Spend 3 days in a kayak, inches above the water and you tend to develop a fairly intimate relationship with the only thing keeping you dry. Add some 20-30 knot winds, wind chop and then pedal into it and it adds an extra degree of difficulty and compounds the reliance on a good hull.
After my time during the Daiwa-Hobie Grand Final in the brand new Hobie Pro Angler 14, I thought I would share my thoughts on the experience. I had overheard someone say “it’s like a PA12 but bigger” and they are right to a certain degree but they forgot a few really important benefits.
What Hobie have done is taken away a few of the niggly things about the old PA14 and added some pretty cool features. I like the recessed centre storage, as it allowed me to really move around the open areas without feeling like I was going to go for an unexpected swim after tripping over anything. Being recessed, what I liked was the little mesh storage under the hatch. I actually put my phone and ipod there, leaving me with clear and uninterrupted entertainment through my bluetooth headphones without fear of them getting wet.
The steering is now much better for the simple reason that rod storage on the left is unhindered, line doesn’t get caught and I can finally fish up to 8 rods in the rod tubes (when using interlines by feeding 2 rods into the one tube). The left or right option is less important for me, as I preferred the left option but can see how it would benefit others.
The biggest improvement would have to be the seat, it not only folds up to reveal more tackle storage (you can never carry too many lures), it can be adjusted to suit pedalling style, comfort or fishing style. Lifting the seat to the raised position and adjusting the angles also helps with casting and improving visibility.
Although the weekends conditions were fairly rough, I wouldn’t suggest pedalling for extended periods with the seat in the high position. A poorly positioned boat, a completely empty livewell and storage hatch and a freak bit of wind chop resulted in me feeling like I was going to end the wrong way up. Keep in mind If I had a fully loaded boat, the centre of gravity would be lower, offering more stability.