, quite naturally, any salesman will direct the customer to towards the Pro Angler and say 'there you go sir - I present to you the 'fishing one'. But the truth is that you can fish from any Hobie kayak, even if you have to get a little creative to set it up as a fishing platform. We were all fishing happily from any one of the other numerous models long before the pro Angler came out, and when it was released, most of us were happy enough to stick with what we were already using. Sure - the Pro Angler is a terrific fishing platform and anyone who wants mega stability, storage options and the ability to stand up are probably going to love it. But various other models are actually more adept at traversing certain waters and conditions (particularly if we raise the paddle as a propulsion method) and many users would actually be better off with something else. The term 'horses for courses' really fits here. The horse being the kayak and the course being where you plan to use it.
Busted: Little wonder people make this assumption. No doubt about it, at full oscillation of a mirage fin will draw a foot underneath the hull (turbo fins a couple inches more) and ideally you want full clearance for optimal propulsion, as well as to avoid damage to the fins. But in most instances where water depth is less than the full extension of the fins it is typically possible to engage the miragedrive with short pedal strokes that feather the fins in their upright position. Rather than doing a full stroke, you push one foot forward and then do tiny pedal strokes so that the fins only move a couple of inches up and down. You won't break speed records, but you will move forward, and all you'll need is 6 - 7 inches of water to get away with it. Otherwise you can always push one foot forward to press the fins against the hull and then reach for the paddle. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy!
Busted: On the contrary, the miragedrive is a simple device when you understand it and not only is it pretty damned robust, it's also easy to field repair if something goes wrong, and simple to maintain and service. That said, it's easy enough to break if you're neglegent in usage and maintenance... just like anything really.
Busted: Actually, those rudder lines are incredibly strong. It is not 'string' - it is dyneema cord and it is highly abraision resistant and has a breaking strain of around 400kg. They last for a long time and its rare they need to be replaced. So rare, infact, that it is impossible to answer the question about how often they need to be replaced. Most people will get years and years out of them before they even start to look suspect. Really, they're a lot stronger than they look.
Busted: It amazes me how many people observe the Hobie pedal powered system for the first time and conclude they are too unfit to try it. For obvious reasons it's usually those of the older generation that make that assumption and sometimes they're probably right (depending on any special injuries or ailments they may have). The interesting truth is, however, that the largest demographic of people buying Hobie pedal kayaks are from the older generations. From memory, last time I looked at the figures, the 55-65 age group bracket were the most active Hobie kayak users. There's no shortage of kayakers in their 70's getting around in a Hobie. Pedalling is a lot easier than paddaling, physically and technically. You don't need strong arms (or legs for that matter) and you don't really need any training or special skills to get good performance from a Hobie pedal kayak. So yes... you probably can do that.