Recently I was invited to Pattaya by Blue Seas Marine Co. Ltd. to go test out their new line of Hobie kayaks and catamarans. This was done so that I could evaluate it’s functionality as a fishing tool. The testing took two days with the first day to test out all their available models and the second day to test one out in a freshwater fishing scenario.

Kayak fishing

 

 

MirageDrive

Now what makes the Hobie kayaks completely different from the other regular kayaks was what they patented as the Hobie MirageDrive system. The Hobie people explain it on their website like this:

Here’s how the MirageDrive actually works: you pedal by stepping alternately left and right, not unlike an exercise stepper, to drive two underwater flippers. They work much like a penguin’s fins to propel the Hobie Mirage with surprising speed and ease. All of which lets you go into kayaking. Feet first.”

With the MirageDrive, the Hobie kayaks are capable of covering much more distance by utilising the biggest muscles in your body: your legs. So basically your legs are the engine and you steer the rudder with a little dial on the side. On top of being 100% corrosion proof, the pedals are also extremely easy to remove for when you need to switch to paddles in shallower water conditions.

 

Test, test

After testing several of the models I have come up with some of my conclusions about which one works best for the different kinds of fishing one can do. Below I have compiled a general description of what each model is capable of, it’s functionality as a fishing boat and a link to the kayak’s website for more specific details (just click on their headings).

 

Hobie Mirage Adventure Island

Hobie Mirage Adventure Island


 

Description: The love-child of a catamaran and a kayak, the Hobie Mirage Advenure Island is like an Autobot. With a pull of two ropes this three-piece kayak transforms into a fully functional catamaran. There are two compartments for live-bait, a storage space at the back and two in-built rod holders. The side hulls and the sail can easily be detached to convert the entire to into the Hobie Mirage Adventure (sans “Island”).

Fishability: The Hobie Mirage Adventure Island is the ideal vessel for trolling the seas alone without the use of a motor. Hoist up the sails, cast out the live bait, place rod in holder and wait for the bait as you skim along the sea letting the wind do all the work. Check out these guys doing it right:

 

Hobie Mirage i9S and Hobie Mirage i12S

Merv from http://ultimatekayakfishing.blogspot.com on the Hobie Mirage i9S

Description: What does a kayak and a girlfriend have in common? They both fit better in the trunk when they are inflatable. The Mirage i series are just that; the same awesome kayak armed with the MirageDrive system. The inflatable kayaks conveniently shrink into the size of a small suitcase and takes about 2-3 minutes to fully inflate. Due to its light weight (when inflated), these kayaks actually pick up good speed on the water. These inflatables also come with a sail mount meaning that you can literally fit a sailboat in your trunk. The numbers in i9S and i12S refer to their length in feet, when fully inflated.

Fishability: For a space-starved city-guy like me, the inflatable series is the way to go. You can fit about three to five of these in the trunk of an average car making group fishing trips much more logistically possible. However, without a livewell like the Adventure, live baiting is not really an option for them.

Mirage Outfitter

Mirage Outfitter

Description: This long stream-lined kayak has seat for two as well as the MirageDrive system for both seats. Its longer length allows for better stability and it dual MirageDrives allows for extra speed. The Outfitter comes with four rod holders and three seperate stowage areas that can be turned into livewells.

Fishability: Personally I find that all the of tandem, two-seat kayaks to be best for the kind of sight-fishing I do when going after giant snakeheads. One person can control the boat while other person can cast with precise accuracy to where the fish are hiding without drifting away with the wind.

 

Mirage ProAngler

Mirage ProAngler

Description: The Hobie website describte the ProAngler as a “no-nonsense fishing boat” and they really aren’t kidding around. It boasts that it could hold up to 13 Plano tackle boxes (don’t know why anyone needs to bring that many). Other features include six rod holders, a centre hatch that can become a livewell as well as a cutting board and plenty of storage space. The best part about this design it the extra wide hull which provides for extra stability.

Fishability: This is one serious fishing kayak. The added stability actually allows for plenty of balance for the fisherman to stand and cast, something that is a little more difficult in the other models. The storage is perfect for fishermen who feel the need to bring everything from their arsenal to the fishing location. Since you can stand and fish from this kayak, I would say that it is the one most suitable for fly fishing.

 

Conclusion of Hobie Kayaks

Pros: With the MirageDrive system, these Hobie kayaks can really cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time with a lot less effort than your traditional kayak with their paddles. Their overall design really took into consideration the ease of the fisherman.

When testing out the kayaks in a freshwater fishing environment, I found that the kayaks were extremely useful in the sense that it could get to all the locations a lot faster than the traditional hand paddle kayaks. When trying to silently enter a fishing location full of water vegataion, all I had to do was detach the MirageDrive and switch to regular paddles. Soon after, I was sitting on a kayak right in the middle of a lily pad jungle. My presence was so stealthy that a little lily frog actually jumped onto a lily pad beside my kayak and basically hung out with me until I moved again. This sort of silence would have been impossible with a motorboat with a trolling motor.

