The Day Kayak Fishing Changed
Fishing from a kayak has been around for thousands of years. Boats made from wood and skins evolved in to fiberglass and high tec composites. It wasn't until Ocean Kayak started producing the cheap plastic sit on tops that the world noticed kayaks. The durable polyethylene construction made it an affordable sport and right away we started trying to catch fish off of them. It was blast, and through trial and error we developed techniques to store our gear, control our drift and land our fish. I spent ten years fishing from paddle kayaks and then my kayak fishing world changed overnight. Hobie developed and produced the mirage drive kayak.
I was all over the Hobie when it came to the market. I became one of the first dealers and started to fish exclusively with the mirage foot drive. After 10 years using a paddle some of the advantages of the mirage drive were very obvious. Many of the advantages came to the surface the more hours I chalked up on the Hobie kayak.
Hands Free Kayaking
The main advantage over paddling is that you are fishing the whole time your in the Hobie Kayak. I used to estimate that I only fished half the time when paddling. The other half of the time I reluctantly had the paddle in my hand as I needed to reposition myself in the wind and tide. I can be moving to my fishing spot and have answered my cell phone, ate lunch, drank coffee, tied a lure on, taken pictures, etc Your legs do all the work and your left hand is only needed briefly to adjust the rudder. The more experience you have on the Hobie the less you even need to adjust the rudder.
Your legs are more power full then your arms. You can go twice as far, twice as fast and with half the effort of paddling a wide stable paddling kayak. Women and children who sometime struggle with paddling can learn to operate a Mirage Drive in a few minutes and keep up with any man.
Fishermen are not the only Hobie addicts. Many non- fishermen are choosing the Hobie for recreational kayaking. The Revolution and Adventure are excellent paddling kayaks for those who want a leg workout one day and upper body workout the next. Wildlife photographers are starting to understand that birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals show no fear when a foot driven kayak gets close to them. Duck hunters are loving the stealth and hands free advantage. The subtle leg movements are not as obvious to wildlife as a paddle is waving through the air.
The Other Advantages
As a paddler I was forced to accept all the limitations the paddle placed on my kayak fishing. If I got snagged in current I would just break the line as paddling with one hand while holding the rod and reeling in the slack with the other hand was impossible. You needed four hands to do it. With the Hobie mirage drive snags are easier to retrieve then they are in a power boat. Just go get em using your legs.
Being soaked all the time was another negative that we all just accepted when paddling. Every time you lifted a paddle blade over your head the water dripped off and landed all over you. Within ten minutes you were saturated if the water was cold you needed to wear a wetsuit or dry suit. The Mirage drive is basically two flippers that move back and forth under the kayak like a penguins flippers. There is no splashing. There is no paddle drip. I fish for 4 or 5 hours and not a single drop of water lands on me. I've been wetter in my old 17 foot Boston whaler. Some models are drier then others but all Hobie foot driven kayaks are drier then paddling.
Holding your position in wind and tides without an anchor is priceless. In the old days of paddling we tried anchoring but found it to be very dangerous as the kayak could easily be flipped in strong current and tides if the kayak ended broadside to the natural forces. Anchor lines can also catch seaweed and without warning the kayak will be suddenly pulled under water when enough seaweed collects on the rope. No anchor is needed on a mirage drive. You simply kick gently and hold your stationary position pointing into the wind or tide. You can hold position at any angle from 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock. This makes it more comfortable when casting. There are bridge lights we like to fish under where the currents are really strong and the pilings and other structure provide a escape route for any fish that are hooked. We simply pull up along side the light and start holding position using the foot drive. We then cast our jigs into the light and as soon as we hook a big fish we are able to kick hard and turn the fish away from the structure pulling him out into open water to be landed.
Trolling can be done in a paddle kayak if a rod holder is mounted so you can lay the rod down while you paddle. The rod holder must be behind you or far in front so you have clearance to operate the paddle. You cant drop back if you get tap, you cant set the hook , Nor can you even tell if you are still in contact with the bottom as you need to when trolling for fluke because you have the paddle in your hands. Trolling with a Mirage drive is a beautiful thing. You can hold the rod in your hand. Move with your feet and turn with your left hand on the rudder control. This allows you to feel what is going on with the plug. You can drop back by swinging the rod toward the fish or opening the bail and feeding slack. You instantly can tell if a piece of grass or seaweed has collected on the plug. Precision control is easy with the rudder while moving. When trolling with a power boat the noisy motor must pass over the fish before they ever see the plug or bait. This can put the fish off their feed or chase them away. The stealthy Hobie mirage drive does not scare fish as it passes over them. When the plug comes into view they are still on the feed and will try to rip the rod out of your hand.
The Hobie mirage drive kayak is the ultimate tool for working bunker or other baitfish schools. You can circle the edge of the bait schools bringing the plug through or under the bait. The hobies tight turning radius allows the fisherman to go around and around all the while holding the rod. Reeling some line in or letting some out its all easy.
Trolling for fluke can be the most effective way to catch big fish. I like to go to that technique when there is no drift as fluke will rarely hit a bait that is sitting still. My favorite spots are long sloughs of deeper water surrounded by shallow areas. I will usually zig- zag across the deeper water on an angle so I am moving down the slough with each turn. When the fluke hit you must give them slack and then strike. The Hobie is perfect for this method of fishing and it is easier and more effective then trying to do it in a power boat and its not possible to do in a paddle kayak.
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