This FAQ - originally written (and updated here) for the Maclean Outdoors website, serves as a compliment to the Yakass.net Hobie kayak buyers guide recently penned. It has been published here as further reading for those looking for further insight into fishing scenario suitability of various models within the range.
Q: I like the features of 'X' kayak, but think 'Y' kayak will be a better ride in the scenarios I plan to use it in. What should I do?
A: When looking into their first fishing kayak, many beginners get hung up on certain little features of kayaks and often let these influence the decision making process. This isn't such a good idea really because when it comes to features, almost anything can be customised on a kayak. One thing that cannot be customised, however, is how the kayak paddles and performs on the water. This is the number one thing to consider. Don't let the absence of a rod holder, for example, get in the way of the kayak you really want and or need.
Q: I plan to use my kayak mostly in rivers and creeks. What do you recommend?
A: All of the Hobie kayaks are suited for most rivers, but for recreational kayaking the Lanai, Maui & Quest offer great turning capabilities (an attribute handy for thin-river kayaking), all track well, are very stable and with varying qualities in speed and load carrying capacities. They're all also relatively light and easily managed, which can come in handy if you have to carry it over rocks or semi-submerged tree-trunks. All of the pedal-powered mirage kayaks are equally capable in almost all river conditions as well (excluding, of course, serious rapids).
For river fishing purposes, the Quest, Sport, Outback, Pro Angler, Outfitter (tandem) & Revolution are the most popular models. The sport is especially popular for shorter people, as is the i9 inflatable, which is also attracting attention from river fishos. The Adventure (often favoured by many users whom measure 6'+) is perfectly suited to most river fishing conditions as well, although it is typically considered to be a sea-kayak design.
Q: I plan to fish estuaries, protected bays and lakes. What do you recommend?
A: Again, all Hobie kayaks are more than capable of performing this role. Any choice is a safe choice for this usage scenario, so just look closely at models that you feel best suit your size, fishing style, speed requirements and storage capabilities. Most of all, pay special attention to the one that feels just right. That's the best advice anyone can give you regarding choosing your ideal kayak (almost everything else can be customized). So if you're not sure which model is your ticket, try before you buy.
The most popular models for estuary & lake fishing include the Quest, Outfiitter, Sport, Outback Pro Angler & Revolution, although the Adventure gets a lot of use in this department as well. Although it doesn't have flush-molded rod holders (like the above mentioned kayaks) the Oasis can also be configured as an awesome fishing kayak as well. It's probably the most under-rated fishing-capable kayak of the entire Hobie fleet. A few custom rod holders bolted on and away you go!
Q: I plan to fish off shore, and or land and launch through surf zones. What do you recommend?
A: Speed is usually a good attribute to have in off shore kayak ventures, making it easier to cover distance with less effort. Notably fast and stable are the Revolution and Adventure models - the former being considered to be marginally more stable, but not quite as fast, and visa versa. Overall the Adventure is the best off-shore performer of Hobie's kayaks but the Revo isn't far behind.
As far as working through surf, most of the Hobie models are quite capable of punching through and even riding surf waves. Most quality kayaks are - it's more about technique than it is hull design. That said, the slender 'needlenose' shape of the Adventure, Revolution and Quest (& Oasis tandem for that matter) are better suited to surf launching than other models, as they will push through most waves and chop with more direct drive than some of the other hull designs.
Q: I'm not sure if I should buy a double or two singles. What do you think?
A: If you can afford 2 kayaks and have the capability to transport them both (many Hobie kayaks can be stacked for car-topping), it might pay to go for two kayaks instead of a tandem. It will give both users greater mobility and more options. If one of the users is inclined to want to turn right when the other prefers left, 2 kayaks might be the ticket. For offshore fishing trips 2 kayaks is generally the better proposition as well (unless in a group). Solo kayaks are safer for fishing as well, as anglers don't have to worry about hooking their paddling partner.
If in doubt, you're probably better off with 2 solo kayaks. But if you are in doubt, remember that you can always do a test paddle with Maclean Outdoors.
Q: What sort of gear do I need to set myself up with for kayak fishing?
A: That depends on what you plan to do. Either way, there's nothing wrong with starting 'small'. All Hobie kayaks come with all the basic essentials - drybag, drink bottle & gear bucket, and most have flush molded rod holders. If you're not paddling far (and in calm water), all you really need is that, a rod and reel, a few lures, a net (or towel) and something to put fish in if you intend to keep them. The sky is the limit though, so ultimately it's up to you.
Regardless of where you are fishing, don't neglect safety considerations. For trips that involve any great distances, extreme weather or open water, give safety considerations due dilligence. Dress for the weather and wear a PFD. Safety flags are an excellent idea as well. If venturing off shore, at the very least pack a first aid kit, compass and ample provisions such as snacks, hydration, comms (ph and or radio). Whatever you do decide to pack, make sure it's packed well.
It's not such a bad idea to use your kayak a few times before mounting too many accessories (rod holders, sounders, etc) to make sure you're certain that where you intend to place them is the right spot for the job. Making it up as you go along is a great way to go. This is especially true if you are new to the sport (in which case you are well advised to keep your first few trips out in flat water only).
Many kayak fishoes install extra rod holders and mounts for items such as fish finders & GPS systems. If you value your rods (and anticipate turbulent conditions), rod leashes are a good idea. Gear keepers are handy for items such as fish grips, pliers, etc.
Most users also purchase a wheelcart to transport the kayak into and from the water. There are several options available. Our most popular models are the Hobie standard and Trax wheelcarts. The standard cart is lightweight and is perfectly fine for most usage scenarios. The Trax cart is heavier duty and particularly well suited for traversing soft terrain, such as mud and beach sand.
Feel free to ask us any questions you may have to choosing and or installing kayak accessories.
Q: What sort of maintenance is involved in the up-keep of a Hobie kayak?
A: We've written up a guide on the topic of Hobie kayak maintenance that is a good place to answer that question
Q: Is that... is that a toilet seat?
A: No... it's a livewell... for storing bait or tournament fish :-)