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A Kayak Experience

by Jon Easdon, Director of Services

Because our rivers and streams are not going to get bigger and aren’t going to grow in number, we have to begin looking outside the box in the search for different opportunities to explore our vast waters of Colorado. In this endeavor, we started to look at stillwater options in the region and different ways to fish these sometimes overlooked fly fishing destinations.

Our partners at Pikes Peak Outfitters had an interesting solution: kayaks. Now kayak fishing is more popular in the coastal areas of the country but not very well known here in land-locked Colorado.  Over the winter, we started to plan what a guided trip would be like, fly fishing from Hobie kayaks. This opportunity will offer a totally unique and a very cool experience for our clients who want to try something new. I recently had the chance to get out on the water with some folks and my hunch was right on: fishing from the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler is an amazing experience.

(all photos courtesy of John Wood)

To my surprise, the Hobie Pro Angler was very easy to load and unload by myself.  Bonus right there!  The plug-in carts, a must-have accessory in my book, make moving the boat, launching, and loading them by yourself a breeze. I loaded up my camo-colored Pro Angler 12’ with my gear and two rods, and pushed off.

Once on Elevenmile, the amount of water I could quickly cover was unreal. Without exerting a ton of effort, I could glide across the wind-ridden chop of Elevenmile. This is due to one of the main features of the Hobie boats: their Mirage drive. The Mirage is a pedal-drive system that mimics the dynamics of a penguin swimming by alternating each “paddle” left to right.  The drive boasts a reverse feature as well. As an angler, the hands-free idea was very appealing, and it does not disappoint. To be on the water and be free of using oars or paddles means more time with a fly rod in hand.

The manueverability took some getting used to, but the Pro Angler is very intuitive, and the learning curve is fairly short. In the reverse position, the turning was definitely different and slower than in the forward position. The Mirage drives have plastic pull-tabs for the forward/reverse position which, to be honest, seem a bit flimsy. Kind of surprising with so many other bells and whistles expertly crafted into the Mirage.

It didn’t take long before we started to get action as we had several missed fish right off the bat. As we ventured around the shoreline, we came into contact with a great pod of fish and the hookups were frequent. Once the areas of fish were located, it was easy to keep getting back into them. We would land a fish, pedal back up the shoreline, and repeat the drift. This was extremely efficient and effective due to the Mirage’s pedal-drive system and the Hobie’s maneuverability.

We were battling a bit of wind (not a surprise at all on our South Park Reservoirs!), so staying in an exact spot was difficult. We had to keep pedaling back into the prime position. Now this is not something unique to these kayak’s, but more of a reality of any personal watercraft.

The wind did provide an excellent opportunity to put the Hobie Pro Angler to the test, though. They were extremely stable in choppy water. I almost kept waiting for things to get scary and that never happened. This is where the seat adjustability came into play. The seats in the Pro Angler model are amazing with multiple adjustments, including a high and low seat position which provides the ability to adjust the back and seat to your liking.  The low seat position drops your body out of the wind and lessens the surface area to get blown around. When the wind picked up, I quickly came to appreciate this feature.

A BOA tension system allows you to set the level of lumbar support, too, which adds to maintaining comfort throughout the day.

The drop-down skeg, a moveable fin, worked well when deployed, but also cut down the turning capability. Nevertheless, it was a great tool when I wanted to wind drift in a more-or-less straight line. To be honest, it is a nice feature but I didn’t find a huge need for it this day on Elevenmile.

The rudder features a BOA tensioning system that insures custom performance with the rudder. Both the skeg and rudder are controlled by a pull up cable system located at an arms length from the seat. They are both easily accessible.

There are a bunch of accessory options available with the Pro Angler model. From drink holders to fish finders, everything imaginable can be added to the kayak.

In short, the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler kayaks have exceeded my expectations in every category and most definitely have changed the way I will fish stillwater.  I look forward to getting many folks out fly fishing in them this season. Check out the Hobies at Pikes Peak Outfitters, then come next door and sign up for a guided trip in a Hobie kayak!

Try it! You won’t be disappointed.

By the way, does anybody want to buy a belly boat? I won’t be needing that thing anymore.

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