Hobie Pro Angler 14 Review
by Henry Kronk
With any gear that you buy, the product range will follow the logic of car brands. You’ll have your cheap Korean knock-offs. There’ll be the Fords and the Chevys which offer the same thing but insist theirs is better. You’ll get your Volkswagens who lie through their teeth about their emission standards. And you will also find some very nice vehicles that happen to be worth the money you pay for them.
If the Hobie Pro Angler 14 were a car, it would be like taking your Grandpa’s Cadillac and installing one of those fancy new V6 motors that don’t suck gas like a west Texas Rockefeller rig. This vehicle is large and in charge. You could use it to save passengers from a sinking boat. And (besides the gear the CIA at some point no doubt developed to fight the Soviets) it has the most innovative and efficient pedal drive technology known to man.
If you've got the coin, the Pro Angler 14 is the fishing kayak to end all fishing kayaks.
Pro Angler 14 Key Features
Most anglers come to the Hobie Pro Angler 14 for the Mirage Drive 180 situation. Hobie created the first pedal drive system a full twenty years ago. In the time since, Hobie engineers haven’t just sat around flipping paper footballs through finger field goal posts. While it was far from perfect at its inception, many kinks have been worked out since.
YouTuber VentureTube has a video dedicated entirely to the upgrades made on the Pro Angler for 2018:
For those who have yet to hear the good news, the Mirage Drive kind of works like a bicycle, except you push the pedals back and forth, not around in a circle. And the pedals connect to two Orca-fin-shaped flippers that flap side to side to generate forward momentum. And there are two gears to this contraption: one makes you go forward, the other makes you go back.
True, this requires an extra hand, but as YouTuber SteegeFish demonstrates, it isn’t much trouble to change directions even when reeling in:
When feet aren't engaging the Mirage Drive pedals, the flippers below fall into a vertical resting place below the hull. This helps both with tracking and stability. Also when passing over the reeds, they tend to tangle far less than propeller pedal drives with which all other pedal drive kayaks are equipped.
But the drive is not unique for the Hobie Pro Angler 14; You can find it on several other fishing models offered by Hobie. But when it comes to this kayak, its true stand out feature is something you might not expect: its size.
This thing is 14 feet long and nearly a meter wide. That means a huge weight capacity of 600 lbs. in total, (although the captain’s chair is rated for 350 lbs.). It means some real adjustability. It means rock solid stability. Many scientists agree that larger humans developed to grow to their size in order to be better hunters on land. But for the large humans who scorn their evolutionary and seek to hunt on water instead, the Hobie Pro Angler 14 might just be your only option short of pedaling a tandem vessel on your lonesome.
The Hobie rails system—for fishing gear, not freight and/or local commuters—is also worth a mention. We have a love hate relationship with these things. On the one hand, the Hobie H Rails are really easy to use, well designed, and they make a hell of a lot more sense than alternatives. As you almost certainly know, most rails systems involve a mount that fits inside a groove. They inevitably include several screws or clips to attach your fancy or non-fancy devices, you can’t easily add more or take some away, and if you spill some beer in there, you better believe they’re going to start sticking. The H-Rails avoid all of these issues. Mounts clip onto the hexagonal rails with a quick release contraption. It makes use and adjustment much simpler.
On the other hand: only Hobie mounts and accessories fit onto Hobie rails. They’ve applied the printer inkjet model to all their accessories and, in many circumstances, a Hobie product won’t work easily with another kayak. True, one may purchase a universal mount from Hobie on which one supposedly can mount anything from a fish finder to the Venus de Milo, but it’s still an additional expense. (You’re also going to need to fire up your power drill and do some custom work.) What’s more, Hobie accessories in general tend to exceed the competition in terms of cost.
While the rails present a headache, few anglers will find cause for concern with the captain’s chair. This thing is supremely adjustable. If you can get comfortable in a chair, you will be able to find the right settings for this captain’s chair. The mesh back keeps you easy and breezy in the summer time, and it can support up to 350 lbs.