Also, the idea of catching something like a shark or a marlin from a kayak just sounds pretty Old Man and the Sea-esque. Some of the reports of these kayak-marlin encounters usually involve the kayak being towed over 10kms by the fish over a period of 4-6 hours.

My favourite attribute of the Hobie Kayaks is that they efficiently run on clean kinetic energy. I am very impressed by the fact the I could cover so much distance for so little effort while doing the minimum damage to the environment.

Cons: There are two things that bothered me about these kayaks. My first issue was having to fish from a seated position. This was only a small issue that eventually was overcome after some practice. The bigger issue was the price. These kayaks were around USD$2,000-3,000 each. In Thailand, you can buy a pretty decent bass boat with a good motor for that price but… then again… kayak vs marlin does sound quite legendary.

 

 

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11 Responses to Fishing In Thailand: Testing Out Some Hobie Kayaks

  1. Marcus says:

    Nice write up Oz, I really enjoyed that trip and agree with your sentiments. I got used to casting from a seated position after a pretty short while

    The only real concern that I had could be addressed with some of their accessories.

    A few times I spotted a group of snakehead fry but found it quite difficult to fish them. I was constantly having to adjust my position due to the strong wind that kept blowing that day, and lost sight of them more than once.

    I’m told that Hobie’s Drift Chutes are designed to solve this problem. According to their website these cone shaped anchors are attached to their anchor trolley system and sit inflated below the surface and slow down your wind drift.

    So I think if I was buying a Hobie one of these would be a must have accessory, which would be right up there with the turbo blades and all sitting on top of a rather long wish list of other cool accessories like fish finders etc.

  2. Interesting write up Oz.

    As probably one of the very few people that regularly fish for Giant Snakehead in Thailand from a purpose built fishing Kayak and someone that has 3 different sized boats to choose when I go I can attest to both the pro’s and cons of Fishing Kayaks and Snake Heads.

    To me real benefits are being able to drop into the tight places that regular boats don’t fit, either small dams with difficult boat access or heavy cover – they excel at getting into the top water of dams.

    IMO Kayaks aren’t really ideal for open water Snake head fishing, you will struggle to see the fry because of the lower viewing position and big fish will drag you around A LOT, that might seem like an exaggeration but I am talking about getting hung up on structure not around the dam itself.

    I have a Thai make Feel Free Moken 13, a purpose built fishing Kayak, made in Thailand and retails for 30,000 – as much as I think the Hobbie is better designed its just not 2 -3 x as good.

    Lastly I am not sure what its like in Bangkok Area but in most of Thai the distributors will need to overcome the base line knowledge of the Thai fishing communities understanding of fishing in order to succeed.

    As usual when I use something that regular Thai’s haven’t seen done before, there are chuckles and laughs about that “crazy farang” to be fair they do tend stop pretty quickly when I emerge from the covered back channel of the dam with a good sized fish or two – Its the same for flyfishing – Thai fish don’t eat “flies” haha.

    Good write up.

    http://www.flyfishingasia.com/images/Lamphun—Ang-Ban-Ti—July-9-2011.jpg

    • Bangkokhooker says:

      That’s what fishing is all about isn’t it? Trying new things and catching the fish!

      What’s in the mouth of your snakehead? Minnow fly?

  3. crystallinesheen says:

    I have been wanting to get a kayak for a while now. There are quite a few fishermen around here going out to sea in kayaks, I wish I was one of them! I’m saving all my money to go to Thailand right now, but I will get one as soon as I can afford it. I live only 4 blocks from the harbor in my town, and when I get a kayak I can just walk it over there and launch. It will be awesome to go out, spend 2-3 hours out on the ocean and catch my lunch without needing to drive anywhere.

    Thanks for the reviews, I really like the Hobies, but they are really expensive with the Mirage Drive. You are right, by the time you get a good fishing kayak with all the bells and whistles it will be like getting a bass boat. Still, I love kayaks because you can launch from anywhere and just stealthily slip up on the fish. I never heard of anyone fishing from a catamaran, but after watching that video of the Aussies doing so it looks like the thing to do!

  4. google says:

    I liked your article is an interesting technology
    thanks to google I found you

  5. Jamie says:

    Hi, these kayak’s look amazing whether you fish or not. Looks like it would take a lot to get dumped overboard! Really nice.

  6. Steve Halimi says:

    Hello,

    I would need some information of kayak fishing places in South Thailand.
    I will stay in Koh Samui area for 1 week and then moving to Phuket place.

    Could you please give me some useful contacts of fishing centers?
    Especially Hobie kayak one
    Or boat

    Thanks a lot,

    Fisherman in France, Nice! :)

    Steve

  7. […] in the sea and in a freshwater situation and I have to say that it is an amazing product. I was invited back in 2011 to test out their selections of vessels and once more to try do some wild fishing with […]

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