My third kayak purchase was a Hobie Mirage Outback, and it has totally transformed my kayak fishing experience...
Hobie Mirage Outback Specs:
Capacity: 400 lbs
Hull weight: 75 lbs
Construction: Rotomolded Polyethylene
Choosing an Outback
When I decided to demo a MirageDrive kayak within my budget, I focused on the Outback and the Revolution 13. The appeal of the Outback was the stability, while some like the Revo better for it's speed. I knew that my future kayak fishing exploits would take me places that would require a stable kayak, like beyond-the-breakers, so I opted to go with the Outback.
Features & Initial Impressions
Look at the Outback and you'll say "That's a wide kayak" and you'd be right - 33" wide. It is also shorter than the other kayaks I've paddled - coming in at 12'-1". Flip it over, and you'll see that the hull has a pronounced keel, with sides that flare out with a pontoon-shape.
The seat is like a traditional sit-on-top seat - it mounts to the Outback with twist-lock pins, with straps that support the back of the seat that attach to eyelets in the front, and a rear bungee that holds up the back of the seat. The seat also has a built-in lumbar pad, that is adjustable with an air valve. There is a nice-sized cargo area behind the seat, with a supplied bungee cord for tie-down.
The Outback's rudder is extended/retracted with pull handles on either side of the cockpit - and the rudder control handle is on the left side of the seat.
Along with the traditional front and rear handles, there is a rigid hand-hold on the right side of the cockpit, and a regular carry-handle on the left.
The Hobie Mirage Outback has to be the most stable kayak I've paddled thus far. The first time I took the demo out - I played around with it in shallow water near the launch. When I plopped-down in the seat, there was no feeling of instability - you know, that fleeting moment of your body 'figuring out' the center of the kayak. I rocked it violently back and forth - it was like a rock.
The Hobie Outback is not known for stand-up fishing, but it is possible, and I did it - standing on the flat area just in front of the seat. I poled through grass at a flood tide, looking for tailing reds. I cast my rod and reel and retrieved comfortably.
I tested the Outback in it's stock configuration and it did great, with the standard MirageDrive fins and rudder. I could keep a nice speed with a steady pedal-pace. The speed was like doing a normal paddle-stroke pace, except you use your legs. The rudder turns it nicely, within about two kayak-lengths.
You want to get the most out of the Outback? Upgrade to the Turbo Fins and Sailing Rudder. A steady pedal-stroke for me, a 250 lb guy with a kayak loaded with gear, can produce over 4 mph steadily on my GPS. I can really put some power to it and get up around 6-7 mph. The sailing rudder will turn the Outback within it's own length, and with authority! I highly recommend these for your Outback.
Fishing in the Hobie Mirage Outback
The very first time I took an Outback on a demo, I took a rod and reel with me. I learned quickly the advantage of the MirageDrive: Hands-free Fishing. I found that I grew comfortable keeping the rod in my right hand while moving around in the Outback. I also discovered that I made more casts due to less time holding a paddle, and more time holding a fishing pole.
Also, I have found that I stake-out the Outback less to fish an area. Comes in handy while casting jigs...I can move about and cast/retrieve. If I get a bite or want to work the area again, I just turn the Outback around and pedal back to the spot. Keeping in place in current is as simple as pointing it into the tide-flow and matching your pedal-speed to maintain position.
I found that with my 250 lb frame in the Outback, it keeps water in the MirageDrive area - just up to the bottom of the mesh-pocket. My heels get wet when sitting still, with my feet off the pedals and down in the footwells.
The seat has two scuppers, that can be opened/closed. I got water in the seat pan during a surf launch, and I opened the scuppers and it drained quickly when I got underway. I left them open the rest of the trip and had no issues with puddling water in the seat area. The plugs for those scuppers are screw-type, with gaskets.
I have found that the Outback has some "hull slap" when moving at speed through choppy water.
The Hobie rod-holder extensions are a good accessory for the Outback - they will lift your rods higher out of reach of the water. I use two in the rear-facing rod holders.
If you want to car-top the Outback, you'll have to carry it upside-down. I took my Outback to Virginia on the top of my Tahoe - it did great.
The Hobie Outback is a capable fishing kayak. It moves along nicely with the MirageDrive, and offers good stability. You will fish confidently out of it...
Fishing the Outback, or any pedal-driven kayak for that matter, will change your way of kayak fishing. In the months I have had the Outback, I notice that I move around a lot more now, fishing areas without staking-out or anchoring down. This is especially true when throwing plastics. I cover a lot more water with the MirageDrive.
When I do anchor-down the Outback along a creek, or near some structure to put out some live bait, the cockpit is comfortable...I can sit sideways confidently due to the stability of the Outback. Plenty of room in the Outback for my gear, too - with a large cargo area behind the seat - I can put my crate, a small cooler, and a bait-bucket back there with no issues. The molded-in rod holders in the front are convenient for staging my rods while changing baits - the molded areas along the sides of the cockpit are wonderful for holding my pliers, fish-grips, and loose tackle. I enjoy fishing out of this kayak...
If the price of the Pro Angler gives you pause, and want a stable kayak with a MirageDrive - give the Hobie Mirage Outback a look!