Pro Angler 14 Review
By the numbers, this kayak looks real good. As you might have gleaned from the name, it stretches nearly 14” long (13’8” to be exact) and it is 38” wide. Again, that’s a big, solid, steady, stable build. It can carry up to 600 lbs. before sinking. There is, of course, a downside to its size: it’s really heavy. The hull itself clocks in at 120 lbs., but fully rigged, this thing pushes 150 lbs. In other words, transporting the Hobie Pro Angler 14 both replicates the experience of—, and weighs the same as a certain ex-girlfriend.
In terms of storage, the Hobie Pro Angler 14 will not leave you wanting. As you sit in the seat, you will find immediately before you a closeable hatch where you can throw your wallet and your candy bars. It’s water resistant for sure, but waterproof? Not really. Inside this hatch, you will find something that Hobie calls a ‘tackle management system.’ For the humans who live on Earth that are unfamiliar, that term refers to what we know as a ‘tackle box,’ although theirs might be a little fancier than most. Beyond the pedal drive lies a bungie-sealed storage container with a box that you might want to throw some ice/beers into or take out for more room. Behind sits a larger, open, bungie covered spot for other stuff. Finally, there’s another small sealable hatch further toward the stern.
As with all Hobie pedal drive kayaks, the Mirage Drive 180 is simply great. It disturbs the water less than a paddle, it’s great for trawling, and it allows you to keep a fixed position in moving water. It’s also far more efficient—you won’t get tired out from both paddling and angling all day. For many years, propeller-style pedal drives had the advantage of being able to go both backward and forward while the Mirage was my way or the highway. But the Mirage Drive 180 allows you to pull on a little cable which turns the propelling blades 180 degrees and reverse. The technology is nothing short of a game changer.
If you’re bent on a Hobie Pro Angler, but don’t know if you should go 12 or 14, stability is really the deciding factor. The 12-foot option is already pretty darn stable. You shouldn’t have an issue with standing up and fishing no matter which direction you face in the boat. But then again, fishers come in all shapes and sizes. If you have an inner ear situation or need more hull capacity, the 14-foot option will give you significantly more stability, hands down.
Pro Angler 14 Pros and Cons
- The Mirage Drive 180 is really one of the best around.
- This kayak is seriously stable.
- It has a massive weight capacity.
- Those H-Rails are pretty nifty.
- The captain’s chair is fit for a captain.
- Hobie is one of the oldest names in the kayak fishing game. They’re a trusted brand with a reputation to manage, they’ll treat you right if something breaks or malfunctions.
- Hobie accessories are not cheap (and it might be weird mounting off-brand gear on them).
- It’s heavy!
Other Products in the Line
For comparison with other Hobie kayaks, check out YouTuber Yak Motley:
We’ve said it the whole time: the Hobie Pro Angler 14 truly excels when it comes to size and stability. The largest single seat pedal drive fishing kayak offered by Native Watercraft (the Slayer Propel 13) is 13’ 2” long and stretches 33” in width. Every inch of width adds gallons of floatation. Most experienced kayak fishers become very comfortable in much narrower, tippier kayaks. But when you hook the kind of fish that you stuff and hang, you’re not going to want to take any risks.
The Slayer Propel 13, furthermore, has a weight capacity of 500 lbs., a full 100 less than the Hobie. Many fishers will never need more than 400 lbs., but we definitely won’t judge if you want to bring along your solar powered mini fridge.
See our Native Slayer Propel 13 Review.
The Bottom Line
Not every angler has the financial portfolio to support a Hobie Pro Angler 14, but if everyone did, it would likely be the most popular vessel around. There are very few cons beside the price.
There’s not exactly a metric we use to determine stability, but if there were, the Pro Angler 14 would likely top the charts. Combined with the Mirage Drive 180, it’s hard to go wrong with this guy.